I Bought an Airplane

A real one. Not a toy or a model. Like a big one that people can sit in. Four people. And they can fly for hundreds of miles. It. Is. Awesome.

It all started about a month ago. I had been looking at used planes on controller.com and Trade-A-Plane every day for over a month already. I was starting to get pretty familiar with the various makes and models that had been produced over the past 50 years and what I could expect to afford. I narrowed my search to Pipers and Beechcraft, because I like low wing planes. Over time I became more and more drawn to Beechcraft airplanes. I see them as the Mac to the Piper/Cessna PC. They're a little more rare. They're better designed and built. They're both more attractive and more capable. And they have a loyal and passionate following that tend to turn up their noses at those "C and P airplanes".

After being frustrated that all the good options seemed to be in the eastern half of the country, I was shocked when I found what looked like a lovely Beech Musketeer not only in the West, but right here in the Bay Area! I decided that since it was so close, I should at least go up to Novato and check it out. So, on July 16, 2011, Jassen, Caroline and I flew up to DVO. There we met T.J. Neff, an aircraft salesman who has been working out of Gnoss Field for decades. He showed us the airplane and was even kind enough to let me fly it back to PAO. I pretty much fell in love with the plane during that flight. It was so nice!

After unsuccessfully attempting to convince Caroline and Drew to split the plane with me, I began to consider buying it all by myself. What a crazy idea! The thought of owning the plane was pretty much consuming me, though, so I knew it had to be done. I scheduled a pre-purchase inspection with Bob Burnett, an excellent mechanic who has a shop at DVO. I took Thursday, July 28, 2011, off work to participate in the all day inspection.

I learned a ton about the airplane that day. Bob was a great teacher and I'm glad he was willing to let me help out and put up with all my questions. I came armed with a list of things to check based on the advice I found within the fabulous online communities at Beech Talk and the Beech Aero Club.

The airplane passed its inspection with flying colors. It was in great shape. The current owner had mostly let it sit in a hangar for the year that they owned it, which is not optimal. The previous owner, however, had flown it regularly and put a ton of time and effort into restoring it and upgrading it. Through some careful internet stalking I managed to get in contact with this man and he has been incredibly willing to write out long, detailed responses to all of my questions via email. Not only have I learned a lot about the plane from him, but I also felt much more confident buying the plane knowing that it was heartily endorsed by a previous owner who no longer had any skin in the game.

After about three weeks of arranging a loan, setting up insurance, and haggling with T.J. and the sellers about how much I was willing to pay and how many of the minor issues that came to light during the inspection they were willing to fix, the deal was done on Friday, August 19, 2011.

T.J. flew the plane down to PAO and I met him there with Jassen. We then flew T.J. back home and I got to fly my very own plane back to PAO for the first time. It was a wonderful feeling, and a beautiful first flight over a fogged-in San Francisco.

I am the proud owner of a 1966 Beechcraft A23-24 Musketeer Super III. I've put a few hours on N5779V now, and I must say I absolutely love the plane. I couldn't be happier with it. Here's to clear blue skies and many years of safe, fun flying!

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