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Thinking of buying a PA38

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Thinking of buying a PA38

Old 15th Aug 2017, 15:22
  #1 (permalink)  
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Thinking of buying a PA38

Here is what is in my thought process, well known aircraft, good trainer and time builder, operating costs not too steep.

Purchase price doesn't seem to bad but I know it varies though I really don't have a massive budget (20-30K region), I would like to keep the aircraft either me owning individually or as a small group and eventually move on to upgrading paint/interior/avionics in time.

I looked at the rates of hiring this type from a school, quite high for what it is so after my initial buy in and running costs given I am looking to do a good few hours in it I think I can make it be cost effective.

Anybody else done this or any advice would be welcome.
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Old 15th Aug 2017, 18:09
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It's a nice aeroplane to fly, and a good trainer, although I've never owned one.

Biggest piece of advice I'd offer, is get your maintenance company onside before the aeroplane. Have an agreed set of maintenance arrangements, pricing structure, mutual trust, etc - then have one of their people go over any possible aeroplanes before you commit.

G
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Old 15th Aug 2017, 18:38
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I looked at PA-38 for a purchase in the U.S. market, and found that Cessna 152 beats it in every performance category while using the same engine. The 152 is a fractionally more expensive on average, but variations in the market are such that it was not a deciding factor for me. This may differ from U.K., of course.
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Old 15th Aug 2017, 20:55
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Though a "Cessna man", I quite enjoyed my PA-38 flying. They're different to fly, but fun, and they do what they say on the box. Be very sure to familiarize yourself with AD's applicable, and how they have been complied, and I recall some kind of airframe time limitations, again, know before you buy. If you read the entire Type Certificate Data Sheet, and any Airworthiness Directives, you should have a good idea of where any given plane is in it's economic life.

If you're going to fly at least 100 hours a year, ownership is a good idea, though passed are the days when you might also sell as an investment afterward.
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Old 15th Aug 2017, 21:55
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I also like the Tommy and found it fun to fly, if a little lively in turbulence. It's not especially quick either, cruising at around 90 knots, so not really a going-places machine.

I believe the wings have a life limit of something like 11,000 hours, the problem being that with most of them used for training, therefore they have high hours so this can be a real issue.

And to address the 152 vs Tommy matter... the 152 might well beat it performance aspects, but in a Tommy you won't feel intimately familiar with person sitting in the right-hand seat - it is significantly more spacious. That may or may not be an advantage, depending on who is occupying said seat.
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Old 15th Aug 2017, 22:45
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Have you considered a permit aircraft?
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 01:10
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Probably the worst aircraft that Piper ever built.
There's a lot of info out there including that a Piper design engineer recommended that they should buy them back and shred them.

The certificaton testing the FAA did on the Tomahawk was done with a preproduction model built at the Lock Haven, PA plant. When that plant was destroyed, production was moved to Vero Beach, FL, but not before significant changes were made to the wing.

The new design included the removal of a number of ribs from the wing, reducing it's rigidity, and it was NOT put through new stall and spin testing by the FAA, despite being certified for intentional spins.

After a number of accidents and near misses involving spins, the NTSB reccommended that the FAA reevaluate the aircraft's performance in 1997
http://www.landings.com/_landings/ganflyer/jul25-1997/New-Tomahawk-Tests.html

FWIW, the Tomahawk's stall/spin accident rate is roughly 3 to 7 times higher than that of the 150/152, as discussed in this NTSB letter to the FAA-

http://www.ozaeros.flyer.co.uk/tomahawk/ntsb.htm

Interesting reading, I may fly one, but I sure as heck don't want to stall one, let alone spin one!

Added-
Another interesting read (if you have a spare day)
http://www.geocities.com/cfidarren/r-mccabe.htm
--
http://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=739709
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 05:10
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Resale value of a 150/152 is so much higher it makes them a much better buy.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 05:11
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Per B2N2's post - if you do ever stall one it makes entertaining viewing if you look back at the tailplane

I concur with most of the other comments here - nice enough to fly, more room than the 150/152 but they wag their tails, the stalls can be vicious and in my view they could catch out the unwary (as they have on a number of sad occasions).

As I recall the main spar is lifed to around what Hyph said, but this could be extended by 1000hours or thereabouts with a mod.

FP.

Last edited by First_Principal; 16th Aug 2017 at 05:12. Reason: typo
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 05:25
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Nice enough to fly, people are saying, but that is only by comparison with its run-of-the-mill American counterparts, in my opinion. If spending my own money, I would be buying something with really good handling, such as an AA-5A or one of the Robins. I thought the Traumahawk was a poor aircraft, and didn't enjoy teaching in it at all. In particular, the spring-trim elevator arrangement really spoiled it. There are much better options, so I'd advise the OP to go back to the drawing board.

I often wonder, how many people wouldn't quit after getting their PPLs, if we taught them in aircraft which handled nicely? I also wonder why Piper and Cessna never bothered sorting their handling out - Piper, in particular, committed some grave misdemeanours (I shudder when i think back to the few years when I occasionally flew a Seneca 1).
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 10:46
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Lovely quite sedate aircraft. Buy with confidence. Check wing life.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 12:17
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I think the tommie is a great trainer (if you learn in one, you'll have no problem flying most other tricycle singles), but as I did both PPL & IMC in one, I'm unashamedly biased.

Your plan is sound, but finding one that isn't by now well work & tatty might be a challenge. Wing life limits & some parts cost/availability (noselegs?) mean many have been unloved for awhile now.

Once you've got your PPL, a cherokee would likely be a more useful & versatile aircraft; you could buy an early 140 now, but IMO they're too easy to fly to be an ideal trainer.

In an ideal world, I'd say train in someone else's PA38, then go buy a PA28 - the transition is trivially easy.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 12:31
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Having trained in both Cessna 150s and PA-38s (did my first solo in one), I agree with much of what has been said above. However, that was over 25 years ago and I would not dream of buying one now. Unless you really need to fly at night or in cloud,for your budget, you could buy a really nice permit two seater. As long as you are prepared to do some basic maintenance, the running/standing costs would be much lower and it would probably be much more interesting to fly.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 14:01
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I may fly one, but I sure as heck don't want to stall one, let alone spin one!
I spun one three times: came back white as a sheet (so I was told) after the first;
looked behind me (when I was told I shouldn't) on the second - tail moves around a lot ... and
engine stopped during the third ...

Only aeroplane I've spun and not liked it ...

However, that said, I enjoyed flying and instructing on the PA38 and always thought it was maligned for no really good reason (except spinning).

I think a few pilots have had spinning-related accidents during the course of the past few years, so the comments on this Thread remain as relevant as ever.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 17:07
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Many years ago I instructed with the 38 and found it superior to the 152 as it had more room and could bite so student had respect for what could happen particularly when stalling. Spinning was a pleasure most of the time and predictably, you just needed a few seconds of patience while it recovered.
As a trainer an excellent tool, as for anything else you take your pick.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 19:57
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PA38 can be purchased for approx 2/3 the price of a C152. The C152 is the better aeroplane. The C152 has no lifed parts other than the engine and the throttle cable. The PA38 has larger fuel tanks as standard although they did produced C152 with the optional long range tanks but they both will suffer from a very poor payload if the tanks are full. The PA38 has many ADs and is not good off a short runway. The biggest thing that determines the value is the engine life left. An engine overhaul will be in the region of 15,000. You might get lucky and operate it well into extension. Remember you will need an 8.33 radio after the 1st January. Both aeroplanes are great fun to fly and the chances are you can sell them again for what you paid. Make sure you get an independent survey done by an engineer prior to purchase. Good luck.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 20:33
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Thinking back to my post above:
if we taught them in aircraft which handled nicely?
I wonder how many are posting here with proper experience to offer opinion, beyond private flying in those run-of-the-mill spamcans. I know one poster has experience beyond that (although mostly in sport aircraft, I think, and none of it in transport aircraft) but perhaps the others haven't enjoyed the pleasures of various De Havilland designs (I mean the good ones), expensive Beech products, the flawed but effective Slingsby, etc.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 20:55
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Originally Posted by B737C525 View Post
Thinking back to my post above: I wonder how many are posting here with proper experience to offer opinion, beyond private flying in those run-of-the-mill spamcans. I know one poster has experience beyond that (although mostly in sport aircraft, I think, and none of it in transport aircraft) but perhaps the others haven't enjoyed the pleasures of various De Havilland designs (I mean the good ones), expensive Beech products, the flawed but effective Slingsby, etc.
8000 hrs of instruction in 13 years as full time instructor.
5400 hrs of it SE
Many 100's of spins as I was the designated "spin instructor '.
And now 3.5 years on "transport category" although I fail to see how the last part got bugger all to do with an assessment of the Pa38.
I-fly-for-an-airline-so-I'm-always-right-ofobia?

Cessna engineers should be hung then quartered for putting a cockpit light switch on top of a fuel line ( left side door pillar) and Piper engineers should be shot for putting the fuel selector by your left ankle.
Both should be burned at the stake for their cable and pulley flight controls.

Now...back to the Pa38..... I'd urge you to reconsider.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 21:24
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Originally Posted by B737C525 View Post
Thinking back to my post above: I wonder how many are posting here with proper experience to offer opinion, beyond private flying in those run-of-the-mill spamcans. I know one poster has experience beyond that (although mostly in sport aircraft, I think, and none of it in transport aircraft) but perhaps the others haven't enjoyed the pleasures of various De Havilland designs (I mean the good ones), expensive Beech products, the flawed but effective Slingsby, etc.
To my mind the OP asked a question not only about PA38's but also about the economics of what he was proposing.

Most people have focused on the 'plane and have posted their various opinions, it seems likely that the OP will use this machine in private ops anyway so such info would be valid and quite probably valuable to him or her.

Given my own experience (which is reasonably broad) I don't see any posts I could criticise as being deeply unreasonable about the PA38, nor the 150/152 that has been used as a comparison.

Ultimately, and admittedly not knowing about aircraft pricing in solent's location, I suspect the "expensive Beech products" etc may not be what he or she is interested in?

Also concur with B2N2 (again!) that this is not an enquiry about transport craft so the relevance of that escapes me too?

FP.
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Old 16th Aug 2017, 22:34
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Having flown the PA38 for over 500 hours I have a high opinion of it as a training aircraft and consider it far a far better aircraft than the C152 for the task........... however you have to be able to fly to train !

About ten or so years back I got into the aircraft leasing business and the PA38 was my primary option but the wing fatigue life and the then dwindling parts supply made me go for the C152.

I have never looked back from that decision, the Cessna's are still flying long after I would have had to scrap the PA38 and there is a plentiful supply of parts, as far as I can see a PA38 is now only worth the time on the engine and the value of the bits you can part out when the aircraft reaches its spar fatigue life......... sad really because to fly it was a pleasure.
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