I bought a 1977 Piper Cherokee 6

Well at least a portion of a Cherokee 6. Last week I officially bought into a partnership with two other pilots that fly out of Charlotte airport (KFPK). They have owned N323DT for 10 years and recently had a partner pass away and another lose their medical and have been looking to bring in another partner.

Why did I decide to buy a plane?

Soon after I finished my license I was renting a Cessna 177RG Cardinal. This plane was reasonable to rent at $155/hr wet and was pretty fast at 140kts (160mph). This plane had lots of availability on the schedule and I was able to take it for weekend trips. Unfortunately, that plane is no longer available and I don’t have access to anything I can use for weekend or weeklong trips. I needed to do something; either buy my own plane, join a club or find a partnership.

Why did I decide to buy into a partnership?

I’m just not sure the plane I want to fly today will be the plane I want to fly 5 years from now. I wasn’t ready to invest in a plane on my own and also pay for all of the monthly hangar fees, insurance fees, maintenance fees, and for the annual inspection. I just don’t think I’ll fly that much each year to justify all of those expenses on my own.

The right time, place, and plane.

I’ve been working toward my instrument rating (IR) and my instructor Patrick Retzer of Great Lakes Air Ventures knew I was looking for a way to get access to a plane I can take for weekends or full weeks here and there. One thought was to put a hold on my IR training and do my multiengine so I can rent the Twin Comanche that is available on the field. This was an interesting option and I know I eventually want to get my Multi-Engine Land (MEL) so we did a flight in that and I had a blast. However, around that time he also caught wind that the Cherokee 6 was looking for another partner and he made the proper introductions. I decided to stay the course and continue working towards my IR and buy into a partnership on a Cherokee 6/300. I’m thinking that I might do my multi-engine sometime late next year.

The Cherokee 6 has everything I am looking for in a plane right now.

  • 150+ mph
  • IFR certified
  • Constant speed propeller
  • Seats at least 4 – The Cherokee 6 can actually seat 6 which will be great for group trips or when we are camping with some friends and have all of our gear.
  • I kind of wanted a complex plane with retractable gear just to build good habits and practice. But, the decreased maintenance, insurance and other benefits with the fixed gear works for me.

The Cherokee 6 price was right.

Even though more people were in the partnership in the past it was only 2 people 50/50 on it prior to me buying it. They decided to have a total of 4 shares, so I purchased 25% of it. There is still one share of 25% available to be purchased. Right now the other guys are covering the un-owned 25% portion of the monthly fees, which is a pretty good deal for me.

  • $20,000 – to purchase 25% of the plane. Technically ¼ share of the business that owns the plane.
  • $160/mo – hangar, insurance and reserve
  • $140/hr wet – this is based off of tach time not hobbs time, so it’s really less than this when comparing it to other planes that I was renting based on hobbs time.


  • Lycoming IO-540 – 300hp (500 hours, factory remanufactured. 2200 TTAF)
  • 3 blade Hartzell propeller
  • 84 gallons (25 in left / right mains and 17 in left/right tips)
  • Garmin 530 GPS
  • Garmin 396 with XM subscription
  • Electric trim (the auto-pilot does not have altitude hold)

Plane valuation

Based on my purchase of 25% of the plane for $20,000 gives the plane a valuation of $80,000. Based on my research a Cherokee 6/300 in this condition is usually sold for more than $100,000. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to find a plane with this few of hours on the airframe and so few engine hours since a major overhaul. The plane also has relatively modern avionics with the Garmin 530 and 396. I would never consider anything with an engine an investment, but based on the valuation this was definitely a good buy. In the future if I continue to fly regularly I may want a smaller 4 seater that really goes fast, but I could see myself still keeping this to have access to a 6 seater since the monthly payments are so reasonable.

Next Steps

I have my complex endorsement but since this plane is kicking out 300 ponies I needed to also get my high performance endorsement. I’ve got to do 10 hours of dual in this plane before I can solo due to the insurance policy.

I’ve got a handful of flights tentatively planned over the next couple months.

  • Traverse City – Alison’s parents live in TC and it’s a fun and easy flight to fly up north and have them pick us up at the airport.
  • Bellaire – I’d like to do a day trip up north with some friends to Shorts brewery. Their food is delicious and I can fly back a growler to enjoy later.
  • Mackinac Island – Alison and I will probably head back up to Mackinac Island for the weekend this fall; it’s a nice little flight and would be interesting to visit in the off season.
  • Nashville – Hopefully we’ll get a weekend that looks like good VFR weather and we’ll head down for a long weekend to enjoy Nashville TN.
  • Florida – This winter I want to fly to Jacksonville to visit my brother, then over to the Tampa area to see my parents. I’m hoping to stay down there for a week or two and work remotely. We’ll see if that plan comes together or not.
  • Maine – In the late spring I think it would be really fun to fly to Maine with Alison and do some camping.

I’m looking forward to all of the adventures we’ll have with 3 Delta Tango.

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Using Google Calendar to reserve flight times.

Google Calendar is pretty easy to use and most phones and mobile devices integrate with it very easily.  We decided to use this as the primary way to reserve flights in the partnership that I just joined. The only problem was that it’s really useful to get notified whenever anyone scheduled a flight.  Just so you have some situational awareness of what’s going on next week, over the weekend or on any upcoming holidays.

  • We setup the Google Calendar on it’s own Gmail account.
  • I didn’t want other peoples flight time showing up in my primary calendar so I actually just installed a 3rd party app called “CalenMob” for iOS.  I connected the Gmail account to that and use that for seeing the planes schedule.
  • I setup an IFTTT recipe (if this then that – to send us all an email whenever a new event is added to the calendar.  This was a stock recipe so it was very easy to setup.  Now we all receive an email (usually within 30 minutes) of anyone scheduling a flight in the calendar.

Questions to ask before joining an airplane partnership

I’m posting this to help anyone else who might be evaluating a plane partnership and is wondering what questions they need to ask before joining the partnership.

  • Cost of the buy-in?
  • Where is maintenance handled, who is responsible for making sure the annual gets done?
  • What are the monthly fixed costs for: insurance, hangar, reserve?
  • Are those monthly fixed the same across everyone or is it different depending on who flies the plane more?
  • Monthly maintenance reserve? – is there an overhaul fund?
  • What is the hourly wet charge for flying the plane?  Is this time based on Hobbs or Tach time?
  • What, if any, software is used to track scheduling the plane, hours flown, billing, maintenance tracking?
  • Are there any limitations to how long someone can keep the plane? Over the weekend, a week somewhere else?
  • Who handles the paperwork – sending invoices, collecting checks, paying insurance, hangar etc.
  • How do they handle IFR/VOR checks every 30 days?
  • Why did past partners leave the partnership?
  • How would they handle an unexpected big expense, is there currently a reserve or would it be an assessment?
  • Do they have a contract they use or an existing agreement in place?
  • What’s the process of selling your share back, what’s the process for anyone else to sell their share?
  • What’s the process for bringing additional people into the plane?
  • Who pays the deductible if there is an incident?
  • Who is authorized to fly the plane?
  • How are upgrades evaluated and decided upon? Such as the 2020 ADSB requirement?
  • How are squawks or minor items reported and handled?
  • What documentation is provided to show your shares or ownership in the plane?
  • How is fuel handled. Do you fill it up after each flight? Is there a credit card for the plane, or do you pay out of pocket and get reimbursed?