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If you have got a tight budget but have always wanted to own a plane, you are in luck, as there are some great options available for under 20k.
The best 4 seater planes that are under 20k are the Lark Commander, Aeronca Champion 7AC, Ercoupe 415-C, and the Cessna 152. For used planes, you should always confirm that the condition of the aircraft is safe and operational by conducting a thorough inspection.
When we think of flying, we commonly assume that this is something that only rich people can afford to do. While buying a brand new top-of-the-line plane certainly costs a whole lot of money, you would be surprised by how affordable getting into aviation actually can be. Over the years, we have seen hundreds of planes come and go for ridiculously cheap prices, many of which are under the $20,000 mark, which means that getting your hands on a plane is attainable for just about any consumer. What you want to make sure of is that the plane that you are inspecting for at this price range is in full working order and is safe to fly. To help you understand this further, we are going to take a closer look at the best 4 seater planes for under 20k.
After decades of working as a pilot and flight instructor, I have had an extensive amount of experience buying and selling planes. My experience has taught me that there are plenty of good planes out there for under 20k, but you want to make sure that they are worth your investment by confirming their condition.
4 Seater Planes Under 20k
Getting into aviation is one of the greatest hobbies that you can ever get involved in. The prospect of having your hands on the steering wheel of an aircraft and being in full control of an airplane while soaring through the sky is a feeling that can only be described as thrilling. An issue with flying, however, is that many people often associate this hobby with being exclusive to people that have financial wealth. While this may be true in many cases, you will find that there are ways to get around the costs of aviation by buying affordable planes.
There are thousands of used planes out there that are just begging to be flown - and many of them are being sold dirt cheap. Even in the modern age of flying, there are some fantastic planes being sold on the market for just a mere 20k - or even less in some cases. This is ridiculously cheap for a fully functional aircraft, as it is less expensive than what most people pay for a car. A lot of people buy used cars for considerably more than this, which means that if you are sitting in traffic in your car and fantasizing about flying a plane, there is no reason that you have to deny yourself the joy of flying in your life.
With that being said, if you want to buy a plane for 20k or less, you are going to have to make some compromises. A plane for 20k is by no means going to be state-of-the-art, brand new, or even anything close. A lot of the planes that are being sold this cheap are much older models and have been around the block more than once. Now, while they are cheap, that does not mean that they are bad planes. These are classic planes that have been tested for decades and have continued to prove themselves over the years as being worthy of flight to this day.
What you want to be careful with if you are considering an aircraft for 20k or less is that the plane is operational, in decent condition, and more than anything - is safe to fly. An aircraft that is being sold at 20k needs to be approached with caution, as it is likely quite old and can have a wide variety of different issues. To mitigate the amount of risk involved in buying a plane that is this old, you should try to buy your aircraft from a reliable seller. If you are new to aviation and have not flown many planes before, you should bring a friend with you that is an experienced pilot or plane mechanic. If you do not know anyone who is, you should seriously consider hiring a professional to come to inspect the plane before purchase. Let’s dive right into 4 seater planes under 20k.
A plane that you really cannot go wrong with is the Lark Commander. We have been seeing these awesome planes flying through the sky for decades and the fact that they continue to go strong to this day proves just how reliable this aircraft really is.
The Lark Commander comes in a variety of different model types and just about every model from these 60s era planes is fantastic. The Lark Commander itself can be found in a few different variations from the mid to late 60s, which was then followed up with by a model from 1971.
If you have been around planes long enough, the style of the Lark Commander will immediately stand out to you and you may even confuse it with a Cessna, as many people tend to, but these are actually different planes. While you will rarely see a completely original Lark Commander flying these days, there are a whole bunch of them out there that are being flown after undergoing restoration.
The Lark Commander can be found on the market at a variety of different prices. After doing some research and reaching out to pilots that own this awesome aircraft, we were able to find a couple of options that met our 20k budget. To buy an aircraft of this quality for such a low price is practically unheard of, as there are plenty of similar planes that are being sold for several times this amount.
With that being said, if you want to get your hands on a Lark Commander for 20k or less, you better hop on the first good deal that you come across because they can be difficult to stumble upon. If you are willing to bend your budget by just a few thousand dollars more, you will find that some more options will open up to you, but if 20k is the absolute maximum that you can afford, there is certainly a Lark Commander out there waiting for you.
The Lark Commander is a single-engine aircraft that is equipped with a Lycoming O-360-A2F engine. Unless the owner has made some serious customizations to their aircraft, then the Lark Commander that you look at should still have this original engine installed. The weight of the aircraft is 1,450 lbs and it can take a maximum passenger and cargo weight of an additional 1,000 lbs, which means that you need to approach your crew and belongings that you bring on board with this in mind.
The maximum flight altitude of the Lark Commander is 13,000 ft. Once you are in the air you will have a maximum flight distance of roughly 520 miles from your starting point with a full tank of gas. You do not need an overly long runway for the Lark Commander, as the takeoff distance required for this aircraft is about 750 ft. Whereas the landing runway needs to be 875 ft to ensure that you can land safely.
Since you are going to be buying a Lark Commander for 20k or less, you really want to make sure that this aircraft has been serviced and maintained properly over the years. This is an old plane and it has been in the air for right around 60 years, which means that it should have been restored. You should ask the seller for specific work that had been done on the plane and make sure that they can prove the restoration that the aircraft received. If all of the paperwork is in order and the performance of the aircraft has been confirmed, then you will have a great Lark Commander on your hands.
Aeronca Champion 7AC
A fantastic airplane that has been around for more than half a century is the Aeronca Champion 7AC. This aircraft first came on the scene in 1944 and is still to this day considered to be a very decent plane. When it was first launched it was meant to be an aircraft that rivaled its competitor the Piper Cub - and it did so with flying colors.
The Aeronca Champion 7AC was initially intended to be an airplane that was meant for flight training but due to its intuitive handling and fantastic performance, it immediately became a hit among pilots and the aviation community, which led it to become a crowd favorite for decades. This kind of success from the Aeronca Champion 7AC and its great performance has earned this aircraft the nickname ‘The Champ’. This is very fitting considering its longevity and standing within the world of aviation.
To tell you the truth, you will have a hard time finding an Aeronca Champion 7AC for 20k or under, as it took a lot of digging from our end, but ultimately, we were able to find a great option on the market for exactly $20,000. This is an amazing price for a vintage aircraft that still has the ability to fly with excellent performance to back up its reliability over the years.
There are plenty of Aeronca Champion 7ACs that are going for 40k or less, but finding anything cheaper than that can be challenging - but not impossible. There are currently estimated to be a little over 7,000 of these planes left in the world and a good handful of them are still fully operational and being used by pilots. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on one of these awesome planes, you will have an amazing and historic plane to fly around.
What is great about having a plane that has stood the test of time like the Aeronca Champion 7AC is that it is not only a great plane for flying but also a fantastic aircraft for collecting. Planes like these are in scarce numbers these days and buying one for cheap can be an investment in itself. If you find an Aeronca Champion 7AC for this price, you would do well to take care of it, as its value is sure to increase dramatically over the years.
It would be wise to invest in the aircraft by putting some money into it for restoration (if needed). This will not only greatly increase the value of your Aeronca Champion 7AC but will also ensure that you have an aircraft that is safe to fly. A plane this old could have any number of things wrong with it and the last thing you want to do is find out what they are once you are in the air. With that being said, be sure to be thorough with your inspection if you are considering an Aeronca Champion 7AC for under 20k.
Unlike other planes like the Lark Commander, the Aeronca Champion 7AC has a shorter flight time, as you will only be able to fly around 270 miles from your starting point once you take off - due to the fact that you can only fit 13.5 gallons into its tank. Once you are in the air, you can expect to fly as high as 12,500 ft. In addition, the maximum speed of the Aeronca Champion 7AC is just 95 miles per hour. While this is not too fast by today’s standards, this is still more than adequate for pilots that really just want to cruise and not worry too much about getting to a destination. Planes being flown like the Aeronca Champion 7AC should be used pretty much exclusively for enjoyment and not travel.
If you want a great plane for a great price, the Ercoupe 415-C is a solid option for you to consider. This aircraft was designed for one thing - a fun flight. So, if your ambitions for owning a plane are purely recreational and all you want to do is get in the air and cruise around, the Ercoupe 415-C is going to be the way to go.
One thing that we love about this plane is its simplicity. It has a minimal look inside and out, which is great for new pilots that are still learning the ropes but also experienced pilots that want to get behind the wheel without all of the complex mechanisms of a modern aircraft. Ercoupe first started manufacturing the 415-C in the mid-40s and they continued to make more in light of the success that the early design had.
The great thing about buying an Ercoupe 415-C is that you can do so at a price that is practically cheaper than anything on the market these days. After reaching out to various sellers we were able to find a few contenders that were priced at 20k or less. In fact, the cheapest Ercoupe 415-C that we found was going for just $18,000, which is an absolute steal for a quality old-school aircraft.
If you consider what most people pay for other transport toys such as motorcycles and cars, getting a plane like the Ercoupe 415-C for a mere 18k means that just about anyone can get into aviation if they wanted to. While the 18k option for this aircraft almost seems too good to be true, we were also able to track down some other Ercoupe 415-Cs on the market that were going for slightly more.
We found some great options right around the 20k range - with some that were selling for $20,000 even - and a handful being sold between 20 and 22k. So, if you can be a little bit flexible with your budget, you will have no issues being able to afford an Ercoupe 415-C.
This aircraft has a top speed of 110 miles per hour and it can reach an altitude of up to 13,000 ft, which is more than enough for casual flights and for pilots that just like the joy of cruising. With that being said, one of the drawbacks of the Ercoupe 415-C is that it only has a maximum flight distance of 300 miles, which is incredibly short compared to other options that we have looked at. This means that even with a full tank of gas, you are looking at just several hours of flight time at most.
If you want to be in the air longer than that, then you should consider an alternative aircraft. However, if a few hours is enough to satisfy your flying needs, then this is really an incredible plane that can be purchased for 20k or less.
An aircraft manufacturer that is highly regarded in the industry is Cessna. For decades Cessna’s planes have been praised by pilots and the aviation community as being phenomenal planes, which is why we still see so many of their older models being flown today.
With that being said, if you were to start searching for cheap Cessna planes on the market, you would have a hard time getting your hands on one that comes even close to the 20k mark. In fact, finding an affordable Cessna plane that is below several hundred thousand dollars can be a challenge in itself.
However, the Cessna 152 is a model from this manufacturer that we were able to find going for very reasonable prices. While many pilots might claim that it would be impossible to find a Cessna 152 for 20k or less, we were able to prove them wrong by finding one that was exactly 20k, which is practically unheard of. For a plane of this caliber to be sold so cheaply is a deal that few plane enthusiasts would be able to pass up.
While we were able to find a Cessna 152 at this price, the reality is that you will have to likely adjust your budget to open up some more options to you, as we found a wider selection of these planes being sold between 20 and 30k.
The specs of this aircraft are impressive, to say the least. It has a flight range of over 470 miles and can get up to speeds of up to 126 miles per hour at an elevation of 14,700 ft. As far as planes that we have looked at for 20k or less, the Cessna 152 is by far the best as far as specs go. With this kind of performance and distance capability, you can take your Cessna 152 across state lines and on long-distance trips without any issues.