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Having your own plane is touted as an impossible feat to achieve in movies and TV. So what really are the cheapest planes that you can buy?
The cheapest airplanes to fly and buy are small personal aircraft as you might have guessed. The most affordable planes to buy are the Cessna 150, Ercoupe 415-C, Aeronca Champ, Beechcraft Skipper, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, Luscombe Silvaire, Stinson 108, and Piper Cherokee 140.
Buying your own plane that you can hop in and fly any time you want is something that all pilots hope they can do at some point. But many people think they need hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) to get their hands on a plane. The truth is, some of them are more affordable than you might think. In this article, you’ll learn about the 8 most affordable planes out there that you could buy and own all to yourself.
To make sure that you get the most accurate information possible, we’ve spoken to experts in the field of aviation sales as well as scoured the internet to find the average pricing you see below. Understand that these numbers are averages, but you can read through this list with the confidence that these really are the cheapest planes on the market that you can buy and fly.
How Much Do Airplanes Cost To Buy?
If you’re thinking about buying an airplane, we’re going to go out on a limb here and assume that you’re talking about small, personal aircraft that you can fly at your own discretion. For the vast majority of pilots, renting an airplane whenever you want to fly it, or for the long-term, is the most common method of flying.
But having your own plane… how awesome would that be? And shockingly, they’re actually not that expensive.
Many people don’t ever even consider the idea of buying their own plane because they fear that it will just be way out of their price range. After all, who has a couple hundred thousand — or a few million — dollars laying around? But don’t let that stigma put you off. For far less expensive than the average new car price in the United States, you could own your very own plane today.
You could be a multi-millionaire or billionaire with your eyes on a private jet (don’t worry, we will indulge you), but someone with that much money likely wouldn’t be worried too much about what it costs. Or, you know, they’ll have people to handle that kind of stuff for them. When I scour the internet myself for planes to buy, I personally am not one of those people who are in the market for a private jet, but I digress.
We’ll get into the details of the cheapest planes to buy below, but here’s an idea of which planes you might want to consider looking into and what you can expect to pay for them:
What Are The Cheapest Planes To Buy & Fly?
How Much You Can Expect To Pay: $14,000 to $16,000
If you’re wanting to dip your toes into the “owning your own plane” industry and your single biggest concern is the cost of the aircraft, then the obvious choice is the Cessna 150. As the most affordable plane on this list, the Cessna 150 can typically be found for around $14,000 to $16,000. Sure, that’s still a decent amount of money, but that’s less than most used cars even sell for these days.
The Cessna 150 (and its brother the 152) is the 3rd most popular personal airplane of all time, behind only its successor — the Cessna 172 Skyhawk — and the Piper Cherokee. The Cessna 150 is known as both one of the easiest, and one of the hardest planes to fly, depending on which pilot you talk to. But as far as buying your very first plane goes, you can’t go wrong with this timeless classic.
How Much You Can Expect To Pay: $16,000 to $24,000
Just behind the Cessna 150 — at least at the lower end of its range — is the Luscombe Silvaire. Depending on which model you’re looking at, you can find Silvaires for as little as $16,000. But you can also find them for $24,000 or more. There are three models to consider, with each one getting more expensive than the others: 8C, 8E, and 8F. The 8F is significantly more costly than the other two, so keep that in mind!
The Silvaire moniker has become commonplace for all 2-seater models of Luscombe airplanes, but the first actual Silvaire was built way back in 1940, the model 8C. Since then, the 8E and 8F have been built and released, remaining as popular as ever. This affordable aircraft can be a bit of a struggle to land due to its narrow landing gear and responsive controls, so we don’t really recommend it to beginner pilots. Although once you master it, the Silvaire is an amazing plane for its price.
How Much You Can Expect To Pay: $18,000 to $20,000
Coming in third on our list of the cheapest planes to buy and fly is the ever-popular Ercoupe 415-C. Depending on the model of Silvaire in the discussion, the Ercoupe could very easily be ranked second in this article, with an average price of just $18,000 to $20,000. But nonetheless, you won’t be disappointed with this plane no matter how much you pay. To an extent of course.
The 415-C is touted as one of the easiest planes to fly and is a no-brainer for someone looking to buy a plane of their own. This plane doesn’t come with rudders, so all you need to steer is the yoke — similar to driving a car. These pilot-friendly airplanes are cheap to buy, easy to fly, and offer an experience like few other planes do. Get your hands on one today for less than $20,000.
Piper Cherokee 140
How Much You Can Expect To Pay: $20,000 to $22,000
In 4th place in our ranking of the cheapest planes to fly and buy sits the popular Piper Cherokee 140. The Piper is a fantastic low-wing aircraft that was originally designed to be a direct competitor of the Cessna 150. Nearly 60 years after its release, it’s still competing with the Cessna in terms of popularity and also price. You can get your hands on a Cherokee 140 for around $20,000 to $22,000.
The Cherokee 140 is available in both 2-seater and 4-seater models, with the bigger models typically rounding out the upper tier of the price range. This plane is known for its reliability, relatively low maintenance cost, and how easy it is to fly.
How Much You Can Expect To Pay: $22,000 to $24,000
Bringing up the tail-end of the first half of this list, the Aeronca Champ is the 5th cheapest plane to buy with an average price of around $22,000 to $24,000. Originally a direct computer to the J-3 Cub, the Aeronca Champ is nowadays not only more affordable than the J-3, but many would even consider it to be a better airplane.
Unlike most airplanes in this class, the Champ has tandem seating, offering a unique seating experience, unlike most standard seating. The J-3 does as well, but the Champ’s offset seating allows for better visibility and easier taxiing. If you’re a fan of high-wing airplanes and want to have one of your own, the Champ is the cheapest one that you’ll find on the market.
How Much You Can Expect To Pay: $24,000 to $25,000
The Beechcraft Skipper is incredibly popular among aviation enthusiasts and pilots alike, but in the grand scheme of things, it is largely unknown. This is because just over 300 Skippers were ever produced, making them somewhat difficult to find. That’s why it’s so shocking that you can still get your hands on one for around $25,000 or less. And let’s just say that you won’t find an easier to fly plane in this price range.
Originally designed to be a training plane, flight school and pilot instructors quickly dismissed the Skipper as a viable trainer. Not because it wasn't a good plane, but because it was too good. Its sturdy design made the Skipper incredibly stable, making flying and landing easier than flight schools wanted it to be. The sloped nose design increased visibility and further reduced the stress on the pilot.
So the Skipper was discontinued since flight schools no longer wanted to use them. But as a recreational aircraft, the Beechcraft Skipper is the perfect plane to hop in and fly.
How Much You Can Expect To Pay: $26,000 to $29,000
The Cessna 170 and 172 are, of course, different aircraft. But for all intents and purposes, we are considering them to be one and the same. The 172 is the direct successor to the original 170, which itself was the successor of the 150/152 you read about above. The biggest difference between the 170 and the 172 is the landing gear, with the 172 opting for the popular tricycle gear configuration that made landing horizontal and simple.
All that said, you can expect to find a Cessna 170/172 for a little under $30,000, with most selling in the $26,000 to $29,000 range — coming in at 7th in our rankings. This is actually the most popular plane of all time, outselling any other model in history. That’s why you can find them for such a great price, they’re everywhere. When it comes to buying your own plane, you will struggle to find a better bang for your buck than a Cessna 170 or 172.
How Much You Can Expect To Pay: $28,000 to $40,000
Rounding out our list of the 8 cheapest planes to buy and fly is the Stinson 108. The 108 is not exactly known for its elegant looks that won the world over, but rather for its durability, reliability, and versatility. Its high-wing design and unique fuselage shape make it a plane with a niche following, but that following has really kept the 108s in tip-top shape over the years.
These planes were built between 1946 and 1950, so all of them that you find are going to be at least 70 years old. But don’t let that deter you. Stinson die-hards have kept these well-maintained and updated over the years, with new engines, sheet metal shells, and more. With the niche following and modifications over the years, the price range can be all over. Expect to pay anywhere from around $28,000 up through $40,000 for a nice Stinson 108.
Are Airplanes Expensive To Keep And Maintain?
When you’re thinking about buying a plane, of course, the only thing that’s really on your mind is the actual cost of the plane. Looking at the table above, you can see that even for the cheapest planes out there, you’ve still got to shell out tens of thousands of dollars. So it’s fair if other incidental costs are not exactly at the forefront of your mind.
But the truth is, buying an airplane will incur much more than just the upfront cost of the aircraft itself. And if your budget is lower and you’re looking to spend as little as possible on the plane — maybe by getting a Cessna 150 — then the incidental costs will be a bigger percent of the cost of the plane as time goes on.
So let’s take a quick look at the most common costs to keep in mind in addition to the actual cost of the plane itself.
How Much Does It Cost To Store An Airplane?
Storing your plane can be up to a few hundred dollars a month or more. When you aren't flying your plane, you’ll still need to store it at the airport that you’re flying in and out of, either in a hangar or in outdoor storage. Unlike a car, you can’t just put the plane on a trailer and take it to the airport every weekend when you want to fly.
While prices will vary wildly among airports depending on location, type of storage, and competition, expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $500 per month for storage costs. You can also expect to pay another $100 or so for the tie-down gear required to hold your plane in place.
How Much Is Maintenance On An Airplane?
Like your car, you’ll need to regularly maintain your airplane to keep it in good operating condition. This includes normal things like oil changes and gas, of course. But it also includes paying for repairs and new parts when something fails, such as the engine, tires, landing gear, propeller, avionics, and so on.
Oil changes should be done every 50 flight hours or so, and cost about the same as one in your car, so nothing too crazy. Gas is a bit more expensive, costing around $25 - $50 per hour of use depending on the plane. And the general repairs and maintenance can be a few bucks to a few thousand depending on the issue. As a rule of thumb, expect to pay around $1,000 per month extra for maintenance and repairs on top of oil and gas.
What Does Insurance Cost On An Airplane?
The last major incidental cost that you need to think about is insurance. Many people don’t even know that aviation insurance is a thing since you don’t expect to be getting into any traffic accidents up there. But as with anything you have tens of thousands of dollars invested in, getting it insured isn’t really a bad idea.
The cost of insurance will vary widely depending on the policy and the value of the aircraft, similar to car insurance. As will the type of damage covered, but it’s usually limited to in-flight damage and other external damages. So it doesn’t include part failure or anything like that. Expect to pay around $100 - $200 per month on average for aviation insurance.