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Super Cub Purchase Spousal Approval Document


Staff member
Northwest Arkansas
HA! I just came upon this while cleaning out my computer files. This is the memo I wrote to my wife to convince her I needed a super cub, obviously, it worked. Feel free to use any of these techniques if it will work for you. :lol:

Airplane Ownership Proposal
Why Steve Johnson should own a Piper Super Cub
October, 1999

This document will attempt to explore all aspects of a potential aircraft purchase, and why, a guy like Steve should own his own airplane.

It is important to recognize that all airplanes appreciate in value, and are considered an investment, the Super Cub more so than others, because it is highly desirable model. Therefore, even with interest, the airplane will be worth significantly more in five years than when it was purchased.

1. Procurement cost: $50,000 to be financed via AOPA aircraft financing for any period up to 30 years, however, five years would be ideal.

2. Insurance Cost: $1139 per year on Steve Johnson, the fuel starvation boy. This would reduce dramatically after two to three years. This is also a quote from the most expensive place.

3. Hanger Fees: Elton field hangers cost $60 per month. This type of plane requires an open hanger, or at least something to protect it from the hail & wind.

4. Maintenance Costs: The plane in consideration will not be due for major maintenance for another 1800 hours flying time. However, annual inspections tend to cost around $300 - $750 including some small repairs.

5. Engine Overhaul: At the end of 2000 total hours of flying, the engine SHOULD be overhauled for safety reasons. This costs about $10,000. The trick here is that it is only $5 per hour if you keep a kitty for the money as you fly it. This represents about 10 ? 12 years of flying before overhaul is necessary, assuming 150 ? 180 hours of flying per year, which is quite A LOT of flying (proposal aircraft has 200 hours on the engine currently).

Why this kind of airplane?
Considerable time has been spent over the last few years thinking about what kind of airplane Steve Johnson should own.

1. A fast twin-engine plane would be nice and not a lot more to purchase, but frankly, way way too expensive to maintain, insure, and operate for one owner.

2. Since I already own a part of two ?Ford Taurus? type airplanes, I don?t need one of those. You can rent those anywhere, anytime.

3. There is no way to rent a super cub or other tailwheel planes like it, unless you live in Alaska or Canada.

4. Bill has been very generous to allow me to use his airplane, However, I want to get a lot of experience in this type of plane for proficiency, and to someday instruct in it. I don?t feel it is right for me to fly his airplane two or three times as much as he does (he does not fly it very much).

5. Unlike the original ?Piper J3 Cub? like the yellow one sitting out where Bill?s plane is kept, this plane has a full electrical system with radios, transponders, GPS?s, emergency locaters, navigational lights, safety strobe lights and the like. This means it does not have to be ?hand propped? to start it, making it safer than the J3 Cub. Other than those changes, it looks very much like the J3, it is however, considerably faster and more powerful.

6. It uses about 5 gallons of gas per hour, compared to 10 in the Cessna and 24 in the twin. So it is very environmentally friendly.

7. Resale value is excellent

8. It is very unique

Cost Justifications
While it may seem impossible to ?justify? a hobby such as this, it actually can make financial sense, particularly in the long run.

1. Appreciation of the aircraft will more than make up for any interest paid on the purchase of it, and even some of the improvements & maintenance.

2. It will provide an extremely inexpensive way to fly. Although not terribly practical as a ?get there? plane, for sight seeing and general having a good time, it is ideal.

3. Steve intends to within the next year become a Certified Flight Instructor. To do training in this aircraft as a retirement career, or part time fun career would be very lucrative due to the fact that there are only a handful of tailwheel instructors left in the country, and there is a growing fascination with this kind of flying. In ten years, most of the current instructors will be gone or at least out of medical since they are all in their 70?s. While there would be an increase in insurance cost for such activity, a premium could be charged just for the experience of classic tailwheel flying.

4. Since Steve is a member of the Tight Wad flying club, he can already rent airplanes to ?get there? as cheap as possible. The ongoing costs of this club are nominal, and again, are an appreciating investment. For example, Steve paid $3800 to join Cloud One in 1998. The memberships are currently selling for $6000, and during that time a significant savings of flying costs was enjoyed ? even if you count the accident.

5. Purchasing a plane now would enable it to be long paid for by the time retirement rolls around.

6. Steve does not have a car payment. The outlook for long-term employment is very good at his company.

7. The intensive / expensive aspects of Steve?s flight training are over. There are only a couple ratings left to get - one of them is very easy. The second, the CFI rating, will not require flying planes other than club planes, so it will be very cheap particularly now that we have a new CFI on board.

Other Significant Advantages to Ownership

1. The number one advantage is safety. You know who has flown the airplane last, and you know what condition it is in. Also, you have a lot of experience in your airplane and can tell if you are developing problems.

2. In the case of this particular airplane, it has been a long proven safe design. It is still the #1 workhorse plane in places like Alaska, and is particularly known for its ability to take off and land in a very small space (150 ? 200 feet) (that means it could take off and land more than 10 times in a row on the main runway downtown (7000 ft).

3. In a review of the NTSB accidents involving Super Cubs, there are very few fatalities; in fact most people are not injured. This is due to the fact that the plane is simple, and has a very slow landing and takeoff speed, so if an accident does occur, it occurs at a very slow speed causing a lot less damage to plane and personage.

4. This airplane has a very large ?useful load?. It is capable of taking two three hundred pound people with full fuel comfortably. Most other airplanes of its category are pushing the limit at two 170-pound people and full fuel.

5. No conflicts with other partner?s / renters. You could fly this plane to Wisconsin and let it sit for 10 days and it would not cost you anything. Not true of renting.

6. With a plane like this, you own and preserve an important piece of aviation history.

7. There is significant stud pumpkin value of owing a Super Cub. You would be the envy of any airfield, and your wife would be considered the luckiest woman on earth.

8. Lower insurance ? insurance is much less when you own, than when you rent.

The Down Side
To be fair, some disadvantages should be mentioned.

1. Unscheduled maintenance: Just like a car, things can go wrong with an airplane and there can be hidden costs. Because this plane is so popular, these are considerably less than with other aircraft. Also, this airplane is very simple, so there is not much that can go wrong.

2. In 8 to 15 years, the plane will need to have the fabric replaced. This will cost about $9,000 if done by experts with the best materials (which will then last 30 years). However, it is cheaper to care for than metal planes, but does require a hanger or at least overhang to keep it out of the sun / rain / wind.

3. Not really a traveling machine: This airplane while very comfortable, and fun to fly, is not fast at all. It averages around 100mph. So, on a calm day, a trip to Joplin would take 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours, rather than 55 minutes in the rented twin. However, the 1.75 hours in the Super Cub would cost (including insurance, hangers, fuel, and engine maintenance) $43.75 vs $160.25 in the rented twin for 60 minutes, but you did save some time ? about 50 minutes at a cost of over $100. The club planes are great for short trips, and the new club Arrow will get us to Joplin in about 1 hour at a reasonable cost also.

4. It is not an instrument certified airplane: Most of the Super Cubs in Alaska have all the gear to fly in the clouds, but this one would not. With built in GPS and turn coordinator, a person with an instrument rating would not have any problem getting around in the clouds, but it could not be used to legally fly in instrument conditions. It is a VFR certified airplane for day or night use. Of course, if for some reason it needed to be instrument certified, the equipment could be added, but it is unlikely that it would ever be necessary.

So there you have it. A well thought out proposal. Securing financing for this project is no problem at all, in fact, they will loan us just as much for an airplane as they would for a house. Although there is not an immediate necessity to jump, an airplane has become available at an attractive price. Super Cubs typically sell for $70K - $100K on the current market.

Humbly submitted for your consideration,

Steven L. Johnson
Steve, obviously, it worked! When I wanted to buy a plane, Tim wanted financial justification for owning a plane vs. being a club member (equity, monthly dues, per hour charges). I just told him there's no way owning my own plane could be justified. Somehow, he bought that (literally).

5 gph? I can only get 8 gph, and that's with leaning it until the engine sputters, then pushing the mixture back in only a little. What am I doing wrong?

"Stud pumpkin"????

Anne, I think Steve's cub is a 135hp unit?
You should be able to get about 7.5 or better at 2450rpm, or 7.0 at 5000 and above, leaned to about 50 rich of peak?

My hat's off to you sj........I subscribe to the theory that it's better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.
The second airplane was much easier, by the way...

I had perfected my skills somewhat...