Why I bought a Skylane

Each of these topics could take one or many chapters, and there is certainly room for discussion, but I have put down some of my thoughts in each of these areas and kept the answers short.

 182 is the safest plane flying.

I don’t know how true this one is but I have read all the reports from many authors and I came to the conclusion that the Cessna 182 is one of the safest traveling planes ever made.  The AOPA Air Safety Foundation and many other sources will tell you it has a better record than most high performance airplanes.

I have put a lot of cross country hours on this plane and many of those were in instrument conditions and I have never had the plane do anything unexpected.  It worked as it should and kept the right side up.

N6107E has had no damage, and being the second owner for the last 9+ years it has only been flown by the most excellent pilots.  Well maybe I stretch the truth on that one.  What I should say is that N6107E has made me look like an excellent pilot over the last 9 years.  It has taken me everywhere I have asked it to and back. 

Bottom line.  There are some planes that are safer than others based on design.  You should also consider the state of maintenance.  Weather etc and now we get to the most critical factor - YOU.  You will determine how safely you fly.

High Wing vs. Low Wing

Everyone thinks they know the answer to this one.  They usually try to justify their decision based on the plane they fly.  I am no different, but it wasn’t me that made that decision.  While I was looking to buy a plane I asked my wife if she would fly with me and if the family was going to fly too.  See didn’t really know.

She and I sailed to the Bahamas for our honeymoon.  Just the two of us.  She must have been really in love then.  So she knows I can get us where we need to go and I’m a cautious person.

Well we looked at several planes and she felt they were all too small.  She wanted a restroom and kitchen.  Then she made the decision easy and I remember the quote. “If you want me to fly with you, I want to see the ground so I can enjoy all that we fly over and it has to be a plane like that”.  She was pointing to a high wing Cessna.

I think a good pilot can make either high or low work well, but it is easier to see the scenery with a high wing plane.

Both the windows open in N6107E.  That makes it much nicer while on the ground.  Much more wife and family friendly.

 

I wanted a plane where I didn’t feel cramped.

I have flown many types and sizes of planes.  From the really tight one person gliders to a Twin Beech (not the Barron but that old one with three seats across the front).  I wanted to be able to sit in the pilot seat and not feel like I was hugging the person in the copilot seat.  The 182 has a wide cabin that gives me enough room.  Many other planes don’t have this same room.

On longer trips the extra space of the 182 becomes a very nice feature.

Having the two windows open helps tremendously.

 

I wanted a real FOUR PLACE plane.

I wanted to be able to take four people with luggage.  Many planes with four seats are really 1 or 2 or 3 place planes at best.  Some planes can’t actually legally be in weight and balance with two up front without putting weights in the baggage area.  Then they may not be in when the fuel burns off.  The 182 has a large load, 1275 lbs., and a large cg range.  I have put more stuff in the plane than I though would fit, but it has always been at or under gross.  There have only been a few flights I chose not to take full fuel.

 

Always have ENOUGH gas

It still amazes me that pilots/engines run out of gas.  Sometimes with gas still in some of the tanks.

I wanted a plane that could have enough gas to get me there, and somewhere else, with some left over, and I didn’t get nervous.  Well the 182 can carry 92 (88 usable).  At my normal cruise (65 %), the plane can stay in the air longer than I can (6 hours +).  If you want to go to max economy then the plane can stay up over 10 hours.  This combined with it’s useful load told me I should never be in a situation where I don’t have enough gas to make the length of flight I wanted to make.  It has proven true.

I wanted a fuel system that made sense to me.  I have flown single engine airplanes with 6 gas tanks that require you to time each tank or pump from one to another.  Not what I wanted in my airplane.  On, Off, Both, Left, Right.  And most of the time you can keep it in Both.  Simple is better.  88 usable, with one setting is good in my book.

I have taken the time to have the fuel vents (N6107E has a fuel vent for each tank, some don't) placed correctly to keep the fuel flow balanced in cruise.

 

IFR capable in real life.

To really travel with a plane I think you need to have an instrument rating.  You need to be current and proficient, and have a plane that is current and proficient too.  N6107E is a plane that will allow you fly IFR into most reasonable situations and treat you well.  It has made me look like a most excellent pilot in some minimal weather.

I earned my instrument rating in N6107E.  It is a great plane to fly instruments in real IMC.

I’ve flown through many a rain or cloud and never had any doubts about what the plane was capable of doing or would do.  It is a stable plane in IMC, even with the bumps.

I have flown into many large airports, Dulles, National, Atlanta’s Hartsfield, and have felt really really small, but never felt less than capable.  I can speed up some and I can really slow down to help fit into the system and get off the runway quickly.

 

Fast enough and at what cost.

If we pilots all had enough money we would all have many planes and one of them would be a Lear.  Well short of that by a wide margin, I needed to target just one plane.  N6107E will go 144 knots.  I flight plane for 130 to 135 most of the time.  This depends on if the family is with me.  When I fly with the family, smooth and comfort is more important than speed.

I looked into a retractable and decided the few extra knots I gained I would have to pay for each and every year at annual time.  A retractable is more expensive for insurance and maintenance even when it is just sitting there.

And the real reason I wanted to buy a plane is that I like to fly.  So was it really that important that I saved 5 or 10 minutes on most of my trips.

 

Simple Maintenance

I wanted a plane with simple systems and low cost maintenance.  Annual inspections – the actual inspection only can be as low as $100 to $200.  The repair and maintenance will add to that, but if you are keeping up with the maintenance all year long your costs will be lower.  N6107E has simple systems and it's maintenance and repair costs are reasonable.  It is great to have the factory capable of still making new parts too.

Once I figured out the 182 was going to be the plane

I then targeted the features I wanted in MY 182 N6107E.

 

IFR

I wanted a plane that had been flown IFR and had a current IFR certification.  I didn’t want to be the owner playing catch up with certification or systems.  N6107E is current and I fly it regularly.  I earned my instrument rating in this plane and have over 500 hours IMC.  I like flying in the clouds.  On one trip to Florida I asked for an odd altitude for direction.  The controllers asked if it was to get me out of the clouds.  I told them no, it put me in the clouds.  It was two hours in smooth IMC.

 

Flown regularly not a hangar queen.

I got advice from everyone I could talk to.  They all said low hours was good, but not too low.  Low hours on the airframe says it hasn’t been moved enough in 20 years.  The seals, bearings and races, and most moving parts will need a close look to see what condition they are really in.  They may look good at first but 50 hours later many items may need to be replaced.  

All of the advice I got said it was better to have a known entity than a plane that has been forgotten in the hangar for 10 years.  The hangar queen with only 400 hours in 24 years will continue to look great sitting in the hangar, but may need more maintenance than anticipated once you start flying it.

 

Engine hours are important and who rebuilt it!

Everyone told me the more hours on the engine the less the cost.  They also said it was risky to buy an engine that was overhauled by a local shop.  A known entity in the engine compartment was much better for your piece of mind and at resale time.  I put in a Factory Remanufactured engine for just those reasons.

I wanted to see that the plane flew regularly and the engine did not just sit for months without being flown.

A 1000 hour engine that was new in 1983 is no bargain. It has been inactive for too long.  If you are looking at an overhauled engine figure out the number of hours the engine had on it when it was overhauled.  How close to TBO was it.  What was the reason it was done at that time.  I saw a number of engines that were overhauled way before TBO.  The way those planes were flown and maintained made the owners decide to overhaul at that time.  If they are now selling a plane that is below TBO but up to the time when they overhauled last time, expect an overhaul soon.

I looked at a 20 year old plane with only 500 hours on the plane and the engine.  The mechanic I had working with me said it looks great on the outside but you do the numbers.  This engine had only been run 25 hours per year.  He said that is just not enough to keep it all lubricated and free of internal rust.  He said to anticipate an overhaul soon, if I was going to fly the plane.  He said half jokingly that if I just wanted to keep it in a hangar it would do fine.

I decided on a Factory Remanufactured engine when I put one in N6107E.  If you do the math on N6107E you will see I got about 3200 hours on the first engine.  That is the beauty of a 2 person airplane.  Flown right with the right maintenance the 0 470U is a tank.

This is a quote from the AOPA article on Aircraft and Overhauls.

OVERHAULS Be careful of the terminology used to describe engine condition. Do not confuse a top overhaul with a major overhaul, or a major overhaul with a factory remanufactured "zero-time" engine. A top overhaul involves the repair of engine components outside of the crankcase. A major overhaul involves the complete disassembly, inspection, repair and reassembly of an engine to specified limits. If an engine has had a top or major overhaul, the logbooks must still show the total time on the engine, if known, and its prior maintenance history.

A "zero-time" engine is one which has been overhauled to factory new limits by the original manufacturer or its designated representative, and is issued a new logbook without previous operating history. As a general rule, an aircraft with a "zero-time" engine has more value than the same aircraft with an overhauled engine.

N6107E has a factory remanufactured engine, a zero time engine with a new log book.

 

Fuel with both position

I don’t know if they even made a 182 that didn’t have a fuel valve with the both position, but I have it in my notes to make sure mine had a both position.  N6107E has a both position.  I fly with it in both most of the time.  It goes to left or right when I fuel and maybe while in cruise to balance the load.  It goes to the off position only once a year, at annual, to test it.

 

Wet wing not a bladder

I read enough articles and accident reports to know I did not want to buy a plane with bladders.  I did look at one with bladders.  I met the plane about 90% to their field.  I watched them fly in and land.  After we looked the plane over and the logs I wanted to go fly.  The person with me insisted that we “rock” the winds and resample for water.  I felt they had just flown in and that was not necessary, but my friend was adamant.  We rocked the wings and got about a cup and a half of water out of each tank.  I didn’t fly that plane and I knew then I would not buy plane with bladders.

N6107E is a wet wing.  It does not have bladders!

Monarch caps on the fuel tanks

The standard Cessna fuel caps are recessed into the wing.  They let water stand next to the opening and may let water in during refueling.  The Monarch caps raise the area around the opening so no water can stand there.  They are also designed to shield the fueling port and keep water away from the opening.  Water in the fuel is not good.  More reading told me it was a good thing to have Monarch caps.  I have those caps on N6107E.

 

Engine monitor

I like knowing what is going on in the plane.  An engine monitor is a great way to do that.  My plane did not come with the engine monitor, but I put one in just as soon as the new engine was installed.  It does give you a heads up as to what is happening right now.  It also gives you some added piece of mind.

N6107E has an engine monitor that also monitors voltage and oil temp.  They all have alarms if out of set limits.  It also has a port if you want to capture the data on a laptop computer.

 

Clean

I wanted a plane that was hangared and clean. I have had the plane hangared since I have owned it.  It is clean most of the time.  Sometimes, after trips it will take me a week or two to get the time to give it a good cleaning.  I wash the windows regularly and only with water and a babies towel or diaper.  I try not to let the linemen wash the windows.

 

24 volts

I read a lot about the 182 and the improvements the factory kept making.  I knew I wanted a plane with a 24 volt system.  It has the power to add just about anything you want.  It also has the power to start the plane in most conditions.

An added benefit is that it does not blow out the landing lights.  Earlier 182s had a problem with landing lights burning out.  I think it is the difference in the location and the 12 and 24 volt bulb.

N6107E has a 24 volt system with an external plug near the battery just behind the baggage area.

 

Well cared for

You can read the logs all day long.  They might tell you if the plane has been neglected, with long times between entries, but they wont tell you if it has been well cared for.  My solution was to find a plane that had only had one owner and not flown as a rental or training plane.  My reasoning was that the fewer the number of owners the more care that single owner would have for the plane.  I’m now just the second owner of N6107E and I think it has been well cared for.  I’ve owned the plane for 9 years.

 

Not a Rental

I did not want a rental plane.

 

Complete logs with no gaps

 

I looked a many logs while searching out this plane.  I learned to know what complete logs meant.  I also saw many logs with time gaps, where there were not many entries for extended periods of time.  That meant the plane was sitting not being flown and being look after.  Having complete and continuous logs is a great help in learning about the plane.

 

NDH

The firewall was a place I was told to look for damage.  The 182 is a lot more nose heavy than the 172 and people transitioning sometimes forget to trim on final which makes for a very heavy yoke and the potential to do damage to the firewall.  The 1983 182 had a stronger firewall from the factory.

Any specific questions you can get me at Mark@MarkNorris.com