If you're not a pilot, why not? (Moller Skycar related)

I was thinking of posting this in the thread, Potential of the Moller Skycar. Decided not to hijack that thread too much.

One of the points brought up in that thread was, if you want a “skycar” you don’t have to wait for the Moller Skycar. We have “skycars” already. They’re called planes & helicopters.

According to Johnny L.A. in that thread:

You could by a used Cessna 172 for about $45K.

According to this site, for ground school & flight-time a pilot’s certificate will cost you between $3000-5000.

For $50K, you could be a pilot and own your own “flying car.” If you can’t afford to own a plane, you can still rent them by the hour. One of my local places rents them for $125/HR.

I’d bet there are many Dopers who could budget for, and afford to be a pilot.

What’s stopping you from getting your own “skycar?”

I mentioned in the other thread my brother is a pilot. He absolutely loves flying. He’s super-motivated. I’ve spent who knows how many hours flying around the mid-atlantic region with him. I’ve been through ground school. So has my brother’s wife, my SIL. Well, I ran out of funds, so I couldn’t afford the flight-hours. My SIL could afford the flight hours, but dropped out of flight school anyway. I asked her why one time, and her answer was somewhat vague, but basically it just wasn’t as fun as it was cracked up to be, and kinda stressful. Especially the take-offs & landings. Me? Besides the cost, I think I kinda lost motivation. To fly, you don’t necessarily have to get over a fear of flying. I have none. But I kinda have a fear of landing, if that makes sense. When someone else is piloting, landing doesn’t bother me at all though. I’m sure with practice it gets easier and who knows, maybe someday I’ll go back and do it all over again and get my certificate.

So Dopers, why aren’t you a pilot? What’s holding you back? I bet many of you could afford it if you were truly motivated. It’s not ridiculously expensive. You already spend money on computers at the very least. You could come up with $5K, if you wanted to.

So tell me, why aren’t you a pilot?

If you don’t mind, tell me your age & gender & if that has anything to do with it.

Would a Moller Skycar, if it worked as advertised, make you more likely to fly, and if so, why? Why aren’t you already flying small planes?

It’s just too expensive to own a plane worth owning. I love flying and everything to do with it, but I know a couple people with planes, they’re both quite a bit wealthier than I am, and they both belong to a coop with four or five other parties just to make it worthwhile. I’m not a co-ownership kind of guy, and the conflicts these guys have with their partners reinforce my inclination to never co-own.

One of my uncles has his own plane, but he’s got a huge chunk of land up in Maine, with his own landing strip and hangar. (A bit of perspective: My aunt&uncle’s home, a barn, another large building now used as the hangar, about 12 acres next to a gorgeous river, and a big-ass tractor pulling the mowing equip. needed to keep the runway open, were purchased for around $140,000 total. This is well under half of what my condo. in MA cost). His plane is an old Piper that he fixes pretty much constantly, but he’s quite handy, has the time, and the components are so primitive even I can understand it all. If I had a lifestyle like his, and probably a plane like his, ownership would be reasonable. Living in a Boston suburb, where I’d have to keep a four-seater hangared at a municipal airport, however, is another thing entirely.

This might sound incredible but I don’t have $5000 to spend on simply starting a new hobby, let alone another $45,000 to actually pursue it.

If I was planning on doing it for a living or if knowing how to fly would give me a good advantage in my career then, obviously, I would spend the $5000. It seems like a huge waste of money to do so otherwise.

Lack of interest. I have no interest in flying a plane. I don’t have much interest in being on a small plane, although I have done so before, and would do so again under similar circumstances. (Small plane in this context being holds up to 6, counting the pilot. On one journey, I was seated next to the pilot, but with my eyes closed when we took off. It was an experience that I’m glad I had a chance to have, but not one that I am eager to repeat).

It sounds fun but it’s way too expensive. Currently I don’t even own a car. I get around by walking or bussing. Sometimes I borrow a car from a friend if I need to get somewhere the busses don’t go. And no I couldn’t come up with an extra $5000 if I wanted. I’m a medical student. My upcoming fall quarter is 28 credits. There’s no way I can do that and hold a paying job.

I flew long enough to get an instrument ticket and just shy of 300 hours. Piloted my last plane in 1978.

Bought my first house in 1980. Then I married my sailing instructor and we bought a series of boats. And I have a daughter in college.

That’s mainly why I don’t fly.

Airplanes are my passion and I have been working (slowly) on my pilots license for 5 years. I only take a few lessons a year and lots of life circumstances have made me start and then take a break. I will take another lesson in the next month or so and I WILL get a license some day although that isn’t as important as you might think. I still get to fly during the lessons and my instructors let me do whatever I am capable of.

BTW, 3-5K for a pilots license is not doable. The real estimate is 6k best case scenario but more typically closer to 8k or beyond. Planes and instructors cost $100 an hour or more and a typical student will need 50-70 hours to earn a license. There are other costs that are mandatory as well.

I have enough money to fly (if I rent, not buy). I have private ticket and I was 90 percent of the way to my IFR cert. Then I stopped. Why? September 11. The airports around here were shut down for something like two years. Then, when they reopened, there were a whole slew of new regulations.

If I’m going to pay that much for a hobby, I’m going to have fun. It’s hard to have fun when I’m paying $150 bucks an hour AND have to stick to a Department of Homeland Security-approved flight plan. It downright sucks. I have the feeling that if I bought one of those Skycars to commute to work, I’d probably be shot down.

But I will pick it up again should I move out of the DC area.

Even if I had the money (which I don’t), or the inclination to train as a pilot (ditto), there’s the little question of where to park the thing. I mean, I don’t have enough open space near me to park a Cessna, nor is there space to do so at my workplace.

So I’d have to travel several miles by surface transport to the nearest airfield to my home, then travel several miles again from the nearest airfield to my workplace. And if I have to do that I might as well go by car/bus/train all the way.

As a hobby, it might be OK, but “flying car” implies that you could use it in the same way as you use a normal car, for routine trips. If you can’t, then it’s a ruinously expensive hobby. I have better things to spend my money on.

Partnerships are a great way to go but like any relationship you have to work at it. I helped build the plane I now own in a partnership. My buddies who owned the plane taught me to fly and eventually I bought out one of them. We know the plane inside and out and are particular on its maintenance. We added 2 more partners who basically begged to join in. We accepted them with the understanding of how we wanted to maintain it and what we planned on doing in the future. We just upgraded the motor from 108 hp to a 150 hp so it’s a blast to fly.

Flying is a good way to cover great distances fairly quickly, but probably 90% of travel is very short range. All the places I’d fly to are closer than the nearest airport that allows small personal aircraft to take off and land.

Then what do you do with your Piper when you get there - can you leave it in the hangar for free? And how do you get around at your destination - rent a car or taxi everywhere?

“Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous, but to a degree even greater than the sea is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity, or neglect.”
-Capt. A.G. Lamplaugh, British Aviation Insurance Corp., 1930

I’m going to wait until I’ve finished building my own treadmill first.


When I use an airplane for transportation I rent a car or use a taxi. Airports generally have places to tie-down overnight so that’s not a problem.

I generally travel to places and events that cater to aircraft or are within walking distance of my destination. I did buy a folding mountain bike but decided it was too big for the aircraft (I need a bike-bag to keep from shredding the interior). I’ve been looking for 2 smaller folding bikes but haven’t found ones that I like which meet my budget.

So if I wanted to rent one for a weekend vacation (Sat morning - Sun evening), it’ll cost me about $4500? I don’t know about you, but to me that counts as “ridiculously expensive.”

Per hour in aviation terms usually means time when the engine is actually running and there is a meter that measures it. There would usually be a minimum number of hours billing required to take it for a weekend but it may be only two or three hours a day so while aviation is very expensive, it isn’t quite that bad. The rental rates are often all-inclusive as well with fuel included.

I’d love to learn to fly. Airports and planes fascinate me. But…

I get airsick. Really, really airsick. And seasick too. :frowning:

Eyesight (I had an infection in the third grade which left my right cornea severely scarred). At one time I was going to an ophthamologist who was an FAA examiner on the side, and he told me there was no way I would ever qualify for a waiver.

I don’t have any real interest in it either. I’m not sure why I should. It’s just flying in a machine. If I could fly with wings, my own, I’d be all over it…