PILOTS! How much is it worth?

A quick search on the internet several weeks ago showed 1970 Cessna 172s going for prices in the mid-$30,000. Obviously, these are in airworthy condition.

Today I found my dad’s first plane at a local airport. It had been repainted, but it didn’t look like a very good job. I could see the outline of the registration number under the new coat, so I know that the old paint wasn’t stripped off. The paint on the fiberglas looks a little chalky.

There was no rubber on the left main. It was sitting on the rim. The right main was flat. There was dirty black hydraulic fluid on the nosewheel olio strut.

The interior was original; and it wasn’t in the best of shape when dad sold it in the mid-80s. The instruments looked like the originals, and the radios looked pretty long in the tooth. The aircraft is (or at least was) IFR, using one of the Narco units that had the VOR and glideslope all in one. (I don’t remember the model, but it came out in the late 70s/early 80s.)

Tach time was about 3,600 hours. I couldn’t see the Hobbs, so I don’t know the total time. I also don’t know when it was last overhauled. Based on the condition of the rest of the aircraft, I think it would be a safe bet the engine is due for a rebuild.

There is a heavy, rusty chain on the prop and spinner. The prop looks like the same one that was put on it in 1976. The rust has stained the paint on the spinner.

I couldn’t inspect it too closely since there was a suspicious security guard overing near me, but these are the things that stuck out. The security guard said that the aircraft hadn’t been flown for at least a year.

Given the condition described above, and that it probably needs an engine overhaul, annual, etc., what is the approximate value of the aircraft? I don’t know if it’s even for sale; but if it is, the owner will want as much as he can get. I, of course, would like to get it as cheaply as possible. What is a fair price for me to pay?

That’s a tough one. If the airplane has seen that much neglect, there may be a lot more wrong with it than just an engine rebuid.

Drag the airplane in and get it thoroughly inspected. You want to be especially thorough in checking for corrosion.

Compression-check the engine. Get the logs, and see when it last flew. Get the AD list for the airplane and see if it’s in compliance. Put a good battery in it, spin up the gyros in the panel, and listen to them for sounds of worn bearings.

Little things can add up real quickly, but if the airframe is in good shape (no accident history and no corrosion), then it’s at least salvageable for a reasonable cost (reasonable for an airplane that is… If you have to overhaul the engine, expect to spend $20,000 to get it completely airworthy again.

To figure out a purchase price, get a copy of Trade-A-Plane, and get a feel for what 172’s of that age are worth, both with zero-timed engines and runout engines. This airplane will be worth something at the bottom of that scale, or even under it. But it won’t be really, really cheap unless the airframe is in terrible shape.

Check the avionics to make sure they all work. A new King radio is around 2 grand. You don’t want to have to replace the whole stack.

Basically, the logs are going to tell you a lot. If it hasn’t flown in a few years and has been outside, you can safely assume that you’ll have to rebuild the engine. Even if it compression checks okay, you may find that the first 100 hours of flying will release enough metal particles to hurt the engine. If you Do fly it with the current engine, fly it for about 10 hours then change the oil and pull the screens and get it all checked for metal particles. If it checks okay, and the compression is still up, the engine may be fine.

There were a few expensive AD’s on 172’s in the last couple of years, as I recall. Make sure that they have been complied with, or downgrade the purchase price appropriately.

I owned a Grumman AA1 for 8 years, so I have a bit of experience in this area, but not as much as lots of people. You might want to post this question on rec.aviation.owning.

Hope this helps…

Let my know when you are in the market for an A-6 Intruder. You can get 'em for a song through DRMO since the F/A-18 took over their mission.
Maintenance would be a bear though, unless you know a couple of old Intruder wrench turners. I could hook you you up with those also.

Voted Best Sport
And narrowly averted the despised moniker Smiley Master

Forward deployed until 18AUG00

There were 97 airplanes warming up on the apron
As far as the eye could see
Now, the first 96 were of recent construction
But the last was a 51-D…

Please have DRMO sent the A-6 to SMO. And tell them thanks! :smiley:

I know the plane’s history up until about 1986. Believe me, from 1976 until then it was very well cared for. After that… well, the next owner ran it out of fuel twice. Once on short final, and once on touchdown. Lost track of it after that.

If it’s for sale and if I were to buy it, the first thing I’d do is get it in for a pre-purchase inspection. The engine overhaul is a given, as is a new radio.

Actually, I’m torn between getting a plane (and it would be neat to have the one I learned in and that used to be in the family) and getting a helicopter. I haven’t flown fixed-wing since about 1992 when I got the heli ticket. A 172 is faster, carries more, cheaper to buy, fly and maintain, and generally more practical. A Schweizer 300 is more fun, can be rented out for a good price, and is a helicopter! But terribly expensive to buy, fly, maintain and unsure.

Thanks for rec.aviation.owning, but I must admit that although I’ve been online for about 3 years now, I’ve never learned how to access and use news groups. :o


dhanson gave a lot of good advice.
The big thing is corrosion, especially in a coastal area. Most of the other things excepting the engine can be upgraded/replaced as funds allow.

It sounds much like the plane (65 172F 850TT ) I purchased at HHR back in 83’. It had sat for a year and needed paint, tires, windshield, probably an overhaul, radios etc. but the airframe was clean. I paid $9000 back then and today it is worth ~40K.

We got lucky with the engine, it kept going till 1730 TT last year. Total cost of the major rebuild (Cont. O-300D) was ~14K. We didn’t skimp, found the best shop in the area, new cylinders, mags, harness, and the carb overhauled. There were no problems with the lower end ::whew::. We also opted for the modified pushrod tubes (IO-470 style) which IS the thing to do if you have a O-300D.

Price: dhanson was right about Trade a Plane. Also try www.barnstormers.com for comps. You might get a good price since it has been sitting fo awhile, could be an estate plane, lost medical etc.

Feel free to email me at rcwilcox@mindspring.com or ICQ 56346779 with any specific 172 ownership questions if you like.


I tried barnstormers. Seven pages inder Cessna|172 Skyhawk. I did a find on each page for “1970”. The only hit was a Cherokee-6.

This particular Skyhawk spent a lot of its life in the desert (WJF). No idea where it’s been since then, but Fullerton seems to be a drier and warmer place than, say, SMO. It was sad to see this, the Pegasus that gave me my wings, this touchstone with my late father, sitting so forlorn on the ramp. Seeing that rickety parking brake handle and the plastic tape-labels warning to switch to single-tank ops over 5,000 ft. brought back memories.

I know the owner is alive, since the guard tried to call him (he wasn’t in his office). I think he bought it a bit over a year ago, so I’m guessing that it’s been sitting because he can’t afford to fix some problem or other. Going farther out on the limb, I’m guessing that the engine is at TBO and that he can’t afford to rebuild it.

Match-book figuring here… $38,000 for an airworthy aircraft. Minus $14,000 for an overhaul. That’s $24,000. Annual inspection, tyres, new radio, miscellanious repairs… well, that’s a hard one since I don’t know what it needs Let’s guess $3,000. That would mean $21,000 would be a fair price (dad sold it in '86 or so for $19,000). I can’t see him selling it for that little (although I could remind him that he’s spending $1,000/year tie-down just to have it sit).

Assuming I bought it, I’d like to give it a good paint job and a new interior. Realistically, at that point, it would make sense to just buy a newer plane that’s already airworthy. But cosmetics could wait.

I’ll check out Trade-A-Plane

How’s Arrow doing? Well, I hope.

You’re always better off financially buying an airplane in the condition that you want, than buying one and paying for all that work. A restoration on a 172 (engine, avionics, paint, interior) can easily run $30,000.

But this has nothing to do with sentimental value. You have to decide how much that is worth.

Arrow is getting better by the minute, thanks for asking. I was worried earlier today, he would not respond to his favorite treat, bacon (cooked soggy of course), and was not very responsive. He came out to the hangar later, and has been improving, ate some bacon, and is eating regular canned food also. His spirits are improving too. I plan to update the Broken Arrow thread after tonight.

172 thoughts: Although you are better off financially buying a aircraft equipped as you would like it, you may not be able to afford it at this time. Upgrading a less expensive plane allows you to delay the cost over time without interest and gives you the advantage of choosing what colors/radios/instruments etc. that suit your fancy. If you are able to do the work yourself as an A&P or have a friend that is, the costs of upgrading/repairing can go down quite a bit. But don’t forget the time involved.

A side benefit of the sentimental value of the plane is that part of its history is known to you, and presumably the history prior to when you father purchased it is already acceptable (at least it was to your father when he purchased it).

Try widening the years when you search … 1970 doesn’t mean as much as the airframe condition, damage history, total time, engine time etc. I can’t reacall when they switched engines to Lycoming and used the dreaded H2AD (IIRC) variant.

WJF - Brings back memories, I lived in Lancaster 85’-95’, though I usually flew out of Rosamond.

A point in every direction is like no point at all

FYIFWIW, Dad was “Whisky-Bravo” or “Woody” at WJF FSS until about '92. If you got WX briefs there, you probably talked to him at one time or another. :wink:

Shuling Barnes came to his memorial. I need to take her up on her offer to see Pancho’s Travelaire Mystery S. (Hmmm… Maybe I should skip the 172 and take on a ground-up resoration on the classic racer? Yeah, right.)

I think the money spread over several years is probably a good premium for sentimental value. The big thing is the engine. I can live with older radios, and I fly VFR so I can hang with the ancient IFR gear. Cosmetics can wait too. Of course, I haven’t heard from the owner to see if he’s even interested in selling; and I could still go for a helicopter instead. But having a $30,000 ball-park figure for the works is a good thing to know. Thanks. :slight_smile:

MSPSIMS about N84573:
It was dark blue over white when it was delivered from the factory. A San Diego radio station kept the scheme, but changed the blue to orange when they used it out of MYF for traffic reports. The interior stayed blue. The current or a previous owner had it repainted in a more “modern” scheme. Mostly burgundy over white. But the interior is till the same! Ha! Nobody ever fixed the slightly-sprung baggage door handle.

I also “found” dad’s '68 182. The registry said “sale recorded”, so there’s no name; but there’s a Paso Robles addy. We flew into Red Bluff sometime in the mid-80s. on the way to MFD. The long-range tanks were happy, but our butts needed a rest. The line-boy who topped off the tanks (why not?) thought it was new.

Here they are: http://pw1.netcom.com/~heliboy/n84573b.jpg http://pw1.netcom.com/~heliboy/n42546b.jpg

If I buy another airplane, it may well be a 182. That’s a great airplane for travelling.

I used to like fast, responsive airplanes. I was going to build a homebuilt for a while, and got some time in a Glasair III. Then I bought a Grumman AA1 for the fighter-like handling, bubble canopy, etc. But I always found that I missed not being able to take the wife and friend or two, a hundred pounds of baggage, and really travel. And now we have a daughter. So I’ll want something that’s safe, reasonably fast, and can haul a load a decent distance. A 182 fits the bill very nicely.

I can’t imagine owning a helicopter. You have to be independantly wealthy to own one.

Yeah, the 182 was great. I remember the first time I flew it. I couldn’t believe how fast we were climbing! It was like “kicking the instructor out” of the 172 for my first solo. Once when we were returning from Oregon we had a slight tailwind. DME showed 200mph.

When dad bought '546 it had leaky tanks near the wing root. It ate away and “smeared” the original finish on the fuselage. Other than that it was sound. Dad decided that rather than repair the original tanks, he’d have new long-range bladders installed. The paint was very nicely done and the matching interior was great too. Frankly I wish I could own both of dad’s planes. Oh. The 182 made some money for him too. It was popular at Barnes Aviation.

Yeah, helicopters are expensive. The only way I could own one is if it earned its keep. A new 300CB would break even if it flew 600 revenue-hours per year. That’s assuming the hefty insurance premium too. 600/year is do-able in So. Cal., but I want to move up to rain territory. Might be tough. The other option is a used 300C for about $110,000. I haven’t figured the numbers yet so I don’t know how many hours it would have to fly to break even. That depends on the hours left on the engine, rotors, etc. I’d like to think that some schools would like to lease a 300C as a little “step-up” from the 300CB. Not much of a step, but it might be a selling point. A third option would be to find an old Hughes 269 (the 300 series is certificated as 269, BTW). I’ve seen them as low as $52,000 (most are a lot higher) with a few hours left on their Lycoming O-360s and rotors. It’d be tough to rent it so I’d have to get my commercial and find a full-time job flying it.

I got my first 5 hours in an AA-5 when I was in jr. high. Still years away from solo, but it was log-able! My first log book went missing, so I can’t claim those hours any more. I wonder what ever happened to N5801L?

The thing about fixed wings is that when I move to where I want to go, I won’t need a fast plane to go anywhere. 80 or so knots in a heli would be plenty. The times I really liked the 182 was when I was leaving CA!