Upgrade Decision

When I was searching for an affordable plane to buy, I had no illusions about the kind of plane it will be. The price range I had in mind would send me searching back into the sixties vintage of aircraft. I went around the airport looking at different models, spoke with a good number of pilots and mechanics, and concluded on two things. First, the plane had to be extremely inexpensive to purchase, because knowing myself I would want to make some expensive upgrades. Second, I wanted a plane that is equipped more like the current crop of LSAs. I considered an LSA, but I am working on my CPL, and flying an LSA would not count towards the rating. I needed a certified aircraft for that. I had a budget in mind that would likely buy me a nice, more recent, model year Cessna or Piper, but then again, I would very likely spend more money on upgrades anyway. This would undoubtedly push the price much higher than I had budgeted for, and since I always liked the old Pipers, I settle on the Colt.

There was one more reason for selecting the PA-22 108 Colt. Piper developed this model as a simple and economical training aircraft. The PA-22 line was fabric covered, but a number of them were “metalized” under an STC. The GDNR had this modification installed early in its life. This knowledge would considerably ease off my concerns about fabric problems and frame rust. The frame of my aircraft is as pristine today as it was when it left the factory. Both the Cessna 150, which I was flying during my training days for my PPL, and the Colt share the same Lycoming O235 engine. The engine is a low compression design, intended to run a low octane aviation fuel, and over the years, both the engine, and the aircraft, have proven to be reliable and economical to operate.

Ultimately, however, I know that I am dealing here with an old aircraft, and money will have to be spent for the upgrades I had in mind. As I already mentioned, I am working on my CPL, and no, I am not planning to be an Airbus driver at the ripe old age of 67, I just think why not learn some new stuff while flying around anyway, instead of getting fat on $100 hamburgers. And since the regulations stipulate that flight training for all certificates, except Sport Pilot certificate, must be conducted on a certified aircraft, an LSA option was out, an extensive and expensive upgrade for my Colt was in.

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