Question – Cessna 172 or 177?:
Cessna 172 or 177? I am a student pilot and have a couple of questions. I have read your piece on renters insurance and I think I understand the coverage. My questions relate to future “owned aircraft” coverage. Is there any advantage to have a policy while a student thus developing a history?
I am positive I will soon be an aircraft owner; currently I am shopping and still reading your book. I even have my name in line for a hanger. It seems the planes I would like to have are just beyond my experience (conventional gear, some are greater than 200 hp). I do not need the horsepower, but I do like the conventional gear. Everyone I talk with, including you in your book, keep pointing me back to the Cessna 172. My thought is after I gain some hours I can sell it and buy something else. Guess it is time for you to write a new book “How To Sell Your Airplane”. I am more fearful of buying then selling. My experience doing this with cars always finds my selling for less than I paid. I also cannot stop thinking that just getting what you want in the first place makes more sense.
Here is my short list of choices:
The venerable Cessna 172
Maule M4-210 (there’s a 1965 model for sale not far away)
Cessna 170 (can’t afford a 180)
If I had to get a tri-cycle gear airplane, I think I would rather have a Cessna 177
My price range is the $40k – $50k zone (limited because I want to pay for the plane – no financing) thus; most of what I see was born in the 60’s or early 70’s. My flying will be pretty local. One to three hour trips to visit family all of whom are similarly spaced like spokes on a wheel with me in Portland at the hub. It is the short flights and hanging out for a few days thing that makes renting hard if not impossible. The FBO operator where I’m training told me he will not rent out a plane for such a short trip (flying time) and let it be gone for several days.
I expect to get my certificate sometime this summer and plan to move right into IFR training. By this point, I would really like to be training in my own plane.
What do you think of my story so far?
Buying renters coverage is a good option and so is developing a history with the insurance companies. However, it is not going to be that big of a deal, as far as insurance rates are concerned. The first year is always going to be more expensive, ownership wise and insurance wise.
I am a big fan of the Cessna 172. The Cessna 177 would be another great choice. A tail wheel aircraft will always have higher requirements and higher insurance premiums than the tri-gear. Even though the Cessna 170 is a good aircraft, I would opt for the 172.
My experience with Maule aircraft is somewhat limited. There are a few insurance companies that will provide coverage but it will be very difficult as a student pilot and probably only one, maybe two, options after you are a private. If you buy a tailwheel Maule, most companies will require 50 to 100 hours of tailwheel time before they will even offer a quote. Yes, a Maule can be quoted, but it will be expensive in comparison to the other models. Probably 30 to 50 percent higher premiums for a low time pilot.
I think the Cessna 177 is one of the prettiest aircraft that Cessna built. The 177’s are comfortable, roomy and have a decent cruise. Nevertheless, the wing and the design are better suited for long and/or paved runways. If you have any intention of landing on grass strips, in the mountains or under unusual conditions you should opt for the 172 or the 170. Its probably better to stay away from the 1968 model 177 unless it has been converted to a 180 horsepower engine or you want to fly it as a two seat aircraft. The original 150 horsepower 1968 Cessna 177 is considered under-powered by many people (and underwriters)
If you are willing to pay about 25 percent more in insurance premium go for the Cessna 170. The increased premium will be the result of your low time and the fact that the aircraft is a tail wheel aircraft. Also, remember the stock 170 powered by the 145 horsepower Continental 300 and the performance is not going to be quite as good (cruise and load) as the Latter model Cessna 172.
I keep going back to the Cessna 172. It will do everything those other aircraft will do and probably at a cheaper operating and insurance cost. If you really want to increase the performance of the 172, you could always look for one with a 180 horsepower conversion. Fly that aircraft and build hours and trade for a Cessna 180 or convert the 172 to a tail wheel aircraft. The 172 is a good trainer and all around aircraft. In the long run it retains its value well so even if you fly it a couple of years you should be able to sell it at a reasonable cost.