Interesting question about wheel pants.
The question came up about buying an aircraft that doesn’t have wheel pants (fairings). Is it really worth the money just to make it look better? Or is there more value to fairings than just looks.
My thoughts, of course, it also depends on the aircraft.
Wheel fairings or wheel pants do more than just look good. But some aircraft are designed with a landing gear that doesn’t support wheel fairing (trailing link gear like the Beechcraft Sundowner).
Fairings can also increase the cruise and flight performance of an aircraft. Although it is usually only one or two knots. While that is not much of a speed increase, any boost in cruise speed is better than nothing.
Wheel fairings can also protect the aircraft from being damaged from inadvertent rocks being thrown against the wings, cabin or tail surfaces. If you are flying from dry smooth or paved runways its probably a good thing to have fairings. If you are flying from dirt mud snow or worse, leave the fairings in the hanger. Same goes for unimproved strips. Rough terrain will just break the fairings into pieces.
Even though, if you think about it, this is probably where you need them the most. Because they also have a few drawbacks like they can be clogged with rocks, snow and mud. And they can be damaged by rocks and debris picked up on the runways.
Oh, and fairings get in the way when airing up those low tires and fixing a flat.
And those Cessna nose wheel shimmies, that can destroy a wheel fairing.
I guess it really comes down to the aircraft, how you are using it and where you are going.
But personally, I like the looks of most aircraft when they have wheel fairings.