In 2012, Carl Bogardus, EAA 114219, was looking for an affordable way to fly. He had devoted his life to teaching, and was ready to retire and have some fun.
Carl earned his sport pilot certificate in 2010 in a two-seat SkyRanger with a Rotax 912 engine and a three-blade prop. When the owner decided to sell it, Carl wanted to buy the airplane, but he didn’t want to shoulder the whole financial burden for buying, maintaining, and storing the SkyRanger (affectionately known as the Green Meanie), by himself.
He put together a plan and recruited three other airplane enthusiasts from his EAA chapter, Chapter 555 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and they formed a partnership where the purchase cost was split four-ways.
Each partner would own a quarter-share, and would also pay a fixed monthly fee for their share of the hangar, insurance, and maintenance expenses of the Green Meanie, and they’d all get the chance to fly a cool airplane at a reasonable cost.
“We use Google calendar to schedule our flights,” Carl explained. “The Green Meanie is used for flight training, Young Eagles flights, and Eagles Flights too. Other partners fly cross-country in the southern New Mexico region, it’s a beautiful area here, and we do a lot of fun flying.”
The SkyRanger is set up to use autogas and uses just four gallons per hour, which Carl said means the aircraft costs only about $10 per hour to fly.
Carl, who is the Eagle Flight leader and newsletter editor for Chapter 555, said that eight people have participated in the SkyRanger partnership since 2012. Several partners also got their sport pilot certificate in it!
The group has a new partner who is taking lessons in the Green Meanie, which makes three partners who have used the plane as their inexpensive training airplane.
“It’s very educational too; we all help maintain the airplane, and use an A&P mechanic for guidance and condition inspections,” Carl said. “Together, we have also made some improvements over the years, adding a new radio and new LED wing lights, all items that would have been very difficult for a single owner to afford.”
With the low cost of fuel and a fixed overhead partnership cost of $100 per month, Carl pointed out that partnerships like this are a great way to keep costs down for younger pilots who can’t afford to purchase an airplane themselves.
“When a partner wants to move on, we advertise locally, and they simply sell their share,” he said. “We always have plenty of pilots wanting to get flying, so finding a replacement partner is easy.
“Within the U.S., we’re seeing a transition to more of a European style of airplane ownership, where you have flying clubs or flying partnerships instead of individual owners simply because of the cost,” Carl said. “There’s no way that I could afford to pay for and maintain a sporty airplane like this by myself whereas with four partners, we can manage this easily. Usually I fly about 4-5 hours a month; my flying cost averages $36 an hour. It’s a great option, and the partnership brings a lot of camaraderie and community. Anyone can do this and get in the air inexpensively.”
After five years in the partnership Carl said he would do it again in a heartbeat!