Rent a Plane for the Weekend

By Bob Young


One of the better things about general aviation may be the independence it provides. We may go anyplace we wish, restricted only by occasional restricted airspace, weather, and our resources.

Okay possibly it isn't a great deal of freedom, but dangit it feels like that! A great usage of an airplane rental is booking an aircraft for your weekend holiday. You can easily avoid all of the complications of commercial flying plus a 2-3 hour flight can cover some significant range even in the slowest aircraft. Renting an airplane just for this trip isn't that dissimilar to renting it on any given day, but here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Reserve the airplane far ahead of time. Weekends are obviously high demand days for virtually any rental airplane, so when you propose to monopolize it for 2-3 days you'll need to book earlier on. If you fall under a large club with plenty of airplanes, you may not need to worry as much, but if you're sharing 1-2 planes with a large number of pilots, it's a different story. Give everyone an abundance of notification and you'll keep nearly everybody happy.

Plan to fly the plane a couple of hours each day. Most multi-day rentals will likely have a condition in your rental agreement that you average a small quantity of hours daily on the trip. This is simply an average, however, so to illustrate: For this example you want to take a plane for 3 days and the the minimum average daily use is 4 hours. If your journey is Six hours total each way, you'll fly 6 hours on day 1, 0 on day 2, and 6 on day 3. You would average 4 hours each day even when you didn't fly by any means in the second day. Worst case scenario you have to pay for a couple hours you don't fly, but some clubs will waive this if there was not going to be much interest that weekend anyhow.

Don't overlook basic safety. If you're flying significantly beyond your normal area, don't neglect to think about added precautions you'll need to consider: water safety equipment if crossing a sizable body of water, ensure you won't come upon a required 100 hour inspection while away, etc.

Also think about the types of flying might be different. Are you current on night landings? If you're flying into mountains, are you at ease with the hazards of this type of flying? Since you'll need to book beforehand anyhow, you could use the interim to get current and brush up on any rusty skills you'll need on your trip.

Do you think you're prepared for bad weather? Incident accounts are filled up with stories of individuals who simply had to get back home for work and other responsibilities and made a bad choice. Try and pad your vacation with time to ensure you don't have this issue, and make certain everyone knows they could end up grounded someplace till conditions improve. Don't plan a major meeting for 9am Monday morning and propose to return late Sunday night; leave yourself a little bit of room for the unanticipated.

Best of all, have a great deal of fun and come back with a few great stories!.




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