People often say that owning or leasing your own plane is impossible to do on a budget, especially if you’re in college like me. But five of us at the University of North Dakota co-lease N46015, a 1968 C172i. We each pay $170 per year for the insurance, $50 per hour dry, and split a hangar fee per month. That rounds out to roughly $85 per hour of operating cost. Oh yeah, and the management company for the airplane takes care of all scheduled and un-scheduled maintenance that’s required. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

And since the plane is just ours to use, it’s awesome having the ability to not worry about scheduling a rental airplane and have in the back of my mind that there’s a plane waiting for me at the airport whenever I’m ready to go flying.

But the real value of having the leased airplane has been that it’s given each of us our first ownership experience. Unlike a rental airplane, we’re responsible for keeping track of the plane’s storage, records, maintenance checks, keeping it clean, and scheduling between the 5 of us. So when something goes wrong, we’re responsible for checking it out and finding a solution. In the pictures below, we had problems with our left brake, so Tina took one for the team and tried looking at the brake fluid reservoir behind the pedals. In another picture, I was worried about a possible oil leak so had to check that out.

From trips to airports sharing a border with Canada or getting as many North Dakota aviation passport stamps as possible, to giving dozens of young eagles rides and flying down to Fargo with some friends for Chipotle, we’ve had some awesome adventures.

Was leasing N46015 the most economically smart decision for me as a college student? Probably not. But it’s afforded me the chance to get outside of university flying and make some awesome memories with friends around the Upper Midwest. That is priceless.

-Swayne Martin


About The Author

If you want to become a pilot, I want to make your journey just a little easier. I'm a First Officer for Envoy Air, one of the largest regional airlines in the world, and have partnered with industry leaders like the U.S. Air Force to teach about various aviation careers. For a full bio, click the "About" tab above. Use the "Contact" tab to shoot me a message.

10 Responses

  1. Drake

    Swayne I would disagree with your analysis of not being a wise economic choice, I think it was a great one. I pay 90/hr wet for a 2 seater Piper Tomahawk and that’s a deal. 85/hr is great for a four seater! In addition you as you said are gaining wisdom into aircraft ownership, maintenance and reponsibility. It’s no glass or anything but it’s all about hours for us looking at commercial aviation for a career!


      • Eddie

        Hey Swayne, Great website. What is you ultimate goal for the future in the flying industry?

      • Swayne Martin

        Glad you like the site! Honestly not sure yet. I don’t think that airlines are where I want to be long term, but I haven’t ruled it out by any means. In the short run following graduation, I’d love to go fly charters around the Caribbean for a company like Tradewind Aviation.

  2. Fiona

    Great article Swayne! Love your perspective on leasing. I live in the Caribbean and am a commercial pilot but look to share a small plane for fun with friends. Will share your article:))


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