I've been at this Aviation Thing for a long time. Since I was 15 but I think it started way before that. In earnest when I was out on my own at age 20. I knew I would have an airplane at some juncture in time but that seemed far in the future when I started earning my private ticket. My amazing instructor at the time told me 'If you want to learn how to fly, you have to buy an airplane' which garnered a few chuckles from me. Some day, for sure...but at age 20? We got to looking around and found two J-3 Cubs for sale, one with 10 year cotton fabric and 90 hours on an overhaul. I postponed college to buy that airplane never thinking of it as an 'investment': it was that airplane that was going to teach me how to FLY
! And it did! Larry said I could trade it up to a Super Cub one day if I wanted. That same J-3 is still in my hangar (with a few upgrades) 50 years after I bought it. Investment? Yes: it was an investment in my flying future. Who could have guessed it would become an iconic airplane!
I had always wanted to build my own airplane. I visited Mojave in the early '80's and, of course, fell in love with the airplanes I was amazed with that were sitting in Burt Rutan's hangar. He was there and answered any questions I had. I soon after bought plans for the Long Eze. Life intervened, and I was not to the point of building until about 10 years later and, by then, a lot of new designs were coming out. There was an amazing "new" design by a designer in Oregon called the Van's RV-4. Now THAT
was an airplane I could build: Tandem (which I was raised on) and tail wheel. And good old aluminum construction! The tail section arrived soon after, and construction started in my single car garage. After 6.5 years of building, my first flight was November of 1997 and even with a few major life happenings,
has accumulated over 1100 hours. I never thought of it as an 'investment'. It is an amazing
airplane to fly and we have had so many adventures together. I guess one could say it was an 'investment' in my aviation future as well. So: I have the best of both worlds: low and slow with the door open and can land anywhere; fast and amazing, aerobatic, that can land nearly anywhere and get there in a hurry. And looks amazing on the ramp!
And Aviation has introduced me to some amazing people as well. I'm not ashamed to say most of the people I associate with are pilots.
And this will be my 34th year volunteering at OSH. I'll probably fly the Cub out as my pilot S.O. will be flying out with a friend in her straight-tail Cessna 150 along with a Super Cub.
Investment? Yes: aviation has made my life ever so much richer
for reasons people who don't fly or own their own airplane might never understand. I pity them......