$1,000 Worth of Hamburgers…

John HurlbutFlying2 Comments

There’s no question that flying is the most expensive hobby I’ve ever undertaken. The cost of getting my private license alone will be in the $10,000-$12,000 range.  Then of course the question is: “Now that you HAVE your license, what do you want to do with it?”  Of course I want to remain proficient, so my goal after getting my license is to fly a minimum of 5 hours per month.  But I’m not going to spend all that time in the traffic pattern around my home airport. What’s the fun in that?

I DO plan to get my instrument rating as well, so that’ll take a fair amount of time.  I’d like to also get my multi-engine, high performance and complex airplane ratings as well.  Seaplane would be a lot of fun too.  But keeping current with all of those would require a whole lotta time and extra money.  So I’m sure the majority of my time will be spent in a single engine land airplane, very similar to my trusty Cessna 172 training plane. 

There is a term in the aviation community, “the $100 hamburger”.  It refers to basically the cost of hopping in a plane, heading somewhere, grabbing a bite to eat, and heading back.  As the cost to rent a C-172 is about $122/hour right now, that place had better be fairly close!  So what I thought I’d do is get away from thinking about IF I’m going to be given my 3rd class medical, and assume I AM getting it.  I want to look ahead and see what my future looks like and figure out what the top ten flights I want to make when I get my license are.  Even though it’ll cost a bit more than $1,000…

10.  My first flight as a private pilot – Now that the check ride is over, where do I want to go for the first time as a fully legal pilot?   I probably will just fly from KPLU (Thun Field) to KTIW (Tacoma Narrows) and back.  A really short flight, and my best chance of keeping the trip under $100!  But really, KTIW is where my love of flying began in the 4th grade, so it’ll be a great place to go, park, have a burger and really celebrate my accomplishment!

9.  My first flight with a passenger that isn’t an instructor – This may just be a trip around the pattern at KPLU, or a short scenic flight around the sound.  This will be to give my wife Teri a taste of what’s possible in the years to come and my new found freedom.  She hates flying, so the fact that she even gets in the plane with me and literally trusts me to get us back safely will be amazing. 

8.  Lunch at Friday Harbor (KFHR) – I love the San Juan Islands!  But they’re a super pain to get to! Whether you take a car and ferry or a boat, it takes forever to get there!  But that route you see to the left there, that’s 104 nautical miles my friend! The mighty 172 can chew that up in just about an hour!  I just gotta make sure I stay clear of SeaTac and Canadian airspace. No drama! There’s also Roche Harbor, Lopez Island, Orcas Island, lots to explore within an hours flight!


7.  Ocean Shores (W04) – So growing up, my family had property in Ocean Shores, from the time I was 7 until I sold my parent’s home there in 2003.  Even before we had property there, we would spend lots of weekends there.  I remember when the airport was in the middle of town.  That would have been a whole lot more fun! But the “new” airport on the bay side will be just as rewarding.  Actually getting my float plane endorsement and landing on Duck Lake would be the ultimate, I’m not even sure you still can. But I’ll settle for the airport.  Probably no burger here unless we pack my portable grill because it’s not so easy to get from the airport to town.

6.  Desert Aire (M94) – My in-laws have a place over in Desert Aire in Eastern Washington, it has it’s own little airport and it would be really cool to just fly in and see them sometime!   Gonna have to get my mountain checkout I guess! Darn!

5.  British Columbia, Canada – Look there’s no point living in a border state if you’re not going to CROSS THE BORDER! While the prospects of flying a small plane into a foreign country scares me a wee bit, I just think it would be really cool to take off and make a run for the border eh? Maybe fly up for a mid-week Canucks game? THAT would be cool! Or fly up for noon Tea in Victoria. Clearing customs…twice.

4.  FAMROD (Fly Around Mount Rainier One Day) – When I had my motorcycle, we made an annual RAMROD trip each year, named after the amazing cyclists that do their ride with foot power in one day.  It’s a gorgeous trip by bicycle, motorcycle and car, but I can only begin to imagine what it’s like from the air!!  Probably schedule a stop in Tri Cities to visit friends as well.

3.  Crater Lake – Teri has never been there, and it would be a really neat place to see from the sky!  Also, nearly 300nm away! Maybe a stop in Sunriver on the way down or back!

2.  Victorville, CA – My parents live in Helendale, CA in a little community called “Silver Lakes”. While landing in Helendale is possible, they have a private airstrip, it’s a dirt strip, and I really don’t want to do that.  This would be the ultimate cross country trip for me. And it would give a whole new meaning to “I’m going to fly down to see you”.  Because of the distance, I may want to wait until I have my instrument rating to do this.  I can’t see counting on the weather to be flawless VFR for the minimum 3 day trip I’d want to take.  There would be lots of great sights along the way though! Mt. Hood in Oregon, Mt. Shasta in California.  It would be a blast.  Here’s a sample route from Foreflight.

1.  First Flight in My Own Plane –  I would love to own my own plane one day. The freedom of being able to just jump in and fly anytime you like would be great! However, even inexpensive planes are expensive to keep and maintain. Maybe if I see myself flying 10+ hours per month I could justify the cost.  I’ve dreamt of owning a Cirrus SR-22 but that’s probably way out of my budget.  It’ll probably end up being a low hour Cessna 182 or something of the sort.  Something that can haul me, a couple of passengers, and some gear.

Well there you have it, my $1,000 worth of Hamburgers!  I’ve still got 25-30 ish hours of flight training to complete, including a Solo, a check ride and that darn 3rd class medical to get through.  But it’s time to start dreaming big and high! It’s why I’ve chosen to become a pilot, no limits!!


2 Comments on “$1,000 Worth of Hamburgers…”

  1. My wife had absolutely no interest in flying with me as she’d suffer horrible anxiety just thinking about it. Her first flight with me lasted 8 minutes. We took off from Tacoma Narrows and made it almost to the edge of their Class D airspace when she had a panic attack and we turned around. She never flew with me again until I bought my own plane and the doctor gave her something to take before flying. It was quite a turnaround for her and, nowadays, she’s always wondering when we’re going flying again. Hopefully Teri will have the same change in her attitude towards flying. 🙂

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