Mark Twain is quoted as saying: “It ain’t what you know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
This is a great quote for all parts of life. The advice is particularly adept for people buying and selling aircraft.
Recently I had several conversations with industry insiders and pilots. We are seeing some new people look at private aviation for their travel needs. What we are seeing in many cases is how much they really just don’t know.
What many inside the industry discuss is why is it that very smart business people, who run successful enough business’s, think they do not need experts in the aviation field to guide them and assist with their acquisition of a travel solution? A majority of them would not sell their expensive homes and vacation properties without the counsel of a realtor. Many would not buy a boat without enlisting experts. And many of them would never dare buy another business or property without the help of a gaggle of people who do this for a living. Yet, when it comes to a plane, they think they can do it solo.
I know a few think that pilots and mechanics are their experts and they are already on the payroll. But that is like asking a pilot who has not flown in several years to shoot a single engine instrument approach to minimums having done and trained for that maybe 5-7 years ago. That might work out OK, but how comfortable would you be as the passenger in that situation?
There is a reason our industry has transaction attorneys, aviation tax experts, pre buy specialists and knowledgeable brokers, acquisition agents and consultants. They exist because they solve problems and protect their clients.
An aircraft in many cases is one of the larger purchases that an individual or company will make. It is not the time to try and save a penny. The old English saying, “penny wise, pound foolish” is very good advice.
In addition, aircraft and the legal environment have become much more sophisticated. Modern jet and turbo-prop planes are not Piper Cubs, they are much more expensive and many times more complicated. Missing something or not knowing how to value something is not just a little bit of money, but can be big dollars. Consider the wrong tax structure and IRS audit, or the wrong contract language and losing a significant deposit and being stuck with a bad plane, or lawsuits to settle getting out of a bad deal that you should have never been in in the first place. And perhaps the biggest mistake on the plane and pricing is “knowing for sure what ain’t so” and that is where the real money comes into play.
Just as you would not have heart surgery without a trained and proficient heart surgeon, you should have a well trained and experienced team on your side for your aircraft acquisition.