Before owning a plane by myself, I had been in three aircraft partnerships. What I learned while owning and caring for aircraft through those partnerships, ultimately gave me the knowledge, confidence and desire to own an aircraft without a partner.  I encourage those of you, who have not owned an aircraft, to first own with an experienced partner.  Likewise, I believe it is a great service to the aviation community for experienced pilots to share their knowledge (and expenses) with inexperienced pilots.

When seeking an aircraft partnership, be prepared to give more than you take from the partnership.  Partnerships require consideration and care for each other.  Unfortunately, many partners think they are the pros and their partners are cons.  That said, here is a quick list of some pros and cons of aircraft partnerships.

Sharing of the expenses.
Having another mind on how to best care for the partnership and aircraft.
Learning from your partner.
Having help caring for the aircraft.
Sharing acquaintances and friendships with others in the aviation community.
Sharing of flying techniques.
Sharing of favorite places to fly to.
Sharing the different skills and knowledge of each partner.
Keeping the plane flying.

When a partner does not keep up with expenses.
When a partner does not leave the aircraft and hangar clean and properly fueled.
When a partner does not report and take care of a known maintenance issue.
When a partner hogs the use of the plane without consideration for other schedules.
When a partner is abusive to the aircraft.
When a partner thinks some duties are beneath them.
When a partner expects others to do for them.
Aircraft Partnerships are not easily found or sold.

One area in particular to have a clear understanding, is the difference between fixed and operating fees.  A standard aircraft partnership agreement and regular accounting should be enough to keep this clear. If each partner uses the plane the same amount of time, a generous operating fee keeps the partnership well funded.  If some partners use the plane more than the others, the operating fee helps offset the loss of value and expenses of those who do not use the aircraft. Much can be read about fixed and operating fees. A generous operating fee is a good thing for a healthy partnership.  Each of my partnerships required some debts finalized at the sale of the aircraft.  This can be OK, if prior regular accounting has kept the numbers clear.  If the accounting is done by a partner who does not give periodic clear reports, chances are, there will be an unexpected outcome of the numbers.

If each partner gives of themselves to the partnership, they will likely get more in return.  Pros and cons can be managed with care and consideration, allowing the pros to far outweigh the cons. 

I found my seaplane partnership by searching "partnership" at the Seaplane Pilots Association Forum Classified web-site.

Cliff Gerber
RV-7 amphib