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Classic and Vintage Aviation – Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the definition of a classic aircraft?
In its broadest terms a classic aircraft is one that was built between 1945 and 1955. Prior to 1945 aircraft were deemed to be Vintage aircraft or Antique Aircraft. Here at Spirit in the Sky we have a broader definition placing much more emphasis on rarity, originality and provenance.

2. Why should I own a classic or vintage aircraft?

If you are a pilot who has only flown basic types such as Piper Cherokee’s and Cessna 172’s, then some classic aircraft will open up a whole new dimension to your flying experience. There is nothing like flying an open cockpit Stearman, Tiger Moth or Stampe for the first time. If open cockpit isn’t quite your scene then aircraft such as the Piper Cub represent a very affordable classic lending itself to grass roots stick and rudder flying whilst also allowing operation into short farm strips. Warbird types are evocative, for the most part powerful and give a good sense of what it must have been like for our forefathers who fought in the great wars. Classic and Vintage aeroplanes also have an investment value. Here at Spirit in the Sky, we have seen many more investors putting their disposable income into tangiable investment assets rather than paper based funds in the city. Aircraft can be used and enjoyed whilst yeilding good ROI.

3. Can anyone fly a Classic or Vintage aeroplane?
Provided you are a qualified pilot with the correct ratings ie tail dragger, then yes in theory any qualified pilot can fly vintage or classic types. Having stated this it is not recommended that even a suitably rated pilot should hop into a new type without having studied the aircraft Pilot Operating Handbook and spending some time with a pilot who does have some experience on type. There is no substitute for experience on type especially as each and every aircraft can harbour its own handling quirks.

4. Can I get tail dragger  /  tail wheel training or training for Vintage and Classic aircraft?

Yes here at Spirit in the Sky we can arrange for you to be trained in all aspects of vintage and classic flight. Whether it be your first stick and rudder / tail dragger experience or full Warbird type training we can arrange for that. We have a strong network of friendly and experienced instructors on all types of Vintage aircraft and Classic aircraft.

4. How much does it cost to buy a Classic or Vintage aeroplane?
This depends very much on the type, desirability, rarity, condition and provenance. A diligently restored MkI Spitfire with proven Battle of Britain kills is often quoted as priceless. In fact such aircraft rarely reach the commercial market, with owners preferring to change hands quietly. At the other end of the classic aircraft spectrum a Dehavilland Chipmunk, Tiger Moth or Piper Cub can be acquired from as little as £30k (c$50k.)

5. Can Spirit in the Sky help me find a classic to fit my flying ability and my pocket?
In short, yes. Our team at Spirit in the Sky will work closely with our clients to ensure that we find the best examples of any type in the marketplace to suit the individual. We work closely with our engineers to make sure that all the weak points of any given type are addressed, checked and signed off before our clients agree to purchase. We can also help with full pre-purchase inspections, importation, duty and VAT considerations and recommissioning on arrival in any given country.

6. When I decide to sell my Classic / Vintage aeroplane will Spirit in the Sky help me?
Yes of course. We have a good network of buyers and sellers and will work tirelessly to help you sell your aircraft at the best price possible in any given market. Aviation is a small world and having spent the last 20 years in various sectors of aviation, we know how important it is to always be true to our word and deliver. If we don’t think we can help for whatever reason, we will be up front and honest whilst offering a constructive way forward.

7. Do you charge me to buy or sell my vintage or classic aeroplane?

Yes Spirit in the Sky will charge to buy or sell your classic or vintage aircraft. We will agree a percentage of purchase or sale with you before we start to search or market. Once this has been agreed by both parties it will be enshrined in a simple contract for services so that we both know exactly what is agreed. We will NOT charge any abortive charges or expenses if we fail to sell your aeroplane. We pride ourselves on our transparency in all charges and that is how we have built up our reputation and excellent customer testimonials.

8. How do I sell my Classic or Vintage aeroplane?
First you call us and explain a bit about your aeroplane. What are the key selling points, are there any issues with the aircraft, where is it kept, who has undertaken the maintenance etc. From there we will also do our own research on the aircraft to ensure we are able to list all provenance. Following an initial phone conversation we will fly or drive to your home airfield and look at the aircraft as well as compile some good photographs. At this stage we will advise on the best way to present the aircraft. If you are happy to engage Spirit in the Sky at this point then we will draw up a simple agreement to protect all parties and continue to market your aircraft. Any potential purchasers are vetted and presented to the seller. Viewings are arranged together with a test flight if necessary. Purchasers will cover the cost of fuel, and this is deducted from the purchase price if a sale proceeds. We will update sellers on a weekly basis to ensure they are kept up to date on progress.

9. How do I pay for an aeroplane?
We like to use ESCROW services for our aircraft transactions so that buyer and seller remain protected throughout the transaction. Funds are only released in the event that both parties are happy with the terms of the sale or purchase.

10. Can Spirit in the Sky undertake pre-purchase inspections?
Yes we have in house CAA Certified engineers that can undertake pre-purchase inspection on most aircraft types.

11. Where can I store my vintage aircraft?
Spirit in the Sky set out to offer the end to end aircraft ownership solution to our clients. Our aim is to make classic/vintage aircraft ownership as easy and accessible as possible to all. Hence we offer a service where we can source hangar space for your aircraft near to your private residence.

12. How difficult is it to insure a classic aeroplane?
Insurance on aircraft is similar to the insurance policy you might have on a classic car. The premium will be a result of pilot experience, age of aircraft, claim history, how many hours the aircraft is flown per annum and of course where it is stored. We have an in house insurance service that can cater for all your needs where insurance is concerned.

13. Can I raise finance on a classic or vintage aircraft type?
Most of our buyers tend to purchase the aircraft outright due to diffciulties with finance companies understanding the investment potential of some types. With aircraft over 10 years old it can prove problematic though not impossible to raise finance. Spirit in the Sky have an arrangement with Private Wealth specialists who have specialist products to cover vintage aircraft acquisitions and we will be happy to put you in touch.

14. Are vintage aircraft and classic aeroplanes safe?

Yes, Classic and Vintage aircraft are subjected to the same rigorous tests and inspections as all other aircraft. The CAA insist on these inspections to keep all aircraft safe and airworthy. In addition to this Vintage and Classic aircraft tend to have been kept in excellent condition and hangared as they are owned and operated by enthusiasts who have lavished them with care and attention. Spirit in the Sky will ensure that any aircraft we buy or sell on behalf of our clients will have undergone a rigorous pre purchase / sale inspection and any items which need addressing will be reported on at the time and rectified prior to any transaction.

15. Do Spirit in the Sky have the expertise to restore my aeroplane?
Yes we do. In fact we have aircraft being restored at this very moment in time. These aircraft were found in a hangar in Wisconsin. When the container arrived in the UK it was a collection of boxes full of rusty old components. Once complete they will have been restored dilligently according to the original factory manuals. Quality is at the centre of everything we seek to achieve in this corner of the aviation world.

16. How much does it cost to own and operate a classic or vintage aircraft?
The cost of ownership is divided between fixed costs and operating costs. Fixed costs basically comprise hangar storage, annual inspections, maintenance and insurance. Operating costs include navigation fees, landing fee’s, fuel, oil, tyres and pilot costs if you choose to fly with a safety pilot. As you would expect these costs can vary depending on the value, size and complexities of the aircraft in question. A £30k Piper Cub is obviously cheaper to operate than the brutish Hawker Sea Fury for example.

17. Where can I fly in my Vintage or Classic aircraft?
Provided the aircraft complies with avionics requirements, vintage and classic aircraft types can fly pretty much anywhere in the world. In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s air races involved single engine vintage types flying all the way to Cape Town and Sydney from the UK. It is our intention to involve vintage and classic owners in a range of events spanning fly-ins, rallies and air races that will recreate such great events as the McRobertson Air Race and the Schneider Trophy. See our events page for more information.

18. Can Spirit in the Sky maintain my aircraft?
Yes. We have our own engineering team that inspect and maintan all our aircraft as well as undertaking restoration on behalf of our valued clients. Of course you are not bound to use our engineering team for inspections and maintenance. We also have our own in house fabric specialists able to work in a range of coverings including Irish Linen, Ceconite and Dacron.

19. I have a Vintage aircraft and would like the interior refurbished. Can you help?
Yes. Our fabric team also work on our leather and fabric cabin and cockpit interiors. We have bespoke leather suppliers as well as a wide range of fabrics to allow a real bespoke finish to your aeroplane.

20. Can Spirit in the Sky provide classic aircraft insurance ? Can Spirit in the Sky provide Vintage aircraft insurance?

Yes, Spirit in the Sky provide bespoke insurance for Classic and Vintage Aircraft, we have an in house insurance broker who is dedicated to ensuring that your particular vintage aircraft insurance needs are dealt with on a personal basis. Spirit in The Sky vintage and classic aircraft insurance uses the very best underwriters in the aviation sector and creates a bespoke insurance for you and your aircraft, whatever the use and wherever you want to fly.

21. Can Spirit in the Sky arrange Classic and Vintage Aircraft Finance?

Yes, Spirit in the Sky can arrange classic and vintage aircraft finance. We work closely with a world renowned finance house to be able to offer finance for purchase of classic and vintage aircraft on a case by case basis as each clients aircraft and circumstance are so individual.

If you should have any further classic and vintage aviation – frequently asked questions please do not hesitate to call our team on +44 1926 842381 or email steven@spiritinthesky.co.uk