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How do restored and vintage aircraft owners afford to keep them running?


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I'm not very well up on this but I imagine they get donations and possibly sponsors, but I don't know the details.


The reason I ask is at many of these air shows these old restored aircraft fly in, but it must cost a fortune to keep them running/flying, not just fuel but maintenance, hangar costs, landing charges and whatever else they have to pay for.


I saw an article where a company takes you up in some of them for a small round trip flight, but obviously this can't be a daily thing because of people working and the weather and time of year etc, so surely the payment from these charges isn't enough for the upkeep.



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Money. Simple as that.


Some find ways to offset running costs with flights, but that makes the aircraft `commercial` and subject to onerous flight restrictions and even more expensive maintenance costs, so many use other methods such as hiring out for film work, or even as a static photographic object of the plane as a 3d platform for deriving digital aircraft for motion capture use.


But mostly it's just More and More Money...

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As mallcott says, money, just as it costs money for more modern aircraft. "restored and vintage aircraft" covers a lot of ground, though, and the tone of your post sounds as if you're thinking of large warbirds, which are indeed very expensive, and are generally owned by wealthy folks, though there are exceptions, such as some of the Commemorative Air Force's (CAF) aircraft.


On the other hand, the yellow Cub in my avatar is actually an L-21, the military version of the Super Cub, and is definitely both restored and vintage. Though I sold my share some years back, we had an eight member club, thus sharing costs. The club members actually spent a couple of years restoring it, building "sweat equity" based on how much time each member spent in the restore effort.


Cost would be a bit higher today, but I bought my share for less than $10,000 (after the restoration was done) and we charged ourselves $45 per tach hour* (not Hobbs hour) and required that each member pay for at least two hours per month, even if they didn't fly that much. This covered all expenses, except the engine swap when we replaced the 125 HP O-290 with a 150 HP O-320 -- we assessed each member for a portion of that, though part came from the engine maintenance fund as well.


The Aeronca Chief in my signature picture (circa 1970), which I learned to fly in, was also a "restored and vintage aircraft" owned by the gentleman in the picture with me. He'd done the restoration himself (as do many others with aircraft like that).


On the other extreme is something like the CAF's B-29 Fifi, where they charge for rides, sell merchandise (from T-shirts to calenders to...) and ask for donations, among other things.

* The tachometer registers an hour when the engine is running at cruise RPM which, depending on the engine, may be somewhere around 2300 to 2500 RPM, thus idle (700-800 RPM) would take somewhere near three clock hours to register an hour, so takeoffs and landings (and slow cruise) will cost less per clock hour than running at cruise.


A Hobbs meter, on the other hand, starts running as soon as the oil pressure comes up (a few have other triggers) and runs at the same rate as a clock, which is why most flight schools/rental operations charge by a Hobbs meter.


Larry N.

As Skylab would say:

Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

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Thanks for the info, I was watching a few aircraft restore programs and wondered how after the many days, months and years of their hard work how they managed to keep the aircraft running, this was what made me ask.


I've seen a couple where volunteer enthusiasts work to restore an aircraft, course they do it for free and their enjoyment and get pleasure of seeing their hard work actually fly.

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