Finding the right aircraft: 4 questions that will drastically improve your outcome

choosing the right aircraft


If you’re in the market to purchase an aircraft, you are probably learning a lot about different aircraft specifications, equipment, avionics, and pricing.

As you gather information, you may discover that the type of aircraft you originally thought would be the best one to meet your needs is actually NOT the best one.

In fact, it’s very common for aircraft buyers to change their mind on their “ideal” aircraft several times during the course of their aircraft acquisition process. Conversations with different sales reps promoting their specific aircraft can either confuse or assist with the aircraft selection.

The goal of nearly every aircraft acquisition is to purchase the aircraft that offers the best value to the new owner (and/or their business).


Here are a few of our top questions to help you find the right aircraft:


Question #1: What kind of flying do you plan to do?

This question seems like an obvious one; but we’ve found that it’s often addressed with far too much brevity. It can be enticing to look for the plane with the lowest price or the most impressive equipment, avionics, and performance specifications. But you’re not going to find the one that will meet your needs over a longer term if you don’t have a thorough understanding of how you plan to use it.

Will you be flying solo or with a group most of the time? Are you really going to be filling those additional seats on a regular basis? Will you be taking short trips or flying longer distances? What sort of weather conditions will you be navigating?


Question #2: What is the total estimated cost of ownership?

When it comes to a budget range, many buyers focus on an initial purchase price. Instead, they should be looking at a budget for the total cost of ownership.

You have probably heard it said that there’s no such thing as an inexpensive aircraft. Everything from fuel burn to upcoming maintenance needs, financing and hangar costs, pilot needs, and potential charter or leaseback revenue should be factored into the equation. You may find that the aircraft with a bigger initial price tag will be much better for your budget long term when you do all the math.


Question #3: What is your flight training and experience level?

This is a very important question for any owner-flown aircraft purchase. Especially if you don’t have thousands of hours as pilot-in-command and a multitude of type ratings, you’ll need to ensure you’re ready to handle the aircraft confidently.

Some factory-new aircraft purchases will include a training program if needed. But in the pre-owned aircraft sector—other than Cirrus Aircraft’s new Cirrus Embark training program—transition training is rarely included with the purchase of pre-owned aircraft.

In addition to training availability and cost considerations, be aware that some transitions are smoother than others. Don’t hesitate to contact someone who can knowledgeably discuss your potential transition.


Question #4: What is the right price for the right plane?

This question is often the most difficult question to answer. Some markets have only a handful of similar aircraft for sale at any given time, making it very challenging to determine a fair price without more information. Sellers often list their aircraft online without posting an ask price, so you have to dig even further for numbers. And some markets have wider spreads than others between typical bid prices and ask prices.

If you’re justifying your price based on a “book value” you should be aware that book values are typically 6-9 months behind the market and are often tens of thousands off of actual market values.

Also, here’s a “buyer beware”: what looks like a good deal on the surface may end up costing you more than you realize after you get it under contract. Damage history, missing logbook entries, corrosion, and below average condition (cosmetic or mechanical) can make a significant impact on the value of an aircraft. Regrettably, many sellers display only a handful of photos and very little supportive information in their online listings, leaving buyers to find out for themselves why the plane is priced so low.

Read more: Getting a good deal when buying an aircraft.


You might be surprised at how much value the right aircraft sales expert can add to you your overall transaction. Especially when you factor in their market value information and negotiation expertise, you may discover it’s well worth it to hire someone to help you achieve a more successful aircraft acquisition.


Try our free Aircraft Market Review Tool! 


Questions or comments? Want to discuss your next aircraft?

We’d love to hear from you! Contact us today by calling 402-475-6000 or emailing


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What satisfied customers are saying...

  • I did not expect that the sale would go quickly, in fact, I anticipated that I would have a couple of extra months to fly the plane as we waited for a purchaser to come along. The marketing that was done on my behalf created an immediate interest in the plane. This transaction was easy on me, as the Performance team produced amazing results in record time with very little input on my part. In my opinion, there is no better team to represent you when you buy or sell an aircraft.
    – Thomas M. Belford, Nebraska
  • My first sale with Performance Aircraft was inked in four business days, for more than the listing price! The second, a Beechcraft King Air 300LW, was an impossible task—after five brokerage firms unsuccessfully tried, Performance Aircraft delivered! They understand the market, the people involved, and have so much integrity with both sides of the transaction. Theirs is a world wide reach, with an unbelievable staff. 
    – Tony Spears, Texas
  • I trusted the team at Performance Aircraft to help me identify an airplane that fit my mission, budget, and goals.  I'm happy to say that they exceeded all my expectations by keeping me informed throughout every step of the process.  You can trust that this team is not out to sell you an airplane but to be a lifelong aviation partner.  I would definitely use them again for selling or buying an aircraft.  Thank you!
    – Eric Leatherman, Nebraska
  • As a first time buyer, I was nervous about the entire process–plane selection, negotiations, paperwork, and closing. After my first contact with Stacey at Performance Aircraft, I knew they were the right fit to help me. She quickly made me feel at ease with everything. Their website is positively the best and most comprehensive in its class.  The process was smooth and the plane was exactly as it was represented. I couldn't be happier!
    – Dennis Cooley, Florida
  • Your team did exactly what you said you would do, which is a very rare trait in today's business world. I would recommend you guys have integrity.
    – Tony Wagner, Florida
  • I purchased an airplane from Performance Aircraft a few years ago and have also utilized some of their Flight Training Services since that time. I have developed a respect for their professional expertise in both their Training and Sales side of their business.
    – Mike Kelly, Nebraska
  • Because of your professional team and alliances with other top companies, you will be my first call when looking to purchase another airplane. Thank you again.
    – Tom Saxon, Florida
  • I would tell my friends they can trust Performance Aircraft to provide honest, ethical, and enthusiastic service. Bill found an aircraft that best suits our needs while staying well within our budget. The whole process was practically stress-free. And, the post-purchase training and follow-ups have been phenomenal.
    – Matt Young, Wyoming
  • Your communication here is very good and I really appreciated your honesty. Your follow up is awesome. Bill knew the value of airplanes as well as anyone I have met in the industry and I have been flying for over 30 years. You guys did a great job communicating with me throughout the process and kept the plane moving to closing. I was very pleased with everything.
    – Randy Christo, Nebraska
  • Their knowledge of the market allowed us to feel confident that they understood aircraft values. Additionally, the personality of the marketing team made this an easy decision that we would be treated well and communicated with frequently on their progress.
    – Skyhawk Flying Club, Nebraska
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8 Common Misconceptions about Selling Your Own Aircraft



for sale by owner aircraft

Thinking about selling your aircraft on your own? It’s not uncommon for aircraft owners to post their own plane for sale, intending to test the market and see what happens.

Sometimes, things work out nicely and a quick sale occurs, but it’s also not uncommon for those same aircraft owners to become frustrated with the selling process.

With over a decade of experience helping hundreds of sellers through the process, we have identified a few of the most common misconceptions aircraft owners have about selling their own plane.



Misconception #1: “I’ll save money if I sell it on my own.”

Most of the time, sellers choose the “For Sale By Owner (FSBO)” route because they’re hoping to net more money by saving on a potential brokerage fee. However, we consistently see FSBO sellers who could have walked away with more money in their pocket had they only hired the right aircraft sales team.

A good aircraft sales team can add a tremendous amount of value to your transaction—from pricing the plane just right given the current market, to negotiating on the seller’s behalf, to presenting the plane in a way that attracts more serious buyers. We have often helped sellers net several thousand dollars more—after paying our brokerage fee—than they were originally hoping to net when they were trying to sell on their own, much to their surprise (and delight).

Another thing to consider: most aircraft owners are fairly successful at what they do every day. If you put a reasonable price tag on your own time, why not hire a professional to do the legwork, market your plane more effectively, handle all the details, and keep your schedule free so you can put your time towards the things that make you the most money every day?


Misconception #2: “Since I sold my plane before, I can do it again.”

The aircraft market is constantly changing, and people buy differently now than they did even a few years ago. Just because you sold a plane previously doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed the same experience the next time around. We have worked with dozens of individuals who told us they had ALWAYS sold their own planes in the past and finally gave up when they weren’t getting the offers that they expected from their past experience.

It’s our job to stay on the leading edge of market changes and buyer trends. People research aircraft differently now than they did in the past, and we know what it takes to convert pageviews into serious prospects.


Misconception #3: “I’ve got a $100 ad up online. This will get my plane in front of any buyer who is seriously looking for a plane like mine.”

We hear this misconception a lot. Sellers often think that their $100 online ad will successfully get their aircraft in front of all the serious buyers who are looking for their make/model aircraft. True, that ad may generate a few calls, but one ad won’t attract nearly as many buyers as a professional aircraft sales team will generate by launching a comprehensive, strategic marketing campaign for your aircraft.

Most of the time, we will generate more serious inquiries within the first week than the seller generated in the first few months with their FSBO ad.


Sales StatisticsMisconception #4: “I have no problem talking to buyers.”

This misconception leads to one of the biggest mistakes sellers make when selling their own plane.

Answering the incoming phone call is easy; but it’s the follow up after that initial call that makes all the difference. Are you really prepared from an expertise and time availability standpoint to educate buyers, follow up actively with them, and help them put all the pieces in place (escrow, insurance, financing, etc.) so they can buy your aircraft?

Consider the following sales statistics: only 10% of sales are made in the first three contacts, and 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact. If you don’t have the time to follow up 5-12 times with each buyer who inquires on your aircraft, we can guarantee you will leave significant opportunity on the table. Our sales team has perfected a process for actively following up with buyers and helping them move forward successfully to purchase your aircraft.


If you don’t have the time to follow up 5-12 times with each buyer who inquires on your aircraft, we can guarantee you will leave significant opportunity on the table. 

Misconception #5: “People would rather buy from the owner than a broker.”

A lot of sellers feel that buyers would rather talk to the guy who owns the plane than a “middleman.” However, most serious buyers prefer a smooth process that is clearly mapped out for them, and they really enjoy having a team of professionals available to assist them throughout the process.

Many buyers aren’t even certain what type of plane they really want to buy, so discussing their needs with a professional who knows about a variety of aircraft can help them solidify their needs so they can move forward. Buyers usually feel more comfortable presenting their offer to a third party than they would directly to the aircraft owner (it’s our job to keep negotiations from getting emotional, even when the buyer and seller are “too far apart”). Additionally, about a third of all buyer prospects we talk to are also interested in selling or trading in their own aircraft in order to purchase another plane. Overall, we find that most buyers really value the help we can provide throughout their aircraft purchase process.


Misconception #6: “I ran a vref, so I know the value of my plane.”

While aircraft book values are good benchmarks, they’re definitely NOT the “absolute truth” when it comes to aircraft market values. Because book values are generated based on limited amounts of data, we often see wide discrepancies between book values and true market values.

Here’s where a lot of sellers lose big when they go to sell their plane. If you aren’t regularly involved in pricing aircraft, talking to buyers, and actively tracking the aircraft markets, you can easily price your plane too high or too low and end up missing out on good offers or leaving money on the table.


Misconception #7: “I’m not in a rush to sell.”

Sellers often think that it’s in their best interest to take their time and wait for the perfect offer for their aircraft.  But we find that the opposite is usually true. To maximize your opportunity when you sell, a better strategy involves aggressively marketing to the pool of buyers who have been actively looking for a plane like yours and getting them motivated to make an early move.

The longer the plane sits, the harder it is to maximize your sale price. Buyers who see that your plane has sat on the market for some time are less motivated to make the same offer they would make on a plane that is new to the market.  In fact, buyers will use “time on the market” against your aircraft when it comes to offers and negotiations.


Unless you’re offering your plane at a price that is well-below the current market, asking a buyer to make you an offer with limited information is like expecting someone to propose at the end of a first date. 

Misconception #8. If you have a buyer, bring me an offer.

We often talk to owners who tell us they’re open to us bringing them an offer if we know of the right buyer for their plane. Here’s where the misconception occurs: in order to find the right buyer for your plane and get them excited about making their best offer, we need to be fully equipped to promote your plane and educate buyers.

We can bring you a MUCH better offer (or offers!) if we have a chance to preview the plane in person, review and document it thoroughly, and represent your plane on your behalf with good photos, full specification information, and complete logbooks. Unless you’re offering your plane at a price that is well-below the current market, asking a buyer to make you an offer with limited information is like expecting someone to propose at the end of a first date.

See also: Determining Your Aircraft’s Market Value


Thinking about selling your aircraft? Get a free Aircraft Market Review!

Our aircraft sales team consultants would love to help you maximize your results and put more money in your pocket! Contact us today at 402-475-6000 or


Getting a great deal when you buy aircraft


Great aircraft deals




“I’m looking for a really great deal.

Can you send me any aggressively priced aircraft in good condition that meet my specific make, model, avionics, and equipment needs?”


We have received thousands of inquiries from potential aircraft buyers over the years. Without a doubt, one of the most common statements we hear is “I’m looking for a great deal.”

Can we help you find a great deal? Absolutely. Will it be the great deal you envisioned? That depends.

To help you find the “great deal” you’re looking for, we need to better understand what you’re hoping to achieve. For example, are you looking to buy the plane that meets your travel needs with the lowest cost of ownership over a set period of time? Or, are you looking for a bargain on a perfectly pristine aircraft with very specific avionics, equipment, maintenance history, and more?

Here is what we see: good deals are out there, but you will rarely find the plane you really want priced well under the market with the avionics, paint scheme, maintenance history, and more that you are looking for.

Reasons include:

1. Modern technology has opened up a worldwide market. 

Gone are the days when aircraft stayed at the same airfield their entire lives. In a matter of minutes, we can post a plane for sale that will be seen online by thousands of aircraft buyers and dealers.

The advantage of marketing planes online is simply too powerful for sellers to ignore, and any dealers who are not openly advertising “great deals” on aircraft are only doing so to benefit themselves.

2. If you think it’s a great deal, so will everyone else.

If you look at an aircraft listing and say “wow, this looks like a really good deal,” we can guarantee that several other aircraft buyers are thinking the exact same thing. That “really good deal” will probably be under contract within hours of being posted, so you need to act fast.

Landing a great deal on the plane you want requires more time than most people realize. You’re also competing with dealers, who actively monitor the markets daily and rearrange other commitments quickly when a good deal surfaces.

Buyers who are able to snag the plane they want below market value often find themselves jumping through additional hoops, as the selling party becomes the “customer” who needs to be served. This can result in the buyer trying to make everything easy for the seller and taking on extra costs, unexpected risks, and shortened timeframes.

3. There might be a good reason it’s priced so low.

What looks like a good deal on the surface may end up costing more than you realize after you get it under contract. Damage history, missing logbook entries, corrosion, and below average condition (cosmetic or mechanical) can make a significant impact on the value of an aircraft. Regrettably, many sellers display only a handful of photos and very little supportive information in their online listings, leaving buyers to find out for themselves why the plane is priced so low.

Because the buyer is typically responsible for many costs associated with pre-purchase inspections, it is wise to review as much information as possible prior to making an offer. Look for: complete logbooks; high quality photos of the exterior, interior and panel; video footage showing the condition of the plane’s surfaces; and detailed, accurate aircraft specifications.

4. Off-market deals are not always great deals.

A small percentage of aircraft do not hit the open market. Instead, they get sold to a friend, family member, or other local individual. A personal relationship can lead to a good deal, but it is very rare to find the aircraft you want being sold off-market by someone you know.

On occasion, we have seen deals between acquaintances where the buyer trusts the other party and believes they are getting a great deal, but they end up overpaying for a plane without doing their due diligence. Without a proper pre-buy inspection, title search, or understanding of the aircraft’s true market value, buyers can take on unexpected lien issues, maintenance problems, and other financial woes.

5. A great deal on a great aircraft might involve paying full market value.

If your goal is to buy the plane you actually want to own (with your desired avionics, equipment, condition, and timing), your “great deal” will very likely involve a transaction at or around full market value.

Nobody ever calls us and says “I want to overpay for an airplane.” And conversely, most sellers don’t want to give their planes away. Most of the time, a good deal is a deal that is fair to both the buyer and seller.

A great deal is really a matter of perception. Are you more interested in finding the right price or the right plane? A plane that meets your business and personal needs, falls within your budget, and is enjoyable for you to fly might be an excellent deal for you, even if you are not able to purchase it well below the market.


Want a little help finding your next aircraft?

We’d love to hear from you! Contact us today by calling 402-475-6000 or emailing


What’s my best strategy to get “top dollar” for my plane?


Aircraft Sales Strategies




“I’m not in a rush to sell, and I want “top dollar” for my plane. I’m perfectly willing to wait several months or more in order to get a really strong offer. Ideally, I’d like to get close to the same amount I paid when I bought the aircraft.

Can you help me?”


We hear variations of this question regularly. Unfortunately for many sellers, “not being in a rush to sell” can hurt their chances to get “top dollar” because their selling strategy fails to effectively harness the market’s initial momentum.

We find that the best opportunity to sell your plane at “top dollar” is commonly within the first few weeks of putting it on the market.

Here’s why:

The pool of buyers is generally more motivated in the first few weeks.

Whenever a new plane comes onto the market, there will be a “pool of buyers” who have been actively looking for that type of plane.

Some of these buyers may have been looking for several weeks or months, and they will act quickly to investigate or dismiss any new-to-market aircraft. They are usually more educated about the type of plane they want, and they have a good idea how much their purchase will cost. They may have even had a sale pending on another aircraft where the deal fell through for one reason or another. Because they may have been looking for the right plane to come on the market for quite some time, they are usually less likely to throw out “lowball offers” on a plane that meets their needs.

If the plane is presented well and priced competitively with the rest of the market, this pool of motivated buyers will inquire on the plane, and the seller will have a very good opportunity to get “top dollar” for their aircraft.

Sellers often lack confidence in their understanding of the market until after they have received their first couple offers. By that time, they have often passed up the “top dollar” offer.

Unlike real estate, aircraft rarely appreciate over time.

Sellers generally don’t reap any benefits from market appreciation by waiting around for months. Instead, most planes depreciate over time (whether they are flown or not flown!), and aircraft that are on the market for a longer time tend to be less enticing to buyers, who may perceive that something is wrong with the plane.

If you are “unmotivated” and overpriced, you may find yourself devaluing your plane.

This happens all the time with overpriced listings. Buyers will use “time on the market” against the aircraft when it comes to offers and negotiations. This even extends to whether or not they will make an offer on the aircraft in the first place.

If they do make an offer on a plane that has been on the market a while, buyers generally are less negotiable because they fear that “all those people who didn’t make an offer must know something about this plane that I don’t. I don’t want to make a mistake and pay too much!”

“Top dollar” is the best number buyers will pay.

Unfortunately, many sellers assign value to things that don’t matter to buyers. As a result, they start out pricing their aircraft too high to maximize interest. Because of this, they may never even see the offer that would have been “top dollar” for their plane.

If an “unmotivated” seller does receive a strong offer early on, they are likely to turn it down and see if they can do better. Even motivated sellers often lack confidence in their understanding of the market until after they have received their first couple offers. By that time, they have often passed up the “top dollar” offer and can end up having to settle for a much lower number months down the road.


Try our free Aircraft Market Review Tool! 


Want to discuss a strategy for selling your aircraft quickly and maximizing your results?

We’d love to hear from you! Complete the form below or contact us today by calling 402-475-6000 or emailing


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