I bought a Robin by accident     by Deadly Void

 

I spent years thinking about one day owning my own aeroplane, as many of us do, and often used to muse about which one I would buy if I ever did. New aircraft are hugely expensive and way beyond my means, so these options were never seriously considered.

 

It was very clear that the best place to start was to decide what you want from an aircraft and then find one that matches your requirements, so I was advised by a friend to make a......

 

'Pre-purchase technical appraisal of my mission profile aircraft performance requirement options',

 

so I did, but called it a 'list'. 

 

What I wanted was:-

 

  • Four usable seats 

  • Reasonably fast (at least 100kts+)

  • Good range for touring.

  • IFR, or potentially IFR capable

  • All metal, as I suffer from an irrational distrust of fabric.

  • Good looking, sexy, preferably low wing

  • Cheap as possible, or failing that, a reasonable investment

  • Fixed gear to save on maintenence costs, if possible

 

It soon became apparent that these wish list items are interlinked and often in direct opposition to each other and almost all aircraft fail on one of these criterion, and most aircraft fail on several. For example, long range aircraft fail on payload, fixed gear aircraft are slow etc. etc.....

 

Twin-engined aircraft were out of the question, due to maintenance costs and, out of what was left, the following aircraft caught my eye for various attributes:-

 

Grumman Tiger 

 

Cessna 182

 

Cessna 170

 

Mooney M20J

 

Piper Comanche

 

Robin HR100

 

For my purposes the Robin seemed to be the best match for my wish list - See the 'Best Tourer' page on this website for all the reasons. However Robin had gone bust and parts were unobtainable, so that was a non-starter. Back to square one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As with many groups, the aircraft hardly ever flew, as only one of the members seemed keen. I had joined the group because I was particularly interested in that model of aeroplane, but it was a trek for me around the M25 and I was as guilty for the lack of use as the others, and only flew it a few times. None of the group wanted to invest any money into it and the aircraft was just sitting out in the weather deteriorating. A majority decision to sell it was made and I reluctantly went along with this, although I kept thinking I would fly it more and would have preferred to keep the group going.

 

Nobody really made much of an effort to get it sold and the winter came and the dreaded annual inspection loomed. The engineers offered to buy it for scrap value and some of the group were willing to sell to avoid the ongoing costs and the bill for the annual that would have inevitably involved sorting out a several known snags. I asked if any of the group wanted to take the plane on as sole owner and noone did. I wasn't happy about this so offered to buy the aircraft from the group for £1 more than the engineers had offered and G-BAPY was mine - and so was the bill for the annual -over £7000 including repairs.

 

The aircraft had to be inspected, ferried and a permit to fly had to be acquired, as (unknown to me when I bought it) the previous annual had expired - an honest mistake with the dates had been made, so moving the aircraft added about another £600 to the cost. The new annual inspection was expensive, but most of the bill went to repair and improve the aircraft, so it wasn't all wasted.

 

In the end, the group managed to escape the financial liability of the upkeep on an aircraft they were not using and I got my own aeroplane for a bit less than the market value, bearing in mind that I got a very big bill and I already owned a sixth of it as a share. I don't know if any of them regret selling it, but I think it was the right decision, as someone needed to take it on and look after it before the condition got any worse. I have no doubt that I got the better end of the deal, although I took a risk, and have to say that they were all absolute gentlemen about it. Nice people.

 

I now needed to save some money on the upkeep and start the slow process of reviving a neglected plane.

 

The group used to pay just over £200 a month for outside parking at Fairoaks and I now pay less than that for hangarage at a grass strip close to my home in Kent. Group insurance was about £1800 a year and I pay about £600 through Visicover, so my costs  have gone up dramatically (as they are no longer shared), but not as much as I had anticipated.

 

The aircraft was originally fully IFR, but rules have moved on since it was built in 1973. I have upgraded the transponder to a nearly new mode S model and I just need to put a Garmin box in (over £5000) when I can afford it, and a fully IFR tourer will emerge from the ashes.

 

That's the plan - Watch this space.

Years later, I spotted and advert for a share for sale in Robin HR100 G-BAPY at Fairoaks. I did a bit of research on the internet and found that the aircraft was once again being supported for parts. I took the plunge and bought the share in a rather scruffy looking aeroplane that was sitting outside in the rain, thinking that at least I only had a sixth of the liability if it all went wrong. Out of the other five owners, I only ever met three - great guys.

 

Update - Summer 2016

I've just had a bit of luck. Another Robin owner contacted me looking to sell some spares from a written off airframe (propellor strike). I have bought most of the items I think I will need to keep G-BAPY flying in the future and some of the others are up for sale on this website on the parts shop page. I am delighted, as I was always worried about being able to find an obscure part. Most are still obtainable, but prices from Robin are very high as there were few of this particular Robin model made.

I also got a great new leather interior and will post some pictures here when it goes in.........

Sept 2016    

 

Well...here it is !

Beautiful new Dove Grey Leather seats and interior, with black side rails and tailored carpets and mats. Note the straps on top of the seats to hold the harnesses, so they don't slip down around the sides of the seat - incredibly annoying when you are trying to buckle up with limited space with a passenger sitting beside you.

This interior came from a written off HR100, which was subsequently destroyed in a warehouse fire. I spent a couple of hours treating and cleaning the leather with Dr. Leather and it looks absolutely immaculate - like it came out of the trim shop yesterday. A great job was done fitting it by the engineers at Headcorn and for a very reasonable price.

November 2016

G-BAPY gets some new undercrackers!

I sourced some second hand solid white spats from a written-off Robin. 

I think they make the aircraft look more modern, as they soften the original 1973 striped paint theme, which was carried through on the original (and scruffy) spats.

You can see how the new ones compare to the old. A small and cheap change can make a big difference.

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