James Vest’s road to aircraft ownership is typical of many pilots. He started working on his private pilot certificate in 1986. Despite having to juggle college and work, he managed to get enough hours to solo, and then to do his solo cross-country. He passed his knowledge test and was getting close to his checkride. Unfortunately, work and college took over most of his time and he stopped flying.
Fast forward 23 years, and the flying bug bit him again. For the past 21 years, he’s been working for the Illinois State Police and his career track is continuing to rise within the department. He started studying for his knowledge test and returned to flying lessons. “I was surprised at how much I retained in relation to flying and was able to take off and land myself the first time out—with an instructor right next to me, of course,” he said. Vest progressed with re-training and moved through solo and solo cross-countries.
“The weather and scheduling with my instructor turned out to be a challenge and I ultimately made the decision to attend a flight school in Florida. The weather was better and I could fly multiple times a day,” he says. After a few hours getting comfortable in a Cessna 172, he was signed off for his checkride. The checkride went well and he got his ticket.
“The next day I took my first passenger and significant other, Angie, for a ride. Upon return to Illinois, I immediately started looking for a plane to purchase,” Vest said.
He spent quite a bit of time looking at Cessna 172s, 177s and 182s. “I literally changed my thought process weekly on what I wanted and even looked at several Piper models,” he said. Finally, he decided that the only thing he would be happy with was a 182, and, after a year of searching, he found N7438N in Ohio and brought the airplane home in July 2014.
Vest has family in Texas, Colorado, and Florida. “My flight to Dallas is 3.5 hours," he said. "Drive time is 10 hours. You do the math.” He also made a 2.8 hour round trip to the Ozarks to drop his dad off. “It was his first time flying with me and I think he enjoyed the trip,” Vest said. He plans to start on his instrument rating early next year.
Vest said he chose the 182 because of its reputation as a workhorse. Plus, he said, he can fit four above-average size people in a 182. He just upgraded to a Hartzel Top Prop; “All it wants to do is eat air!” he said. “She is a beauty.” He also appreciates that he can enter the airplane from the left side.
When James purchased his airplane, he was already a customer of AOPA renter's insurance. He said, “I chose AOPA originally as a renter because the rate seemed very good. When I purchased my aircraft, I stayed with AOPA because they had the best rates for me on my aircraft.”
The process was simple. Vest explains, “When I decided to purchase an aircraft, I contacted AOPA on their website and requested a quote. I was contacted within 24 hours with a quote, and a contact, Jeff Fleming, sent me two quotes and his phone number if I had any questions. Well, I had several questions so I gave him a call. I then burned up his phone the next few days with more questions.” He decided on a policy, and “I couldn’t be happier,” he said.
Whether you fly high-wing or low, AOPA Insurance has the right policy for your “beauty.” For more information or a quick quote on aircraft insurance, talk to AOPA Insurance. For more information or to apply for a policy, visit us online or call 800/622-AOPA (2672). Don’t forget: You may earn a 5-percent discount just for being an AOPA member.