10 Airplanes Under $20,000 (And 15 Only Rich People Can Afford)

No matter what you believe your preference may be, airplanes come in a diverse set of styles, shapes, sizes, and prices.

For the majority of non-pilot civilians, no one has a clue about airplane costs. It may seem out-of-reach for the average joe, but you’d be shocked that many of them are priced less than most modern-day cars. These airplanes are obviously much smaller than the enormous commercial airliners that will take you from Tokyo to Los Angeles, but they’re still very fun to get to know and learn to handle. Plus, they could actually come in handy for short-distance travels. Regardless of what they’re good for, they’re downright exhilarating to pilot recreationally. However, there is also a flip side to the coin of aircraft ownership; those that can afford to buy an airplane and pay for a private pilot.

It’s not something average people consciously think about on a daily basis, but celebrities, government officials, and big-time business people are often seen in private jets and immense airliners. These sorts of owners don’t usually pilot their own airplanes, even though many actually have endorsements. It’s common for the most elite to spend hundreds of millions in customizations, alone, on these airliners. While many of the prices below reflect the basic manufacturer cost, many of these prices are susceptible to increase dramatically. Hence, why these are reserved for those that have got unbelievable gobs of cash in their wallets. No matter what you believe your preference may be, airplanes come in a diverse set of styles, shapes, sizes, and prices.

25 Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer ($14,500)

via Wikimedia Commons

The Piper Tri-Pacer was meant to be an inexpensive plane that was suitable for new owners. Based off of the Piper PA-20 Pacer, the Tri-Pacer was a new-and-improved iteration that eliminated the limited forward visibility and replaced the tailwheel with nosewheel landing gear.

The above photo depicts a 1955 Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer, which has a top speed of 150 mph.

It may not be the most ideal plane for long distances, but the Tri-Pacer was a common plane that was considered very reliable – which is probably why it only costs close to $15k today. Over 9,400 were produced, and at least 3,000 are still registered with the FAA. Even if it isn’t the latest and greatest plane currently in production, the Piper Tri-Pacer can be purchased for an affordable price and has quite a bit to offer.

24 Luscombe 8A ($13k - $16k)

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If you’re looking at a Luscombe 8A, you may find yourself initially deterred by its simplicity. The all-metal planes were intended to be mass-produced, thus making them a bit less technologically advanced – even for their age. The 1940s 8A is one of the most basic of the Luscombe models. It was designed particularly for the Civilian Pilot Training Program, and it’s still a great plane for newbie pilots, today. The 8A’s unsophisticated tailwheel landing gear can deter the timid pilot trainee, but many flight instructors have claimed that taildraggers provide an excellent learning experience. And, that’s precisely the case with the 8A; it prefers an assertive operator handling the stick and rudder. It may seem a bit frightening to the inexperienced, but for anyone that gets to know the 8A, it is a very rewarding aircraft.

23 Ercoupe 415-C ($17k-$19k)

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Today, the Ercoupe 415-C is revered as a sign of American progression in aviation. Built to be dependable and safe, the 415-C was meant to be affordable for nearly anyone. Although it has a basic engine and cockpit configuration, it improved on common aircraft of its time by eliminating the rudder pedals as a standard, making it only an option to those who were already familiar with it. The sliding canopy offers the pilot improved visibility and the steerable nosewheel created easygoing taxiing, the same can be said about the tricycle landing gear which improved takeoff and landing. Many of the elements of affordable aircraft that caused buyers to shy away were cleaned up and made to be safer and more comfortable than ever before. While it’s a bit of an old-timer, the 415-C is still an excellent airplane for modern-day novice pilots.

22 Taylorcraft BC-12 ($12k-$19k)

via Airtrader

One of the more comfortable – yet affordable – aircraft options for all levels of experience is the Taylorcraft BC-12D. The Taylorcraft was considered to be a state-of-the-art personal airplane during its conception.

Previously unseen features, such as the control wheels sticking out of the panel, gave it a reputation for being more advanced than competitor civilian planes.

The side-by-side seating and newly-introduced automotive-style door added ease and comfort, which was uncharacteristic for a 1946 aircraft. The relatively formidable Continental A-65 engine can reach top speeds of 95mph and can travel distances close to 300 miles. Later models can be purchased at a similarly affordable price point as the original 1946 iteration.

21 Cessna 150 ($11k-$19k)

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As the fifth most common civilian airplane, the Cessna 150 has a positive track record to back up its position in the aviation world. With over 23,000 produced, its dependability and low price aren’t too shocking. Like many other small commuter planes, the 150 was designed for training purposes, personal use, as well as touring, and it still stands as a popular cheap pick today for those same reasons. The basic Commuter model has 100 horsepower and manually-actuated flaps that can be operated by a lever between the seats, which may deter the novice pilot but can also serve as a perfect plane to learn the aviation fundamentals. Its two-seat cockpit doesn’t offer much wiggle room, but it has the often-preferred tricycle landing gear. It may not serve as the most desirable airplane ever created, but the Cessna 150 is a well-made aircraft that you can certainly scoop up for a small cost.

20 Piper PA-38 Tomahawk ($18k)

via Wikimedia Commons

This low-winged wonder has been one of the most popular monoplanes made in the US, the Piper Tomahawk. This is a highly affordable beginner aircraft with a small enclosed cabin for two.

It was designed specifically for flight instructors who wanted improved visibility and a bit of an aggressive airplane to teach with a propensity to spin.

The Tomahawk’s t-tail is well above the prop wash and requires more input in the controls to be flown effectively; its tail, as well as its lightweight wings, allows it to spin easily. Though, on some occasions, the wings have caused the plane to drop if it experiences a stall, earning it the unofficial name, “Piper Traumahawk.” Even if spinning isn’t your ultimate goal, the Traumahawk is a fun aircraft for various levels of experience.

19 Cessna 120 ($10k-$20k)

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Along with its sibling, the 140, the Cessna 120 brought the company into peacetime business after WWII. The Cessna 120 and 140 became hot sellers and excellent training airplanes. The 120 was an attractive taildragger that offered minimal space, but basic controls and dependability. Stability and sturdy handling are just some of the reasons that the Cessna 120 quickly became a prime choice for pilots-in-training. It’s well-mannered but still offers enough aggression to handle crosswinds well. In fact, pilots who pay attention to the wind direction don’t experience many, if any, issues with crosswinds. Everything about the Cessna 120 is appealing for any inexperienced pilot, it’s even a relatively inexpensive plane to maintain and can be purchased for a very reasonable price.

18 Aeronca 11-AC Chief ($13k-$19k)

via Wikipedia

Like many monoplanes of the late 40s, the Aeronca Chief is a side-by-side two-seater with a single engine. Meant to be a step up from the 7AC Champion – which was designed to be a trainer aircraft – the 11-AC Chief is a gentle flyer with good manners.

It has a potent rudder as well as sensitive controls that help elevate it with ease.

There were only about 700 of the 1946 models produced, but many of them are still around today because of their incredible reliability. It can be purchased for a range of prices, depending on how well it was maintained, but can generally be expected to cost less than $20k.

17 Grumman-American AA-1A Trainer ($18k-$19k)

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The Grumman-American AA-1A Trainer was, originally, the brainchild of American Aviation which was later bought by Grumman. In an attempt to save money and simplify production, American designed the AA-1 Yankee Clipper and the AA-1A Trainer to have fewer airframe parts. However, this negatively impacted the aerodynamics of these airplanes, so the concept was eliminated from later Grumman-American models. The AA-1A is a bit more tender with the pilot than it’s Yankee counterpart by offering slower stall speeds, but this also slowed the cruising speed of the plane. The AA-1A Trainer is considered to be a safe, easygoing airplane that won’t get you anywhere fast but will teach any timid would-be pilot the necessary fundamentals of aviation. Though it may be a little more challenging to find, some of these can still be purchased for just under $20k.

16 Piper PA-22 Colt ($15k)

via Wikimedia Commons

It’s popularly believed that the Piper PA-22 Colt design was influenced by the Piper Tri-Pacer’s layout and tricycle landing gear. Regardless, something about this small trainer caught on because over 2,000 were produced during its short three-year stint. Made to be used as a training plane for pilot schools, the Piper Colt was also meant to be a viable option for newbie pilots that wanted a more economical airplane to begin their aviation ventures with. And the PA-22 Colt is still a great option today; they’re often sold for around $15k, making it even more affordable than even the Tri-Pacer.

15 Beechcraft Baron 58 ($1.4M)

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The Beechcraft Baron 58 has become a renowned twin-engine aircraft, which may be partially attributed to its half-century length of production. Though, the G58 Baron that we know today has come a long way since its debut. Much of the luxury components of this airplane make it equally enjoyable to pilot as it is to be a passenger. Buyers are able to choose between a variety of colors of leather and cruise in the club cabin with sound-proofed (and tinted) windows. There’s ample legroom and space for cargo, and the designers didn’t forget about details, such as reading lamps, that make flying that much more comfortable. The pilot gets to stake some claim in luxury options as well with beautiful features such as a 7-inch Garmin navigation. All of these features come standard, many of the lightly used G58’s for sale oftentimes include many custom upgrades as well.

14 Pilatus PC-12 NG ($900k-$4.5M)

via FlyingMag

If several years of acclaim hasn’t earned your respect, then the fact that it’s the bestselling turboprop, single-engine aircraft in the world should speak to you. It’s no accident that the Pilatus PC-12 NG has been a prominent choice for experienced pilots and those with an eye for luxury.

In terms of “smart buys,” the PC-12 NG is considerably safer and more reliable than many others of its size.

Its wingtips are armed with sensors which prepare for potential stalls and forces the stick forward in advance. The quiet propeller makes headset use laughable; the interior cabin is comfortable and peaceful. Piloting a PC-12 NG is enjoyable since this high-performance aircraft handles like a Cadillac.

13 Eclipse 550 ($1.8M+)

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The Eclipse 550 is another favorite of high-dollar aircraft connoisseurs; it’s an ultra-light jet that, legally, only requires one pilot which can actually turn out to be a very attractive feature. The interior is spacious for, both, the pilot(s) as well as the passengers, which is why it’s often used as a business jet. The 550 comes equipped with a plethora of luxuries including auto throttles, anti-skid brake system, infrared cameras, Stormscope, Skywatch, color radar, and much more. Needless to say, the 550 is no aircraft for the average person. A 550 that’s less than four years old should cost (minimally) $1.8 million.

12 Learjet 75

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Bombardier Aerospace is well-known for engineering excellent aircraft, but their Learjet division is especially notable. The Learjet 75 is a business jet equipped with twin Honeywell engines.

Quilted leather seats, mood lighting, as well as a champagne bar comes standard in the Learjet 75, giving you the ultimate luxury experience while you fly miles above.

The Learjet 75 has double club seating (for eight) – all of which comes with their very own multimedia touchscreen device – and it even has a lavatory, making longer flights comfortable. It’s often used as a private business jet for those that desire a more seamless flight experience, however, the Learjet 75 can be purchased for around $13 million.

11 Embraer Legacy 600 ($25M)

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Embraer Legacy 600 outperforms aircraft of its class, from smooth operation to an oversized cabin. It keeps passengers comfortable, offering more space than any other business jet of its size, plus it’s packed with luxury options to make the flight that much more pleasing. Some of its incredible amenities include a refrigerator, wine cooler, convection oven, a lavatory, as well as over 240 cubic-feet of baggage storage. Passengers likely don’t even feel like they’ve left the ground; the 600’s smorgasbord of features is accompanied by an ultra-quiet engine. The Legacy 600 cockpit is also the largest of its class and comes stocked with a Honeywell Primus 1000 avionics suite, so piloting this big boy is a breeze. After you’ve seen the luxury finishes as well as all of the high-tech features, it’s understandable why this airliner can set you back $30 million.

10 Gulfstream G650 ($65M)

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The hefty price tag on this business jet has a lot to do with its increased passenger capacity, but it also has inconceivable abilities within the engine, and let’s not forget that interior that’s to-die-for. Its unfettered wing creates an airfoil that delivers more speed and a softer ride.

And, quite possibly the most inviting aspect of the Gulfstream G650 is its incredible speed; the business jet can travel at 92 percent of the speed of sound.

That’s a challenging aircraft to beat, and with the capacity to carry 11-18 passengers as well as a plethora of baggage, the G650 outclasses many similar aircraft. The wider seats and an accommodating cabin – which is soundless and roomy – provides a flight like no other.

9 Boeing 737 Business Jet ($65M-$85M)

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The 737 BBJ is an unbelievable airliner that can carry anywhere from 25 to 50 passengers. As far as private airliners go, the BBJ is one to remember; all of the passengers are carried within a lavish cabin. Some of the amenities include a master bed along with a washroom, living room, and dining area (which can also be used for conferences). It’s like a tiny a hotel packed inside of a Boeing 737. The latest edition of the BBJ even includes an additional fuel tank for intercontinental flights. Of course, all of these extravagant amenities don’t come at a cheap cost, the Boeing Business Jet can run you anywhere from $60 million to $85 million, depending on its age, hours flown, and customizations that have been made.

8  Bombardier Global 7000 ($73M)

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It’s hard to believe that there’s much of a demand for multi-million-dollar business jets, but the Global 7000 is proof that competition can be harsh even if the prices seem elite. In an answer to the Gulfstream G650, the all-new Global 7000 has set unprecedented standards with its latest airliner. The updated 7000 features state-of-the-art tech and an extravagant cabin.

The club seating can be rearranged to fit more professional needs and then easily converts back to a dining area.

Plus, there’s a cozy living room with luxury finishes, a master bedroom with a full-sized bed, and even a full bathroom with stone flooring. The Global 7000 makes you feel like you’re in your home away from home, there’s nothing to hate about it except for its unfathomable cost. Don't lose any sleep over this one, though, it's sold out merely months after its release.

7 Airbus ACJ319 Corporate Jet ($80M)

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For close to $80 million (base price), you can only expect that the Airbus ACJ319 (Corporate Jet) is unmatched in comfort, as several sources have confirmed. The ACJ319 is an enormous corporate jet that provides opulent décor and endless flexibility. It can easily be adapted to fit the needs of operators. Although, it generally seats up to 39 passengers at its standard configuration, and typically has VIP quarters that include an office, bathroom, and bed. The ACJ319 currently serves as a presidential aircraft for a variety of countries, including Armenia, Brazil, Germany, and Thailand, to name just a few. This corporate jet doesn’t play games, at a price point of at least $80 million, you can expect some of the best fuel efficiency, fewer emissions, and stunning performance (including speed).

6  Boeing 757-200 ($80M+)

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Even though it’s normally associated with carrying well over 200 passengers as a commercial airliner, the Boeing 757-200 is also a popular option for private ownership. The massive 757-200 has no shortage of headroom and storage space, making it a very comfortable alternative to other large aircraft for the frequent traveler – who also happens to have an exceptionally large bank account. In fact, the Boeing 757-200 may have gained some of its notoriety from its presidential functions as well. A very custom variant of the 757, known as the VC-32A, serves as Air Force Two, toting around US VPs (past and present) as well as other government officials, on long-distance flights. If there’s an aircraft worth customizing for government figures, then it’s not hard to imagine how the 757-200 would appeal to the mega-rich, in general.

5 Gulfstream G650ER ($70M+)

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The Gulfstream G650ER is nearly unparalleled in the aircraft industry. Even its close sibling, the G650, can’t beat 7,500 nm. The G650ER is also more tech-savvy than its Gulfstream counterparts with its ability for smartphones and tablets to control everything from temperature, lighting, window shades, and even onboard entertainment devices.

The seats are well-cushioned and reconfigurable, and the aircraft can sleep ten comfortably.

But the luxuries don’t cater primarily to the passengers, pilots will also enjoy the infrared technology included on the G650ER; the Enhanced Vision System II allows pilots to see what that the human eye cannot. Also an innovator of Synthetic Vision-Primary Flight Display, which gives pilots better views of the runways, obstacles, etc. using three-dimensional images. The endless list of luxuries that the G650ER has to offer should only be expected to come at such an extraordinary price.

4 Boeing 747-8i Intercontinental ($200M+)

via Airways

The Boeing 747-8i is known for being the third largest aircraft in the world and the largest commercial aircraft built in the US. All of that space isn’t just meant for commercial usage, though. The Intercontinental is also a fairly popular private business jet, and Boeing always provides top-notch configurations to only the most elite buyers.

In fact, Boeing’s VIP configuration of the 747-8i often includes a large common area, a master suite, restroom, office space, and dining room.

One custom 747-8i, in particular, had a total cost of $792 million after customizations, which included skylights, custom furnishings and upholstery, TV’s, tablets, and state-of-the-art flooring, and adaptable seating, among many other convenient features. The retail cost of the 747-8i is close to $200 million, although, prices can vary greatly depending on customizations.

3 Boeing 767-33A/ER

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The commercial airliner typically seats up to 375 passengers, however, many wealthy individuals have reconfigured this colossal airplane for their own needs. Roman Abramovich’s 767-33A/ER is worth well over $150 million. It has a dining area that can serve at least 30 people, has chestnut and gold details, as well as a missile security system. The 767 was an innovative addition to the Boeing collection since it was the first wide-body twinjet. Since Boeing seems to be focusing the 767 to more cargo-based ventures, most of the privately-used models aren’t new. Yet, the majority have a number of customizations completed that gives them a loftier price tag than what a new one would cost.

2 Boeing 747-400

via Skift

The smaller – but equally astonishing – sibling to the 767, the 747-400 has quite a value on it. While you may find yourself taking one of these on a long-distance commercial flight, they’re also a fairly common selection of government officials in various regions of the world and has been considered the most popular commercial airliner.

It’s one of the first airliners that allows passengers to sit at the nose of the airplane, a pretty unique experience that many seem to enjoy.

And even though a brand-new, fully-loaded 747-400 could cost anywhere from $350 million to $400 million, some are still willing to bear the costs for their own private use. Though, the personal touch of each owner can throw that price off the charts, as we all know. So, many of these private airplanes can range in cost from $400 million to $750 million.

1 Airbus A380 ($400M+)

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Taking aircraft innovation to the largest level is what Airbus does best, especially with the A380. This enormous airliner has had previous struggles with selling. As the largest passenger aircraft, it becomes difficult to justify needing all of that space at such an unappealing price. Still, These rightfully-dubbed Airbuses can transport up to 853 guests (in an all-economy configuration) and baggage will never become a cause for concern. It seems logical that only the richest of the rich would probably go for the A380, especially if they have a “necessity” for transporting many people in a private aircraft. While the A380 offers consumers the opportunity to variate the configuration, it’s not exactly a hot option amongst the rich. In fact, many are more likely to buy a used A380 over a new one. That may be due, in part, to the fact that it costs close to $400 million in its standard, three-class configuration; customizations can take that number out of the park.

Sources: Airways, Press

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