Which Saratoga to Buy

Hey everyone,
As promised in my last post, I am looking for input on which model Saratoga to purchase this year for my family. Because I live in Colorado and consistently head west over the Rockies, I have determined that a turbo is a must for me. I cannot decide between these three groups (in order of current preference):
1. 1980's Turbo Saratoga (fixed gear)
2. 1997+ Saratoga II TC
3. 1980's+ Turbo Saratoga SP (retract)

I love the idea of the fixed-gear Saratoga for the reduced maintenance and insurance, but I have heard the turbos in the 1980s were a bit finicky. Also, with the aircraft already being 40 years old, will the maintenance bills tend to start stacking up more quickly? The useful load for these is really nice for when we want to use all 6 seats. The price is pretty good if I can find one that does not need an overhaul in a year.

If I increase my initial budget a bit, I could fit some of the Saratoga TC's into the realm of possibilities. My thought is that the likely reduced maintenance budget of the newer airframe would help offset the higher purchase price. It would also allow me to have a newer airframe for better resale value if I wanted to upgrade in the future. It is a fairly light hauler with a useful load around 1050lbs; but that is all that I need most of the time.

Then there is the SP. It is my least favorite option at this point due to the increased maintenance because of the age and the retract. But maybe there is something that it provides that the other two options do not. There are definitely a lot more of these available.

Please let me know your thoughts! I have been going back and forth on all of these options for the past few months, and I cannot nail down what I really want to do. Thank you in advance!

Comments

  • I have a turbo retract and always will. Right now it's a turbo arrow. For the last 30 years it's been a turbo Seneca (saratoga fuselage). I would get the turbo retract..... wait for it.... Lance. It's as good a plane but much less expensive.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Ditto Scott's comment...I owned a Lance II for a couple of years, being a mid-westerner my opportunities in the Rockies are limited, but I've flow to Phoenix and Montana, it's a great mid-teens performer, IFR platform, and runs great LOP.

  • I could definitely get a lot more for a lot less money, but I was steering away from the Lances because of the bad rap about the stability of the T-tail and the 4 tank fuel system. Are those things relatively negligible annoyances in your opinion?

  • Don't worry about either. My Seminole had a T-tail. Don't worry about it. After ten hours you won't notice it. And the four tank system? After the first day you'll be fine. My Seneca's all had four tanks, and ten drains!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • After a few hours you won't notice any differences with the T-tail...I had my miss-givings at first but disappeared quickly...As for the 4-tanks...two on each side, one fill nozzle for each of the two tanks on a side. One 25g and the other 17g. The 17g feeds the 25g...simple system. A good engine monitor keeps track of fuel usage, I normally fill when I get to 25g on each side except on long trips...at 94g and 15gph one can go a long way...

  • It's really hard to get a better plane at a better price than a Lance. Probably the best Piper single out there other than the M350.

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • I agree on the Lance. Most of the horror stories about the T tail Lance are spread by people that have never flown one. It's a good airplane!

    I love to defy gravity!
    1979 Arrow IV

  • There's a wealth of good knowledge above. Buying various aircraft over the years, people in the know have told me:

    T-tails = BAD,
    Turbos = BAD,
    Retractable Gear = BAD.

    Fifteen years of experience with Seminoles and Senecas has so far provided no evidence to support these recommendations.

    Toward Allsportster's original question about which PA32XX to buy, my take is to abandon theory, and consider whichever example available for sale is the best fit for YOU. The last time I looked at PA32s for sale there were a bunch of late 70s-early 80s aircraft, tricked out with new paint, new interiors, and full Garmin glass. Beautiful aircraft, and the prices of 240K and up reflected this. There were also a bunch of late 90s-early 00s aircraft with steam gauges, a 55x, and maybe a 530W displayed on a KCS-55. No new paint, no new interior, no glass. These were also priced about 240K.

    Now, assuming I could scrape up 240K, and assuming my wife would let me spend the 240K, I'd go for the early 00s aircraft in a heartbeat. And definitely with the turbo.

    Bob

  • Hi Bob,
    Five years of T tail on a Seminole, loved it. 30 years of turbos and nine TSIO-360's and not one engine problem or turbo problem. Treat your planes well and they treat you well!

    Scott Sherer
    Wright Brothers Master Pilot, FAA Commercial Pilot
    Aviation Director, Piper Owner Society Forum Moderator and Pipers Author.

    Need help? Let me know!

  • Like Scott said treat your plane well. I flew a Chieftain with turbo’s and never had a problem. Proper engine and turbo cool down worked great.
  • Wow! So much love for the Lance! I wondered how much of the T tail hating was by people that had only flown them for a few hours - if at all. I definitely have added it to my daily search criteria.

    As Bob mentioned, those newer early 00s seem really great. What do you gain if you buy a newer aircraft? Could it help in the long run? I know that my 50year old Arrow just constantly has little problems that I have to keep dealing with. Would the newer airframe help minimize that for a while?

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