Classic and Vintage Aviation - Frequently Asked Questions (2023)

1. What is the definition of a classic aircraft?
In the broadest sense, a classic aircraft is an aircraft built between 1945 and 1955. Prior to 1945, aircraft were considered vintage aircraft or antique aircraft. Here at Spirit in the Sky we have a broader definition that puts much more emphasis on rarity, originality and provenance.

2. Why should I own a classic or vintage aircraft?

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If you're a pilot who's only flown basic types like Piper Cherokee's and Cessna 172's, some classic planes will add a whole new dimension to your flying experience. There's nothing like flying for the first time in an open cockpit Stearman, Tiger Moth or Stampe. If an open cockpit isn't quite your thing then planes like the Piper Cub represent a very affordable classic that lends itself to grassroots stick and rudder flying while also being able to be used in short farm stretches. Warbird types are evocative, for the most part powerful, and give a good idea of ​​what it must have been like for our ancestors who fought in the great wars. Classic and vintage aircraft also have investment value. Here at Spirit in the Sky, we've seen many more investors put their disposable income into tangible investment assets rather than paper funds in the city. Aircraft can be used and enjoyed while bringing good ROI.

3. Can anyone fly a classic or vintage plane?
Provided you are a qualified pilot with the appropriate qualifications i.e tail sleeper then in theory any qualified pilot can fly vintage or classic types. Having said this, it is not recommended that even a properly qualified pilot jump onto a new type without having studied the aircraft's Pilot Operating Handbook and spending some time with a pilot who has some experience with the type. There is no substitute for experience by type, especially since each aircraft can have its own quirks.

4. Can I get tailwheel/tailwheel training or Vintage and Classic aircraft training?

Yes, here at Spirit in the Sky we can make sure you are trained in all aspects of vintage and classic flight. Whether it's your first stick and rudder / tail dragger experience or a full Warbird type training, we can arrange that for you. We have a strong network of friendly and experienced instructors on all types of Vintage aircraft and Classic aircraft.

4. How much does it cost to buy a Classic or Vintage airplane?
This strongly depends on the type, desirability, rarity, condition and origin. A carefully restored MkI Spitfire with proven Battle of Britain kills is often quoted as priceless. In fact, such aircraft rarely reach the commercial market, with owners preferring to switch hands quietly. At the other end of the classic aircraft spectrum, a Dehavilland Chipmunk, Tiger Moth or Piper Cub can be had from just £30,000 (c$50,000).

5. Can Spirit in the Sky help me find a classic that suits my flying skills and my wallet?
In short, yes. Our team at Spirit in the Sky will work closely with our customers to ensure we find the best examples of each type on the market to suit the individual. We work closely with our engineers to ensure that all vulnerabilities of a particular type are addressed, checked and signed off before our customers make a purchase. We can also assist with full pre-purchase inspections, import, duty and VAT considerations and recommissioning upon arrival in a particular country.

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6. Will Spirit in the Sky help me if I decide to sell my Classic / Vintage aircraft?
Yes of course. We have a good network of buyers and sellers and will work tirelessly to help you sell your aircraft at the best possible price in any given market. Aviation is a small world and having worked in various sectors of the aviation industry over the last 20 years, we know the importance of always being true to our word and delivering. If we feel we can't help for any reason, we will be open and honest while providing a constructive way forward.

7. Will you charge me for buying or selling my vintage or classic aircraft?

Yes, Spirit in the Sky charges for buying or selling your classic or vintage aircraft. We agree on a percentage of purchase or sale with you before we begin searching or marketing. Once agreed by both parties, this is documented in a simple service contract, so that we both know exactly what has been agreed. We DO NOT charge abort fees or expenses if we don't sell your aircraft. We pride ourselves on our transparency in all costs and this is how we have built our reputation and excellent customer testimonials.

8. How do I sell my Classic or Vintage aircraft?
First you call us and explain a bit about your aircraft. What are the main selling points, are there any issues with the aircraft, where is it kept, who did the maintenance etc. From there we will also do our own research on the aircraft to ensure we can state all provenance. After an initial phone call, we fly or drive to your home airport and view the aircraft and take some good photos. At this stage we will advise on the best way to present the aircraft. If you would like to engage Spirit in the Sky at this time, we will create a simple agreement to protect all parties and continue to market your aircraft. Any potential buyers are vetted and introduced to the seller. Viewings are arranged together with possibly a test flight. Buyers cover fuel costs, and this is deducted from the purchase price if a sale goes through. We'll update sellers weekly to make sure they're kept up to date with progress.

9. How do I pay for an airplane?
We are happy to use ESCROW services for our aircraft transactions so that buyer and seller remain protected throughout the transaction. Funds are released only in the event that both parties are satisfied with the terms of the sale or purchase.

10. Can Spirit in the Sky perform pre-purchase inspections?
Yes, we have CAA-certified engineers who can perform pre-purchase inspections on most aircraft types.

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11. Where can I store my vintage aircraft?
Spirit in the Sky wanted to provide our customers with the end-to-end aircraft ownership solution. Our goal is to make classic/vintage aircraft ownership as easy and accessible as possible for everyone. That's why we offer a service where we can find hangar space for your aircraft near your private residence.

12. How hard is it to insure a classic aircraft?
Aircraft insurance is similar to the insurance you might have for a classic car. The premium is the result of pilot experience, age of the aircraft, claim history, how many hours the aircraft is flown per year and, of course, where it is stored. We have an in-house insurance service that can cater for all your insurance needs.

13. Can I finance a classic or vintage aircraft type?
Most of our buyers tend to buy the plane right away due to issues with finance companies understanding the investment potential of some types. With aircraft more than 10 years old, it can be challenging, but not impossible, to raise financing. Spirit in the Sky has an agreement with Private Wealth specialists who have specialist products for the purchase of vintage aircraft and we are happy to put you in touch.

14. Are vintage planes and classic planes safe?

Yes, Classic and Vintage aircraft undergo the same rigorous testing and inspections as all other aircraft. The CAA insists on these inspections to keep all aircraft safe and airworthy. In addition, vintage and classic aircraft have usually been kept in excellent condition and hangared as they are owned and operated by enthusiasts who have given them care and attention. Spirit in the Sky will ensure that all aircraft we buy or sell on behalf of our customers have undergone a rigorous pre-purchase/sale inspection and that all items that need to be addressed are reported at the time and corrected prior to any transaction.

15. Does Spirit in the Sky have the expertise to restore my aircraft?
Yes we do In fact, we currently have aircraft that are being restored. These planes were found in a hangar in Wisconsin. When the container arrived in the UK it was a collection of boxes full of rusty old parts. Once completed they will have been diligently restored to original factory manuals. Quality is at the heart of everything we try to achieve in this corner of the aviation world.

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16. How much does it cost to own and fly a classic or vintage airplane?
The cost of ownership is divided between fixed costs and operational costs. The fixed costs mainly consist of warehouse storage, annual inspections, maintenance and insurance. Operating costs include navigation costs, landing costs, fuel, oil, tires and pilot costs if you choose to fly with a safety pilot. As you would expect, these costs can vary depending on the value, size and complexity of the aircraft in question. A £30,000 Piper Cub is clearly cheaper to run than, say, the cheeky Hawker Sea Fury.

17. Where can I fly in my Vintage or Classic aircraft?
Provided the aircraft meets avionics requirements, vintage and classic aircraft types can fly virtually anywhere in the world. In the late 1920s and early 1930s there were single engine vintage types flying all the way to Cape Town and Sydney from the UK. Our intent is to engage vintage and classic car owners in a range of events including fly-ins, rallies and air races that will emulate great events such as the McRobertson Air Race and the Schneider Trophy. See our events page for more information.

18. Can Spirit in the Sky service my aircraft?
Yes. We have our own technical team that inspects and maintains all of our aircraft, and also performs restoration on behalf of our valued customers. Of course you are not tied to our engineering team for inspections and maintenance. We also have our own fabric specialists who can work with a range of coverings including Irish Linen, Ceconite and Dacron.

19. I have a Vintage aircraft and would like the interior redecorated. Can you help?
Yes. Our fabric team also works on our leather and fabric cabin and cockpit interiors. We have bespoke leather suppliers and a wide range of fabrics to give your aircraft a truly bespoke finish.

20. Can Spirit in the Sky offer classic airplane insurance? Can Spirit in the Sky offer Vintage Aircraft Insurance?

Yes, Spirit in the Sky offers custom insurance for classic and vintage aircraft. We have an in-house insurance broker who is committed to ensuring that your specific vintage aircraft insurance is handled on a personal basis. Spirit in The Sky vintage and classic aircraft insurance uses the very best insurers in the aviation industry to create a custom insurance policy for you and your aircraft, whatever the use and wherever you want to fly.

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21. Can Spirit in the Sky arrange financing for classic and vintage aircraft?

Yes, Spirit in the Sky can arrange classic and vintage aircraft financing. We work closely with a world-renowned financing house to provide financing for classic and classic aircraft purchases on a case-by-case basis, as each customer's aircraft and circumstances are so individual.

If you have any more classic and vintage aviation FAQs, don't hesitate to call our team on +44 1926 842381 or


Classic and Vintage Aviation - Frequently Asked Questions? ›

Antique, classic, heritage, historic, veteran or vintage aircraft are aircraft of an obsolete type which have been preserved beyond their normal life. Their owners are typically aviation museums, armed forces or private enthusiasts.

What are vintage planes called? ›

Antique, classic, heritage, historic, veteran or vintage aircraft are aircraft of an obsolete type which have been preserved beyond their normal life. Their owners are typically aviation museums, armed forces or private enthusiasts.

How old is a vintage airplane? ›

An aircraft constructed by the original manufacturer, or his licensee, on or after September 1, 1945, up to and including December 31, 1955. An aircraft constructed by the original manufacturer, or its licensee, on or after January 1, 1956, up to and including December 31, 1970.

What are most important inventions of early years in aviation history? ›

The major events in the history of human flight are the invention of the kite, the air balloon, and the glider which started mankind thinking about flight. The Wright brothers' invention of the sustainable airplane and the race to space were the outcomes of these early inventions.

What is the weight limit for experimental aircraft? ›

Experimental aircraft with a maximum gross weight in excess of 12,500 pounds, or. Experimental piston powered aircraft with an engine over 800 HP and a Vne (never exceed speed) greater than 250 knots.

What makes an aircraft vintage? ›

In its broadest terms a classic aircraft is one that was built between 1945 and 1955. Prior to 1945 aircraft were deemed to be Vintage aircraft or Antique Aircraft.

What is the fastest vintage plane? ›

The Awesome (And Old) SR-71 Blackbird Is Still the World's Fastest Jet Plane. And it is America's plane. Key point: A cold war spy plane, the SR-71 was retired. However, there are now plans for a newer replacement.

What is the oldest airplane name? ›

Brief Description. Wilbur and Orville Wright spent four years of research and development to create the first successful powered airplane, the 1903 Wright Flyer. It first flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, with Orville at the controls.

What is the oldest still used aircraft? ›

14 – Bleriot XI airworthy at the Shuttleworth Collection in Old Warden, Bedfordshire. Built in 1909 and now with the British civil registration G-AANG, this is the world's oldest airworthy aircraft. It is powered by a three-cylinder "W form" Anzani engine.

What year was the golden age of aviation? ›

Americans were wild about aviation in the 1920s and '30s, the period between the two world wars that came to be known as the Golden Age of Flight. Air races and daring record-setting flights dominated the news.

Who is the father of old aviation? ›

Sir George Cayley

In 1799, the man known as the “Father of Aviation” drew up the earliest known plans for an aircraft that used a fixed-wing design with separate mechanisms for lift and thrust.

What 4 tools did early pilots use to navigate? ›

It's amazing, really, when you consider how early pilots navigated using only basic instruments, such as a compass, altimeter, stopwatch, and airspeed indicator, and by seeing landmarks on the ground. There were other skills, of course.

What is the most important thing in aviation? ›

Safety is the highest priority of all involved in aviation. The shared goal is for every flight to take-off and land safely, as happens more than 126,000 times every day.

What is the 51 rule for experimental aircraft? ›

The total of all tasks completed by all amateur builders (yourself and any before or after you) must be the major portion (that is, more than 51 percent) of the total tasks. As long as this is the case, the aircraft is eligible for an amateur-built airworthiness certificate.

What is the FAA 250g rule? ›

All drones must be registered, except those that weigh 0.55 pounds or less (less than 250 grams) and are flown exclusively under the Exception for Recreational Flyers.

What is the FAA BMI limit? ›

The FAA concluded that OSA is almost always found in obese individuals who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40 and a neck circumference of 17 inches or more.

What are the three types of aircraft? ›

  • Passenger plane: these are built specifically to transport groups of people; they're used by airlines for commercial flights, though they can also be private. ...
  • Cargo plane: these are used to transport goods and large objects. ...
  • Military plane: it is used for wartime purposes.

What makes an aircraft not airworthy? ›

Two main factors determine if an aircraft is airworthy: The aircraft conforms to its type certificate and authorized modifications; and. The aircraft must be in condition for safe operation.

Does aircraft age matter? ›

Aircraft age is not a safety factor. However, if the aircraft is older and hasn't been refurbished properly, it may cause flyers some inconvenience such as overheating, faulty air conditioning, or faulty plumbing in the lavatory.

What is the rarest plane model? ›

There are the usual suspects: the Bleriot XI, the Boeing B-29, the Mitsubishi Zero, the Howard 500, the Cirrus VK30, the Lockheed PV-20 Harpoon, and the late Antonov An-225 Mriya.

What is the slowest plane ever built? ›

Slowest aircraft

The Ruppert Archaeopteryx has a certified stall speed of 30–39 kilometres per hour (19–24 mph). The Vought XF5U can fly as slow as 32 kilometres per hour (20 mph).

What vintage plane was in Top Gun? ›

The final scene of Top Gun: Maverick shows Rooster Bradshaw, the son of Maverick's deceased best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw helping restore Maverick's vintage P-51 Mustang.

What is the oldest 747 still flying? ›

The oldest active 747 aircraft today

The oldest passenger aircraft in commercial operation is Boeing 747-400 EP-MEE (SN 24383) operated by Mahan Air, a privately owned Iranian airline. IBA Insight Flights shows that this aircraft frequently makes trips between Tehran and Moscow, and last flew on 30th January 2023.

Who actually flew first? ›

It is generally accepted today that the Wright brothers were the first to achieve sustained and controlled powered flight.

Are there any 707s still flying? ›

The 707 was retired as Air Force One in 1990 and replaced by the Boeing 747, which is still used today.

What plane was discontinued? ›

Finally, in 2000 an Air France Concorde's engine failure and subsequent crash killed all 109 people on board and 4 people on the ground. Many believe this event accelerated the retirement of the Concorde in 2003.

What are old airplane engines called? ›

The rotary engine is an early type of internal combustion engine, usually designed with an odd number of cylinders per row in a radial configuration.

What were the deadliest years in aviation? ›

The most fatalities in any aviation accident in history occurred during 1977 in the Tenerife airport disaster, when 583 people were killed when two Boeing 747s collided on a runway.

What was the worst year in aviation history? ›

1985 remains one of the deadliest years in aviation history.

What is a single propeller plane called? ›

A monoplane is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration with a single mainplane, in contrast to a biplane or other types of multiplanes, which have multiple planes.

What are the different names of planes? ›

Synonyms of airplane
  • plane.
  • aeroplane.
  • airliner.
  • aircraft.
  • airship.
  • ship.
  • jet.
  • biplane.

What was the 1903 airplane called? ›

The Wright Flyer (sometimes called the Flyer 1 or the 1903 Flyer) was the first heavier-than-air, powered aircraft to fly successfully. On December 17th, 1903 at 10:35 AM, after years of experimentation, the aircraft flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, ushering in the aviation age.

What are civilian planes called? ›

Passenger plane: these are built specifically to transport groups of people; they're used by airlines for commercial flights, though they can also be private.

What are those little planes called? ›

Light aircraft are used for marketing purposes, such as banner towing and skywriting, and flight instruction. The majority of personal aircraft are light aircraft, the most popular in history being the Cessna 172, and most popular in modern history being the Cirrus SR22 and Robinson R44.

What are the 7 categories of aircraft? ›

There are seven main categories under the FAA's class rating system. These classes are airplane, rotorcraft, powered lift, gliders, lighter than air, powered parachute and weight-shift-control aircraft.

What are the 4 categories of aircraft? ›

The airplane category is split into four classes that include single engine land, multi-engine land, single-engine sea, and multi-engine sea classes.


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