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Old 07-11-2019, 11:31 AM
precession precession is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 146
Default Are RV's indoor-only planes?

I just put up the following comment at the tail-end of an existing thread about the Pro's and Con's of RV ownership (see, but I hope the moderators won't mind if I start this as a new thread, because I'd really like to hear if there are people out there who agree or disagree with the idea that RV's are pretty much indoor-only planes - i.e., planes really made to be kept in hangars rather than outside. Here's my comment:

"IMO, the biggest "con" of RV ownership has not been mentioned yet, which is that if you get an RV you are most likely going to want to keep it in a hangar. This is a very significant expense, which cuts into all the other savings you achieve by acquiring an RV. There is a well-known poster on this forum who keeps his non-painted, polished aluminum RV outside, with a cover over the cabin area only I believe, apparently without a huge amount of obvious deterioration, so I suppose it can be done. But I think most owners of nicely painted and cared-for RVs keep them inside because they recognize keeping them outside will significantly degrade their aircraft's appearance and condition over time. In contrast, if you buy a production aircraft that, in many cases, has already been living outside for years, you are not going to suffer much incremental deterioration by continuing to leave it outside, and it costs a heck of a lot less than paying for a hangar. I'm happy with the RV I've owned for 20 years, but think prospective owners should be aware of and carefully consider this expense. I would be interested to hear the comments of people who have experience keeping them outside. Maybe there are some who disagree that RV's are generally made to live inside?"
RV-4 in NJ
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:43 AM
Pilotjim77 Pilotjim77 is online now
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: CHESHIRE, MA
Posts: 94

I like to keep the rain, snow, ice, wind, and sun off of any airplane. I think it's worth it. Of course, I guess that depends on the cost of the hangar space is at a given airport. I lucked out with a cheap one ($100/mo). It doesn't keep the birds out though...still working on that.

Last edited by Pilotjim77 : 07-11-2019 at 11:45 AM. Reason: .
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:45 AM
bkervaski's Avatar
bkervaski bkervaski is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Posts: 1,269

I don't think a 172 or Cherokee has anything special making a better "outside" plane. All the ones on the ramp at my airport look terrible.

I can't seem to figure out why people keep choose to keep their expensive planes outside .. RV or Cherokee or 172 .. the sun and elements really beat down the aircraft and take away from the curb appeal, probably reducing the value.

I drive past two other airports on the way to mine, not only for the hangar but the field is much nicer and so are the people.
RV-14A #140376
N196 (Flying)
2019 Bronze Lindy

Last edited by bkervaski : 07-11-2019 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 07-11-2019, 11:51 AM
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flyboy1963 flyboy1963 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lake Country, B.C. Canada
Posts: 2,388
Default define 'outside'

Ok, you'll get a million NEW opinions here, but here's mine.
Had my RV outside for 8 + years. $50 a month tie-down. $500/month for a hangar...not po$$ible, none even available.

If I were to do it again, I'd just invest in some full covers for winter, minimal covers in summer ( canopy & tail perhaps).
It REALLY depends a lot on where you live, and how much time you want to spend cleaning it....and if you have a lot of critters that like to live in aircraft.
In winter, we get about 4 months of snow and a fair bit of freeze-thaw, which can be a pain, and unsafe....thus the full covers.
The rest of the year is pretty dry ( southern BC) but a bit of jet exhaust soot and windblown silt gets into the nooks and crannies.

Did it devalue the plane? sure, the paint faded a bit, worse if it's a brilliant red or blue that oxidized, unless you cutpolish and wax every month. The fiberglass parts are probably the worst at weathering/aging.
My new ride is half fiberglass, and I'm already seeing a lot of oxidation where it's not covered....
Perry Y.
RV-9a - SOLD!....
Lake Country, BC
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Old 07-11-2019, 12:06 PM
rag rag is offline
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Holmen, WI
Posts: 32

Interesting... My thoughts - it doesn’t matter how an aircraft is made or how old it is or if it already looks terrible - Mother Nature will (over time) convert it back to dirt. Keeping it outside will only accelerate the process. There many things one can do to slow the process - covers, washing, waxing, anti corrosion treatments, keeping it clean, move it to Montana, etc. Hangers are another way to slow the conversion back to dirt! A climate controlled hanger of course would be the best - the slowest rate of deterioration. We all have to make decisions as to what we can accept as a rate of deterioration versus the cost to hanger. Just remember to add the extra depreciation of a weathered aircraft when comparing outside tie down to the cost of a hanger.
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Old 07-11-2019, 12:09 PM
ssturges ssturges is offline
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 47

Appearance is not the issue.

No GA airplane should be left outside in rain for an extended period of time. Moisture for aluminum or composite for that mater is the enemy number 1 that will destroy the airframe over time. Especially for aluminum moisture in areas not easy passivated by access to oxygen and not primed, like critical joints. Yes you can prime, but the smallest wear point or scratch will become a corrosion point So many people(including a lot of engineers) fail to understand the corrosion properties of aluminum. They just see a shiny metal that does not show rust.

I was looking at an unpainted plane just this last weekend, blue plastic had been on the cut away on the joint lines but left on for a long duration on the bulk of the areas. Those areas had surface corrosion. Think how bad this would be an airplane left sitting in the rain for years. Plus in in areas you can't see.

In general GA airplanes have a long longer lifespan than commercial airplanes, so even more important. Think about it your RV could be still flying 50 years from how.

In general no one wants to buy a GA airplane that has spent it's life sitting in the rain. I always feel so sorry for the airplanes that are sitting outside in Oregon. In Oregon the moss will get to!
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Old 07-11-2019, 12:10 PM
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Mark Dickens Mark Dickens is offline
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Collierville, TN (KFYE)
Posts: 1,253

In my mind, it's a matter of "pay me now, or pay me later". Insurance is higher outside, paint fades, bugs crawl into little places, birds build nests, they are susceptible to jet blast, lookie loos walking around the airport, etc. I've had two planes outside, three inside. Much prefer inside, plus it's a lot easier to store supplies, do work on your plane, etc
RV-8 #81077 Super Slow Build
Titan IOX-370, Dual P-Mags, AFP FM200A FI, Whirlwind 200RV CS Prop
First Flight 11/20/2016
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Old 07-11-2019, 12:19 PM
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RONSIM RONSIM is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Largo, FL
Posts: 932
Default For the cost of a hangar, in our area

you can do a new paint job every two years! IF I had to keep my airplane outside (and the day may come), I would use appropriate cabin covers, plug the obvious holes, and keep it cleaned and waxed frequently ---- I have had to do the outside storage several times in the past and much prefer the hangar for security, maintenance, and a place to "hang".

RV-10 Co-built, maintained, flown (sold)
RV-8A Maintained and flown (Sold)
RV-6A Bought and Flying (N177RV), upgrades $$$
IO360, 180HP/CS, AFS 5600T, D10A, G650, G430, G327, ADS-B, VIZ385 AP
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Based at KCLW (Clearwater, FL)
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Old 07-11-2019, 12:19 PM
David Paule David Paule is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 3,968

The OP didn't reveal where he lives, but if hail is an issue, or very high winds, you probably will want to keep it indoors.

Can't imagine putting all that work into something and then letting it get hailed on. What a disaster.

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Old 07-11-2019, 12:32 PM
SMRacer SMRacer is offline
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Leesburg, VA
Posts: 454
Default Airplanes in general ARE indoor creatures.

Originally Posted by Mark Dickens View Post
In my mind, it's a matter of "pay me now, or pay me later". etc
Anyone keeping an aircraft on the ramp when hangars are available should carefully consider the real cost of that decision.

I'm paying $600 monthly at KJYO (Leesburg, VA) and I wouldn't have it any other way. There is a long list of reasons why this cost is offset by having it inside.

Paying $100 on the ramp vs. $600 in a hanger does NOT mean you are saving $500 monthly.
Leesburg, VA (KJYO)
RV4 N444JT (sold)
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