As it turns out, the airplane has been available nearly every time I've wanted it, and, more important, it's been available every time I needed it. Not that there haven't been issues; there have been a few squawks. More on them later.
My ownership experience got started with a checkout in the new airplane from a local instructor, who for a day job flies in the left seat of a Global Express. I met him at the airplane's then-home base, Danbury, Connecticut, which is just 35 minutes up the road from my place. Like it is for all OurPlane owners, the checkout time was on the house, and since I had about 75 hours in 182s to begin with, the insurance company was happy with my level of experience and a thorough check ride. It was the usual stuff. Geoff familiarized me with the avionics, we talked airspeeds and systems and we went flying. Geoff signed me off, and I was an OurPlane operative.
Next in line was to go flying by myself in my new airplane. As soon as I got my login information?it took a couple of days?I visited www.ourplane.com and navigated to the Pilot's Login section, where I signed in and took a look at the availability. I wanted the airplane on that Thursday morning, I saw on the online scheduler that it wasn't booked, so I selected the date and my desired time slot and hit submit. That was all there was to it.
Well, almost all. The setup of the scheduler's submit buttons is counterintuitive for me, so it took me a while to get it right. In the process, I called for help and connected with OurPlane's service and a very nice woman who knew nothing about airplanes but who was glad to help me make the reservation.
When I got out to the airport on Thursday to go flying, the airplane had been pulled out of the hangar, the windshield was clean, the tanks were topped off and I was ready to walk around and fire it up. Nice.
Things went this way for a few weeks, and I found the drive to Danbury to be bearable. Then, the airplane moved. What happened was all very understandable. My airplane, which had just five owners in it (out of a possible eight) added a new owner. That gentleman preferred that the airplane be based at Oxford Airport, which is about a half hour's drive further for me than Danbury. All of the other owners, except me, agreed, and the airplane was relocated the next week. My 35-minute drive had turned into an hour-and-five-minute drive, which pushed the limits of the term "bearable." According to my contract, the move was perfectly within OurPlane's rights. It was just a big pain for me.
The next big test of the system came when I decided to fly out to Oshkosh for the annual EAA AirVenture fly-in. I would need the airplane for 10 days. Good news. With the show still two months off, the airplane was wide open for all 10 days. By then I'd figured out the scheduling, and I booked it.