Sidetracked: Fly and Ride

Sidetracked: Fly and Ride | RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel Magazine

The ad read, "2007 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure, low miles, pristine mechanically and cosmetically." I can't resist the allure of an older bike in good condition. Many of these machines hit the sweet spot in technology and reliability and, armed with a little knowledge and a few mileage points from my United Airlines Visa, I can be dangerous. The price seemed fair enough and the seller was willing to negotiate a bit to help with travel costs. My eye caught the glimmer and I turned toward the bait.

Years ago, I would occasionally fly across the country, checking out airplanes for prospective buyers, usually after detailed communication intended to determine their true condition. As a licensed aircraft mechanic (A&P), I was supposedly qualified to ascertain the airworthiness of flying machines. There are, however, many nuances to such an interaction and it could be more challenging to discover the honesty and competency of a seller than to find hidden corrosion in a wing or fuselage. It was my job to sort out both. Sometimes undisclosed issues would crop up, requiring me to further negotiate price or pass, and press the seller for my time and travel expenses. My questions were choreographed to anticipate most variables and to set the stage in case of surprises. There were times when, in light of the fact that the airplane was not as represented, negotiations went strongly in my favor once on site. I recall purchasing an old Taylorcraft BL-65, priced at $3,500, for $1,500, and flying it home with duct tape on a wingtip and a jury-rigged landing gear because a recent ground loop had slipped the mind of the seller.