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General Aviation Aircraft

Explore the world of general aviation aircraft with our reviews. Written from a pilot's perspective, these reviews provide fantastic insight into what these general aviation planes are really like.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Trainer With Attitude


The Diamond DA20 brings fun and enthusiasm to flight training

DiamondAs of two years ago, the training market became a little more complex with the official introduction of a dozen or more light-sport aircraft. Today, the number of different LSA models has swollen to well over 60, and that figure increases on practically a daily basis. Many of these airplanes are fine little two-seaters, easily capable of handling the training mission despite their occasional performance limitations, and that’s exactly the market their manufacturers are targeting.
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Redressing A Skylane: Project 182, Part II


Flying by the seat of your pants is more comfortable and fun when you’re nestled into a supercomfortable seat surrounded by first-class furnishings

project 182Someone in the aircraft refurbishment business once said (or should have said), “The paint may be what you see, but the interior is where you live.” So it is with Plane & Pilot’s Project Skylane. Since buying the 1981 Cessna 182 on the East Coast three years ago as a fixer-upper, we’ve done equal shares of research, hand-wringing and procrastination. Eventually, we had no choice but to actually give birth to the project. As a result, we’ve finally managed to finish the panel, paint and interior.
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Piper Saratoga II TC: It’s All About Comfort


Forty years after the model’s introduction, the retractable Saratoga II TC is still a great way to haul a team of huskies in comfort at 180 knots

piper saratogaThe runway we had just landed on wasn’t bad by Alaskan standards: A combination of dirt and grass, probably 1,800 feet long, but mostly unimproved and pretty rough for anything but bush planes—or so I thought.
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Water Stinson


Though the Stinsons of the late ’40s weren’t designed as floatplanes, they adapt to water as if born for it

Water StinsonLake Winnebago isn't agreeable today, as we splash out from the Oshkosh Seaplane Base.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mooney Acclaim Type S: Still The Fastest!


If speed is your thing, The Acclaim Type S may be at the peak of the production pyramid

MooneyA few inches away, the world isn’t a friendly place. I’m cruising in a new Mooney M20TN Acclaim Type S at 25,000 feet over central Florida, and despite clear skies and warm temperatures on the ground, the air is cold and thin nearly five miles above the ocean. Without the Mooney’s protective bubble of aluminum and Plexiglas, plus oxygen masks to provide supplemental O2, I’d be in trouble.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Aviat Husky A-1C


A venerable bush plane turns visionary

AviatThe lights of Lakeland, Fla., sparkle a thousand feet below, a pointillist painting on a black canvas. Yet despite the darkness, I can clearly distinguish open fields, forested tracts, clumps of trees, a couple of large ungulates—either horses or cows—even a narrow, sandy beach on a lake that should be invisible. All I have to do is glance at the small monitor sitting on the glare shield of the Aviat Husky A-IC.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cirrus Perspective


A Garmin-based glass-cockpit revelation

cirrusWhen the engineers at Cirrus Skunk Works branded the company’s Garmin-based, next-generation glass-panel system, Codename Fighter, the moniker was more apropos than they might have thought.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

We're Headed For The Future


It's a great year to buy a plane!

futureTo borrow a line from my favorite songwriter and performer, Neil Diamond, aviation is “headed for the future and the future is now.” If you’ve ever been in the market for an airplane, 2008 is a banner year to buy.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Day Of The Personal Jet


No one can guess if the personal jet market will be as robust as many entrepreneurs think, but here’s a look at the current and projected crop of contenders

personal jetsIt’s a new world. VLJs and personal jets are on their way. Despite naysayer predictions, Eclipse Aviation is actively marketing its model 500 twin jet, with more than 100 aircraft completed and 50 delivered (as of mid-February), and there are at least another 10 models of small jets set to debut in the next three years.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Capt. Dale “Snort” Snodgrass


Gaining Positional Advantage

Captain SnodgrassCaptain Dale “Snort” Snodgrass (U.S. Navy, ret.), former Top Gun instructor, legendary F-14 Tomcat pilot and current air show superstar, is politely considering a question he’s likely been asked many times before: What’s the “right stuff” all about?
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Flying With Speed Brakes


Speed brakes can ease the process of descent and landing, and they can even decrease engine wear and tear on piston aircraft

speed brakesI was flying with a buddy in my Mooney, returning from a Saturday hamburger flight. We’d come home from the desert via the tall road, high-jumping to 10,500 feet to clear the San Jacinto mountains on the short 120 nm hop back to Long Beach, Calif.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

2008 Cirrus SR20-G3: Don’t Call It A Comeback


The SR20 has been here for years, and now steps out from the shadow of the SR22

cirrusMost pilots equate progress in flying with stepping up to bigger, faster and more powerful airplanes. When I earned my private pilot license in a 310 hp Cirrus SR22, it was difficult to imagine enjoying anything with less performance. But as insurance (and my bank account) dictated, almost all of my post-checkride flying has been in a rented 200 hp Cirrus SR20-G2. First delivered in 1999, the SR20 wowed pilots with its composite construction, digital avionics suite and BRS parachute recovery system.
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Resurrecting A Dream


A restored Staggerwing fulfills a father’s wish

BeechcraftBill Morrison, a pilot with now-defunct Western Airlines, was perusing the classified ads in the Los Angeles Times, back in 1974, when he erupted in a shout. “Oh my God, there’s a Staggerwing for sale!” his sons heard him exclaim.
Mark, then 17, and Ron, then 14, both wondered the same thing: “What the heck is a Staggerwing?”
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Air Elite Storm Rally


This LSA is adapted from a European model that has been flying for years in Europe as both a four-seater and an aerobatic sportplane

storm aircraftAnyone who has followed the development of the LSA market in the States is probably aware that many of the current crop of LSAs were developed in Europe as many as 20 years ago. That was long before there was any formal definition of the type, and those airplanes have been adapted to accommodate the American definition. America “discovered” the economy and fun of flying LSAs only three years ago, but pilots on the opposite side of the pond have been aviating in economical two-seaters for decades to offset the high operating expenses of private aircraft.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Project 182, Part I


Let’s say you own a 1981 Cessna Skylane with adequate avionics, an old paint job and a pedestrian interior, but want to increase capability and safety. What would you do first?

project 182Here at Plane & Pilot, we seem to enjoy lavishing full rebuilds on old Skylanes. Back in the late ’70s, I found and negotiated the purchase of a 1963 Skylane for the magazine as a reader project airplane. A few years ago, ex-editor Lyn Freeman purchased our current project airplane, yet another C182.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

$1,000 Per Month Airplane


An affordable way to own

$1,000 Per Month AirplaneBecause response to Plane & Pilot’s “$500 Per Month?” article [October 2007] was so overwhelming, we decided to take the idea to the next level.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Airplanes, Cars—What’s the Difference?


What you need to know, on the road and in the air

airplanes vs carsWhat’s the difference between car (or motorcycle) engines and aircraft engines? It’s a perennial question with a series of stock answers, none of which is sufficient.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Piper Matrix: The Pressure Is Off


Piper unveils its take on a turbocharged, four-place single—with two extra seats

piper matrixMarathon Key gleams in the late-afternoon sunshine. It’s like an emerald in Florida’s highway of island pearls, which dot Route 1 from Miami to Key West. Marshmallow cumulus graze on the rainbow of color beneath us. The Caribbean waters translate from jade and lime green to a myriad of blues—sapphire near the land to azure offshore to indigo and navy in the deep.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Flying Into The Future


Behind the Bonanza’s anniversary makeover

bonanzaBaby boomers can appreciate the urge to have a little work done as a milestone birthday approaches: tone up the body, smooth out a few wrinkles, all to reflect the youthful zest we still feel in our hearts. So when Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC, formerly Raytheon Aircraft) prepared for the Bonanza’s 60th birthday, celebrated last year, the company decided a makeover was in order.
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cessna Skyhawk: Four-Seat Trainer?


When does it make sense to train in a $220,000, four-seater when you could use a $140,000, two-place model instead?

cessnaI have a friend who recently began flight training in a Skyhawk. Pete is one of those future pilots you just know won’t have any problems with the private-pilot course. He knows cars, drives a Porsche, understands things mechanical and doesn’t have any inherent fear of attitudes more complicated than vertical (standing up) and horizontal (lying down).
Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Zenith Of LSAs


Zenith Aircraft of Mexico, Mo., builds durable, all-metal, light-sport aircraft with an emphasis on fun

zenithIn some respects, Steve Smith is exactly the kind of pilot for whom LSAs were designed. Smith is a 53-year-old entrepreneur in Santa Rosa, Calif., who owns a software company and only began flying a little over a year ago.
Friday, February 1, 2008

10 Things To Look For In An LSA


Use your heart and your brain when considering your LSA purchase

lsaAviation is experiencing an exciting transformation. At one point, a GA aircraft wouldn’t show signs of obsolescence for, let’s say, 30 years or so, give or take a decade. Those days are gone. Today, technological advances find their way into airframes and cockpits at an ever-increasing speed.
Friday, February 1, 2008

The Cessna Buyer's Guide


Which one is right for you?

introDuring the private flying boom in the early ’50s, America fell in love with Cessna Aircraft Company’s high-wing singles. By the mid-’70s, Cessna had built more single-engine airplanes than any other manufacturer (100,000 by 1978). In the late ’70s, production peaked for all new airplanes, including Cessna singles, and then sharply tapered off (the production line was actually dormant from 1987 to 1996).
Friday, February 1, 2008

Seneca V: Little Big Twin


When most twins disappeared in the ‘80s, the Piper Seneca soldiered on. Twenty years later, it’s one of only five multis still in production.

senecaAt the risk of compromising my alleged objectivity, I have to confess a soft spot for the Piper Seneca. Back in the late ’70s, I spent two years with a Seneca II company airplane. I logged 500 hours in that twin, flying all over the States, Bahamas and Canada—operating solo or with six on board—and bouncing off strips from below sea level to America’s highest airport (located in Leadville, Colo.) at nearly 10,000 feet MSL.