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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, 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.
Friday, February 1, 2008

Cessna 195: Getting Down To Business


Cessna’s postwar, art-deco Businessliner neither outsold nor outran the model 35 Bonanza, but it outclassed practically every other lightplane in the sky

cessnaThere’s no precise way to define taste, but it is possible to define class. Okay, perhaps class can also be difficult to define, but most of us feel it’s easy to recognize. To paraphrase a totally unknown art critic/congressman/pundit, “I can’t define class, but I know it when I see it.”
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Cirrus SR22-G3: Brazil Or Bust!


After our first flight in the newest Cirrus over San Francisco, we couldn’t wait to fly one all the way to Brazil

cirrus sr22-g3Wow, now that’s a lot of trees. I’m 9,500 feet over the Amazon rain forest, and the only thing I see from horizon to horizon is a bumpy carpet that’s toned British-racing green. A couple days ago, I set off from the Cirrus plant in Duluth, Minn., for what was then a distant port, pointing the nose of this spanking-new Cirrus SR22-G3 south and saying to myself, as I climbed to my initial cruise altitude, “São Paulo or bust.”
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

SIAI-Marchetti SF.260: Bellisimo In Tre Dimensioni


Yeah, it’s Italian, and if you’re thinking “flying Ferrari or Lamborghini,” you’re ABSOLUTELY right

SIAI-Marchetti SF.260: Bellisimo In Tre DimensioniJust as I'm about to squeeze the trigger, the airplane ahead jinks into a tight, descending right turn, wings nearly perpendicular to the ground, pulling hard.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Gosh, It’s A Gobosh


With a name derived from the phrase, “Go big or stay home,” the Polish Gobosh is an LSA with attitude

goboshIf there was ever any question regarding the viability of the LSA market, Cirrus and Cessna pretty much erased those concerns with announcements of their own LSAs at AirVenture 2007. Both companies obviously hope to lure new pilots to their step-up models.
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Micco SP26A: Capable Aerobat


This is that rare machine: a fun gentleman’s aerobat capable of cross-country travel or a Saturday-afternoon hamburger flight

Micco SP26A: Capable AerobatTwo-seaters have a special place in general aviation.
Saturday, December 1, 2007

TL-Ultralight: Sting Sport TL-2000


Yet another Czech Republic LSA is showing the world how to build a true economy machine

sting sportIt seems the Czech Republic is one of the world’s centers for LSA manufacturing these days. A multitude of light-sport aircraft are being built in the former Czechoslovakia and sold all over the world.
Thursday, November 1, 2007

No Worries With iFly


Shared access and exceptional member care make flying a cinch

I was introduced to a new kind of flying at an open house in Long Beach, Calif. Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh and cofounder of iFly, spoke of the “world’s first exclusive aero club,” a membership-only venture that provides shared access to technologically advanced aircraft and high-end customer service. Having recently earned my private license, I typically rent airplanes (and envy friends who own theirs). But iFly’s program was intriguing, so I decided to check it out.
Thursday, November 1, 2007

The "New" Old Centurion


Now out of production for 20 years, Cessna’s top piston single offers good range, excellent stability and reasonable, six-seat comfort for pilots with a yen for a high-wing speedster

Cessna t210The step-up market has always been critically important to the major aircraft companies. There may not be much profit in building trainers, but manufacturers are well aware that pilots tend to buy the same brand in which they learn. A pilot who earns his license in a Warrior, 152 or Musketeer is likely to consider an Arrow, Skylane or Bonanza, respectively, as a first step-up airplane.
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Partnership Aircraft


With careful planning, shared ownership could be the best way to go

partnershipWould an aircraft partnership save you money or allow you to fly a bigger and better airplane for less than you’re spending now? A partnership, or shared aircraft ownership, is one of the oldest and sometimes most practical forms of owning an airplane.
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Diesel Maule: Alternative Energy For The Boondocks


One of America’s oldest, and too often forgotten, aircraft manufacturers introduces its answer to the ever-tightening supply of avgas

mauleI don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a world without avgas. Within a few years, I may need to stretch my imagination. The reality is that avgas may not be with us for more than about another decade (if that long).
Thursday, November 1, 2007

Kappa KP-5: LSA With A Difference


The Czech Republic continues to offer some of the most comfortable and capable LSAs in the industry

kappa aircraftMost of us who came to LSAs from the fully certified Part 23 side of the industry were initially a little skeptical as to whether the new class of aircraft was “real.” Would LSAs be as flimsy and primitive as some of the early ultralights?
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Diamond DA40 XL: Polishing The Diamond Star


The new Diamond DA40 XL incorporates new aerodynamics, an improved, composite prop and an advanced exhaust system to increase the knot count

Diamond DA40 XLAsk anyone who’s tried to wring more speed from an existing aircraft design, and you’ll learn that the task is very difficult. Hot-rodders have long been adding speed on cars and motorcycles by installing progressively more powerful engines, and that works great for machines that roll on wheels. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as effective on airplanes.
Monday, October 1, 2007

$500 Per Month?


You can own an airplane on a budget

$500 Per Month?I’ve always believed that everyone can own an airplane. Indeed, I’ve noticed that many of the people who are now jetting around in Gulfstreams or Challengers got started in Champs, Cubs, Stinsons, Cessna 150s, Cherokee 140s or similar entry-level airplanes.