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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.

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.
Monday, October 1, 2007

Ovation3: Reaching For 200


Mooney’s new Ovation3 pushes the cruise-speed battle closer to 200 knots—without a turbocharger

ovationOn the face of it, retractable gear seems almost an ideal solution to the problem of making an airplane fly faster. The whole idea is to reduce drag and increase cruise; cleaning up the underwing accomplishes that mission, though with varying levels of success.
Monday, October 1, 2007

Bad Girl


Flying Patty Wagstaff’s “girly” Extra 300S

Bad GirlThere I sat as the consequence of a misunderstanding, watching the ground drop away at a satisfyingly rapid rate.
Monday, October 1, 2007

CZAW SportCruiser: Top-Of-The-Line LSA


sport cruiserSince the official advent of LSAs at Sun ’n Fun 2005, the type has taken off beyond the wildest dreams of its developers. It seems there’s some kind of LSA on virtually every airport ramp these days. In view of the type’s popularity, LSA designers have looked for ways to push right up against the allowable limits of certification. The type is limited to 600 kg (1,320 pounds) gross weight, can’t carry more than two folks and can’t exceed a cruise speed of 120 knots.
Saturday, September 1, 2007

25 Great Aviation Websites


Flying the Internet is shifting from a flight of fancy to an icon of information

25 Great Aviation WebsitesAnyone looking to find the facet of flying that has grown the most over the past decade will discover that it’s the part of aviation on the Internet. What began as a mere curiosity some years ago is now a well-established component in most pilots’ lives. Never before have we been able to find so much information about the passion we share.
Saturday, September 1, 2007

Blackhawk King Air 200XP: “Simply Good Business”


The Blackhawk conversion allows you to fly one of the world’s most popular turboprops farther, faster and less expensively than ever before

blackhawkTurboprops have always occupied a unique niche in the world’s corporate aviation market. The type represents a middle ground in both price and performance between piston twins and pure jets, offering 2,000+ fpm climb and 50 to 75 knots’ more cruise speed than pistons, plus six-to-10-seat capability and the talent to fly well above most of the planet’s nastiest weather.
Saturday, September 1, 2007

10 Sexiest Airplanes


…in the eye of the beholder

10 Sexiest AirplanesOkay, we freely admit it: What started as a simple exercise, to select the 10 sexiest airplanes in the world, has turned out to be one of the most difficult and divisive projects in which we've ever been involved.
Saturday, September 1, 2007

de Havilland Beaver


Sixty years in the sky de Havilland Beaver

de Havilland BeaverYou first notice the sound as a low rumble in the distance.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Buying Your First New Airplane


It feels great. It looks sexy. You catch yourself daydreaming about it in boring meetings. People come up and look at it wherever you go.

Buying Your First New AirplaneA brand-spanking-new airplane. There are few thrills and accomplishments as satisfying and special as buying a factory-new airplane. To the new owner, a new bird is the epitome of symphonic beauty and brilliant engineering; a powerful engine and supple, luxurious leather interior combined with the latest in navigation and communication technology, which, in many cases, outpaces commercial airliners. And it’s all yours.

 

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

District of Columbia


A turbocharged manifestation of desire

District of ColumbiaWhen you fly different-make and -model airplanes, it can be hard to keep them straight in your radio calls. I’ve called a TBM, flying at FL280, a Cirrus. I’ve called a Diamond Star a Cessna, and I’ve called a Warrior a Husky. Usually, I catch myself immediately and correct my call, but there are times in life when calling something, or someone, by the wrong name can be hazardous to one’s health. A radio call generally isn’t one of them. That’s why I’ve decided to call any airplane I’m pilot-testing, “Baby.” So last week, when I was just getting my feet wet with a 12-hour-old Columbia 400, after botching a few radio calls, the airplane thence became Baby N452BS, and that’s no bravo sierra.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Sierra Stallion


It’s not your father’s Citation!

the sierra stallionPilots often nickname airplanes they love and, conversely, ones they dislike. There’s “Spam Can” for Cessna pistons and there’s the denigrating “Fork-Tailed Doctor Killer” for V-tailed Bonanzas; one of the most derisive is “Slow ’Tation” for Cessna’s entry-level jet. It’s hard to believe, but some folks malign the Cessna Citation as a “near jet” and use other less-than-flattering descriptions.