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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, December 1, 2005

New Piper Meridian


Entry-level turbine with an all-glass cockpit

piper meridianThe newer generation of pilots may not remember that Piper had a proud tradition of building turboprops long before the advent of the company’s current flagship, the Meridian. As far back as the mid-1970s, Piper was selling Cheyennes, and true Piper trivia buffs like to remind us that the company also built a turboprop version of the P-51 Mustang called the Enforcer. Piper attempted to market the fire-breathing Enforcer to U.S. and foreign governments as an economical, military ground-pounder. (The Enforcer mounted a whopping 2,455 shp Lycoming turbine out front and could carry a range of ordinance.)
Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The LSA Boom!


Private and sport pilots alike have driven the market to new heights

The LSA BoomLooking back to Sun ‘n Fun 2005, it’s fair to say that was when the light sport aircraft bell was rung, and since then, they’ve been off to the races. In the short four months between early April and early August, 14 new aircraft received airworthiness certificates in the special light sport aircraft (S-LSA) category. Although several of these airplanes have been flying in Europe for years and the number of additional new aircraft receiving approval will certainly slow down over time, the figure is remarkable nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

American Champion High Country Explorer


The newly certified, go-anywhere two-seater

american championBy the time you read this, I will have completed a two-week vacation trip circumnavigating most of Alaska and some of Western Siberia with an Indiana dentist, Dr. Bill Grider. (Hey, it’s a tough job, but...) Alaska is my kind of place, and despite a dozen trips around the state, I’m always eager to return.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

25 Bargain Birds For 2005


The aircraft market continually changes, creating new low-cost airplanes for pilots who dream of owning their own plane

25 Bargain Birds For 2005Compiling any list of the 25 best bargain buys in general aviation is almost guaranteed to ruffle some feathers. Our choices aren’t always going to agree with everyone else’s. No matter how much we try to be fair and impartial, our selections have to be at least a little subjective. We’re probably as subject to partiality as the next pilot, even if we’re allowed a broader frame of reference.
Saturday, October 1, 2005

Navion Speedster


North American’s final triumph for general aviation

Navion Speedster"Follow your heart." We've heard that advice time and time again, but sometimes, life just gets in the way. Such was the case for Richard Buchanan.
Thursday, September 1, 2005

New Piper’s Saratoga II TC


Still “The One” for the turbo six-seaters

New Piper's Saratoga II TCAny list of general-aviation evergreens is bound to include certain airplanes: The Cessna 170 and 172 would be near the top of the list; Piper’s venerable Super Cub would be a strong contender; Beechcraft’s straight-tail Bonanza would definitely qualify; and the Piper Cherokee Six also would likely make the list.
Thursday, September 1, 2005

Mooney 252


For a pilot who has owned them all, only one stole his heart

Mooney 252Speed is a mission in itself; in fact, speed is the essence of flying. The faster you go, the faster you go faster, or at least most of us want to. Terry Williams of Fort Worth, Texas, goes faster than the majority of us in his Mooney 252.
Thursday, September 1, 2005

The Need For Speed!


The narcotic that pilots will pay almost anything for

The Need For Speed!Go ahead, admit it. When you read all of those pilot reports, you skim them, looking for the cruise speed, then go back and read the rest. It’s a natural thing. We all love the idea of going fast. But how fast is fast? And is there such a thing as fast enough?
Thursday, September 1, 2005

VLJs Turn Short Final


As the market comes to a boil, three finalists are vying to become the first certified Very Light Jet

vljs turn short flightWe’re about to find out if the Very Light Jets (VLJs) will be the dominant force in general aviation that some people predict. CEOs Jack Pelton of Cessna, Vern Raburn of Eclipse and Rick Adam of Adam Aircraft think it will. Within only about 18 months, we’re liable to see three different models of VLJs certified and delivered to the market.
Monday, August 1, 2005

"Star Wars!"


The Force behind the Diamond DA42 Austrian invasion

Star Wars!Okay, perhaps it’s true other countries outdo the USA when it comes to manufacturing automobiles, computers and TV sets, but there has never been any serious competition with America’s general aviation airplanes. Companies such as Piper, Cessna, Beech, Mooney, Maule, Cirrus, Lancair, American Champion, American General, Commander and Grumman-American have accounted for the vast majority of light aircraft sales in the last half-century.
Monday, August 1, 2005

Light Sport Aircraft Are Here And Flying!


Now, there’s no argument whether or not LSA designs will become a reality

As some pilots may have heard, the FAA finally handed down its completed rulemaking regarding light sport aircraft (LSA) and sport pilots this past April 15 (perhaps, more than coincidentally, tax day) at the Sun ’n Fun Air Show in Lakeland, Fla. The LSA regulations were several years in the making, the consummation of extensive lobbying efforts by virtually all of aviation’s alphabet groups. In fact, the final rules reflect extensive input by the EAA and AOPA, an example of what can happen in that rare instance when the government actually listens to the people it represents.
Monday, August 1, 2005

Straight Talk From Superior Air Parts


The industry’s largest producer of aftermarket cylinders and parts sets its sights on the certified engine business

Straight Talk From Superior Air PartsSuperior Air Parts, Inc. (www.superiorairparts.com), knows the value of getting the “little things” right because that’s what its business was founded on. In 1967, it manufactured little piston-engine replacement parts, like valve guides, gaskets and piston rings for the USAF. It wasn’t long after, when the opportunity to provide these parts to the general-aviation (GA) market appeared, that it moved into the commercial sector.
Monday, August 1, 2005

Tonry’s Tiger


This snappy little four-seater was so far ahead of its time, it’s hard to beat the amount of fun you can have flying it!

tonry's tigerEvery pilot loves the Tiger. It’s hard not to. The airplane is one of the ultimate concessions to fun flying, a sporty, eager, little single with just enough practical application to justify it in the minds of those who would never buy a pure fun machine.
Friday, July 1, 2005

Piper's Archer II


When you’ve been around the coolest airplanes in the world, which one would you choose for yourself?

Piper's Archer IISuppose you know a guy who’s a graduate of the Lockheed Skunk Works. I’m sure you have one of these guys at your local airport. One of those guys who spent most of his life building the world’s fastest, highest-flying, nearly invisible airplanes. The kind of guy who built extreme airplanes— airplanes that nowadays are famous, but during their operational life, he couldn’t even brag to his wife about. One of those “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.
Friday, July 1, 2005

“301 Knots!”


Take the Beech Duke, add turbines, and you get that magical number

301 knotsIt’s a magic number and one not often seen in turboprop corporate aircraft. A bare handful of propjets can touch 300 knots in cruise—the Piper Cheyenne 400LS, Commander 1000, Mitsubishi Solitaire, Beech Starship and King Air 350, and the Socata TBM 700.
Friday, July 1, 2005

Clark Kent Of The Sport Class


Mike Jones is a mild-mannered businessman, but in Reno, NEV., he’s some kind of Superman!

clark kent of the sport classIf you’re like me and would not consider missing the Reno Air Races every September, you have to have noticed the increasing popularity of the sport class. The Reno Air Races have survived for years with only four classes of competition: sport biplanes, Formula One, T6 and unlimiteds—the latter, by far, being the top draw of all.
Friday, July 1, 2005

Symphony 160


This new sport trainer gets even better the second time around

symphonyThe Symphony 160 was introduced five years ago by OMF Aircraft of Neubrandenburg, Germany, which established a Canadian manufacturing subsidiary, OMF Canada, in 2003, located in Three Rivers, Quebec. Through no fault of its Canadian subsidiary, the parent company declared bankruptcy and the Symphony design was left stranded in the murk of litigation. After negotiating an almost unimaginable morass of legalities, several of the original OMF Canada team has emerged with the rights to bring the high-tech two-seater back to market.
Wednesday, June 1, 2005

2005 Electronic Skyhawk


It’s here—the most popular airplane in the world now comes with a glass panel

2005 Electronic SkyhawkWhen Garmin premiered its G1000 do-everything glass-panel avionics system in mid-2003, the package was perceived as an extremely talented collection of electronic wizardry obviously intended for high-end general-aviation aircraft. Glass panels have been available on airline and corporate aircraft for years, but the G1000 expanded the technology to general aviation.
Sunday, May 1, 2005

Cherokee 6


This Oshkosh winner is one of the all-time great flying SUVs!

Cherokee 6Folks who live in Seattle, Wash., tell strangers about how bad the weather is; it’s a mantra for them. The message is almost subliminal—it’s a gloomy place, the sun never shines, it’s always raining… For some reason, they don’t want the rest of us up there. But the weather in Seattle actually is different from the message. In reality, the climate is mild, the landscape beautifully green, and for Randy Kersten, it’s one of best places on the planet to own an airplane.
Sunday, May 1, 2005

Buying Your First Plane


It’s an issue practically all of us must address at one time or another. Virtually every pilot—student, private, commercial or ATP—dreams of owning an airplane.

Buying Your First PlaneIn most cases, the first question a pilot must answer is the obvious one: How much money are you willing to spend on an airplane? In the majority of cases, this will be a finite number that will make the selection process easier. In others, a prospective buyer may be willing to spend as much as he or she needs to buy the airplane he or she wants. One way or another, a smart purchase, like a small fight, begins with gathering all the important information.
Sunday, May 1, 2005

The Littlest King Air


Fifty years of continuous production point out the importance of a twin turbine.

the littlest king airToo often, it seems the aviation press gives short shrift to one of the most important segments of business flying. Turboprops have long been the forgotten stepchild of corporate aviation. To paraphrase comedian Rodney Dangerfield, “Turboprops just can’t get no respect.”
Sunday, May 1, 2005

The New & Improved Liberty XL2


The composite and aluminum two-seater has already come further than most. Now it’s pulling into the fast lane!

The New & Improved Liberty XL2What would you do with a successful two-seat, kit-built airplane? Some folks would be happy to just bask in the glory of it. Others would think about a new model at some point, or a different engine, or even a fast-builders program. But this path was no good for Tony Tiarks, the CEO of Liberty Aerospace.
Friday, April 1, 2005

Straight Talk From Lycoming


The largest piston-engine maker to introduce diesel & other designs

Straight Talk From Lycoming In a long-awaited move, Lycoming general manager Ian Walsh said that his company will be introducing a new diesel engine. While the company hasn’t released details of the new engine, Walsh did say that it would be dramatically more efficient than today’s gasoline-powered engines and would solve other problems, including the use of lead in aviation fuel. The diesel, when introduced, would run on standard jet fuel.
Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Mooney's Glass-Paneled Ovation2 GX


The cockpit of an airplane with the soul of a sports car

Mooney's Glass-Paneled Ovation2 GXHave you ever driven a Ferrari? A Ferrari is like no other, a bit hard to climb into, but once you’re there, you become part of the car. Acceleration, braking, turning, a Ferrari does everything fast, with a solid in-control feedback you feel in your whole body. It looks as fast as it drives.