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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.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Diesel Skylane


A viable alternative to avgas has arrived

Diesel SkylaneIf you fly a typical general-aviation airplane, you probably can’t imagine a world without avgas. I fly a Mooney with a four-cylinder, 200 hp Lycoming, and there’s currently no alternative engine available. For me and for thousands of other aircraft owners, the thought of avgas becoming obsolete is simply inconceivable.

 

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Commitment To A Cessna 172B


Dream hot, work hard and make sure there’s money in the pot: The chronicle of a 40-year path to the perfect C-172B

Commitment To A Cessna 172BThere are those seeds, like Jack’s, that explode overnight into giant beanstalks. And there are those, indigenous to certain biospheres, that only germinate when exposed to fire and, so, possibly wait for years to grow.

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

The Complete Corkscrew Pilot


Here’s the drill: Drill hundreds of students to fly a Pitts, drill on teeth for a living, then drill holes in the sky for the weekend...in a Pitts S2C!

The Complete Corkscrew Pilot"I imagine that it's something like taking drugs," says Bill Finagin, Pitts Special Pilote Incroyable.
Sunday, January 1, 2006

Maules Are All That


This taildragger can just about do it all

maules are all thatIt’s true, Maule pilots do it on dirt, sand, gravel, grass or any straight stretch of open area at least 250 feet long. And they have more fun! Probably because of where they like to go or what they like to carry. Lonnie Messenger of Dallas bought his Maule M-7-260C to get away from it all. As he says, “My flying is totally recreational. I like to stay away from people, TFRs and stuff like that.”
Thursday, December 1, 2005

How Old is Too Old?


A number of recent airworthiness directives for the general aviation fleet seem to be directly related to the aircraft’s age and flight time. So when is it safe to fly an aging plane?

How Old Is Too OldIn just the last few years, a series of T-34s, the military equivalent of a Bonanza, have suffered wing separations. An emergency airworthiness directive (AD) grounded the fleet. Just a couple of months ago, a well-maintained T-6, a World War II trainer, lost a wing doing maneuvers over Florida. With the general-aviation aircraft now averaging just less than 30 years of age, how can you tell if an airplane is safe to fly?
Thursday, December 1, 2005

Straight Talk From Thielert Aircraft Engines


Its new diesel aircraft powerplants are bringing Jet A to GA

Straight Talk From Thielert Aircraft EnginesThe diesels are coming…the diesels are coming—to general aviation, that is. And the company that’s leading the charge isn’t one of general-aviation engines’ “big two.” No, it’s a relatively small company that has its sights clearly set on relieving your dependence on avgas.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

What Makes Airplane Tires So Special?


We went to Michelin for a short course

What Makes Airplane Tires So SpecialAirplane tires are a breed unto themselves. A tire on your car has it easy compared to one on an aircraft. Your car doesn’t drive along a sun-baked, 120-degree F taxiway, then climb into sub-zero temps several miles above the Earth, hanging in a 100-mph wind, then come down and smash onto the ground at 80 miles an hour, maybe even bouncing a few times. Not just any tire is up to the mission.

 

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.