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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, January 1, 2005

Aviation’s Top Websites


Aviation’s Top WebsitesIn slightly more than a decade, the World Wide Web has gone from being a mere novelty to one of the most important tools available. Now, with a click of the mouse, pilots can access live weather, plan flights with previously unheard-of flexibilities, check fuel prices, find aircraft values, search databases, take virtual tours of museums and study volumes of hard-to-access aviation product information. In the proceeding pages, Plane & Pilot has assembled the best online sites for pilots who are searching for excellent resources on the Internet.
Saturday, January 1, 2005

Cessna's All-New Stationair


Adding Garmin glass to the newest line of C-206s has reinvented the aircraft’s workhorse capabilities

Cessna's All-New StationairUtility airplanes must answer to a different kind of owner. Unlike most personal-transportation machines that are dedicated to recreation or fun, utility models are most often working airplanes that must pay for themselves.
Saturday, January 1, 2005

The Ultimate V-Tail


This Bonanza has the most famous silhouette in the sky

The Ultimate V-TailIndeed, the Beech model 35 has become something of a legend, an icon by which other airplanes are measured.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Cirrus SR22-G2


The Klapmeiers’ vision enters the second generation

cirrusFor those of you who haven’t heard, Cessna was just recently dethroned as one of the top-selling general-aviation companies in the world. For the first two quarters of this year, the total number of Cessna Skyhawks and Skylanes was bested by Cirrus Design’s combination of SR20 as well as SR22 sales. In fact, the vast majority of Cirrus’ sales came from its showpiece, the new SR22-G2.
Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Geronimo!


For many light-twin owners, Piper’s Apache is about as good as it gets

Geronimo!Let’s just say that you own a flight school in a huge and major market and you feel a need for a new multi-engine trainer. If you’re completely determined to buy new, you have only one choice, really, for a dedicated twin trainer, the Piper Seminole. (The diesel-powered Austrian Diamond Twin Star isn’t expected to be available until later this month.)
Monday, November 1, 2004

The Archer Goes Glass


New Piper’s amazingly popular PA-28 series now comes with the Avidyne FlightMax Entegra

The Archer Goes GlassFor most pilots, the quintessential Cherokee always has been the Archer. Yes, there’s still the Warrior, and there were the 140, 150, 160 and Cadet before that, but the Archer always has represented perhaps the most generic of the Cherokees. Just as the Cub was the signature general-aviation single of the ’30s and ’40s, and the flawed but beautiful V-tailed Bonanza dominated the ’50s and ’60s, the Piper Cherokee has become one of the most recognizable aviation icons of the ’70, ’80s and ’90s, hardly the fastest or the most comfortable, not the most efficient to buy or operate, but an outstanding combination of talents nevertheless.
Monday, November 1, 2004

Money-Saving Maintenance


A forum of experienced A&P mechanics and IAs pass along tips to preserve the value and airworthiness of airplanes in the most cost-effective way

Money-Saving MaintenanceThose pilots who have ever found themselves paying huge chunks of money on maintenance bills know that they can get quite expensive. What most people don’t realize, however, is that there are other simpler and less expensive ways to save on aircraft maintenance bills—and it all starts with the aircraft owners and operators themselves.
Monday, November 1, 2004

Cessna 421 Golden Eagle


This one has really gone to the dogs

cessna 421Some pilots will do anything, use any subterfuge and resort to any rationalization to justify buying an airplane. With that said, Pat Cattarin’s excuse is more than a little over the top. He bought a late-model 421, specifically to transport dogs.
Monday, November 1, 2004

Cessna's Turbo Skylane RG


What a difference it makes when you can say, “Look ma, no legs!”

Cessna's Turbo Skylane RGThere will always remain some argument about the birthplace of aviation. It seems to be either North Carolina, where the Wrights finally flew, or Ohio, where all the hard work was done before history was made at Kill Devil Hill, N.C. Wichita, Kan., is like Dayton, Ohio.
Friday, October 1, 2004

A Sharper Bonanza


The image of success for a multi-million-dollar company

A Sharper BonanzaGnoss Field is one of Northern California’s most idyllic small airports. Nestled on the floodplain of San Francisco Bay, which lies only 30 miles north of the state’s most famous city, the airport’s single 3,300-foot runway parallels the coastal hills. Predictably, Gnoss Field is quite a popular base for hundreds of personal and business airplanes owned by Bay-area pilots.
Friday, October 1, 2004

Piper 6x


Return of the Big Six

Piper 6xPiper recertified the 6X and 6XT last summer, and the company quickly cranked out 25 airplanes to fill the domestic and international pipeline. The basic PA-32 always has been a popular model overseas, especially in places such as Africa, Australia and South America where paved runways aren’t always available.
Friday, October 1, 2004

Cessna’s Big 185


The perfect machine for those moments when the amount of fun is as huge as the load you’re hauling

Cessna’s Big 185When Cessna makes single-engine airplanes, it makes them with wings on top. It’s a given—that’s just the way things are done at Cessna. There are many advantages of a high-mounted wing: Downward visibility is good, and it’s easy to get in and out of, not to mention the fact that cabin space isn’t taken up by messy spars and other protrusions.
Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Just Tires?


Very few pilots realize how important they really are

When we were student pilots, we were told to check the tires for condition and inflation before each takeoff. But as we progressed in our flying careers, some of us have taken tires for granted. Sure, we’re careful to check the “important” stuff—engine oil, fuel, headset batteries and radios—but we keep tires on a second-class status, merely glancing at them to make sure that they’re all accounted for and aren’t flat.
Wednesday, September 1, 2004

The Very First Aeronca Sedan


A Testament to its indomitable spirit, serial #001 is alive and well

aeroncaIn 1947, the Aeronca Company was in trouble. A successful series of two-seater aircraft didn’t distinguish it in the slumping post-World War II aircraft market. Many manufacturers with new airplanes and thousands of surplus airplanes flooded the economy. Aeronca decided to put its eggs in the four-seat basket. The Sedan was its first and only entry into the larger airplane market. It reached production in 1948 and looked poised to take off.
Sunday, August 1, 2004

Blue Angel Tomahawk


On the air, one way or another

The sun has barely broken the eastern horizon, and the Dixie Chicks are just finishing the song “Wide Open Spaces” on the studio monitor. The on-air light flashes as Dan Stroud turns to his microphone, “You know, Dave, when my wife got home last night, she asked me to take her bra off.”
Sunday, August 1, 2004

Socata Trinidad GT


A beautiful little French retractable with a certain je ne sais quoi

socataBy any measure, the sky around us is an aviation mecca. For one week each spring, the weeklong Sun ’n Fun Fly-In brings thousands of flying machines and several hundred thousand people to warm, comfortable central Florida.
Thursday, July 1, 2004

Bellanca Viking: Wood, Fabric & Genius


The brainchild of an Italian designer, this classic airplane exudes a rare combination of style and substance

vikingIt’s almost inevitable that Italian airplanes are compared to Italian automobiles. You can’t look at the smooth, sculptured lines of a Marchetti SF-260 or Partenavia P68 without thinking of a Ferrari or Maserati.
Thursday, July 1, 2004

Liberty XL2


This two-seater is certified and ready to roll!

libertyAs owner of one or another four-place airplane for the last 40 years, I can count on my fingers and toes the number of times I’ve used all four seats for people. Like most aircraft owners, I’ve consistently purchased at least two seats more than I need, so far, at least five times. Apparently, I never learn.
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

An Enthusiastic Cherokee


Maybe it isn’t the fastest 140 in the world…but then again it might be

An Enthusiastic CherokeeThe very nature of Cherokee 140s wouldn’t seem to lend itself to speed. After all, the airplane made its reputation based on a docile stall and some of general aviation’s most benign flying qualities. The littlest Cherokees have always been regarded as among the gentlest of trainers, so universally respected for their predictable manners that some instructors actually criticize them for being too easy to fly.
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Buy Your 1st Bird


Low time, any time could be the best time to own an airplane

Buy Your 1st Bird“I’ve sold airplanes to student pilots with two or three hours in their logbooks,” says Jim Sherman, regional manager for Premier Aircraft Sales. “In the past couple of years especially, half of my clients have been low-time pilots, first-time buyers.”
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Congratulations, Columbia 400


Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall mountains in a single bound, look, up in the flight levels, it’s the 230-plus-knot certified Lancair single!

Congratulations, Columbia 400Any aircraft manufacturer who is serious about marketing big-bore singles for global application has got to at least consider turbocharging. There’s just too much of the world that lies a half-mile or more above sea level to ignore that market. Sale of successful heavy-breathers have proven that there’s money to be made in marketing for pilots who need to operate from the middle density altitudes, if not necessarily in the flight levels.
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Secrets For Buying Undervalued Aircraft


Whether you equate it to the search for the Holy Grail or a textbook example of caveat emptor, with a little perseverance and luck, you can still find a great deal on the airplane of your dreams—if you know where to look

Secrets For Buying Undervalued AircraftWhether the stories are real or just urban legends, sooner or later, every hangar-talk session turns to a tale of someone finding that cherry-red Bonanza sitting in a barn in the middle of nowhere and the farmer selling it for $5,000. While stories like this are much more fiction than fact, a question remains: How can you find that undervalued gem that will ensure your place in aircraft buyer’s lore? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it used to be.
Saturday, May 1, 2004

An Advanced Course In Engine Management


When you have to pay for fuel, repairs and overhauls, you’ll want to treat your powerplant to the values of science, not hearsay

Today, bookstores have shelves of self-help and how-to books targeted at people just like me. You know, books like Brain Surgery For Dummies, Taxes For Dummies or The Idiot’s Guide To Juggling. There is one guide, however, that you won’t find in your local bookstore or, unfortunately, at your local airport. The Advanced Pilot Seminar (APS), better than books like Engine Management For Dummies, can only be found in Ada, Okla.
Saturday, May 1, 2004

A Lark That Won’t Quit


An addiction to flying leads a pilot to a Cessna 175

A Lark That Won't QuitGreg Carter—standing by his pristine Cessna 175 Lark, parked amid the 2,000 show planes at the 2003 AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis.—tries to tell me why he’s so happy to be here. “Well, you know, I tried to quit flying once. I really did. But after a while, I found out that I just couldn’t do it.” This is how first-timer Greg Carter begins the story about how he and his wife, Barbara, flew their Cessna 175 Lark to the AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh.