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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, 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.
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Diamond Goes Glass


First to market with the Garmin G1000, the new DA40 Star is out of the gate

Diamond Goes GlassNo one manufacturer takes the industry by storm these days. Beech did it with the Bonanza in the ’40s and ’50s, Cessna rocked general aviation with the Skyhawk and Skylane in the ’60s, and Mooney rescued itself from bankruptcy with the outstanding 201 in the ’70s, but today’s market is so much smaller that any runaway success is unlikely, if not impossible. But Diamond is set to change all that.
Thursday, April 1, 2004

The New Super Decathlon


American Champion 8KCAB offers some of the best aerobatic talent in the two-seat, sportplane class

decathlonRich, I know you can’t see the ball from the back seat, but if you could, you’d be rolling with laughter,” I said. I was flying Rich Manor’s new Super Decathlon in left-echelon formation 20 feet from our old friend Saratoga SP photo ship, and my lazy feet were out of practice at flying an airplane with considerable adverse yaw. The ball bounced back and forth out of its cage as I maneuvered on the Saratoga, the slip indicator only occasionally stopping in the center. It had been several years since I’d flown a Super Decathlon, and my rusty technique showed. Gotta unlearn those bad habits, I thought. Too many hours in Mooneys/Bonanzas/Malibus/Centurions and other modern designs that forgive poor rudder coordination.
Thursday, April 1, 2004

Piper Pathfinder


The chief of the four-seat Cherokees still holds its own as a heavy hauler

piperCherokees have always had a deserved reputation as the most docile singles in the sky. Flown to the bottom of their speed envelope, they have practically no stall at all. Systems are so simple, even magazine writers can manage them, and control response is slow enough to keep the most ham-handed pilot out of trouble.
Monday, March 1, 2004

Getting Better All The Time


With an increase in useful load and some refinements to the avionics, Piper’s turbine Meridian continues to evolve

piperWhen New Piper first took the wraps off its Meridian, they set some rather lofty performance goals for their first single-engine turboprop. They needed to. Their target buyer was someone who would be moving up from either a high-end piston single or twin. They also wanted the Meridian’s performance and capabilities to attract owners who were already flying older turboprops, like King Airs and Cheyennes, but who may be in the mood for a new airplane that gave them the performance they were used to, while cutting their fuel and engine-maintenance bills virtually in half.
Monday, March 1, 2004

Kissimmee Cardinal


Retired, but not ready to slow down—just like its owner

cardinalHow often has your significant other told you, no, ordered you to get out of the house and go flying? After seeing her husband mow the lawn in different directions for the third time in a week, D Frechette figured that flying was just what her husband, Roger, needed. A retired Massachusetts state trooper, Roger was not, shall we say, challenged with landscaping.
Sunday, February 1, 2004

The NEW Cirrus SRV


The people who put certified composites on the map now offer an entry-level airplane with an all-glass panel

cirrusDownscaling an existing model isn’t a new trick. Piper has done it a number of times with the Cherokee 140 and Warrior. Maule offered a less powerful, nosewheel trainer version of its M7 bush bird taildragger. SOCATA continues to produce an entry-level model in the Tampico, essentially the same airplane as the Trinidad sans retractable gear and constant-speed prop, and with 90 less hp.
Sunday, February 1, 2004

An Unusual Seneca II


Piper’s trusty twin was just a starting point for this revitalized PA-34 modification

piperKim Bass is an unusual pilot with an unusual airplane. Bass is a Hollywood screenwriter who manages to survive in one of the world’s most cutthroat businesses. Bass has been writing TV and motion-picture screenplays for 13 years, taking scripts from concept to treatment to pilot and sometimes all the way to production. Amazingly, he has yet to file bankruptcy even once.
Thursday, January 1, 2004

10 Affordable Classics


Great news for pilots! Look at the airplanes you can buy for $30,000 or less!

10 Affordable ClassicsAffordable classics might seem an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, but in fact, there are more of them available than you might imagine. Before we could home in on the top 10, however, we had to define exactly what we meant by “affordable” and “classic.”
Thursday, January 1, 2004

A Really New Skylane


A Garmin glass panel brings a fresh view for Cessna

skylaneCessna naysayers would complain that the company’s line of high-wing singles has changed little since its inception, save a continuing, but sometimes diminutive, evolution of enhancement and refinement. But at a recent gathering the company put on for its network of dealers, a sneak preview of the 2004 Skylane turned so many heads that more than 300 of the new C-182s, as well as Skyhawks and Stationairs, were sold—in a single day. Beginning in the second quarter of this year, Cessna will begin shipping its 230-hp four-seat singles with Garmin G1000 glass panels. From a distance, the 2004 Skylane isn’t particularly novel.
Thursday, January 1, 2004

Beech Travel Air


How an accidental friendship led to an Oshkosh champion

beechcraftThe grass around the 1958 Beech Travel Air was beaten down, trampled by thousands of feet, wearing a path around the wings and tail of N100BH. When you see this kind of wear and tear on the ground at Oshkosh, where more than 2,000 show planes sit proudly in the sun, it’s a sure sign that something special has arrived.
Monday, September 1, 2003

Project Bonanza Part II


The easy part was done. We had bought an airplane. Now we had to get busy with new avionics, paint and interior to create our vision of the perfect flying machine.

Project Bonanza Part IIOur plan was simple: Choose a relatively economical, high-performance airplane for business and personal trips.
Friday, August 1, 2003

Project Bonanza Part I


By buying a used airplane and weighing its pros and cons, you can settle on a plan to make an “almost” airplane into one that’s “just right”

Project Bonanza Part IHere at Plane & Pilot, we wanted an airplane that had performance for weekday business missions and economy for fun on the weekends.
Wednesday, November 30, -0001

Top 10 Faux Fighters


Whether you’re a G-junkie or a wannabe Top Gun, there’s a bird out there for you

faux fightersMaverick, Goose, Iceman, Tomcat, Sabre, Mustang, hero, testosterone, girls, speed, aerobatics, G-force. What do all these words have in common? Actually, they have two things in common: fighters and daydreams, although they could probably all be bundled into the “daydream” category because there are very few pilots who aren’t, to one degree or another, frustrated fighter pilots.
Wednesday, November 30, -0001

Wings For A Wheelchair: Paradise P1


It’s strong, friendly, roomy and rigged for hands-only flight!

paradiseIn 1999, an up-and-coming drummer man named Dylan Redd had a terrible car accident that broke his back. Several major surgeries and two years of constant, sleep-depriving pain drove him to the brink of utter despair. Sheer will to live pulled him through.
Wednesday, November 30, -0001

iCub Love


Classic, frisky, friendly, this Cub clone is so 21st Century

iCub LoveWhen I think of my recent flights in Sportair USA’s Bush iCub, they’re soaked in rich, golden yellow—Cub Yellow to be precise
Wednesday, November 30, -0001

Cessna Caravan 675 Amphibian: By Land and By Sea


From the hard deck or a Canadian lake, Ed Santangelo’s Caravan amphib gets the job done

Cessna Caravan 675 Amphibian: By Land and By SeaPop quiz: What do Harrison Ford, an Arabian prince, Jimmy Buffett, one of the founders of Microsoft and Ed Santangelo all have in common? Answer: the Cessna Caravan—on floats.