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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.

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.
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.”