Piper Archer LX
Though it was originally a step-up plane from the company’s trainers (then, the Cherokee 140) the Piper Archer—a founding member of the PA-28 family—has been a popular model for decades. The design has evolved over the years. The current G1000NXi-equipped iteration continues the training tradition while being a fine personal plane, too. It is so much like the Cessna 172 in terms of performance, ease of handling, quality and reliability. The two planes, while as different-looking as night and day, are expressions of the same mission and share nearly identical utility. The Archer handles like a dream, and its sturdy all-metal design can take the punishment of those not-quite-right landings. The low wing takes better advantage of ground effect for easier and more predictable landings, a real benefit in the training world. Though it doesn’t have a particularly spectacular range, the decently sized cabin and reasonable cruise speed along with its fine leather interior make the Archer a terrific ride for shorter cross-country trips, as well. The LX’s alter-ego, the TX, is outfitted for training and lack many of the creature comforts of the LX while still giving flight schools a solid PA-28 to run their business.