Scott County Airport (SCX) in Oneida, Tenn., was readying for its ninth annual autumn air show, and vendor trucks and booths were starting to fill the perimeter of the ramp. The buzz of excitement extended all the way into the Big South Fork Airpark (BSFA), which has through-the-fence access to SCX, and whose property owners typically gather from primary residences in locations stretching from the Dakotas to Florida to enjoy the air show and each other’s camaraderie. The owners’ eclectic fleet ranges from a Piper J-3 Cub to King Air C90, and includes composite, fabric and aluminum airframes, and both certificated and experimental aircraft. Obviously, there’s no consensus here on the best Residential Airpark Airplane (RAA).
But just about any RAA needs to do several things well: have decent cargo-carrying capacity and commuting capability, be comfortable operating in remote areas, and provide simple, economical and reliable performance. A twin-engine Piper PA-34 Seneca V delivers all that with aplomb. But you can be excused if you didn’t have this essentially 40-year-old model (the Seneca was introduced in 1971) on your short list of best RAAs. Even Piper hadn’t given much thought to the Seneca in recent years.