9 thoughts on “Plane Speed: How Fast Do You Need To Fly?

  1. Where i live we have lots of trees rocks and water. My father taught me the first number to look at is how slow it will go because on a bad day anything over 50 mph your odds of surviving goes way down. First question is how fast am i going to hit the trees at. I have a friend who had a Lancair 360. If someone asked for a rid he said I dont mind taking you for a rid as long as you understand the day the engine dies, so do we.

  2. Speed is only important if you need to get from A to B as quickly as possible. Buy (or build) a nice high wing, install a set of floats or bush gear and some STOL mods, then drop down a few thousand feet to enjoy the trip. The extra time spent will be far more enjoyable and maybe even a bonus! Explore, do a little fishing, check out a few grass strips and meet a few of the ‘locals’ along the way. There’s far more to flying than speed alone and an entire group of pilots who believe the STOL capability, versatility and payload are far more important than speed as a measure of aircraft performance!

  3. You really need to be realistic about how you use your aircraft. Is is mostly business or personal travel…..time could be an issue for business. The time factor was alluded to for business in the article. How far do you routinely fly? The 500 mile trip probably is most likely a less than once or twice a year for most. I would guess that the average person goes less than 250 to 300 most of the time. I know of people who own fast aircraft who barely go 100 miles and many owners barely get out of the pattern. One point not noted in the article is that above 150 mph (130 knots) you begin to benefit in the average headwinds of 15 to 20 knots. This could be an important consideration on long trips, if you do them several times a year. Staying above 100 knots can be an advantage most of the time. The article does point to cost of ownership which, I believe, is a large factor ( in the overall sense) contributing to why people are not flying as much. Low flying hours get blamed on fuel cost, but the monthly and annual cost of owning more aircraft than you really need keeps the money going somewhere other than in the fuel tank where you would rather see it go to help you enjoy more flight time. This article should be shared with anyone looking to buy or upgrade an aircraft if for no other reason than to just put some added perspective on the plan.

  4. Bert, I love your fathers advice. My dream plane is a 182 modified by Peterson. Cruise at 150 knots and stall at 35! Best of both worlds. With a decent payload to boot.

  5. This article is a nice overview, but I am missing one thing. Getting a speedy bird means a cleaner airframe, means faster on approach as well and does mean – you need more runway for landing as well. Yes, I dream of a SR22T/TTx class aircraft, but I would give up the opportunity for all the small airfields I love to visit with a 172/182 class. What use is in it if I fly for business in a blazing fast frame, but can not land at the nearest small airfield, but have to use the farther away airport?

  6. Most pilots who need a personal airplane for “business” will be flying to where business is… in populated areas where there usually is an airport with 3,000′ or longer runways at their local airport. The times I have landed at such short runways, the airport was in the middle of nowhere. (& no business conducted there). Therefore having a fast plane for business that takes longer runways should not be a factor.

  7. I have read this article over five times from it’s published date. It is an article I always reference for insight. Although I feel the math is a little fudged, as the author noted, it is a source of wisdom from time to time. I am a very slow buyer who, with 250+ hours, am thinking about justifying a purchase of an airplane. In my life flying would be 100% personal. One large justification is that once to twice a year flight over 1,000 miles. My job moves every three to four years. My home state and in-law home state are routinely over 1,000 miles away (currently 750 in-law miles and 1,000 home miles). I have built excel spread sheet comparing the fuel costs of our two cars and a few dream planes. Driving home you really see the benefit of time savings. A flight home would ideally save two days from the whole ordeal. The fuel, food, and lodging costs for driving nearly equaling the flying fuel costs. What I rarely think of though is the cost of a commercial flight as comparison too. Would the yearly costs of owning a plane, everything, be cheaper than the yearly costs of two flights home for my family of four, dog hotel, and cat hotel (or cat and dog tickets too)?

  8. Great article…As some have mention3d a potential owner has to define what he wants the airplane for. If the joy of flying is in there, then slow actually helps. I’m a retired airline pilot looking for my first airplane. In a lot of advertisements I see airplanes that hardly fly. and most private pilots are lucky to do 25 hours a year. I’d like to do 75 to a hundred per year. I figure going slow will help that!!

  9. When I started flying in 1985 I joined a flying club went from 152 to a 172. Then quickly transitioned to a 177 then to an older Mooney with a Johnson bar. Then flew The clubs c210. Was happy with the speed and the state of the art loran navigation. Happy I never had to personally own and care for an airplane. Never worked on an IFR ticket My twins were born and daddy stayed home with the girls. I quit flying, lost total interest. Then before I knew what happened the girls are both in grad school.
    I went to see my brother who was doing a major mod on his RV8. Struggled with what to do with my self as an empty nester. My Brother invited me to fly with him to Alaska. I jumped on that opportunity. Then after a half day I asked him where we would put all the camping gear in his tiny airplane. He then informed me I would buy an airplane and fly formation with him. up the Alcan highway.
    We looked for several months to find an RV that had a nose gear, constant speed prop and side buy side seating, with no luck.
    Then his Seattle based mechanic found a RV7A and for a finders fee agreed to buy it. It was well built. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. It only had 2 Dynon electronic screens. No vacuum system, no round gauges. It was not the conventional planes I had flown. My brother said buy it. I flew 1200 miles commercially to see it. Then learned to fly this rocket. Then flew it home over the Cascade and Rocky Mountains. On oxygen at 13,500 feet. Taught my self how to use the Dynons and autopilot on that flight. OMG!!!! It was incredible! I had just learned to start the app for Foreflight 4 months befor. The ADSB traffic, weather and moving map was allowing me to see the total picture on that flight. I was flying at 240 mph ground speed at 6gph for 42 mpg!! With a fixed gear!!! This plane has given me a new outlook on life. Thank you my brother Sam the best Brother a guy could have!! Buy an RV with Dynons and go incredibly fast inexpensively!! I haven’t yet been upside down in it yet!!

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