If you’ve been flying for a long time, you know that even the best airplanes involve significant compromise. And designing an aircraft that has all the necessary qualities of a good family transportation platform…well, that’s a tall order. Why? It’s all because of that pesky slice of reality known as physics. In order to build a plane big enough to haul a bunch of people, it has to be roomy, which means big, which means more structure, which means more weight, which necessitates more power (i.e., a bigger engine), which means more weight and more gas, which equals more weight. And if you want it to go fast, too, well, that’s an added hurdle, as thinner wings to cut through the air more efficiently means more power again, and power is, in terms of the physics of aircraft design, a very weighty property.
Despite these built-in challenges, designers in decades past succeeded in creating a handful of excellent family planes; that is, ones that are roomy enough for everyone in the modestly sized clan, are fast enough to get somewhere and have good enough range to cover a lot of ground between fuel stops.
Here’s our list of some great used planes for pilots looking to fly the fam.