Cessna 172
9 min read

You don’t get to pick your parents and most pilots don’t get to pick the airplane they learn to fly in. If the local flight school has a beat up old Cherokee, that’s what you’ll fly, whether you love Pipers or not. But once you earn your license, it’s a real thrill to check out in (or at least log some time in) a variety of airplanes. I actually think this is more interesting than adding a new rating—new models offer new adventures and new lessons to learn, and there are no annoying FAA tests to pass.

What should you fly? Almost anything with wings. I might skip the rare Soviet warbird that hasn’t flown in 25 years, but unless you have reason to doubt the design or construction, strap in and go flying. You won’t catch Barry Schiff; still, it’s fun to try.

While all airplanes have stories to tell, some are more important and more interesting than others. Here are five I believe should be in every pilot’s logbook or on their to-do list. These aren’t necessarily the best or most exciting airplanes ever to take to the skies, but they define specific ages in general aviation and make up the rich history of our industry. Call it the general aviation canon.

1. Piper Cub. The familiar yellow taildragger almost single-handedly created general aviation in America, teaching an entire generation of pilots to fly. Consider the numbers: in 1939 there were fewer than 35,000 pilots; by 1950 there were over 500,000. One key reason so many Americans earned their license was obviously the military, but that meant the Cub was often their first airplane. In fact, nearly 20,000 were built in less than a decade. For comparison, only 10,000 piston airplanes total were delivered between 2010 and 2019.

Cub in the grass

A yellow Piper Cub in the grass is the essence of recreational aviation.

But the Cub is also a survivor, a symbol of a general aviation boom that didn’t really happen. At the end of World War II, some enthusiasts assumed that the thousands of returning military pilots would want to settle down to family life with an airplane in the garage. It didn’t turn out that way (commuting by Cub wasn’t quite as practical as boosters predicted), and many interesting airplanes disappeared as the post-war boom turned into a bust. 

Not the Cub. Almost 100 years after it was introduced and many decades since it was last produced, the Cub remains an iconic airplane. It’s fun to fly, affordable to own, and challenging enough to be rewarding when mastered. Some are basic airplanes with no electrical system, some are fully restored showplanes, and some are modern reincarnations of the famous design—all of them are recreational aviation in its purest form. Spending a late afternoon with a Cub on a grass runway is just about the most fun you can have in aviation. It’s like going back in time, but without having to stroll around a dusty museum.

2. Beech Bonanza. After the bust of the early 1950s, general aviation began its next big boom in the 60s. Cessna thought the post-war future looked like the 195, a gorgeous but fairly dated airplane with a tailwheel and a radial engine. Beechcraft, on the other hand, designed a strikingly modern airplane with low wings, retractable gear, and an engine we would recognize today. The public voted with its checkbook, and by the mid-60s the Bonanza was a best-seller. In particular, the V-tail S35 and V35/A/B models were memorable designs, the pinnacle of general aviation flying in that decade. When you showed up in one of those sleek airplanes, you not-so-subtly told the world you had arrived.

Beyond making good airplanes, Beechcraft helped to create the era of personal transportation by light airplane. Here was a machine that could go beyond the local area, with both the performance and reliability to be a personal airliner. Ads from the 60s show businessmen and families alike traveling in the comfort and speed of a Bonanza, a dream that pilots still chase today.

Much like the Cub, the Bonanza lives on. In this case, you can buy a brand new one, but you’ll find even 55-year old models doing everything from chasing $100 hamburgers to logging hard IFR flights. It’s still a joy to fly, with responsive controls and solid performance. I was raised on Cessnas, so the first time I hand flew a Bonanza I felt like I had stepped out of a pickup truck and into a sports car. I instantly understood why people loved it. The Bo has had many imitators over the years, but not until the Cirrus (see below) did the graceful Beech finally face a real threat—an incredible run of over 50 years.

3. Cessna 172. Here’s my nominee for best all-around general aviation airplane. It’s not fast, it doesn’t haul that much, and most pilots wouldn’t call it a beautiful airplane, but it’s capable of handling a wide variety of missions without complaint. As a trainer it is unmatched, taking the place of the Cub as the most popular flight school airplane. As a cross-country IFR airplane it is surprisingly capable, as Richard Collins proved many years ago during his criss-crossing of the US in one. It has also served as a photo platform, a law enforcement tool, and a perfect first airplane for new owners.

Cessna 172

The Cessna 172 is the most popular trainer for a reason.

One reason for its success is its forgiving nature and bulletproof design. It has enough power to take three people on a 300-mile trip but not so much that pilots quickly get in trouble, a complaint early in the V-tail Bonanza’s life. The systems are basic but reliable: just watch the abuse the landing gear takes during a typical pancake breakfast fly-in if you want proof. The 172 (don’t call it a Skyhawk) is the everyman airplane. 

It also represents the glory days of general aviation, a 10-year span in the late 60s and 70s when it seemed like flying would become a mainstream activity. Cessnas were on popular TV shows and sales were as red hot as the Miami condo market in the mid-2000s. In 1978, over 17,000 piston airplanes were delivered, a stunning number never to be equaled (or even approached), and the Cessna 172 led the charge.

4. Cirrus SR22. After the GA winter of the late 1980s, many pilots wondered if the industry would ever recover. Cessna restarted its single engine line in 1996, but arguably the real rebirth of personal aviation came from two brothers in Minnesota. When the Klapmeiers’ sleek SR20 hit the market in 1999, it had some radically new assumptions (fast airplanes can have fixed gear, safe airplanes have a parachute, big color screens are better than round dials) and some sexy marketing to go with it.

Many scoffed, but it worked. Cirrus has delivered more than 5,000 airplanes since 2006, dwarfing Cessna’s 182/206 line of traveling airplanes and even outselling the vaunted Bonanza by a wide margin. In one of the most impressive turnarounds in aviation history, the SR22’s accident record has gone from a liability to a strength, and the once-scrappy startup has established a powerful brand with devoted fans. It is the airplane non-pilots dream about.

Whether it’s the parachute or the occasionally abrasive fans, Cirrus has made some enemies over the years, but in my experience, the biggest skeptics have the least experience with the airplane. My advice? Don’t hate it until you fly it. The SR22 is everything a modern airplane should be: it’s a joy to fly, the performance is impressive, and the interior comfort is magnificent. On a cross country trip in one last year, I found myself cruising along at 170 knots in air conditioned comfort, with deice protection and great avionics to point the way. Not bad for a fixed gear piston airplane. I think it’s fun to fly, but at the very least, passengers love it—and that should count for a lot.

RV-12 in flight

The RV-12 is one of the few successful Light Sport Airplanes.

5. Van’s RV series. What will follow the Cirrus? Maybe nothing in the transportation segment of the market. But to me, the next generation of recreational aviation has been around for a long time and is only now starting to claim the spotlight. As certified airplanes have become more and more expensive (that 172 is now a $400,000 airplane), the “Van’s Air Force” of homebuilts has become a more attractive option for everyday pilots. The build time has been reduced with the use of ingenious quick-build kits, and the avionics options are actually better than most certified airplanes.

Which RV to fly may be the hardest question. The RV-12 is what an LSA should be, light on weight but heavy on fun. The RV-10 is basically a half-price Cirrus, with excellent performance and seats for four. The RV-8 is your own personal airshow airplane, with thrilling performance but reasonable operating costs. All of them exhibit great flying qualities and affordable operating costs (I remember being shocked the first time I flew an RV-12 and saw a fuel burn of less than 4 gallons per hour).

While I’m not a homebuilder, I’m excited by the energy and the innovation in that world. The latest models are safer than previous generations and practical enough to be used both in flight schools and for cross-country travel. If there’s going to be a rebirth of piston aviation, I would put my money on RVs and not Skyhawks or Bonanzas.

Bonus: I promised I would stop at five airplanes, and I will. But if you’re looking for extra credit, let me add a category: light jets. Along with experimental airplanes, the real growth in general aviation over the last 10 years has been in turbine airplanes. These are wildly expensive and certainly overkill for VFR pilots in search of the next great airport diner, but the progress here has been stunning. I got to ride in the right seat of a Citation Mustang a few years ago and couldn’t believe how easy it was to fly. Compared to a Cessna 421 or a King Air, the top of the heap in the late 70s, the Mustang was a walk in the park—even single pilot. Life is just different in the turbine world, from the systems (FADEC, automatic pressurization) to the maintenance (much better than typical piston shops) to the training (regular simulator sessions). Light GA manufacturers and pilots could learn a few things from the jet jockeys, so if you’re ever offered a ride in a CJ or a Phenom, don’t hesitate.

What airplanes are on your personal to-fly list?

John Zimmerman
81 replies
    • Bryan
      Bryan says:

      Amen. Surprised that venerable airframe series was left off the list. Once you fly a Cherokee/Warrior/Archer/Arrow (or any combination of the same) and master the art of ground effect in landing…you’ll wonder why you’re still flying those high-wing trainers.

      (Full disclosure: I’m a CFI-IA, trained in Cessna 152/172s, have students flying 172s at the school I teach at part-time, and currently own a 172. But I prefer Pipers).

        • Bryan
          Bryan says:

          Not odd at all, Don. Just a matter of personal preference. It’s all good; what counts is being in the game, being safe, and enjoying the ride you have.

          (FWIW, took my 172 out last night with the SO for an evening flight down the NJ shore…absolutely smooth, McGuire AFB providing flight following, sun setting over the intercoastal waterway, and 115Kts indicated. Nothing beats it and enjoyed the flight immensely. Just one of those evenings…and enjoying exercising the privileges of my certs…)

          Fly safe, ok?

  1. YARS (Tom Yarsley)
    YARS (Tom Yarsley) says:

    An even better trainer than the Cub, because your instructor can see your face when you’re lying. ;-)

  2. Lamberto
    Lamberto says:

    I think one of the best flying airplanes is a Tiger. This airplane is responsive, and does not have any bad habits. IT outperforms the 172 and is in the same budget. I have said it numerous times, “The 172 is a great trainer, the Tiger is a great airplane.” I’ve owned both and the 172 went up for sale the same day I flew the Tiger the first time…

    • Robert
      Robert says:

      Love the cherokees many options 140,161,180,235 heavy hauler is my choice.then you have the arrow and turbocharged option fast complex reasonable fuel burn and sexy appeal.they can take a beating many used in flight schools(I got my wings in one).

      • Robert Mears
        Robert Mears says:

        I owned and love the Cheetah for ten years and hated to let it go. It needed a little more horsepower on hot days and fully loaded. It made you fly it, Not a lazy man’s airplane, light on the controls, park it on a dime. Built like a tank.

    • M. Winger
      M. Winger says:


      Get in and step on the seat to get settled in after walking around in dirt? What (?), dual brake cylinders, and have one not work, and there you are on a short field and go thru the fence before the street and a car hits you (yes, it happened to me). OK, its faster than a 172, but sorry, not for me.

      • Lamberto
        Lamberto says:

        You don’t step on the seat. You step on the aluminum “tray” that is beneath the cushion. Maintenance affects all make and models. I have scars on my head from hitting the 172 so many times getting in that I once almost took a bat to it. Did I mention its slow? The door is so far forward that its really annoying to get in to and I am 5’6″. Its HOT in the summer and you cant really get wind on you to cool you off. To check the engine before pre-flight… oh, wait, you can’t and that’s important on these aging airplanes. Did I mention its Really slow? The visibility is awful, especially during the flare. It flies really weird and I have owned Cessnas longer than the Tiger (I still own both). I am not here to bash the 172 but it just shows that the customer is not always right. Just because there are more of them does not automatically make it the best SEL and it should not be on this list. There were a lot more Vegas built than Ferraris but… The 172 is easier to steer on the ground and has a better baggage door. You can buy my Cessna, but you would have to really give me a stupid amount of money for my Tiger. ; )

    • George Macedo
      George Macedo says:

      Cheetah or Tiger series for sure. So much better than C172. As for the others: Greater sales do NOT mean a greater airplane.

  3. Jeremy M
    Jeremy M says:

    I just flew the C162 for the first time and was surprised! I was expecting a cramped cabin, shoved right up next to my CFI but instead was greeted with a decent amount of room (I’m 6′). I understand the reasons for production cessation (priced a bit high for what you get) but it is a nice little airplane!

    I know everyone learns on the C172 but it’s also nice to try a low wing AC. I had my pros and cons from both the 172 and the Piper Cherokee.

  4. Aurovrata Venet
    Aurovrata Venet says:

    Interesting list, although as a pilot I would argue that ones flying experience is incomplete so long as you have not flown a free-flight form of aircraft. Jonathan Livingston author and famed pilot Richard Bach claimed that piloting skills are inversely proportional to the complexity of the aircraft. I can confirm that the experience of flying a paraglider, the simplest of all aircraft, is incomparable to that of a powered aircraft.

  5. Stanley Curtis
    Stanley Curtis says:

    One plane I have spent a little time in was a Beechcraft Musketeer. I thought it was a nice little trainer that was easy to fly for it’s time but I don’t see any mention of it anywhere anymore.

  6. Tom Black
    Tom Black says:

    OK, up-front disclaimer: I’m a (straight-tail) Bonanza “snob”. To me they set the standard for flying qualities for light general-purpose aircraft (I’m a flying qualities engineer and former test pilot). They are also very comfortable, fast, and even without tip tanks (which I personally think are ugly on Bonanzas) long ranged. Beyond Bonanzas I have flown 3 of the other 4 in this list (have not flown an RV) and generally agree with John’s assessment of them. I have mixed feelings about Cirrus aircraft: they are comfortable and fast, and the parachute is a plus if you really train on how and when to use it (and commit to using it rather than trying to save the airplane), but to me the lateral flying qualities are poor due to high roll breakout forces and the ride quality isn’t as nice as late ’70s/early ’80s Bonanzas, particularly the A36. Oh, and I second John’s comment on their “occasionally abrasive fans”. ;-)

    • Robert Corbett
      Robert Corbett says:

      I will second Mr Blacks assessment . I trained in the small Cessna’s and then went on to finish my Pvt training in the PA28’s . Wonderful little guys but I needed more capacity. Bought a “6” and then stepped up to a T-Lance until I found the A36 I was looking for and now I feel I am flying the best one (plane) in the sky.

    • Daniel Early
      Daniel Early says:

      Heartily agree with Tom Black. I was an Avionics rep from the mid 80’s through the mid 90’s. And I had flown many variations of Cessna, lottsa Mooney’s and Arrows and Archers. Actually all were quite nice but the airplane that delivered the most satisfaction day-in and day-out….the F33A Bonanza!

      Absolutely unmatched!

  7. Grumman Fan!
    Grumman Fan! says:

    Grumman! The AA5 series is an awesome design, very forgiving as a fixed fear trainer but also a capable cross country machine (faster at least than the 172) and a stable IFR platform. The sliding canopy adds a bit of fun and flare, especially when flying with it slightly open.

  8. nwflyer
    nwflyer says:

    Well…I hit four of five plus the bonus (if you count the CRJ)…

    I currently own a 1957 Tri-Pacer, which is unique in itself, fun to fly, and a hauler…

    I much preferred the Aeronca 7AC over the Cub…better visability, more elbow room, and flew it from the front seat…but missing the classic J-3 looks…

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      I’m a huge Aeronca/Citabria fan (is fly a 7GCAA today), but I tip my cap to the history and mystique of the Cub. There’s something intangible.

  9. Erik Edgren
    Erik Edgren says:

    If you are going to stop at five I think you did a pretty good job. A flight can be obtained in any by the average joe if they are truly interested.

    I would argue that what got early Bonanza pilots in trouble was not power but aerodynamic cleanliness.

    Your description of the Cirrus as “the aIrplane non pilots dream about” made me laugh out loud due to it’s accuracy.

    I would ad two others:

    Pretty much any antique open cockpit biplane to experience the nostalgia of seeing the world thru wings and wires, the Stearman being the most iconic if not the best.

    A high performance aerobatic airplane such as a Pitts or Extra. The thrill of that level of power to weight and control responsiveness should not be missed, and a flight is available at many aerobatic flight schools.

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      I stopped at five, but your open cockpit biplane comment is spot on and definitely in my top ten. A sunrise flight in a Waco is one of the defining flights in my logbook. Simply awe-inspiring.

      • Steven Dale
        Steven Dale says:

        I remember a open cockpit ride in an old TravelAir (not Beech) and getting passed up by a P51 (wasn’t close enough to say we were buzzed). This was after the Watsonville, CA airshow in 1993 that I worked the temporary tower. Lots of airplanes could be added to the list. Mooney’s are an iconic brand and a fast efficient airplane. Piper Comanche, C182. Currently own and fly a PA22/20 Piper Pacer.

  10. Charlie
    Charlie says:

    The newly designed Vashon Ranger qualifies under factory built LS and has a continental 0-200 engine, bigger 6’ wheels, two glass panels, auto pilot, and auto-level in the event of inadvertent flight into poor visibility. All metal high wing with no struts. Retail $99,500 with one glass panel. $114,500 with two large glass panels. Includes radar, ADS-B in and out

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      I got to fly a Ranger last year and was really impressed. It gives the RV-12 a run for its money as an LSA.

  11. Joe Ellsworth
    Joe Ellsworth says:

    The list would have been better if the 182 was in place of the 172, the RV-6 in place of the RV12, and a Cherokee 235 in place of the Cirrus.

    From a ‘must fly’ perspective, the 182 is simply the most versatile plane Cessna ever built. With all due respect for the venerable 172 for its trainer roll, it’s really a pretty pedestrian aircraft.

    If we are going to delve into the world of Vans, the RV6 is a much better representation of the home built world than it’s virtual ‘mosquito’ little brother. I recognize the idea of including a light sport, but there are many better ways of doing so without misrepresenting Vans.

    Get your Chinese junk out of here! Cirrus is a sell out, over rated, expensive aircraft that is no joy to fly. The better low wing that fits the US is a Cherokee. I nominate the 235 for it’s performance, but a 160 or 180 may fit the bill nicely as well.

    No argument with the Bo or the Cub. Both are legendary and belong on the list.

    • Lamberto
      Lamberto says:

      Agree the 182 over the 172. The 182 is simply an airplane you can do something with over a simple trainer that is a pretty limited personal airplane…

  12. Mike Cowan
    Mike Cowan says:

    I’m amazed the small jet comment didn’t include the Honda Jet! What a sweet little winner! Bang for the buck!!

  13. Barry Branin
    Barry Branin says:

    You missed the best airplane for the mountains in the West…the Cessna 180. The best for useful Payload, range, density altitude and FUN.

  14. John Mulvey
    John Mulvey says:

    My first plane was a Piper Warrior, after learning in Tomahawks with a lot of 172 time in between. But as my wife and I were going on longer trips I decided on a Mooney 201J. It gets me there just a few knots slower than the Bonanza or the SR 22 (and faster than the SR20) but with an IO 360 and 10 gallons an hour, with 2 fewer cylinders to maintain. It’s a VERY solid airframe, good instrument platform and a very simple gear system with few moving parts, even with my electric extend system.

    • Mike Cowan
      Mike Cowan says:

      “Almost any airplane someone allows me to fly is my favorite… I haven’t yet defined the ‘almost’ ”

      So say we all!!

  15. David
    David says:

    Yes, all the above. Flying is just great no matter what you’re in. I guess I would have to add the PA-28 and the BE-76 Duchess for starting out in multi.

  16. Chris M
    Chris M says:

    I have flown all of the aircraft on your list, and currently own a 1946 Piper J3. Great little airplane! Fun to fly, not particularly practical as a cross-country transportation vehicle, but some folks have done so. I was speaking to another J3 owner on my airfield today, and we got to discussing flying a J3 cross-country, and he has done so multiple times in his (coast to coast) – I think he said 16 times! He showed me the tracks on his iPhone, and he has pretty much criss-crossed the nation in his J3!

    I also own an IFR Husky A1-B and have flown that across the US twice and all over the eastern part of the US. Not really fast, but a very sturdy workhorse. Great airplane! I also owned a C-152 for five years and flew it over much of the eastern US – fun little airplane, but very limited range.

  17. Rick A
    Rick A says:

    I’ve flown the Cub and the Champ. I’ll take the Champ. No need to fly the rear seat solo. Beats the heck out of mystique.


  18. Nanook
    Nanook says:

    You have to make the distinction when talking about cubs…The Super Cub is the defining bush plane, and in Alaska is a working bush plane still, the J-3/PA11 is more the puddle jumper/trainer. The Super Cub design has spun off a large home built following and production models as light sport and composite – high – performers. Super Cubs are alive and doing well…

  19. Stephen Phoenix
    Stephen Phoenix says:

    You state the obvious that jet maintenance shops tend to be better than piston shops. Well yes, but piston shops could be equal if they could get five times the money. But there wouldn’t be much airplane ownership then, would there?

    It is almost impossible to pick only five good airplanes. The planes you picked are as good as any. The Cessna 120/140 series would be on my list.

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      I’m not sure it’s all about the money. Parts are way more expensive, for sure. But good communication and a predictable schedule don’t have to be five times more. It’s a mindset as much as anything.

  20. Don R
    Don R says:

    My trusty Cessna 205 has been a great traveling plane for 35 years, but it is after all, a sort of flying SUV. Two airplanes that I really enjoyed flying were the Beach 18 and the Decathlon. The Beach for it’s remarkable sound and light handling for it’s size, and the Decathlon for the chance to explore aerobatics and fly inverted. As a bonus I was able to land them both in spite of my limited tail dragger time.

    • Mike Hanna
      Mike Hanna says:

      And, don’t forget the venerable – and old – Boeing Keydets,
      PT-13 or 17 Stearman; what a kick to check out in one of those!

  21. Joel Godston
    Joel Godston says:

    GREAT article John. However, in my opinion, being an Aeronautical Engineer, and having flown Piper Cub, T-28, T-33, B-47, F-84, F-86H, Cessna 172, owned and flew a Cessna 182 airplanes for 50+ years, the best airplane is the F-86H airplane to fly. And Chuck Yeager who was the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, was the commander of the F-100 fighter ‘outfit’ in Spain when I was in the US Air Force on SAC Alert to give us cover if we ever had to go to war during 1957-58, told me that; and is still flying, I am told. Amen, AMEN, AMEN!

  22. Tex Hull
    Tex Hull says:

    I wouldn’t replace any of the five, but I would add one of the turboprop twins to add three attributes with one airplane – brutal power, lack of vibration, and pressurization.

  23. Nate D'Anna
    Nate D'Anna says:

    A huge response as I suspected.

    At the end of the day, they are all wonderful airplanes with each meeting different pilots’ needs and preferences.

    That’s great in and of itself.

  24. Gary
    Gary says:

    You need to add #6, a helicopter. I have flown in all but the Bonanza but I believe you haven’t truly experienced the full world of flight until you have hovered and autorotated.

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      You’re preaching to the choir, Gary. I’m a diehard R44 fan (and owner). Landing in a remote area in a helicopter is the ultimate in freedom. But if we go beyond airplanes then we have to consider gliders, seaplanes, and all the other categories!

    • Mike
      Mike says:


      This old USMC XH-34 and CH-46 guy agrees. But I’ll add, it’s much more interesting when you’re autorotating because your old 1820 took a few too many .50 caliber bullets in the last 30 seconds!

  25. Richatrd Davis
    Richatrd Davis says:

    “……..you haven’t truly experienced the full world of flight until you have hovered and autorotated.” The “full world of flight” is with a hang glider…. no motor, no noise, no enclosure (cockpit), soaring like an eagle. Great article, John.

  26. Mike Watson
    Mike Watson says:

    I totally agree about every pilot should fly a Cub at least once in their life…imagine my surprise when I clicked to enlarge the J-3 photo so I could check the N number & realized it is my J-3 Cub ! This photo appears to have been taken at a private field at Sandwich, I’ll…….keep up the good work, thanks Mike

  27. Chris
    Chris says:

    Great article, John, with lots of strong opinions and engagement from the readers.

    Having flown all five, I would agree they all define important corners of the GA flying world.

    I wish I’d stumbled across this piece before independently working my way through ownership experiences in nearly every plane on your list: Cub, Cessna, V-tail, Vans. Other than the Cessnas, I haven’t been able to figure out how to live without the others either. They all offer something useful and different.

    Having recently transitioned to SETP flying, I would give bonus credit #2 to the TBMs or PC-12s: fuel-efficient, reliable, and very versatile.

    And the only plane I’d add if the list were 6 planes would be the Beaver on floats. A very fun experience.

  28. Butch Gilbert
    Butch Gilbert says:

    No Twins!?

    Cessna 310/Beech Baron! Not for the faint of heart (or pocketbook) but these personal airliners deserve honorable mention.

    BTW, I also think the 7AC Champ is better than a J-3 Cub and the Tiger/Cheetah is a way better airplane that the 172.

  29. Karrpilot
    Karrpilot says:

    I fly a 182 RG. Surprised that one didn’t make the list. With extended range tanks, it can fly long after my bladder has called it quits. I like a seat that can go up, down, back, forth, and tilt. Not many of the others on the list can do that.

  30. Andy K
    Andy K says:

    I enjoyed flying a C-210 non-turbo from the right seat. The plane cruised at 154 knots as if on rails when properly trimmed and was very predictable for me. I rent 172’s as the 210 is rather pricey and I don’t have the proper endorsement. I would like to try some low wing aircraft; all my training has been in high wing Cessna’s. I feel the same as some of the other commenters in that what ever you’re flying is ‘cool’. I also had a ball flying a C-150 and have enjoyed flying ‘right seat’ in a Siai Marchetti.

  31. John
    John says:

    Every pilot needs unusual attitude training. Not stall recovery, stalls spins and general stick and rudder skills. Also an Instrument rating makes a competent pilot. Im a better pilot because of time in Pitts, T6, and Super Decathlon. Instrument rating makes you familiar with ATC and The entire FAA system. Too many systems managers with limited actual flying skills.

  32. Jay Lange
    Jay Lange says:

    Where to begin? Well, why not the beginning of my own (redundant usage?) flight training learning in one of three Cherokee 180’s as a member of the Miami University Flying Club. Soloed, flew around the Oxford, Ohio to Richmond (Bath), Indiana “patch” wondering why anyone would like to be deprived of a decent view of other traffic when executing a turn [here’s looking at you, Clyde Cessna]. Bought some CFI time in both 150 Aerobat and 172 while on assignment in Detroit and learned four high-wing Cessna characteristics: 1) lifting the wing prior to executing a turn had me appreciating the Cherokee; 2) landing in a crosswind (with or without “crabbing”) was an adventure compared to a PA-28; 3) ground effect ? What ground effect ?; 4) those mains sure were close to one another compared to those on the Cherokee. Oh, and at 5′ 10″ with a 28″ inseam and freakishly-long torso, I Still had trouble seeing over the 172’s panel. And…C-172’s and C-150’s were not exactly benign in stalls the way the Cherokee was.
    Fast forward to Red Stewart Field in Waynesville, Ohio and taildragger time with an Instructor in both the J-3 and Champ: what is that aphorism about Piper Cubs? “It is easy to fly a Cub and difficult to fly one well.”

  33. gbigs
    gbigs says:

    You pretty much ignored the SLSA segement. The RVs SLSA is still a metal and rivets old school design and a bubble canopy which is hot and clumsy IMHO. The high wing Flight Design CTLSi is the Cessna 172 in the segment with the most sales and is more sophisticated and roomy in the cockpit than light jets and gets 4gph. It has the latest in glass Dynon panels, a parachute, fuel injection and a comuputer control like FADEC that reduces pilot controls to an electric trim and a throttle only. Other SLSAs are setup in the same way…the list is long…

  34. Clint Newell
    Clint Newell says:

    I’ve flown four of the five on the list. The exception is the RV. I currently fly a Mustang, and your additional comments about light jets are spot on. After the Mustang, I would give second place to the Bonanza. It’s such a delight to fly and has withstood the test of time.

  35. Jim
    Jim says:

    If you have ever flown one (even just some dual stick time) you will know why they say
    “There is the Pitts Special, and then there are all the rest of the airplanes”.
    If you haven’t flown one, all my explanations won’t help.
    If you have, you are nodding your head and agreeing.

  36. Chris Negele
    Chris Negele says:

    I have a couple hundred hours in J3’s and Super Cubs and loved ever minute of it you will learn what rudder peddles are there for that’s for sure. Only thing more fun to fly are hang gliders. I like to say who needs a cockpit and you get a real understanding of the air we all fly in when you are literally just in it hanging from a wing.

  37. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    On my list: (some to fly for the first time, some to fly, or fly-in again):
    Staggerwing Beech
    Baby Great Lakes
    Navion twin
    Ercoupe, just because they’re cool


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