Top 15 articles of all time at Air Facts

New to Air Facts? This list of popular articles is a great place to get started. Enjoy!

15. Retractable singles: the good, the fad and the ugly. Some of the most iconic general aviation airplanes were single engine retractables, and Richard Collins explores the rich history in this fascinating article. From successes (Bonanza) to failures (Beech Sierra), hear his first hand opinion of some famous designs. Read more

14. The $20 an hour Cessna 172 experiment. Advances in aircraft engine technology have not kept pace with advances in avionics or even airframe construction. That didn’t deter Jay O’Donnell from trying his own experiment: mounting a marine V8 engine to his Cessna 172. He describes the process in this article. Read more

13. First and last solo. The first solo is exciting for a student pilot, but it’s also a nervous time for the flight instructor. The big day almost always goes smoothly, but as Robert Burke shares, sometimes things go wrong. Are some people simply not meant to be a pilot? Read more

12. Seven instrument approaches you have to see to believe. Ever flown an instrument approach and said, “that was crazy!?” These seven approach plates show just how odd an instrument procedure can get, from Aspen to Alaska. Read more

11. If only… The friends I’ve lost in airplane accidents. In this sobering article, Mark Jarratt reflects on the death of a friend in an airplane crash and urges pilots to fly conservatively. If nothing else, he says, consider the non-pilots involved: “Take your solemn responsibility for your passengers seriously.”  Read more

10. Why the Starship was such a disaster. The Beech Starship was supposed to be a revolutionary aircraft, leapfrogging the boring King Air to introduce a new kind of turbine airplane. But then things went terribly wrong, and the Starship became a synonym for overambitious airplane development programs. Mac McClellan, who lived through the saga, explains why it failed. Read more

9. When pilots have too much experience. The average age of general aviation pilots keeps creeping up. Mac McClellan wonders, “when do the number of years logged since birth matter more than the number of hours in the logbook?” This article shares his answer to that question, which is very personal for him now that he’s past his 70th birthday. Read more

8. What’s wrong with single engine turboprop pilots? The first of many entries on this list from Richard Collins’s popular series on the safety record of airplane types, this article explores the accident record for TBMs and Meridians. Yes, they are safer, but is it the airplane or the pilot? Read more

7. Elevator failure at 4500 feet in a Cessna 150. An engine failure is every pilot’s worst nightmare, but this story shows that a flight control problem might be even worse. Rich Wyeroski describes the incident, how he reacted, and what he learned from the experience. Read more

6. What’s wrong with Cessna 172 pilots? The Cessna 172 is the most popular general aviation aircraft ever made, so it’s not surprising that this article is one of the most popular on Air Facts. Richard Collins shows that, while the trusty 172 is a remarkably safe airplane, pilots still need to treat it with respect. Read more

5. What was wrong with V-tail Bonanza pilots? Much like the Cirrus, the V-tail Bonanza was a trend-setting airplane with a poor safety record. Once again, the debate came down to airplane vs. pilot. Richard Collins logged plenty of hours in V-tail Bonanzas, and shares his perspective. Read more

4. What’s wrong with Robinson R44 pilots? Robinson has revolutionized the helicopter industry with its affordable R22 and R44 models, but the accident record has been less impressive. John Zimmerman, an R44 owner, dives into the numbers in this article. Is the blame with the pilots or the aircraft? Read more

3. Five airplanes every pilot should fly. Checking out in different airplanes is a lot of fun, but which airplanes are really on the must-fly list? This article takes a shot at answering that impossible question: “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.” Read more

2. Can Boeing trust pilots? The 737 MAX debacle will cast a long shadow over aircraft testing and certification. In this thought-provoking article, Mac McClellan examines what exactly went wrong with the two fatal accidents and considers what it means for pilots and flight training. Read more

1. Why I love it, why I hate it: Cessna 210. The top of the single engine line during Cessna’s glory days in the 1970s and early 1980s, the Centurion offers speed, range, and load-hauling ability. But there are some warts with this high performance airplane. John Zimmerman examines the pros and cons of a unique airplane. Read more