Ever since the Wright brothers proved that it is possible to fly in a machine that was heavier than air, flying has been the imagination of both boys and girls and plenty of adults. But unlike cars, personal airplanes behave as differently as they look, airplanes are not created equal and this can be especially true for trainers. Your trainer can make or break you as a student pilot. If you get into one that is too complex and not forgiving enough, you may be inclined to give up on flying altogether, because it will give you the impression that flying is too dangerous.
However, a more forgiving easier to fly airplane can give you the confidence you need to achieve your aviation dreams. So, what are the easiest and most forgiving personal airplanes to fly?
Cessna 152 was introduced in 1958, the 152 has trained pilots for decades, and years after its production has ceased, it continues to be a popular choice for pilots looking for an unchallenging vehicle. This model is considered by many to be today’s Piper Cub. Its simple cockpit layout and high wing position provide many advantages. Not only does it give the pilot a great view below, but it also facilitates a gravity-fed fuel system which reduces the pilot’s workload even further.
As a 2-seater, the cockpit is rather cramped, but the main drawback of the Cessna 152 is the sensitive weight and balance. If your passenger bends down to reach something from the footwell, you may well find yourself entering a gentle descent. The 152 uses the 110 hp Lycoming 0235 engine, which helps it to cruise at 100 mph, with a range of 480 miles. Currently, you can get the Cessna 152 for less than $30,000.
Piper Pa28 was introduced in 1961, the PA28 series includes famous names such as Warrior, Cherokee, Arrow and Archer. The main difference between the models are cabin configuration and engines, ranging from 140 to 300 horsepowers, but they all share the same reputation as a reliable training airplane.
This airplane is famously known for forgiving errors, both on the ground and in the air. The PA28 is much less twitchy in the air than other training aircraft. With less sensitive controls, it’s much easier for the pilot to maintain an altitude without the need for constant elevator trimming. But the PA28’s landing performance is what makes this plane among the easiest to fly.
It is less prone to ballooning than its competitors, the Piper PA28 is so stable that it will practically land itself. This private airplane uses the 150 hp Lycoming IO-320 engine, which helps it to cruise at 120 mph, with a range of 535 miles. The price for the Piper PA28 vary depending on the model you are buying.
Pipistrel Panthera was introduced in 2013, the Panthera is designed with the most modern design and construction techniques, this is a multi-purpose personal airplane, a speed machine, a perfect personal airplane. Features of this plane include an airframe ballistic parachute designed for use at high speed and low altitudes, and a glass cockpit, in addition to that, this airplane has forgiving flight characteristics.
The Pipistrel Panthera has an all-composite airframe, made from carbon fibre, glass fibre and Kevlar, and its sports trailing-link retractable landing gear made of titanium and aluminium alloys will be of benefit for operations from grass runways. The composite material used for the exterior of the aircraft were selected in part based on their ability to withstand lightning strikes, which merit increased consideration when employing composite materials instead of the traditional aluminium airframes.
The poor forward visibility, high-performance engine and retractable gear do not make this an entry-level plane, so it is not as forgiving as Cessna 152 or the PA28 listed prior, the Panthera is not a trainer, it is a speed machine and a complex airplane, and it is as safe and as forgiving as Cessna 152 when piloted correctly, I know you might want to say “No, No, every airplane is okay when piloted correctly”, the truth is, in comparison with the Lancairs, the Panthera is much more forgiving as a speed machine it is. The engine it uses is the 260 hp Lycoming IO-540, which helps it to cruise at 230 mph, with a range of 1000 miles. Buying this plane brand new will cost you about $600,000.
J-3 Piper Cub
J-3 Piper Cub was introduced in 1938, with its simple, lightweight design, which gives it good low-speed handling properties and short-field performance, the Piper Cub is one of the earlier aircraft designed primarily for training purposes. The low-speed handling is a good thing but it makes Piper Cub much more challenging to fly than other trainers, also the low power makes it require more accurate piloting and the biggest challenge is take-off and landing as taildraggers are laterally more difficult in those phases.
The plane is so simple and has such gentle handling characteristics that pilots get to experience aviation in its purest form, without the added distractions that come with excess avionics. The taildragger design of the piper cub, however, can present challenges for those used to flying on tricycle gear. Such a design considerably limits the pilot’s view of the area straight ahead, especially during landing, so pilots must conduct a series of s-turns whilst taxiing to ensure there is no traffic ahead.
The J3 is a great personal airplane, if practice and master the takeoff and landing difficulty associated with tail wheels, this airplane is a breeze. The J3 Piper cub uses the 65hp continental A65 engine, which helps it to cruise at 75mph, climb at 450 ft/min with a range of 200 miles. Currently, you can get this aircraft for less than $30,000.
Cessna 172 Skyhawk
Cessna 172 Skyhawk Introduced in 1956, although this airplane was originally designed as a personal airplane, it has rapidly gained popularity over the years as a great trainer, because of its forgiving flight characteristics, great visibility,
slow landing speed, and forgiving stall.
The 172 is essentially a heavier, 4-seater version of the hugely successful 152. Although production began in 1956, recent additions such as the Garmin G1000 have kept this plane user-friendly, capable and relevant over the years.
According to many pilots, the 172 is faster and more stable than its predecessor, making it more suited to cross-country flying.
Due to its stable design, if its position in the air is disturbed by turbulence or an accidental touch of the controls, it has a strong tendency to return to its original position without any input from the pilot. Such a large margin for error is what makes this plane so popular, but its benefit as a trainer also comes from its stall characteristics.
The 172 has a much more pronounced stall than other planes on this list, so the student can actually feel it and react accordingly. The Cessna 172 uses the Lycoming IO 360 engine, which helps it to cruise at 140 mph, and a range
of 800 miles. The cost to purchase a brand-new Cessna 172 is about $350,000, but you can get one of the early models for less than $30,000.
Diamond DA42 Introduced in 2002 by Diamond aircraft of Austria, the DA 42 is Diamond’s first twin-engine design, as well as the first new European twin-engine aircraft in its category to be developed in over 25 years in 2004, the DA42
became the first diesel-powered fixed-wing aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
While the low operating costs make it an ideal advanced trainer, the Diamond DA42 is easy to fly and burns fuel like a single, also one of the safest four place airplanes in the market today, safer than the cirrus, even with their parachute. For those of us who don’t want to spend what it takes to fly a turboprop, the Diamond DA42-VI is the perfect personal airplane, I’m in no way saying it performs anything exactly like a turboprop, so don’t bury me in the comment section, also, the Diamond DA42 is a complex airplane, not your normal trainer.
The Diamond Star uses two 168 hp Austro E4 turbocharged diesel engines, which helps it to cruise at 203mph, with a range of 1400 miles. The price for a brand new da-42 is about $650,000, though you can get a used model, less than
Bristel B23 Introduced in 2010, while the airplane looks very similar to the classic aero Bristell, the fuselage is longer and the tail is larger, with an aluminum rudder; the flaps and stabilizer are bigger and better; the composite main landing gear legs have been redesigned completely to be able to carry much higher loads than previous Bristell models, and the aircraft’s handling characteristics are much improved. In addition, the B23 comes standard with the BRS ballistic parachute rescue system.
This aircraft is a popular modern trainer used by flight schools. Its lovely glass cockpit, which ensures excellent visibility, and the use of a Rotax engine makes it highly economical.
This airplane uses the 100hp Rotax 912 engine, which helps it to cruise at 130 mph, climb at 700 ft per minute, with a range of 800 miles. With $230,000, you can get this airplane brand new.
Diamond DA40 Diamond Star Based on the success of the earlier Diamond DA20 two-seat aircraft, out of all the airplanes on this list, the DA40 Star is one of the most fun to fly. With excellent visibility from its bubble canopy, the Da40 is a favorite among the general aviation world.
This airplane is light and easy to control. Since it is essentially a powered glider, if the engine did fail, its rate of descent
would be lower than the SR22 with its parachute deployed. Because of this, DA40’s safety record far surpasses Cirrus and statistically has only 1 fatal accident per 1000 airplane years.
The plane is very difficult to stall and easy to recover even if it does stall. Landing the diamond Star isn’t particularly difficult, but there is a knack to it. The renowned visibility actually becomes a hindrance in this respect and the unusual
‘over the nose’ picture can cause many pilots to commence the landing flare too high. It also has a tendency to be floaty if the flare is commenced above 65 knots; slower is better for this particular steed.
The DA40 uses either a 180hp Lycoming IO360 Engine or a 168hp Austro diesel engine to cruise at 170mph with about 800 miles range. Whether you are a new aviator looking for the perfect first personal airplane or an experienced IFR pilot with discerning tastes, the DA40 is the smart choice. The price for a brand diamond DA40 runs about $500,000, but you can get a used model for less than $100,000.
Cirrus SR22 In terms of safety, the Cirrus SR22 is in a class of its own. Boasting unique features such as airbag seatbelts and an inbuilt parachute, this plane really stands out from the crowd.
Introduced in 2001, the cirrus SR22 is one of the newest planes on this list. As a result, it has many modern instruments fitted as standard and appeals to a much more tech-savvy generation of pilots. The design of this aircraft is simple, which makes it a little less daunting for beginners.
The SR22 also incorporates flight envelope protection which prevents the pilot from putting the aircraft into an undesirable aircraft state, such as a stall or spin, that’s why I included it in this list.
This personal airplane is very stable in flight, due to its large wings, which gives it excellent landing characteristics and allows the pilot to really finesse their landing technique. The cirrus SR22 uses the 310hp Continental IO 550 engine, which helps it to cruise at 211 mph, with a range of 1200 miles. The price for a brand-new Cirrus SR22 is about $850,000.
Cessna 182 Skylane
Cessna 182 Skylane was introduced in 1956, although some pilots feel the Skylane is the world’s best all-around
four-seat single. It’s not hard to understand that sentiment.
The 182 offers typical Cessna simplicity, reasonable climb and cruise, good useful load, and parts availability practically through your local maintenance shops.
Skylanes use either a normally aspirated or turbocharged, 235hp Lycoming IO-540 engine, the climb is better than 900 feet per minute in both models, and cruise speed runs 165mph over 1000miles range, with 1000pounds useful load.
Perhaps best of all, though, Skylanes of all ages and descriptions have earned the almost universal respect of pilots, because they’re forgiving machines, willing to ignore all but the most major indiscretions, and still bring you home safely, just like Cessna 172 Skyhawk younger brother.
With $500,000, you can get this personal airplane brand new, or less than $100,000 for a used model.