Whether you’re just getting started flying or are an old hand with small aircraft (but don’t own a plane), you should know that not all personal aircrafts are alike.
While the top names in personal planes all have stellar reputations, the differences between them – including different models under one manufacturer – mean you may prefer one over another.
In a rental situation, choosing one type of personal plane is less urgent. After all, you aren’t buying and storing a plane in a hangar.
(However, whether you’re renting or storing, you’ll want to choose a highly rated locale such as the well-known public-use Cable Airport in Upland, California, or similar airports.)
However, even if you’re in the learning stages of flying or simply want a fun afternoon in the skies, selecting the best aircraft can make your flight smoother.
Here are some of the most-loved personal planes according to those who rent or own.
Remember: This list is not exhaustive. Ask your flight instructor or the airport what planes they have for rent.
Also ask about specs for each craft so you know you’re flying the right aircraft for your needs.
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Originally called the Cessna Aircraft Company, this Wichita, KS-based operation is one of the highest-volume aircraft producers in the world. A few popular choices by this manufacturer are:
Cessna 172 Skyhawk
This great model is the number one training airplane worldwide. It is easy to maneuver, making it ideal for students and experienced pilots alike.
Cessna 182 Skylane
Known as the “Cessna Classic,” this craft looks similar to the 172 Skyhawk but offers better carrying capacity. Those who prefer the 182 Skylane say it’s also better on performance. It loads four full-size adults plus luggage.
Cessna 206 Turbo Stationair HD
This popular powerhouse seats six adults. It hauls more than 1,440 pounds, making it a real workhorse while retaining the benefits of being a small, maneuverable plane.
Piper Aircraft has been a flying fan favorite since 1927. It is considered one of the Big Three personal plane manufacturers, along with Beechcraft and Cessna.
Piper Archer LX
The Archer LX is a modern take on the classic cabin aircraft. It is easy to fly and is very stable. The craft seats four.
Originally called Beech Aircraft Corporation, Beechcraft makes both civil and military planes. Owners or flyers of Beechcraft planes say they like the reliability of the craft.
Beechcraft G36 Bonanza
This classic was designed in 1947 and is highly sought-after today. More than 17,000 units have been produced to date. It seats a pilot plus six passengers.
Cirrus Aircraft (aka Cirrus Design) offers three certified craft that are highly sought-after by students and plane owners alike. The company was founded in 1984.
Fast and powerful, the SR22T also has a sleek look pilots love. It seats one pilot and four passengers.
This piston-engined model seats four or five adults. It includes tech-forward avionics that make it a pleasure to fly, as well as safer, according to those who have flown it.
A whole-plane emergency parachute design gets the thumbs-up from students or hobbyists who like safety. It seats four or five adults.
Diamond Aircraft Industries offers a full line of aircraft. It caters to all pilots, from the student stage to hobbyists and from leisure to business needs.
Diamond Aircraft DA62
Calling it the “ultimate flying machine,” Diamond says this craft combines luxury with efficiency. The craft includes the safety feature of a second engine.
Texas Aircraft Manufacturing
Texas Aircraft Manufacturing was established in 2002. According to the company, its Colt is a newer design that receives rave reviews from pilots.
Texas Aircraft Colt
The Colt’s design is light and sporty. It seats two and includes modern avionics and safety features, including a parachute.
Choose an Airport That Suits Your Needs
The right airport can be as important as the type of plane you decide to fly. This is particularly new if you are in the student stage of flying.
Look for an airport that:
- Has a long history. You’ll be more confident flying out of a public airport that has built a reputation.
- Has reviews. 50+ reviews should be your sweet spot in getting a good cross-section of what people think of the locale. Check Yelp and other review sources.
- Offers a personal touch. You should feel comfortable with your flight instructor and with the locale.
- Is clear on rules and regulations. When it comes to flying, rules are important. You want to know you’re safe leaving and landing.
- Offers flight instruction on-premises. If you’re learning, it’s best to have a one-stop airport that knows and understands students and their needs.
Your best flying experience starts with a great personal craft and a superior instructor. Ask about the following models or other models in the manufacturers’ categories — and have the flight of your life.