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I am very new to this. I am just getting into my training. I have been addictied to flying and love it. Now I am going for my Pilot license. I am NOT going to buy a plane right now. I am studying them, learning what I can learn long before I buy. But, I want to search and learn about what all before I buy. I want to start with a single engine, 4 place and move up as I progress. So, I want your opinions, PLEASE. Which airplane do you believe is the most for the money. Which airplane do think is best suited for me.
1) new pilot
2) mostly 2 of us with luggage
3) We do have a home in Colorado and California and would do many flight between the two. ( across the sierras and rockies).
4) we would be flying in the winter months, snow season.
5) mostly long distance flying 900 + air miles.
6)highest priority is safety and comfort
7) do plan on taking twin training in future
So what do you think??
Thank you so much
Is money no object? I recommend getting a subscription to Flying and paying attention to the ads and reviews. Given the kind of flying you're talking about (long distances over hostile terrain), and if I had $1.2 million, I would pick something like the new Adam A500. Safety and comfort of a pressurized twin, safety of centerline thrust, etc.
Another good option would be a turboprop single.
Assuming those are out of your budget range, then perhaps you should consider a Cirrus SR-22. It's not pressurized, but it's big enough for 2, and the parachute offers an extra measure of safety in the mountains. You could also go for a Cessna 182 with the after-market parachute installed.
You could argue that a Diamond DA-40 is a better value for money, but it lacks the parachute, which I think I would want for frequent mountain trips in a piston single.
Now, bear in mind that I'm only a 110-hr private pilot who has only flown old Cessna 172s and Piper Warriors, so take anything I say with a grain of salt.
Hope this helps you start your thinking process anyway.
Cessna 182? I will look into that one.
I do subscribe to flying magazine. And this is one source of my determination.
I am hoping to obtain your and others personal opinions.
I believe what I need is something I can obtain now, then sell and upgrade with my training and experience. I beleive it is much wiser and easier to purchase based on my trainging and experience.
thank you very much for your post.
Well, I don't have multi time yet (only .2 hours in a Ford Tri-Motor as SIC when it came through the area), so I won't offer advice there.
With regard to single engine, however, most flight schools will teach on Cessna's. The old Cessna 152 was, for a very long time, the most widely used training aircraft. Now, the Cessna 172 is fulfilling that roll in many cases while also being used for regular transportation too. With this in mind, and keeping in mind your goals of safety and comfort, I'd recommend sticking with the Cessna line for various reasons;
1) High wing provides both preflight shelter for passenger boarding and downward visibility (making sightseeing much nicer as well as helping with pilotage navigation).
2) Proven safety and reliability of both powerplants and airframes.
3) Good cargo and performance in higher end models, and acceptable levels in mid-range (though the straight Skyhawk is not as able to carry a lot of cargo)
4) Familiarity with what you'll likely encounter in flight training.
5) Ease of finding maintenance personnel/parts for quicker repairs.
6) Insurance rates lower due to high safety track record.
7) Stable aircraft characteristics that lend itself towards comfort.
Now, I'm not saying that low-wing planes are bad. Indeed, I've flown, and like quite a few of those types of planes too. In some regard, they are even nicer to land for a new pilot because they can be more easily "greased" onto the runway (the low wing encounters ground effect earlier in the landing flare and tends to cushion more as a result).
Since you mentioned mountain flying, you will want something that has good climb performance and a high service ceiling so you don't run out of plane capability with cumulus granitus (mountains) in front of you.
One plane you may want to look at (but not the only one by any means) is the Cessna Turbo Skylane as one of your shopping options. It has a 20,000 foot service ceiling, and climbs fast for a single engine aircraft.
The addition of the G-1000 cockpit avionics in the brand new ones is also a plus for situational awareness, though you will want to get thorough instruction in both it, and traditional gauges as well.
Hope this helps. Keep in mind too that I'm also a relatively low-time pilot (approaching 300 hours and working on my Instrument rating currently).
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR INPUT AND OPINIONS. I DO APPRECIATE IT.
This is a touchy subject (thou shalt not tell a Beachcraft owner the advantages of a Cessna product without encurring their wrath), so I'll tread lightly. Those of you that have read my posts know that I have strong opinions...
I think the most important thing for a prospective owner to do is to find the intersection of the safety/utility/cost/"curb appeal" curves that best fit their needs. And these are flexible, involving trade-offs. For example, I think a light sport aircraft is perfectly safe, if willing to trade off some of the utility. Or, if you insist on flying the thing night IFR over large rocks (clearly in contradiction to the FAR's and common sense), you'll get greater utility but a huge trade-off in safety. So, spend more bucks and get greater safety, if you need to fly that type of mission.
As for low-wing vs. high-wing... There is no dignity in getting into a low-wing light aircraft unless you get into the cabin class types (Pilatus, King Airs, etc.). But it's a small price, usually covered by a few small bits of humor. I will argue with Ted about the better landings in a low-wing. The Cessna wing is very, very forgiving. Nothing will get an instructor's attention faster than checking out a pilot in Cherokee Six/Saratoga or a Bonanza than if they try to haul back on the yoke to salvage a high round-out. Do that in a Cessna, there's a good chance you'll get away with it, even though it's poor technique; do it in the other aircraft and there's a good chance you'll drive the gear through the wing spar (best soft-field takeoff I've ever done was when a pilot getting checked-out in a -Six flared high and I had to salvage it by dumping the nose down and ramming the throttle forward. Hardest thing I ever said was "Let's go around and try that again."). Overall, I honestly think that, in th certificated aircraft universe, the arguments between high- and low-wing pilots are pointless.
I HAVE READ YOUR POSTS. Not just here and now, but on numerous other postings. I have found you to be very informative with experience to back you.
I wish to thank you for your information. It is well received.
looking at your "specs" I'd go for a cirrus, there is something to be said for the parachute in the back if saefty is one of your main concerns. Espec. as a low time pilot. You will get the very latest in avionics as well straight from the factory which are so much easier once you get a hang of it than the old steam gauges.
I've got about 900 hours with a private pilot SEL, MEL with Instrument rating. I also worked about 4 years back in the mid 80's as an air traffic control enroute specialist at the Hampton, GA ARTCC. Some would say, and I'd have to agree, I'm in that intermediate hour range of being almost dangerous. I've got enough hours and experience to know just about enough to get me in trouble. Experience is a mixed bag of tricks. You've got to get wet before you can swim. You've got to get the experience and knowledge before you can really know what the risks are and how to manage them safely. That's what I feel flying is all about. Learning what to look for and then how to make good judgement calls for that risk management. I've owned a number of aircraft from a 1947 Aeronca AC11 Chief, a Bushby Midget Mustang, a Bellanca BL17 Super Viking and my last and just recently sold, a BE55 Beechcraft Baron. I'm waiting for some business to clear up and them I'm planning on ordereing a new Columbia 400SLX. I've flown many, many other single engined aircraft including a Pitts S2S and a warbird AT-6 Texan. You are on the west coast, or as my brother in San Diego would say the "left" coast, and wanting to fly to destinations over the Sierra-Nevada Mts. That is some pretty serious flying and pretty difficult terrain and weather for seasoned pilots in highly capable IFR equiped and ice protected single engine aircraft. Not that it can't be done and done safely, but you need to be able to understand the risks and know how to manage them and have usable alternatives that will work and you know how to use. Weather at 12,000 to 15,000 feet to get over some of those ranges is right in the middle of some of the worst icing altitudes you can imagine....no place for a novice pilot with little experience. I get concerned when I hear somebody mention a parachute as safety factor expecially for a low time pilot. I don't want to knock a chute, but in looking for an aircraft you need to look at safety issues much more than just....hey, it's got a chute, I can't get hurt. The NTSB statistics are not real good yet on the chute thing....the jury is still out. As great of an idea as the chute is...and believe me I want every flight I make to be as safe as humanly possible, it is costing the new Cirrus owners some excessive insurance dollars. It has worked in some cases very good, but it can also be said that some of the pulls have been used to attempt get someone out of trouble that they probably would not have ventured into without the "safety" of the chute thought process. The Cirrus is a great aircraft and I really enjoy the handling, performance and glass panel, but it is a fast and demanding aircraft to fly. It is easy to handle and maneuver, but at the speeds it flies you can get into trouble faster than in a Cessna 172/182, Piper Cherokee, Grumman Tiger or a Beechcraft Sundowner. As a novice pilot that hasn't even obtained his private license yet, I would recommend you join a local flight club that has several different types of non complex or lower performance aircraft that you can fly. This way you can fly several different type aircraft and get a feel for what toots your horn and in the process gain some of that experience needed to help you learn the weather, wind and decision risks and how to develope good risk management flying skills. Don't get me wrong....flying is FUN and that's one of the main reasons I love to fly...but every flight I take I know there are risks and I use all my "intermediate" flying skills and knowledge to minimize those risks to the best of my ability and then sometimes I still don't fly. I'll look at the weather and other factors and decide I need to drive this trip only to get down the road a ways and look up into a beautiful blue sky. When that happens I just smile and tell myself that at least I'll be around for the next flight. Some will say that a Cirrus or even a Columbia is not a complex aircraft. They are right, but when you step into an aircraft that cruises at 200mph, things are much different than at 130mph. When you get in altitudes above 12,000 feet things are much different than at 3,000 to 8,000 feet. If you get into a Turbo Cirrus, Columbia 400 or even a Cessna 182 Turbo, all of which are not considered complex, anything above 18,000 feet is DANGEROUS without knowledge and understanding of high altitude oxygen requirements and equipment and having back-up equipment available for immediate use. I really do recommend you be conservative in your early hours as a private pilot and enjoy the experience. Get some hours under your belt and then start working on you instrument rating and gain that valuable experience in the process. Once you have that experience and understand better what risk management issues you are comfortable with then go find your self that 1st dream machine you can call you own. You will have a better understanding of what your needs are and what your capabilities can handle. If it's a Cirrus, Cessna, Columbia, Beechraft or some other aircraft, you will be using your experience and qualifications to make that important decision. They are all great aircraft and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes what appears to be a great idea or feature isn't what you thought it was or doesn't seem as significant as you gain experience and knowledge. I hope you complete your training and enjoy flying many, many years in what ever aircraft becomes your dream machine.
An excellent post. A bit tough to get through with no paragraphs, but an excellent post.
P.S. Your 900 hours look like a lot beside my 150! Sure wish I could afford to fly more. Sigh.
I've been looking at many aircraft over the past year trying to decide
which is best for me. I've flown just about every new composite out
there. The Diamonds, Cirrus and the Columbia. I have looked at the
Bonanza G36....solid, the Money Bravo....a tight fit but fast, the
Diamond DA42 Twin Star...haven't flown this one yet, the DA40..really
fun to fly, the Cirrus SR22GTS...a nice roomy comfortable and fast
aircraft, and the Columbia 350 and 400.
I finally decided on the Columbia 400. The aircraft is designed with
incredible strength and safety throughout. Lots of aileron and rudder
authority and is a dream to fly. Higher wing loading that gives a much
better and smoother flight in turbulence and clouds.....similar in feel
to my old Baron. I like the side stick controller in it much better
than in the Cirrus. The Cirrus seems to lack a feel that I liked in
the Baron. With it's spring loaded side controller..basically a yoke
placed to the side of the panel...there is less aircraft-airflow feel
that I liked in the Baron and other aircraft I have flown. I like the
Cirrus a lot, but the Columbia is amazingly well harmonized and the fit
and finish inside and out is more like a BMW than a Chevy Impala. I
don't want to knock the Cirrus, because it really is a great aircraft
and if they charged an extra $100 grand then maybe their fit and finish
would be equal to or even exceed that of Columbia, but the Columbia is
a pilots airplane extrordinaire.
I'm just glad the GA manufacturers are all doing well so they can
provide aircraft that each of us can pick and choose between to find
our own special flying carpet. Thanks again for your compliment....I
tried to use paragraphs this time to make the post less imposing. ;-)
I'm not know as a man of few words, just ask my lovely wife.
I've got a comercial project I'm working on right now and as soon as
the loans go through and the buildings are up and generating
income.....look out blue skies....here I come. It is tough knowing I
don't have an aircraft at my disposal right now....but the reward later
will be worth the wait
BTW, I joined the Lancair Owners and Pilots Assn to gain knowledge
about their likes/dislikes and to get a better feel for the Columbia
and it's flying parameters and have been greatly educated by the pilots
that post on that site. Anytime there is an owners association for a
particular aircraft you'd consider purchasing....I think it would be
highly helpful to join their assn and read the posts by their members
and ask them questions. Enough lecture......go flying!
Jim, the advice you have received is right on -- AFTER you are proficient and capable of handling the "chores" you have described as desirable.
I have bored many a hole through the skies you describe. Based in Wichita, projects in Denver, condo in Purgatory, second home Flagstaff and love of California, north and south. 4000 hours military and private. 50/50 single and multi. Single, multi, land, instrument, Lear 23. No longer active :-(
For laughs I would highly recommend you think of the handsome editors of Flying and continue using airlines. Several friends who had more money than flying ability are planted in various parts of the Rockies and the Sierras. Winter weather is not good either place. Mountain flying in itself is a major learning curve.
If you have the financial capability to carry out the "dream of every wannabe pilot" please consider starting at the very bottom and take your time. Regardless of make, begin with a very simple machine that is totally dependent on pilot input for control giving substantial feedback with slow reaction.
For instruction, almost any FBO has competent instructors to take you through this and beginning ground school. Save the red hot fighter pilot thinking for when you can handle it. Your dependents will greatly appreciate it.
One last thought from this old and formerly bold pilot. These new singles with descent control apparatus (read parachute) may be OK ... BUT, for me, I want back up, always. In war, someone to cover my six (butt); in the air, at night in weather (and yep, you will get there whether you intend to or not), I want AT LEAST 2 screws working. Marvelous engines now and great aircraft, but I haven't seen any one saying 100% yet. Been there, done that- dirty underwear!
So to sum up, Jim, have fun, learn slow and well; the greatest experiences this world can offer are yet ahead of you. Enjoy!! I'm dying of envy.
Ed in Pensacola (again)
What a great, well written post!
Comparing a C172 and a DA40 the DA40 has drastically lower insurance (most likely because of its safety record of no more than 4 accidents in 10 years, according to the NTSB website), excellent glide performance, sturdy airframe (if you go down in those mountains it's much more likely you'll survive than in a competitors airplane, there's a accident in a DA20 with wake turbulence and it should have killed them but they survived), excellent economy, 1,100 fpm climb rate, and a ton of other stuff (minus the nearly $500k with full options) make it a superb airplane.
I know this is 5 years after your post and all the experience I have is 220 hrs. SIMULATED and 3 years of 8 hours a day all days of the year research but for your route with decent speed that's what I would recommend (my history in my web browsers is like over 5,000 pages of aviation stuff).
For your first airplane I would recommend the Cessna 150/152 because of price.
In an article on Plane&Pilot about buying planes the author was recommending using the 90% rule, that you buy a plane that suits you 90% of the time and rent the other 10%, so that's another thing to consider—how much would you really be flying that route? Would it make more sense to just rent a Baron or something (twin for redundancy—when your comfortable and certified)—doesn't have to be a twin until your ready.
All in all just look very closely at every source of information you can and make a good decision based on your experience level and what you feel comfortable with (not to mention something that fits your pocket book well—instead of 1 flight and your broke).
Take extra care to avoid activities that might detract from flying.
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