Learn to Fly: Piston Aircraft

Learning to fly a single-engine piston-powered airplane starts your journey.

small planes flying in formation above the clouds
You can learn to fly in a wide range of airplanes—but you’re more likely to fly one of several popular models.Istock/Goodard_Photography

Learning to fly a single-engine piston-powered airplane starts your journey in aviation in a place from which you can take any next step that you wish—or lead you to a lifetime of flying satisfaction on its own.

Your basic licensing path takes you to the private pilot certificate, and most people complete this training in a single-engine piston airplane for reasons of cost, simplicity, and availability.

You're most likely to be introduced to one of several popular models of single-engine airplane—though a wide variety exist in the United States. Common training aircraft include the Cessna 152 or 172, the Piper PA-28 models (Warrior, Archer, Arrow) and the 100/100i, the Diamond DA-20 or DA-40, or perhaps, if you're training in Europe, the Socata TB-10 or TB-20, or the Tecnam P2010.

You may also get the opportunity to fly other types of single-engine airplanes, including tailwheel or conventional-gear airplanes such as the Piper J-3 Cub, Aeronca Champ, Citabria Decathlon, or Luscombe 8 series.