For most pilots just starting out, the single engine piston airplane is the configuration that is most frequently encountered. These aircraft offer good cruising speed, economical operation, and are typically more affordable than many other types of aircraft for the beginning pilot. For those with years of flying experience, single engine piston aircraft are a fun and involving way to fly. Jets and turbofans are great, but nothing beats the elemental flying experience of a single engine piston plane.
Several Manufacturers Offer Single Engine Piston Planes - but Cessna, Mooney, and Piper Lead the Way
If you were to ask one hundred people to name a company that builds light aircraft, odds are that the majority would be able to identify Cessna. Even those that don't fly know the Cessna name, and with a legacy dating back to Kansas during the 1920's, Cessna has been a household name for generations. They are wildly popular machines - in fact, more Cessna 172s have been built than any other aircraft in the world. The popularity of this single engine airplane stems from the fact that it somehow combines terrific flying dynamics with a stable design, economical operation, and a reasonable starting price. These airplanes have been in production for decades, so buyers can choose to purchase an older model to save money, or opt for a newer model year to take advantage of the lower hours these machines typically have. Electronics and avionics packages vary - so it makes sense to take a close look at the specific model of 172 you find.
Mooney aircraft are distinctive. Some single engine piston planes offer a lot of performance, but look just like the competition. Mooney planes do not. The M20 is a low-wing, tricycle gear aircraft that possesses a unique tail plane with a near vertical leading edge. The leading edge appears to cant forward, but it is in fact vertical. These planes offer a lot of performance for the money and have been in production for decades. This allows the M20 buyer to find a wide assortment of price points and model years to choose from.
Piper airplanes are legendary for their durability. The Piper PA-28 Cherokee has been in production since 1960, with over 32, 000 units produced at last count. The Cherokee sees use as a personal airplane, as air taxis, and as flight trainers. One of the greatest characteristics of the Cherokee is the fact that Piper has offered so many unique variants. Four or stretched six seat models are available. Engine choices run from 140 hp to up to 300 turbocharged horsepower. Avionics packages are plentiful, and a variety of optional equipment is available as factory add-ons or through the aftermarket.