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The Top 5 Training Aircraft

Many student pilots know very little about airplanes when they begin their training. My flight school offered an array of aircraft to rent. I took my instructor's advice on which aircraft to fly for my private pilot license. Throughout my training, I have compiled a list of the best aircraft to use during primary training. Whether you are in the market to buy an aircraft or need more insight on which airplane to rent, this list will help with your decision.
 
Pictured above is a Cessna 172. Photo courtesy of GlobalAir.com.
1. Cessna 172
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk tops the charts as the best training aircraft. This high-wing aircraft was first manufactured in 1956 and remains in production today. To date, Cessna has produced over 43,000 Skyhawks. Maintenance expenses are relatively cheap because parts and qualified A&P mechanics are widely available. The 172 flies smoothly and is easy to learn in. 
 
 
 
Pictured above is a photo of a PA-28. Photo courtesy of GlobalAir.com
2. Piper PA-28
Over the years, Piper has manufactured 26 variants of the PA-28 Cherokee. The variant that comes out on top is the Archer. When compared to other Piper training aircraft, the Archer has a higher useful load and cruising speed. The fixed pitch propeller and landing gear makes the Archer a perfect option for a new student. The Archer is a stable aircraft and has proven its reliability time and time again.
 
 
 I am pictured above after passing my private pilot checkride in a Cessna 150.
3. Cessna 150/152
The Cessna 152 is a 110 horsepower aircraft that succeeded the 150. When compared to the Cessna 172, the 150/152 has a slower cruising speed, shorter range, but is more fuel efficient. This aircraft is a great option for pilots on a budget. Since the aircraft only seats two, the airplane is lighter than most training aircraft which allows the 150/152 to consume less fuel. The instrument panel on the 150/152 is smaller than other trainers which makes it easier for the pilot to monitor the instruments. 
 
 
Pictured above is a DA-40. Photo courtesy of GlobalAir.com.
4. Diamond DA-40
In recent years, the Diamond DA-40 has grown in popularity. The DA-40 is a low-wing aircraft that seats four. The composite airframe makes the DA-40 lightweight, great at gliding, and fuel efficient. There are several aircraft variants. The DA-40-F is ideal for primary flight training. This model has a fixed-pitch propeller which is easier to train on for low-time pilots. Diamond also produces a constant-speed propeller and a diesel/jet fuel variant. Most DA-40s come equipped with a G1000 glass cockpit, although the classic six pack is an option.
 
 
Pictured above is a Citabria. Photo courtesy of Armchair Flying.
5. American Champion Citabria
The Citabria is the only tailwheel aircraft included in this list. The vast majority of pilots receive their licenses in tricycle gear airplanes. The reasoning for this is because tricycle gears are easier to taxi, takeoff, and land. This contributes to their wide abundance. However, training in a tailwheel aircraft can create a more skilled and well-rounded pilot. Those who train in a Citabria are much more proficient with crosswind takeoffs and landings. This is due to the critical nature of proper crosswind technique to avoid ground loops. In addition, the Citabria opens the door to aerobatic flight which also improves piloting skill. I would highly recommend training in a tailwheel aircraft. The skill gained from learning to fly a tailwheel is unmatched.

Understanding The “In Furtherance Of A Business” Limitation On Sport Pilot Privileges

An airman holding a sport pilot certificate recently asked me if the airman could fly to a location where the airman anticipated having a business meeting.  However, the airman indicated that he wasn’t necessarily flying to the location because he had to, but he wanted to in order to build time.
Unfortunately, based upon those facts it is likely the FAA would interpret the flight as being in furtherance of the airman’s business.  As a result, the airman would not legally be able to conduct the flight holding only a sport pilot certificate.  Here’s why.
Under 14 C.F.R. §61.315(c)(3) an airman holding a sport pilot certificate may not act as pilot-in-command of a light-sport aircraft “in furtherance of a business.”  The regulation does not explain what it means to fly “in furtherance of a business.”  However, the FAA Office of Chief Counsel has issued several letters of interpretation that provide some clarification.
In the 2011 Gilbert Legal Interpretation, the FAA stated that flight incidental to the airman’s employment or the business the airman intends to conduct, even if the flight is not required by the airman’s business, would be considered “in furtherance of a business.”  As a result, a sport pilot would be prohibited from conducting this type of flight.
The FAA explained further in the 2012 Allen-Terrafugia Legal Interpretation that “[a] flight would therefore be considered to be in furtherance of a business if it were conducted for a business purpose, even if the flight is only incidental to that business purpose.”  The FAA also noted that the sport pilot limitation is more restrictive than the “incidental to business” exception to private pilot limitations under 14 C.F.R. §61.113(b).
So, if you are an airman exercising the privileges of a sport pilot certificate, you are only authorized to conduct sport and recreational flights.  A flight in connection with a business purpose is prohibited under the regulations.

Understanding Thunderstorms & How to Fly Around Them

There's no doubt about it, thunderstorms are a big threat to aviators. Next to hurricanes and tornadoes, they can seem as if they're the lesser issue to worry about of these. Pictured below is a photo of one of the planes out of KLCH after Hurricane Laura hit last month. Flying into or near a thunderstorm can actually be just as devastating. 

-A side note, Lake Charles has faced a lot of devastation in the aftermath of the storm. Not pictured was a PC 12 that was upside down and absolutely destroyed. Almost all of the hangars were taken out and the airport had a lot of wreckage left behind. If there is any way you can help the locals there by donating supplies or evening bringing hot meals it is much appreciated. We flew supplies over as a relief effort and some lost everything, even now people there are looking at weeks without power.

However, we face thunderstorms more commonly than other types of dangerous weather phenomena, so let's talk about them.