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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.