Master Banner 950x100 2012
Button Left 01 Button Right 01
Airplane Title Cirrus
Cirrus SR22

Cirrus SR22 (South Carolina 2011)
Manufactured since 2000.
Today, this is the small plane to own, if you can afford one. Composite construction, digital avionics, airframe parachute, anti-icing system, laminar wing design, side yoke and all electric (no vacuum) are all Cirrus innovations. Cruises at 180+ kts, Max weight 3,400 lb, Wingspan 38 feet. Power: 6 cylinder Continental, 550 ci, 310 HP piston engine. Low wing, streamlined and high wing loading means keep speed up landing. Fixed pitch prop but plenty of power. All digital panel was a big learning curve for me. Where to look for basic info like airspeed, angle of bank and VSI? My friend Gere let me try steep turns and stalls. Of course I could land it, but not until a calm day when Gere's willing to take a chance with his half million dollar toy.

Airplane Title Small
Airplane Title Cessna 172
Airplane Title Cessna 182
Airplane Title Lake
Airplane Title Sundowner
Airplane Title Hughes
C-172 02

Cessna 172 Skyhawk (Jacksonville in 1974-5; Houston in 1976-03)
Manufactured from 1956 – today.
Four seats. The most successful light aircraft in history - more than 43,000 built. Cruise speed: 122 kts, Max weight 2,450 lb, Wingspan 36 feet. Power: 4 cylinder Lycoming, 360 ci, 160 HP piston engine. High wing, good visibility, easy to fly. Every private pilot knows how to fly a 172.

Cessna 182 Skylane (Jacksonville, FL in 1974-5, Houston 82-85)
Manufactured from 1956 – today.
Four seats. The second most successful light aircraft in history – more than 22,000 built. Similar to 172, more powerful engine, constant speed prop, greater load capacity. Cruise speed: 145 kts, Max weight 3,100 lb, Wingspan 36 feet. Power: 4 cylinder Lycoming, 540 ci, 230 HP piston engine.

Lake Amphibian

Lake LA-4 Buccaneer (Jacksonville, FL in 1985)
Manufactured from 1960 – 69.
Amphibian – this airplane will land (and take off) from land or water. Four seats, retractable landing gear. Cruise speed: 110 kts, Max weight 2,400 lb, Wingspan 38 feet. Power: 4 cylinder Lycoming, 360 ci, 180 HP piston engine. Only went up once and never did anything but ‘hold the controls’ for my friend Chip. From where I sat looked easy to fly and land, tricky to take-off.

Piper Lance 02
Beech C-23 02

Beechcraft C-23 Sundowner (Houston in 1979-80)
Manufactured from 1961 – 1983.
Four seats. Designed to compete with Cessna 172 and Piper Cherokee. Cruise speed: 102 kts, Max weight 2,400 lb, Wingspan 33 feet. Power: 4 cylinder Lycoming, 360 ci, 180 HP piston engine. Low wing, easy to fly. As a bonus, it can do limited aerobatics – loops, aileron rolls, etc.

C-210 01
Hughes TH-55
Hughes TH-55 Cockpit
Hughes TH-55 diagram

Hughes TH-55 Osage (Ft Wolters, Mineral Wells, TX in 1970)
Manufactured from 1969 – 88.
Army’s primary trainer, and the longest serving until replaced by the UH-1 Huey. Two crew. Max speed:78 knots, max weight 1,550 lbs. Rotor diameter: 25 feet. Power: 4 cylinder Lycoming, 360 ci, 180 HP piston engine (also used in Lake LA-4) Every single Vietnam Army pilot started his training in this helicopter.
I only got to ‘fly’ this aircraft for 20-30 minutes with my army buddy. Hovering was easy – until within 50’ of the ground. With any crosswind – impossible to stay in the same spot – just do a quick 360 and try again. Even straight ahead flight was a challenge and no extra hands to do anything with – such as change the radio freq or scratch your ass. No wonder choppers always have co-pilots.

Piper PA-28 Cockpit
C-182 02

A significant correction to the above:         (March 2012)
... About the Cirrus... it does have a controllable pitch prop - but it is automatic.  As you advance the throttle, the pitch adjusts so you are at full climb rpm and prop setting for takeoff..... then as you retard the throttle at cruise, the prop pitch increases to accommodate lower rpm and provide cruise efficiency. It is the first automatic adjustable prop system. I thought I would not like it because like most pilots, I like to tinker with stuff and make what I think is most efficient adjustments.  Can't do that with this system, but I find that it works great!.... and my tinkering is not needed.

(Thanks Gere!)

Gere getting out Small
Airplane Title Cherokee

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee (Beeville, TX in 1970)
Manufactured from 1964 until today.
Four seats. Low wing competitor to the Cessna 172. Cruise speed: 108 kts, Max weight 2,150 lb, Wingspan 30 feet. Power: 4 cylinder Lycoming, 360 ci, 180 HP piston engine. Low wing makes it easy to land (ground effect), but bad for aerial photography. There are four seats but you will not be able to get it in the air with more than three occupied! Baggage in back – not with three on board.

Airplane Title Maule

Maule Air MX (Houston in 1976)
This is a macho airplane.
Still manufactured today. A high wing, tail dragger made for operating from primitive airstrips, carrying big loads (STOL). With huge tires, 48 degree flaps and a 250 hp engine, this airplane could get in and out of most anywhere. Take off roll can be less than 200’ when lightly configured. Only flew it once, could not figure out how to land it at its design speed – 40 mph. First of all, lower full flaps and so much drag you need full power just to stay level, and forget about seeing anything in front of the nose. Crab it in (cross-wind or not) so you can see the runway, keep your hand on the throttle, don’t get low, use the rudders for line-up and for god’s sake don’t let the tail wheel touch first! If done correctly, you can turn off at the hold short taxiway, and I’m not kidding.

Airplane Title Cessna 210

Cessna 210 Centurion (Jacksonville in 1974)
Manufactured from 1961 – 85.
Six seats. ‘Top of the line’ single engine aircraft for Cessna. Ugly but fast. High wing, no struts. Retractable landing gear. Cruise speed: 200 kts, Max weight 4,000 lb, Wingspan 37 feet. Power: 6 cylinder Lycoming, 520 ci, 310 HP piston engine. This one required power on for landing (as the instructor reminded me later).

Airplane Title Warrior
Piper PA-28 02

Piper PA-28-151/161/181 Warrior II (Houston in 78-84)
Manufactured from 1964 – today.
Similar to Cherokee, with a 160 HP engine, stretched body and semi-tapered wing. Cruise speed still 108 kts. Good looking airplane, slow. Took a ‘trip’ with non-licensed beginning aviator who owned this plane from Houston to Haiti and back in 1983. Island hopped from Nassau to Grand Turk, then Cape Haitian and Port-au-Prince. We took off for Santo Domingo, but were turned back by weather. Flying lessons? How about 60 hours in a Piper 151, destination South America with a trust-fund reprobate, teaching him to fly?

Airplane Title Lance

Piper PA 32 Turbo Lance (Houston in 1982)
Manufactured from 1976 – 08.
Six seat retractable gear ‘high-performance’ single engine. Air-conditioning. Cruise speed: 160 mph, Max weight 3,600 lb, Wingspan 33 feet, three blade prop. Power: 6 cylinder Lycoming, 540 ci, 300 HP turbocharged piston engine. A business friend took me to the Harlingen airshow and let me fly this airplane for an hour or two. This aircraft is best known as JFK Jr’s last ride in ’99. Also, Marcus Schrenker, the Ponzi scheme embezzlement guy, bailed out of a turbo-jet powered version ($1.7 MM), faking his death in January 09.