Ask Pete!

by Pete Schoeninger

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Q: In your opinion, what are the “best” models of the major airframe manufacturers?

A: Each manufacturer has made models for very different applications. No model is real good at everything. For instance, the highest production number for general aviation airplanes goes to the still-in-production Cessna 172 Skyhawk, remarkably unchanged since being introduced in 1956. The bigger Cessna 182 Skylane carries more, is faster, and is a little better in short fields, but costs more to buy and operate. The still larger 210 carries even more, and cruises a lot faster, but needs a larger runway, and costs even more to buy and operate. And the market responded with more 172 sales than 182 sales, with the 210 trailing 182 sales. So the humble 172, outstanding at nothing, but not bad at anything, is the all-time general aviation sales winner.

Q: I am thinking of buying a Cessna Cardinal RG based mostly on their beautiful lines. Does that make sense?

A: No argument; the Cardinal RG is a very stylish airplane. But it, and similar products of that age (1970s) such as the Beech Muskateer and Piper Comanches, have been out of production a very long time. Generally I would recommend a purchase of an airplane that either is in current production, or at least was produced in large numbers to assure parts and familiarization by aircraft technicians. So I suggest you consider a more populous Cessna or Piper model, perhaps an Arrow, or similar.

Q: I recently watched a Cessna 310 and then a Citation do a barrel roll on the internet. Isn’t that illegal?

A: Usually yes, and DON’T YOU TRY IT! In the hands of a pro like Bob Hoover, a production airplane might be capable of mild aerobatics, but the reserve airframe strength needed for upset recovery if the pilot screws up is lacking in an airplane not built for aerobatics. Sit down tonight in front of your computer, crack a cold refreshment of your choice, and google aerobatics, and soon you can see things from the safety of your chair that you should never try doing yourself.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Pete Schoeninger is the aircraft sales manager at Gran-Aire, Inc., Milwaukee, Wis.

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