Don Hammond
September 29, 2023

What is a Good First Airplane to Buy? It Depends on Your Mission

Explore the world of aviation and choose your first airplane wisely based on your mission. Fly Around Alaska helps you make an informed decision.

When it comes to buying an airplane, the choices can be as vast as the sky itself. Like purchasing a car, your decision should be guided by your specific needs and mission. Are you planning to carry passengers and luggage, embark on weekend getaways with your spouse, or engage in sport flying or commuting between cities?

The world of aviation offers various options, each tailored to different purposes. This comprehensive guide will explore various aircraft choices and their advantages and help you determine the best fit for your mission.

The Key Consideration: Your Mission

Before diving into the world of aircraft shopping, clearly defining your mission is essential. Your mission will serve as the compass that guides you to the ideal airplane. Here are some key factors to consider when defining your mission:

1. Are You Already a Pilot?

Your level of experience plays a significant role in choosing the right aircraft. Novice pilots might prefer simpler, forgiving aircraft for training, while experienced pilots may seek more advanced options.

2. How Will the Airplane Be Used?

Consider the primary purpose of your aircraft. Is it for sport flying, leisurely weekend trips, or daily commuting? The answer to this question will influence your choice significantly.

3. Number of Passengers

Are you planning to fly solo, with a partner, or with a group of passengers? The number of seats you require will narrow down your options considerably.

Now, let’s delve into some specific aircraft choices that cater to various missions:

Training Aircraft: Cessna 150/152

The Cessna 150/152 series is a flying machine – an ideal starting point for aspiring pilots looking to earn their wings. These aircraft are renowned for their simplicity, excellent visibility, and forgiving flight characteristics. With two seats and reliable performance, they are well-suited for flight training.

side view of a cessna 150:152

Cessna 150/152

Couples and Solo Flyers: Cessna 120/140

If your mission involves solo or duo flights the Cessna 120/140 offers an attractive option if your mission involves solo or duo flights. These vintage aircraft boast timeless appeal and can provide a charming flying experience for couples or solo aviators.

side view of a cessna 140

Cessna 140

Small Groups: Cessna 172, 182, 210, and More

When you need to accommodate a small group of passengers, options like the Cessna 172, 182, or 210 become relevant. These four-seat aircraft provide versatility and reliability for short trips and local adventures.

side view of a cessna 182rg

Cessna 182RG

Speed and Class: Beech Bonanzas

The Beech Bonanza series is a top choice for those seeking a blend of speed and sophistication. These aircraft offer an impressive combination of style and performance, making them perfect for those who appreciate a touch of luxury in the skies.

beechcraft bonanza g36

Beechcraft Bonanza G36

Vintage Charm: 1930s and 1940s Aircraft

If you’re drawn to the nostalgia of aviation’s golden age, consider acquiring a vintage aircraft from the 1930s or 1940s. These timeless classics offer a unique flying experience and turn heads wherever they go.

1943 boeing sterman biplane

1943 Boeing Sterman

Tailwheel Aircraft: Cubs, Champs, Citabria, and More

For pilots seeking the thrill of tailwheel flying, there are various options to explore, including Cubs, Champs, and Citabria aircraft. These aircraft require additional piloting skills but deliver an exhilarating experience.

Long-Distance Hauling: Cessna Stationair

When your mission involves hauling cargo or flying long distances, the Cessna Stationair series steps up to the plate. These rugged aircraft are designed for utility and can easily handle challenging missions.

cessna 206 stationair

Cessna 206 Stationair

If your mission involves frequent business travel or requires covering vast distances quickly, you’ll need to explore the world of jets. This is a whole other league of aircraft, where speed and efficiency take center stage.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk: An Ideal First Plane

For many aspiring pilots, the Cessna 172 Skyhawk is the quintessential choice for a first aircraft. Let’s take a closer look at what makes it such a compelling option:

  • Proven Reliability: The Cessna 172 has been a staple in aviation since 1957, and with over 45,000 units manufactured, finding one that suits your needs is highly likely.
  • Versatile Engine Options: The Cessna 172 offers a range of engine choices, including Continental and Lycoming, and even a rare diesel option. While it’s not the fastest aircraft, it provides excellent climb performance.
  • Robust Design: This all-metal, high-wing, single-engine aircraft is known for its robust construction, making it a durable choice for novice pilots.
  • Training Excellence: The Cessna 172 is a popular choice for flight training due to its ease of handling, excellent visibility, and forgiving flight characteristics. It’s an excellent platform for honing your piloting skills.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Operating and maintaining a Cessna 172 is relatively inexpensive compared to many other aircraft. It’s an economical choice for those on a budget.
  • Endurance Record: In a testament to its durability, a Cessna 172 once achieved an incredible 64 days aloft near Las Vegas in 1958. This astonishing feat involved refueling from a truck on a long straight road, including makeshift bathroom facilities under the wing.
  • Resale Value: If you decide to upgrade or change your aircraft, the Cessna 172 enjoys a strong resale market, ensuring that your investment retains value.
2024 cessna 172 skyhawk

Cessna 172 Skyhawk

In conclusion, choosing the right aircraft depends on your mission, experience level, and specific requirements. The Cessna 172 Skyhawk, with its long history of reliability and versatility, often emerges as an ideal first airplane for aspiring pilots. However, remember that the aviation world offers diverse options to suit every mission and preference. So, take your time, define your mission clearly, and confidently embark on your aviation journey.

Unlock the Skies with Fly Around Alaska: Your Gateway to Aerial Adventures

Are you ready to take to the skies and explore the breathtaking beauty of Alaska from above? At Fly Around Alaska, we guide you in choosing your first airplane and support your aviation journey financially.

Explore Our Private Pilot Programs

Embark on an exhilarating journey through the skies with our accelerated private pilot programs:

PAYG Private Pilot Program

If you seek flexibility, our PAYG (Pay As You Go) Private Pilot Program is tailor-made for you. Imagine learning to fly at your own pace while soaking in the stunning Alaskan scenery. With hourly rates and the convenience of studying from home, you can make your dream of becoming a private pilot a reality. Contact us today to start your journey toward getting your private pilot’s license.

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Our Guaranteed Private Pilot Training Program is the answer for those seeking a fast track to becoming a private pilot in Alaska. Designed to provide you with the skills and confidence you need, this program offers one-on-one instruction and all the materials required to earn your license. 

Moreover, we guarantee a 98% completion rate in 60 days or less. Your adventure over Alaska’s unique landscapes awaits—contact us today to start getting your pilot license!

Elevate Your Skills with Specialized Flight Training

Are you looking to expand your aviation skills? Fly Around Alaska offers specialized flight training programs in off-airport training, survival in the bush, and more. Our experienced instructors and reliable aircraft will guide you toward becoming a safer and more skilled pilot. Explore our programs and take the first step towards achieving your aviation goals.

Stay Informed with Expert Insights

Aspiring pilots and aviation enthusiasts, take advantage of our tips and articles section! Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and innovations in the aviation industry, and gain valuable insights from our expert pilots. Whether you’re just starting your aviation journey or looking to advance your skills, we’ve got you covered.

Contact Us Today to Soar Above Alaska

Ready to embark on an unforgettable aerial adventure in Alaska? Contact us now, and let us be your wings to the sky. Fly Around Alaska is your trusted partner for high-quality flight training and support, no matter your skill level. With experienced instructors and reliable aircraft, we offer tailored training programs to help you achieve your aviation dreams.


Don Hammond