Which plane for a new pilot?

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I am trying to decide which plane would fit most of the missions that
I would fly and also be a safe aircraft for a new pilot. I am
starting my instrument training and would like to find a plane that
is: safe for a new pilot to fly, comfortable for me (6'5") wife
(5'10") and a young child, able to make 600 mile trips and if possible
an occasional trip that is 1000 miles. Safety is key to my decision
but speed would be nice. Is there a compromise for a new pilot?

-- Curt Johnson, February 18, 2008


Safe for a low time pilot usually means slow, at least slow stall speeds and low wing loading. The only way that a slow plane can be tolerated for a long flight is if it is very comfortable inside. Using a plane for transportation is very challenging (had one of my most difficult flying moments ever yesterday, simply trying to depart Teterboro, NJ; ATC vectored me right into severe turbulence in order to keep me away from LGA arrivals).

I don't think that someone 6'5" tall could tolerate a DA40, much as I love the plane for IFR training. I think that you should consider the Bonanza, a great handling airplane in which tall pilots are very comfortable. The back seats are very comfy too and the plane can be made quiet if you get the extra thick glass and some other sound-proofing kits. I only had one ride in a Columbia 400 and can't remember how it would be for a tall guy, but I think you should try it. The plane will give your insurance company a heart attack, but I think it is safe due to its wonderful handling characteristics. Just don't solo it until you finish your IFR rating in it.

-- Philip Greenspun, February 19, 2008

Dear Curt,

Your question has Diamond Star DA40 written all over it. Possibly the safest type around, with docile handling and reasonable speed, and although not as spacious as the Cirrus, quite adequate in the comfort departement also. Visibility is second-to-none. The G1000 version has slightly more legroom than the "steam gauge" airplanes. However, you would want it with long range tanks fitted.

-- Henrik Vaeroe, February 19, 2008

Is getting above or around weather something that the DA40 can do and are there airplanes that can do this that are also safe for a fairly green pilot. I have a feeling that for those luxuries it will take a step up to something else. I just worry that we will be flying 600-1000 miles occasionally and will probably encounter weather from time to time.

-- Curt Johnson, February 19, 2008

I notice no one thinking about an SR22. Inadvertant ice is a reality: why the ommision? (A guy in the same boat WRT the purchase of a plane)

-- fabio savoldelli, February 25, 2008

I am 6'4" and was sold on the Diamond Star based on all I read about it, including the reviews at this site. Before I had someone fly one in to buy, I went to the local flight school that has two DA40s and surprise!!. I cannot physically operate the plane even with the rudder pedals at their limit. The panel comes down on my legs requiring me to twist my legs to operate the pedals. I spoke to a Diamond rep and they said that nothing can be done about this. In terms of height, at 6'4" and 210 lbs, I am not exactly a freak. It is really a shame that they could not design a plane with a greater physical range. I ended up buying a G1000 C182T that I am very happy with and fits me comfortably with room to spare.

-- Fred Rohlfing, February 26, 2008


-- Max Rosenberg, May 26, 2009