AOPA will be closed July 4th, in observance of the Independence Day holiday. We will reopen at 8:30 am ET on Tuesday, July 5.

One size fits all

Can one airplane be everything?

The customer: You’re looking for the Goldilocks airplane, a Swiss Army knife of travel, fun, and efficiency. While you would love to have the fastest airplane, or the most fun, you are looking for the perfect combination of speed, enjoyment, efficiency, reliability, and affordability. Your missions vary widely and include solo weekend burger runs, golf outings with your friends, weeklong vacations with family, and the occasional regional business trip. You are hoping for something fun to fly because in many cases the journey is as important as the destination. Your flights are normally shorter than 500 miles, and never more than 1,000 miles. Beyond that you think the airlines make for a better deal.

[email protected].org

The budget: $150,000

Cessna 182

Cessna 182

It’s not the most fun-flying machine in the sky, but if you consider where a 182 can take you, it offers fun in spades. With a well-equipped panel you will feel as at home shooting an approach to Teterboro Airport as you will be landing in the backcountry of Idaho, and virtually everywhere in between. With exceptional useful load you can bring your family and beach gear, or your friends and their golf clubs, skim boards, or snowboards. Many people never move beyond their 182s, and it’s easy to see why. They are perhaps the perfect combo of efficiency, performance, and utility.

Beechcraft Bonanza F33C

Beechcraft Bonanza F33C

OK so maybe it’s not entirely fair to put an airplane on here that is hard to find and may or may not be in the price range. But if you can put your hands on one, this Bonanza has a special skill: It is fully aerobatic. The airplane was produced sporadically. According to the American Bonanza Society, it was introduced in 1970, then not offered again until 1973, kept in production until 1979, and then had a final brief stint in 1986 and 1987. Bonanza speed with basic level aerobatics is quite an interesting ride.

Van's RV-4

Van’s RV–4

This choice is an admission that maybe the perfect all-around airplane isn’t out there. So do what you wanted to in the first place and get the fun airplane. Many Van’s RV owners have an almost unhealthy amount of love for their airplanes. With sublime flying characteristics, great speed on low fuel burns, and a huge range of options out there in the market, it’s understandable. Plus, that passionate owner base makes aviation more fun, and the RV group is very active. Join a flying club for the four or five times a year you’ll make flights where you want to take more than one passenger.

Let us know which aircraft you would choose!

[email protected]

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

Related Articles