which plane to learn in?

Apr 11, 2002
Ok, well, it's me again. Haven't flown yet since my previous posts, but have 2 flights scheduled at 2 different FBO's to check them out. Lessons will probably start soon afterward if I like flying as much as I think I will.

My question is which plane should I learn in? Do I have a choice? I definitely want to go for my instrument rating to keep safe. I also can see myself using a plane (rented initially) for a mode of transportation to go to conferences / business, and possibly mini-vacations. Should I learn in a typical high wing trainer like a Cessna 172? Or would a low wing with retracts be more efficient. I tend to think keeping things as simple as possible seems to be prudent. I don't want to take on too much plane than I can handle. I also am concerned about having or using a plane that has de-icing capabilities (wings/carb/blades) - or will it not matter, since I assume I will learn how to avoid bad weather conditions.

I have heard people say it's best to train in the plane you will be using long term. But at this point, since I am new, I don't even know what my options are and what could potentially get me into trouble.




DC-9 Evangelist
Dec 12, 2001
Total Time
I'd say you're putting a little more emphasis on "which plane" than you should. The important things are having a strong CFI and learning the material.

Which plane will hardly make a difference. Because when you get your PPL, you'll be qualified to fly them all. Even though most FBO's will require a check-out before you can rent (not a problem, usually).

If I had to pick one, the 172 is a proven and reliable trainer. But make sure you focus more on perfecting your fundemental pilot skills than learning to fly a particular airplane.

Good luck!


Well-known member
Feb 18, 2002
Total Time
Agreed - I've trained in Cessnas, Beeches, Pipers, Grummans - a good, competent CFi that you work well with is far more important than the type of trainer.

There was a separate recent thread on 172s and the pros/cons vs. 152s with a good discussion going.


just a member, not senior
Nov 26, 2001
Total Time
I will make the point I made on the last thread. Fly in different aircraft. Your experience starts now, so why limit yourself?

I trained in Warriors and Archers (very close to the same plane) and the 152's and 172's. I didn't switch out ever outing, but I did get some time in both manufactures once I got about 20 hours and some of the basics down. You have to learn the differnet systems, but they are all very similar.

You might find you like one type better than the other for various reasons. Some people like high wings some low, all for different reasons. Some fly the cheapest aircraft. Fly what you want to fly and for the reasons you want to and you will enjoy it. Don't let an instructor push you into an airplane they like. You are renting it, so it is your choice -within reason.

As Boc said, don't put too much emphasis on it. Focus on the study material and learning and it won't matter what plane your flying.


Well-known member
Nov 26, 2001
Total Time
Training aircraft

I'd say a lot depends on your flying goals. Probably simpler (and less expensive) is better if all you want to be is a pleasure pilot.

Keep in mind, though, that the above falls in the category of "famous last words." Many people start off in 172s or Warriors, but start drooling over light retractables after a while. They master light retractables and then drool over light twins. And so forth and so on.

I'd say you can start off small and see how you like it. If you indeed follow through on getting your instrument ticket, learning to fly in a 172 or Warrior might be better off in the long run because either is just about the bare minimum for meaningful IFR. It isn't much of a transition, though, to go from 152 to 172. If you find the bug has bitten really hard and you think that one day you will fly a light retractable extensively, and you want to shell out the extra cash, starting in a retractable early on after getting your Private for your instrument training might be a good idea, to ingrain the thought processes you need for flying more complex aircraft.

I agree 100% that a good instructor and learning the material matters far more than the airplane in which you train. If you are trained properly, you can fly any airplane.

Good luck with your training.
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Mar 25, 2002
Total Time

Good questions and I have a really simple answer here. Find a good instructor. By "good" I mean one that you are comfortable with and teaches in a way that makes sense to you. You want an instructor who is on your side, because there are going to be some great and challenging times ahead. The particular airplane and systems you choose are secondary considerations.

The airplanes that most people learn in are inexpensive like the C152, because "inexpensive" is appealing to most folks starting out. Usually, simpler is better, because there will be so much new information to learn anyway. It's a fact that the more complicated the plane, the longer it will take to get your certificate, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Basic 4-seat planes in the Cessna and Piper flavors are almost as simple to fly as the 2-seat trainers, so I wouldn't put those in the "complicated" category.

That said, go with the airplane that appeals to you. You will make better progress in an airplane that you like.

high or low wing makes no difference really. You will reach a point someday where there is very little difference.


Skirts Will Rise
Jan 17, 2002
Total Time
For something a little diffrent

Consider learning in a sailplane. They are quite fun, and make really good trainers.

Instructors there are generally part of a club and are people that truely love to fly it (there are almost no time builders). The primary tow pilot at our glider port flys frieght in 747s, pretty much the same story though out the glider port.

You won't be able to travel far, but in the end after you get your private add-on it costs about the same as if you did it the other way around.

One last thing the biggest thing that I noticed is that most students get it a little faster because of the stick, being more natural for righties (personally I hate the yoke on GA planes).

Just want you to consider something diffrent.


Love the Cub idea with a grass strip!

And if not.....learn to fly in a Tomahawk. Roomy, LOW wing, faster than a 152, and it teaches you how to actually use the rudder. It has a bigger airplane feel...if you learn to fly this a/c with even a medium amount of skill, transitioning to larger aircraft is said to be easier from many who have flown the type. And, if not anything else....renting one higher than 50/hr is rare.