Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Protecting Your Freedom to Fly

AOPA Best Aircraft Showdown

Round 1

Round 2

Round of 16

Round of 8

Round of 8

Round of 16

Round 2

Round 1

 
 
 

FOUR ON FINAL

 
 

Supermarine Spitfire (4)

277

B-17 Flying Fortress (6)

474

 
 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round of 16

Round of 8

Round of 8

Round of 16

Round 2

Round 1

hall of fame
Ercoupe

Ercoupe

Designed as everyman's airplane, the Ercoupe was intended to be unspinnable. The originals lacked rudder pedals and had only a single pedal for brakes. Ercoupes have had a resurgence in popularity in the light sport aircraft category.

Votes: 397

VS

Eclipse 500

Eclipse 500

The original very light jet didn't live up to its original business plan that required being produced in huge numbers for less than $1 million each. But the Eclipse 500 is a sweet flying airplane with ultra-efficient engines, and new ownership with a proven business model could give the Elcipse new life and a promising future.

Votes: 329

Long-EZ

Long-EZ

The distinctive Long-EZ with its canard design and fiberglass construction still looks modern decades after it first flew in 1979. A larger, more powerful, and longer range follow-on to Burt Rutan's pioneering Vari-EZ, the Long-EZ has few rivals in speed, range, and fuel economy. At economy cruise, the Long-EZ can cover 2,000 nautical miles on 52 gallons of fuel, and the side-stick control and semi-reclined seat give it the feel of an F-16 cockpit. More than 700 Long-EZs have been built and flown in the United States.

Votes: 200

VS

Beech King Air

Beech King Air

Speed, range, carrying capacity, short- and rough-field capability make the King Air the class of its category. For more than 50 years, the King Air has changed with the times but retained the functionality that made it such a winner.

Votes: 506

Cessna 180/185

Cessna 180/185

Landing on glaciers, high mountain lakes, and gravel beaches has set the Cessna 180/185 line apart for decades. These brawny Cessnas can be found doing some of the most demanding flying on the planet—and they've been doing it for decades.

Votes: 527

VS

Piper Twin Comanche

Piper Twin Comanche

The Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche was designed to provide multiengine reliability with single-engine economy—and it does. In a market where the value of many piston twins has fallen with rising fuel prices, the Twin Comanche has held its value relatively well.

Votes: 175

Supermarine Spitfire

Supermarine Spitfire

This elliptical-winged hero of the Battle of Britain played a unique role in saving Western civilization from what Winston Churchill called a "new Dark Age." Its incomparable Merlin engine powered Supermarine Spitfire pilots to victory in epic air battles, and Churchill's stirring prose memorialized them for all time: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Votes: 414

VS

Grumman Bearcat

Grumman Bearcat

The ultimate piston fighter was made with the speed and agility to protect the U.S. fleet from kamikazes and was a favorite among fighter pilots who flew them. Grumman Bearcats were the last piston airplane used by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, and modified versions have been consistent winners at air races.

Votes: 284

Beech A36 Bonanza

Beech A36 Bonanza

The more powerful, six-seat big brother to other Bonanza models, the G36 (an A36 with a Garmin G1000 avionics suite) remains in production. It's widely regarded as the Cadillac of general aviation piston singles for its refined handling qualities, speed, and power. And some models are approved for flying with the cargo doors off, which makes it a favorite among aerial photographers.

Votes: 431

VS

Piper PA-46 series

Piper PA-46 series

Whether powered by piston or turboprop engines, the Piper Malibu, Meridian, and Mirage share long, high-aspect-ratio wings that give them exceptional speed, high altitude, and range capabilities. All are stable instrument platforms and can cover a time zone in a single tank of fuel.

Votes: 267

Boeing Stearman

Boeing Stearman

The airplane that taught the Greatest Generation to fly gave them the skills to succeed in everything from fighters to multiengine transports. A rumbling radial engine, open cockpits, and a sense of history make flying a Stearman unforgettable.

Votes: 563

VS

Grumman AA5B Tiger

Grumman AA5B Tiger

Exceptional visibility, sporty handling, and mechanical simplicity with a free-castering nosewheel and fixed-pitch prop have made the Tiger a hit among pilots and owners. It's a fine instrument trainer as well as an economical, four-seat traveler.

Votes: 133

Spartan Executive

Spartan Executive

A no-compromises trophy for the ultra-rich, the Spartan Executive was built for speed, comfort, and beauty. Fewer than 40 of the handmade works of art were produced in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and buyers included Howard Hughes and J. Paul Getty. In addition to powerful 450-horsepower engines, all-metal construction, and retractable landing gear, they had creature comforts such as arm rests, dome lights, and ash trays.

Votes: 254

VS

Cessna 195

Cessna 195

This radial beauty was a pioneer of post-World War II business aviation and a forerunner to the corporate fleets of today. It's elegant, sleek, and powerful, and it provided a fast and reliable instrument platform for the business leaders of its day.

Votes: 440

Piper PA-28 series

Piper PA-28 series

Piper's low-wing answer to rival Cessna, the PA-28 series (the Cherokee, Archer, Warrior, and Arrow) mixes sporty looks and rugged construction. Fixed-gear Archers and retractable-gear Arrows have long been mainstays of flight training, particularly for instrument and commercial students, and many like them so much they keep them for personal airplanes.

Votes: 569

VS

Piper PA-22 series

Piper PA-22 series

Between the periods when Piper Aircraft built the high-winged tube-and-fabric taildraggers of a bygone era, and the low-wing, aluminum airplanes common on airport ramps today, it brought a simple, four-place tricycle-gear airplane of up to 160 horsepower onto the scene. Derived from the tailwheel Piper PA-20 Pacer, the PA-22 Tri-Pacer debuted in 1951, joining that family of aircraft known famously as the Short Wing Piper Club. A scaled-down, 108-hp, two-seat model, the Piper Colt, joined the club in 1961, and also marked the end of production runs for Piper's tube-and-fabric designs.

Votes: 123

Ercoupe

Ercoupe

Designed as everyman's airplane, the Ercoupe was intended to be unspinnable. The originals lacked rudder pedals and had only a single pedal for brakes. Ercoupes have had a resurgence in popularity in the light sport aircraft category.

Votes: 295

VS

Eclipse 500

Beech King Air

Speed, range, carrying capacity, short- and rough-field capability make the King Air the class of its category. For more than 50 years, the King Air has changed with the times but retained the functionality that made it such a winner.

Votes: 402

Ercoupe

Cessna 180/185

Landing on glaciers, high mountain lakes, and gravel beaches has set the Cessna 180/185 line apart for decades. These brawny Cessnas can be found doing some of the most demanding flying on the planet—and they've been doing it for decades.

Votes: 270

VS

Eclipse 500

Supermarine Spitfire

This elliptical-winged hero of the Battle of Britain played a unique role in saving Western civilization from what Winston Churchill called a "new Dark Age." Its incomparable Merlin engine powered Supermarine Spitfire pilots to victory in epic air battles, and Churchill's stirring prose memorialized them for all time: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Votes: 413

Ercoupe

Beech A36 Bonanza

The more powerful, six-seat big brother to other Bonanza models, the G36 (an A36 with a Garmin G1000 avionics suite) remains in production. It's widely regarded as the Cadillac of general aviation piston singles for its refined handling qualities, speed, and power. And some models are approved for flying with the cargo doors off, which makes it a favorite among aerial photographers.

Votes: 264

VS

Eclipse 500

Boeing Stearman

The airplane that taught the Greatest Generation to fly gave them the skills to succeed in everything from fighters to multiengine transports. A rumbling radial engine, open cockpits, and a sense of history make flying a Stearman unforgettable.

Votes: 409

Ercoupe

Cessna 195

This radial beauty was a pioneer of post-World War II business aviation and a forerunner to the corporate fleets of today. It's elegant, sleek, and powerful, and it provided a fast and reliable instrument platform for the business leaders of its day.

Votes: 377

VS

Eclipse 500

Piper PA-28 series

Piper's low-wing answer to rival Cessna, the PA-28 series (the Cherokee, Archer, Warrior, and Arrow) mixes sporty looks and rugged construction. Fixed-gear Archers and retractable-gear Arrows have long been mainstays of flight training, particularly for instrument and commercial students, and many like them so much they keep them for personal airplanes.

Votes: 295

Ercoupe

Beech King Air

Speed, range, carrying capacity, short- and rough-field capability make the King Air the class of its category. For more than 50 years, the King Air has changed with the times but retained the functionality that made it such a winner.

Votes: 141

VS

Eclipse 500

Supermarine Spitfire

This elliptical-winged hero of the Battle of Britain played a unique role in saving Western civilization from what Winston Churchill called a "new Dark Age." Its incomparable Merlin engine powered Supermarine Spitfire pilots to victory in epic air battles, and Churchill's stirring prose memorialized them for all time: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Votes: 190

Ercoupe

Boeing Stearman

The airplane that taught the Greatest Generation to fly gave them the skills to succeed in everything from fighters to multiengine transports. A rumbling radial engine, open cockpits, and a sense of history make flying a Stearman unforgettable.

Votes: 229

VS

Eclipse 500

Cessna 195

This radial beauty was a pioneer of post-World War II business aviation and a forerunner to the corporate fleets of today. It's elegant, sleek, and powerful, and it provided a fast and reliable instrument platform for the business leaders of its day.

Votes: 96

Ercoupe

Supermarine Spitfire

This elliptical-winged hero of the Battle of Britain played a unique role in saving Western civilization from what Winston Churchill called a "new Dark Age." Its incomparable Merlin engine powered Supermarine Spitfire pilots to victory in epic air battles, and Churchill's stirring prose memorialized them for all time: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Votes: 395

VS

Eclipse 500

Boeing Stearman

The airplane that taught the Greatest Generation to fly gave them the skills to succeed in everything from fighters to multiengine transports. A rumbling radial engine, open cockpits, and a sense of history make flying a Stearman unforgettable.

Votes: 303

Ercoupe

Mooney M20

The Mooney M20's speed and efficiency are perhaps even more prized today than when the sleek, Texas-built airplanes went into production in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mechanically simple landing gear and a durable, crash-resistant cabin structure have given Mooneys a fanatical following—especially when fuel prices spike.

Votes: 122

VS

Eclipse 500

TBM 900

Daher-Socata's TBM 900, certified in 2014, is an upgraded version of its predecessor, the TBM 850. The TBM 900 has the same 850-shaft horsepower Pratt & Whitney turboprop engine as the TBM 850, but where the 850 was limited to 700-shp for takeoff and initial climb the TBM 900 can use the full 850-shp without restriction. With a max cruise speed of 330 KTAS, Daher-Socata bills the six-seat airplane as the fastest single-engine turboprop on the market.

Votes: 104

Ercoupe

Globe Swift

The Swift was far ahead of its post-war contemporaries in terms of its sleek design, sporty handling, and retractable, tailwheel landing gear that recalled the fighters of that era. The original 85-horsepower engine has been replaced with powerplants of up to 210 horsepower—and the additional speed and power only add to the Swift's appeal.

Votes: 117

VS

Eclipse 500

Cessna 170

A classic beauty, the Cessna 170 has been known to turn heads and receive acclaim from tower controllers watching it take off. The 145-horsepower 170 is often thought of as the tailwheel version of the Cessna 172 even though it was a growth version of the Cessna 120/140.

Votes: 106

Ercoupe

Beech Baron

Like its close cousin, the Bonanza, the Baron has come to epitomize quality and performance—this time among piston twins. For more than 50 years, the Baron has remained at the top of this market niche, and glass-panel avionics and more powerful engines keep it relevant today.

Votes: 76

VS

Eclipse 500

Beech 18

Designed in the 1930s by a then-youthful Kelly Johnson, the Beech 18 served as a bombardier and navigator trainer and VIP transport during World War II. It went on to help pioneer the fledgling corporate aviation industry in the United States in the late 1940s and 1950s, and then served as an air freighter. The seemingly inexhaustible airplanes are loved by those who flew them for their exceptional speed, strength, and reliability—and watching Matt Younkin's aerobatic routine will deepen anyone's appreciation of this iconic twin.

Votes: 143

Ercoupe

Piper PA-18 Super Cub

On floats, skis, or oversized wheels, hard-working Super Cubs helped popularize backcountry flying adventure. They flourish in extreme environments, and their ability to take off and land virtually anywhere allows Super Cubs to go where virtually no other airplane can.

Votes: 110

VS

Eclipse 500

PBY-5A Catalina

Capable of covering vast ocean expanses, the Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat helped search out enemy ships during World War II in the Pacific, and it was extremely well-loved by the many downed airmen and Navy crewmembers it helped save. The singular sight of a Catalina landing in the ocean—sometimes in seemingly impossibly large swells—meant a new life for those who had considered themselves lost at sea.

Votes: 108

Ercoupe

Cessna 177

The Cessna 177 Cardinal—with its cantilever, laminar-flow wing offering terrific visibility—is fun to fly, a step above its trusty predecessor, the Cessna 172. Stepping into the Cardinal is more like sliding into a sedan than climbing into a pickup. Cessna changed the engine on the Cardinal over the years to increase the horsepower, and in 1971, the Cardinal RG debuted with a 200-horsepower Lycoming IO-360-A1B6.

Votes: 87

VS

Eclipse 500

Piper PA-32 series

These spacious and utilitarian Piper designs offer stability, lots of payload, and versatility. Owners can opt for fixed gear in the Cherokee Six to maximize carrying capacity and rough-field utility, or retractable gear in the Lance or Saratoga for added speed and range.

Votes: 129

Ercoupe

B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress lived up to its moniker through its strength and reliability in World War II, traveling on long missions to strike targets within enemy territory. Thousands of these four-engine heavy bombers saw combat in the war, and those still operating today serve as a living tribute to the Greatest Generation.

Votes: 120

VS

Eclipse 500

Lockheed C-130

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is known as a heavy hauler that offers flexibility and versatility. More than 70 countries operate the C-130 family of aircraft, and more than 2,400 have been delivered. The C-130J Super Hercules can carry more than 40,000 pounds of cargo and can operate at 2,000-foot-long strips at high altitudes.

Votes: 97

Ercoupe

P-47 Thunderbolt

Nicknamed the "Jug" for "Juggernaut," the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt stormed into World War II as the largest single-engine piston fighter. Roaring behind a 2,000-horsepower radial engine and armed with six or eight .50-caliber machine guns , the rugged P-47 was used as a high-altitude escort fighter and low-level fighter-bomber.

Votes: 133

VS

Eclipse 500

Cessna 120/140

Simple, economical, and thoroughly enjoyable to fly, the Cessna 120/140 succeeded both as a trainer and a sport airplane. The rest of the Cessna single-engine lineage follows these remarkable, humble, beautiful airplanes.

Votes: 82

Ercoupe

Cirrus SR22

Composite construction, glass-panel avionics, and airframe parachutes were popularized by the sleek Cirrus line of personal aircraft. No other aircraft has brought more technical improvements to the general aviation fleet faster than the Cirrus SR22, and few airplanes can travel as far or as fast with the landing gear down.

Votes: 112

VS

Eclipse 500

Extra 300

Walter Extra's monoplanes have been winners in international aerobatic competitions for more than two decades—and his 300-horspower, two-seat models bring that kind of mind-bending performance to a two-seat, FAA-certificated model. Precise German engineering is apparent from the optical perfection of the glass to the lightly balanced controls.

Votes: 103

Ercoupe

Mooney M20

The Mooney M20's speed and efficiency are perhaps even more prized today than when the sleek, Texas-built airplanes went into production in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mechanically simple landing gear and a durable, crash-resistant cabin structure have given Mooneys a fanatical following—especially when fuel prices spike.

Votes: 259

VS

Eclipse 500

Globe Swift

The Swift was far ahead of its post-war contemporaries in terms of its sleek design, sporty handling, and retractable, tailwheel landing gear that recalled the fighters of that era. The original 85-horsepower engine has been replaced with powerplants of up to 210 horsepower—and the additional speed and power only add to the Swift's appeal.

Votes: 235

Ercoupe

Beech 18

Designed in the 1930s by a then-youthful Kelly Johnson, the Beech 18 served as a bombardier and navigator trainer and VIP transport during World War II. It went on to help pioneer the fledgling corporate aviation industry in the United States in the late 1940s and 1950s, and then served as an air freighter. The seemingly inexhaustible airplanes are loved by those who flew them for their exceptional speed, strength, and reliability—and watching Matt Younkin's aerobatic routine will deepen anyone's appreciation of this iconic twin.

Votes: 308

VS

Eclipse 500

Piper PA-18 Super Cub

On floats, skis, or oversized wheels, hard-working Super Cubs helped popularize backcountry flying adventure. They flourish in extreme environments, and their ability to take off and land virtually anywhere allows Super Cubs to go where virtually no other airplane can.

Votes: 180

Ercoupe

Piper PA-32 series

These spacious and utilitarian Piper designs offer stability, lots of payload, and versatility. Owners can opt for fixed gear in the Cherokee Six to maximize carrying capacity and rough-field utility, or retractable gear in the Lance or Saratoga for added speed and range.

Votes: 109

VS

Eclipse 500

B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress lived up to its moniker through its strength and reliability in World War II, traveling on long missions to strike targets within enemy territory. Thousands of these four-engine heavy bombers saw combat in the war, and those still operating today serve as a living tribute to the Greatest Generation.

Votes: 371

Ercoupe

P-47 Thunderbolt

Nicknamed the "Jug" for "Juggernaut," the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt stormed into World War II as the largest single-engine piston fighter. Roaring behind a 2,000-horsepower radial engine and armed with six or eight .50-caliber machine guns , the rugged P-47 was used as a high-altitude escort fighter and low-level fighter-bomber.

Votes: 325

VS

Eclipse 500

Cirrus SR22

Composite construction, glass-panel avionics, and airframe parachutes were popularized by the sleek Cirrus line of personal aircraft. No other aircraft has brought more technical improvements to the general aviation fleet faster than the Cirrus SR22, and few airplanes can travel as far or as fast with the landing gear down.

Votes: 157

Ercoupe

Mooney M20

The Mooney M20's speed and efficiency are perhaps even more prized today than when the sleek, Texas-built airplanes went into production in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mechanically simple landing gear and a durable, crash-resistant cabin structure have given Mooneys a fanatical following—especially when fuel prices spike.

Votes: 81

VS

Eclipse 500

Beech 18

Designed in the 1930s by a then-youthful Kelly Johnson, the Beech 18 served as a bombardier and navigator trainer and VIP transport during World War II. It went on to help pioneer the fledgling corporate aviation industry in the United States in the late 1940s and 1950s, and then served as an air freighter. The seemingly inexhaustible airplanes are loved by those who flew them for their exceptional speed, strength, and reliability—and watching Matt Younkin's aerobatic routine will deepen anyone's appreciation of this iconic twin.

Votes: 73

Ercoupe

B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress lived up to its moniker through its strength and reliability in World War II, traveling on long missions to strike targets within enemy territory. Thousands of these four-engine heavy bombers saw combat in the war, and those still operating today serve as a living tribute to the Greatest Generation.

Votes: 110

VS

Eclipse 500

P-47 Thunderbolt

Nicknamed the "Jug" for "Juggernaut," the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt stormed into World War II as the largest single-engine piston fighter. Roaring behind a 2,000-horsepower radial engine and armed with six or eight .50-caliber machine guns , the rugged P-47 was used as a high-altitude escort fighter and low-level fighter-bomber.

Votes: 46

Ercoupe

Mooney M20

The Mooney M20's speed and efficiency are perhaps even more prized today than when the sleek, Texas-built airplanes went into production in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mechanically simple landing gear and a durable, crash-resistant cabin structure have given Mooneys a fanatical following—especially when fuel prices spike.

Votes: 265

VS

Eclipse 500

B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress lived up to its moniker through its strength and reliability in World War II, traveling on long missions to strike targets within enemy territory. Thousands of these four-engine heavy bombers saw combat in the war, and those still operating today serve as a living tribute to the Greatest Generation.

Votes: 423

Ercoupe

Diamond DA40

With its sleek lines, glider-like wings, wraparound plexiglass canopy, and control stick, the Diamond DA40-180 is as sporty to fly as it looks. Many of the aircraft feature the Garmin G1000, and, if you go for a flight in it with the glass cockpit, you might just say "Gee!" a thousand times.

Votes: 227

VS

Eclipse 500

Waco YMF-5D

Combining the best of new materials and modern avionics with old-world craftsmanship and style, the Waco YMF-5D is unique. Each one is built by hand, and their fit, finish, and flying qualities are superb. A 300-horsepower Jacobs engine gives the Waco plenty of power.

Votes: 464

Ercoupe

Diamond DA42

The Diamond DA42-VI Twin Star is powered by two FADEC-controlled, 168-horsepower Austro turbodiesel engines, which can take this four-seater to cruise speeds as high as 197 KTAS according to Diamond. Maximum range with standard fuel tanks is 795 nautical miles. The airplane, which is an improved version of the DA42 predecessor, has proven popular with flight schools as a multiengine trainer, and surveillance versions have been marketed to governments wanting economical patrol airplanes with long endurances.

Votes: 145

VS

Eclipse 500

Cessna 208 Caravan

Originally meant to transport air cargo, the Caravan has been a dazzling commercial success in the passenger market, too. Executive interiors, amphibious floats, and passenger transport have opened up new markets far beyond air freight for the Caravan.

Votes: 545

Ercoupe

P-38 Lightning

Kelly Johnson's radical twin-engine fighter was one of the few modern designs in production when the United States entered World War II, and was flown by America's top ace, Richard Bong. Only the Lockheed P-38 Lightning had the range to carry out the long-distance ambush that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.

Votes: 505

VS

Eclipse 500

Van's RV-6

Fast, efficient, economical, and sporty with excellent handling qualities and great visibility, the RV-6 is the most numerically popular of Richard VanGrunsven's RV series. More than 8,000 kit RVs have been registered and flown in the last 40 years, and the two-seat, side-by-side RV-6 is the most popular model of the most popular kit airplane series ever produced.

Votes: 179

Ercoupe

Pilatus PC-12

With a cabin as large as a King Air's and performance to match, the Pilatus PC-12 does it all with just one engine instead of two. By proving the reliability and efficiency of single-engine turboprops, the PC-12 has stayed at the head of the class in this increasingly competitive market.

Votes: 378

VS

Eclipse 500

Pitts Special

These diminutive biplanes took the aerobatic world by storm in the 1960s and permanently altered the sport by making it accessible to general aviation pilots everywhere. The powerful, six-cylinder S-2B was the first two-seater capable of performing unlimited aerobatics with two aboard, and the S-2C is even more refined. Curtis Pitts, a self-educated designer, made no compromises in making his Pitts Specials as strong, light, and powerful as they could possibly be.

Votes: 307

Ercoupe

Vought F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine's most versatile fighter/bomber in the Pacific. The Japanese called it "whistling death" for the high-pitched sound screaming Corsairs make during power dives. A roomy cockpit, a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, and unmatched speed and strength made the Corsair a favorite among pilots.

Votes: 573

VS

Eclipse 500

Glasair Sportsman

Inventor of the increasingly popular Two Weeks To Taxi Program, Glasair is a pioneer among kit aircraft firms. The Sportsman comes in two- and four-seat models that combine speed, range, and short-field landing capabilities and that make the airplane highly desirable for visiting remote wilderness areas.

Votes: 107

Ercoupe

Aeronca Champion

Designed to address the well-known shortcomings of the Piper J-3 Cub as a pilot trainer, the Champ was made for the pilot to sit in the front seat, with excellent forward visibility, and soft oleo struts for easy landing. More than 65 years later, the design remains a fantastic trainer and an absolute joy to fly.

Votes: 459

VS

Eclipse 500

Ryan Navion

Strong and sturdy, big and imposing, with excellent range and comfort, the Navion has a well-deserved reputation as a pilot's airplane. Its looks are reminiscent of the North American fighters produced on some of the same assembly lines, and there's nothing quite like the convertible-like feeling of pulling the canopy back on the landing rollout.

Votes: 213

Ercoupe

Cessna 310

From its initial TV appearance on Sky King, the Cessna 310 has captured the imaginations of those seeking speed, range, and multiengine mastery.

Votes: 453

VS

Eclipse 500

Piper Aerostar

Whether your tastes in aircraft run to speed, beauty, or an aura of legend concerning its design, there's a place for you in any gathering of admirers of the Piper Aerostar. Setting speed records for piston twins in both normally aspirated and turbocharged varieties, the Aerostar, with its distinct mid-wing design, remains a monument to revered designer Ted Smith's mission to squeeze every possible knot out of a design concept. The Aerostar 601 was the first of the Aerostars to be turbocharged; there was also a pressurized model, the Aerostar 601P.

Votes: 210

Ercoupe

Cessna 172

The most popular general aviation aircraft in history is the standard by which others are judged. A favorite among flight schools, flying clubs, and individual owners, no other airplane can match the Cessna 172's pragmatic ability to stand up to punishment and do many things pretty darn well.

Votes: 445

VS

Eclipse 500

Aviat Husky

Designed as a step up from a Super Cub, the Aviat Husky made a niche for itself as the Cadillac of the backcountry. A bigger engine and constant-speed prop give the Husky tremendous short- and rough-field performance, and its range, comfort, visibility, and unmatched craftsmanship make each one a work of art.

Votes: 219

Ercoupe

Waco YMF-5D

Combining the best of new materials and modern avionics with old-world craftsmanship and style, the Waco YMF-5D is unique. Each one is built by hand, and their fit, finish, and flying qualities are superb. A 300-horsepower Jacobs engine gives the Waco plenty of power.

Votes: 400

VS

Eclipse 500

Cessna 208 Caravan

Originally meant to transport air cargo, the Caravan has been a dazzling commercial success in the passenger market, too. Executive interiors, amphibious floats, and passenger transport have opened up new markets far beyond air freight for the Caravan.

Votes: 270

Ercoupe

P-38 Lightning

Kelly Johnson's radical twin-engine fighter was one of the few modern designs in production when the United States entered World War II, and was flown by America's top ace, Richard Bong. Only the Lockheed P-38 Lightning had the range to carry out the long-distance ambush that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.

Votes: 471

VS

Eclipse 500

Pilatus PC-12

With a cabin as large as a King Air's and performance to match, the Pilatus PC-12 does it all with just one engine instead of two. By proving the reliability and efficiency of single-engine turboprops, the PC-12 has stayed at the head of the class in this increasingly competitive market.

Votes: 193

Ercoupe

Vought F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine's most versatile fighter/bomber in the Pacific. The Japanese called it "whistling death" for the high-pitched sound screaming Corsairs make during power dives. A roomy cockpit, a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, and unmatched speed and strength made the Corsair a favorite among pilots.

Votes: 470

VS

Eclipse 500

Aeronca Champion

Designed to address the well-known shortcomings of the Piper J-3 Cub as a pilot trainer, the Champ was made for the pilot to sit in the front seat, with excellent forward visibility, and soft oleo struts for easy landing. More than 65 years later, the design remains a fantastic trainer and an absolute joy to fly.

Votes: 196

Ercoupe

Cessna 310

From its initial TV appearance on Sky King, the Cessna 310 has captured the imaginations of those seeking speed, range, and multiengine mastery.

Votes: 234

VS

Eclipse 500

Cessna 172

The most popular general aviation aircraft in history is the standard by which others are judged. A favorite among flight schools, flying clubs, and individual owners, no other airplane can match the Cessna 172's pragmatic ability to stand up to punishment and do many things pretty darn well.

Votes: 424

Ercoupe

Waco YMF-5D

Combining the best of new materials and modern avionics with old-world craftsmanship and style, the Waco YMF-5D is unique. Each one is built by hand, and their fit, finish, and flying qualities are superb. A 300-horsepower Jacobs engine gives the Waco plenty of power.

Votes: 113

VS

Eclipse 500

P-38 Lightning

Kelly Johnson's radical twin-engine fighter was one of the few modern designs in production when the United States entered World War II, and was flown by America's top ace, Richard Bong. Only the Lockheed P-38 Lightning had the range to carry out the long-distance ambush that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.

Votes: 202

Ercoupe

Vought F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine's most versatile fighter/bomber in the Pacific. The Japanese called it "whistling death" for the high-pitched sound screaming Corsairs make during power dives. A roomy cockpit, a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, and unmatched speed and strength made the Corsair a favorite among pilots.

Votes: 199

VS

Eclipse 500

Cessna 172

The most popular general aviation aircraft in history is the standard by which others are judged. A favorite among flight schools, flying clubs, and individual owners, no other airplane can match the Cessna 172's pragmatic ability to stand up to punishment and do many things pretty darn well.

Votes: 112

Ercoupe

P-38 Lightning

Kelly Johnson's radical twin-engine fighter was one of the few modern designs in production when the United States entered World War II, and was flown by America's top ace, Richard Bong. Only the Lockheed P-38 Lightning had the range to carry out the long-distance ambush that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.

Votes: 262

VS

Eclipse 500

Vought F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine's most versatile fighter/bomber in the Pacific. The Japanese called it "whistling death" for the high-pitched sound screaming Corsairs make during power dives. A roomy cockpit, a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, and unmatched speed and strength made the Corsair a favorite among pilots.

Votes: 422

Ercoupe

Cessna 182

Perhaps the best utility aircraft of all time, Cessna's ubiquitous 182 can carry heavy loads, fly in the clouds, and land on unimproved airstrips. It's a four-seat airplane that can actually carry people in all four seats. Whether the job involves hauling skydivers or family members, the Skylane gets it done without breaking a sweat.

Votes: 179

VS

Eclipse 500

Van's RV-8

The Van's RV-8's sliding, bubble canopy and sleek, low-wing design give the two-seat tandem aircraft a sporty look and feel. The experimental-category RV-8 first flew in 1995, and it's a more spacious, longer range successor to the Van's Aircraft RV-4. The RV-8 is designed for four-cylinder Lycoming engines from 150 to 200 horsepower (although a few builders have installed six-cylinder versions and call their airplanes "Super Eights"). About 1,300 RV-8s have been built and flown.

Votes: 60

Ercoupe

Luscombe 8

Don Luscombe's genius created this original line of all-metal, two-seat aircraft that remain models of style and efficiency. Capable of cruising at more than 100 mph, the A models remain hugely popular vintage light sport aircraft. Later Silvaires with flaps and larger engines offer even more performance and fine handling qualities.

Votes: 70

VS

Eclipse 500

Cessna 206

A true workhorse, the Cessna 206 can be spotted flying missions in the Alaska bush or hauling tourists over the Grand Canyon. Unlike so many other piston singles and twins, you really can fill the tanks, load up all the seats, and take off without busting maximum gross weight or the generous center of gravity envelope. The Cessna 206 has justly earned its reputation as a half-ton pickup.

Votes: 164

Ercoupe

Beech V35 Bonanza

The V-tails epitomized general aviation's growing sophistication for more than 40 years (beginning in 1947), and they have long been favorites among individual owners for family and business travel. And sometimes that travel is mind-boggling. A 1949 Bonanza named "Waikiki Beach" flew nonstop from Honolulu to Teterboro, New Jersey, in 1949, setting a distance record for piston singles that's still hard to comprehend.

Votes: 148

VS

Eclipse 500

Van's RV-10

The four-seat, fixed-gear RV-10 is the definition of what designer Richard VanGrunsven calls "total performance." Its unique combination of a high cruise speed, a low approach speed, excellent range, generous payload, and lively handling make it unique in its class.

Votes: 86

Ercoupe

Piper PA-24 Comanche

The beautifully designed and solidly built Comanche was a model of efficiency with 180 horsepower, but it really came into its own with a six-cylinder engine that allowed it to compete with Bonanzas in terms of speed, payload, and range. Their longevity and loyal followings prove the efficacy of the original design.

Votes: 76

VS

Eclipse 500

B-24 Liberator

With more than 18,000 produced, Consolidated B-24 Liberators were used in every combat theater in World War II. While sometimes overshadowed by the B-17, the B-24 could haul heavier loads—8,000 pounds of bombs—and fly longer distances, with a range of 2,850 miles.

Votes: 153

Ercoupe

Cessna 150/152

When Cessna claims that it taught the world to fly, it should add that it did so in these tiny, seemingly indestructible workhorses. Cessna 150/152s have logged millions of hours in punishing airport traffic patterns with unequalled success—and a beautifully refurbished one could be yours in AOPA's 2015 You Can Fly Sweepstakes.

Votes: 91

VS

Eclipse 500

Citabria/Decathlon

Spell the word "aerobatic" backward and you come up with something like Citabria, a delightful airplane that can loop, roll, spin, go places, and look good doing it. Its close cousin, the Decathlon, increases aerobatic performance with a symmetrical wing.

Votes: 139

Ercoupe

Beech Staggerwing

This Golden Age icon single-handedly created the Beech reputation for style and performance. The cabin biplane with retractable gear (only a few were sold with fixed gear) flew far faster than any of its contemporaries, and its radial-engine power and art deco looks have made it an enduring object of desire.

Votes: 163

VS

Eclipse 500

Maule M-4

There are taildraggers, and then there's the Maule. The Maule family has been building sturdy tailwheel airplanes known for their short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) capability from the factory in Moultrie, Georgia, since the 1950s. The Maule M-4-180V Jetasen II model, the first model Maule offered in large quantities, is a two-place aircraft powered by a 180-horsepower engine that offers 120 knots true airspeed.

Votes: 67

Ercoupe

Cessna 210 Centurion

Cessna's top-of-the-line piston single could lift more and fly farther in greater comfort than its contemporaries. Six seats and a powerful, six-cylinder Continental engine made the sleek Cessna 210 a high-flying, high-wing alternative—and a natural step-up for Cessna pilots.

Votes: 157

VS

Eclipse 500

Bellanca Super Viking

The Bellanca Super Viking high-performance single stands as a rarity among its peers. Legendary handling and stability are the enduring reputation of this unusual aircraft constructed of tube and fabric for the fuselage and tail, and of wood for the wing structure. Although the Bellanca Super Viking emerged in the 1960s, its design heritage traces back to the equally unconventional triple-tailed, tailwheel-equipped Bellanca Cruisair of the 1930s.

Votes: 73

Ercoupe

Piper J-3 Cub

Generations of pilots fell in love with aviation flying low and slow in J-3 Cubs with the doors and windows open in flight. Perhaps no other airplane captures the pure essence of flying's joy and freedom better than the tube-and-fabric Cubs from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Votes: 136

VS

Eclipse 500

AT-6 Texan

North American Aviation's T-6 "Texans" and SNJs were built by 18-year-olds for 18-year-olds, and they retain a rowdy, youthful character that defies their septuagenarian status. With 600 horsepower, fabric-covered control surfaces, and silky smooth pushrod/ball-bearing controls, the T-6 has a mystique that reaches far beyond its performance numbers. This "pilot maker" is both delightful and challenging to fly.

Votes: 91

Ercoupe

Cessna 182

Perhaps the best utility aircraft of all time, Cessna's ubiquitous 182 can carry heavy loads, fly in the clouds, and land on unimproved airstrips. It's a four-seat airplane that can actually carry people in all four seats. Whether the job involves hauling skydivers or family members, the Skylane gets it done without breaking a sweat.

Votes: 358

VS

Eclipse 500

Cessna 206

A true workhorse, the Cessna 206 can be spotted flying missions in the Alaska bush or hauling tourists over the Grand Canyon. Unlike so many other piston singles and twins, you really can fill the tanks, load up all the seats, and take off without busting maximum gross weight or the generous center of gravity envelope. The Cessna 206 has justly earned its reputation as a half-ton pickup.

Votes: 180

Ercoupe

Beech V35 Bonanza

The V-tails epitomized general aviation's growing sophistication for more than 40 years (beginning in 1947), and they have long been favorites among individual owners for family and business travel. And sometimes that travel is mind-boggling. A 1949 Bonanza named "Waikiki Beach" flew nonstop from Honolulu to Teterboro, New Jersey, in 1949, setting a distance record for piston singles that's still hard to comprehend.

Votes: 223

VS

Eclipse 500

B-24 Liberator

With more than 18,000 produced, Consolidated B-24 Liberators were used in every combat theater in World War II. While sometimes overshadowed by the B-17, the B-24 could haul heavier loads—8,000 pounds of bombs—and fly longer distances, with a range of 2,850 miles.

Votes: 297

Ercoupe

Citabria/Decathlon

Spell the word "aerobatic" backward and you come up with something like Citabria, a delightful airplane that can loop, roll, spin, go places, and look good doing it. Its close cousin, the Decathlon, increases aerobatic performance with a symmetrical wing.

Votes: 162

VS

Eclipse 500

Beech Staggerwing

This Golden Age icon single-handedly created the Beech reputation for style and performance. The cabin biplane with retractable gear (only a few were sold with fixed gear) flew far faster than any of its contemporaries, and its radial-engine power and art deco looks have made it an enduring object of desire.

Votes: 348

Ercoupe

Cessna 210 Centurion

Cessna's top-of-the-line piston single could lift more and fly farther in greater comfort than its contemporaries. Six seats and a powerful, six-cylinder Continental engine made the sleek Cessna 210 a high-flying, high-wing alternative—and a natural step-up for Cessna pilots.

Votes: 133

VS

Eclipse 500

Piper J-3 Cub

Generations of pilots fell in love with aviation flying low and slow in J-3 Cubs with the doors and windows open in flight. Perhaps no other airplane captures the pure essence of flying's joy and freedom better than the tube-and-fabric Cubs from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Votes: 371

Ercoupe

Cessna 182

Perhaps the best utility aircraft of all time, Cessna's ubiquitous 182 can carry heavy loads, fly in the clouds, and land on unimproved airstrips. It's a four-seat airplane that can actually carry people in all four seats. Whether the job involves hauling skydivers or family members, the Skylane gets it done without breaking a sweat.

Votes: 78

VS

Eclipse 500

B-24 Liberator

With more than 18,000 produced, Consolidated B-24 Liberators were used in every combat theater in World War II. While sometimes overshadowed by the B-17, the B-24 could haul heavier loads—8,000 pounds of bombs—and fly longer distances, with a range of 2,850 miles.

Votes: 82

Ercoupe

Beech Staggerwing

This Golden Age icon single-handedly created the Beech reputation for style and performance. The cabin biplane with retractable gear (only a few were sold with fixed gear) flew far faster than any of its contemporaries, and its radial-engine power and art deco looks have made it an enduring object of desire.

Votes: 72

VS

Eclipse 500

Piper J-3 Cub

Generations of pilots fell in love with aviation flying low and slow in J-3 Cubs with the doors and windows open in flight. Perhaps no other airplane captures the pure essence of flying's joy and freedom better than the tube-and-fabric Cubs from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Votes: 88

Ercoupe

B-24 Liberator

With more than 18,000 produced, Consolidated B-24 Liberators were used in every combat theater in World War II. While sometimes overshadowed by the B-17, the B-24 could haul heavier loads—8,000 pounds of bombs—and fly longer distances, with a range of 2,850 miles.

Votes: 220

VS

Eclipse 500

Piper J-3 Cub

Generations of pilots fell in love with aviation flying low and slow in J-3 Cubs with the doors and windows open in flight. Perhaps no other airplane captures the pure essence of flying's joy and freedom better than the tube-and-fabric Cubs from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Votes: 470

Ercoupe

Supermarine Spitfire

This elliptical-winged hero of the Battle of Britain played a unique role in saving Western civilization from what Winston Churchill called a "new Dark Age." Its incomparable Merlin engine powered Supermarine Spitfire pilots to victory in epic air battles, and Churchill's stirring prose memorialized them for all time: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Votes: 277

VS

Eclipse 500

Vought F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine's most versatile fighter/bomber in the Pacific. The Japanese called it "whistling death" for the high-pitched sound screaming Corsairs make during power dives. A roomy cockpit, a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, and unmatched speed and strength made the Corsair a favorite among pilots.

Votes: 735

Ercoupe

B-17 Flying Fortress

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress lived up to its moniker through its strength and reliability in World War II, traveling on long missions to strike targets within enemy territory. Thousands of these four-engine heavy bombers saw combat in the war, and those still operating today serve as a living tribute to the Greatest Generation.

Votes: 474

VS

Eclipse 500

Piper J-3 Cub

Generations of pilots fell in love with aviation flying low and slow in J-3 Cubs with the doors and windows open in flight. Perhaps no other airplane captures the pure essence of flying's joy and freedom better than the tube-and-fabric Cubs from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Votes: 496

Ercoupe

Vought F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine's most versatile fighter/bomber in the Pacific. The Japanese called it "whistling death" for the high-pitched sound screaming Corsairs make during power dives. A roomy cockpit, a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, and unmatched speed and strength made the Corsair a favorite among pilots.

Votes: 1149

VS

Eclipse 500

Piper J-3 Cub

Generations of pilots fell in love with aviation flying low and slow in J-3 Cubs with the doors and windows open in flight. Perhaps no other airplane captures the pure essence of flying's joy and freedom better than the tube-and-fabric Cubs from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Votes: 1005

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