Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Protecting Your Freedom to Fly

AOPA Favorite Aircraft Challenge

Round 1

Round 2

Round of 16

Round of 8

Round of 8

Round of 16

Round 2

Round 1

 
 
 

FOUR ON FINAL

 
 

Piper PA-18 Super Cub (5)

82

F4U Corsair (3)

72

 
 
 

Round 1

Round 2

Round of 16

Round of 8

Round of 8

Round of 16

Round 2

Round 1

hall of fame
Cessna 182

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: 332

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 69

Piper PA-22 series

Piper PA-22 series

The fabric-covered PA-22 Piper Tri- Pacer, a descendant of the venerable Cub, wooed far more customers than its tailwheel counterpart, the Pacer. Dress it up with floats, skis, tundra tires, 180-horsepower engines, STOL kits, extended wing tips, speed fairings and seals, auxiliary fuel tanks—or leave it as is, and enjoy.

Votes: 89

VS

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 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: 308

Piper PA-18 Super Cub

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: 258

VS

B-29 Superfortress

B-29 Superfortress

Fifi may be the only B-29 Superfortress taking to the skies today, but don't count out this larger-than-life warbird. Able to carry a 20,000-pound payload 3,200 miles, and defended by a computerized and remotely operated gunnery system, it entered service in World War II as the largest, most technically advanced aircraft of the war. The Enola Gay made an indelible mark on world history Aug. 6, 1945, when it dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

Votes: 133

Mooney M20

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, four-cylinder Lycoming engines, and a durable, crash-resistant cabin structure have given Mooneys a fanatical following— especially when fuel prices spike.

Votes: 193

VS

Beech 18

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: 192

Cessna 150/152

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. These fragile-looking Cessna 150/152s have logged millions of hours in punishing airport traffic patterns with unequalled success.

Votes: 329

VS

Culver Cadet

Culver Cadet

This Al Mooney-designed aircraft served both as a pilot trainer and a target drone during World War II. Simple, light, and economical to operate with engines of either 75 or 90 horsepower, Cadets were models of efficiency with their retractable, tailwheel landing gear. Cadets (or PQ-8s as the target drones were designated) are highly sought after by collectors.

Votes: 50

AT-6 Texan

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 for beyond its performance numbers. This "pilot maker" is both delightful and challenging to fly.

Votes: 214

VS

Lockheed Constellation

Lockheed Constellation

The distinctive triple tail and dolphin shape helped make the four-engine, pressurized Constellation the pinnacle of pre-jet airline travel. Aviation legends Howard Hughes and Kelly Johnson had prominent roles in the Constellation's birth in the mid-1940s, and the speedy, long-range airliners opened new routes across the Atlantic. With a top speed of 375 mph and a range that topped 3,500 miles, Constellations did more than just look good.

Votes: 159

Pilatus PC-12

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: 151

VS

Beech King Air

Beech King Air

Speed, range, carrying capacity, short- and rough-field capability—and the ability to continue climbing at max gross weight after an engine failure—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: 216

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: 311

VS

Curtiss Sparrowhawk

Curtiss Sparrowhawk

This diminutive biplane was a scout/fighter was designed to be carried aloft by lighter-than-air dirigibles in the 1930s. Takeoffs meant being dropped from a “trapeze” crossbar, and landings were accomplished by latching onto the mother ship with a hook. To extend their range, Sparrowhawks could do without landing gear. Only one Sparrowhawk remains today.

Votes: 52

Cessna 182

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: 142

VS

Twin Comanche

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 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: 148

Cessna 182

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: 206

VS

Twin Comanche

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, four-cylinder Lycoming engines, and a durable, crash-resistant cabin structure have given Mooneys a fanatical following— especially when fuel prices spike.

Votes: 78

Cessna 182

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. These fragile-looking Cessna 150/152s have logged millions of hours in punishing airport traffic patterns with unequalled success.

Votes: 120

VS

Twin Comanche

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 for beyond its performance numbers. This "pilot maker" is both delightful and challenging to fly.

Votes: 166

Cessna 182

Beech King Air

Speed, range, carrying capacity, short- and rough-field capability—and the ability to continue climbing at max gross weight after an engine failure—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: 181

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 97

Cessna 182

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 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: 155

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 160

Cessna 182

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 for beyond its performance numbers. This "pilot maker" is both delightful and challenging to fly.

Votes: 154

VS

Twin Comanche

Beech King Air

Speed, range, carrying capacity, short- and rough-field capability—and the ability to continue climbing at max gross weight after an engine failure—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: 147

Cessna 182

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: 309

VS

Twin Comanche

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 for beyond its performance numbers. This "pilot maker" is both delightful and challenging to fly.

Votes: 176

Cessna 182

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: 296

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 145

Cessna 182

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: 118

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 316

Cessna 182

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: 157

VS

Twin Comanche

PBY 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: 278

Cessna 182

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: 285

VS

Twin Comanche

Bell P-39 Airacobra

Innovations such as a mid-engine, tricycle landing gear and a cannon that fired through the propeller hub made the Airacobra a pioneering aircraft at the outset of World War II. Although the lack of a two-stage supercharger limited the Airacobra's performance at high altitudes, it was used successfully by the Soviet Union as a both a fighter and a ground attack aircraft. More than 9,000 Airacobras were produced, and about half were sent to England and the Soviet Union.

Votes: 143

Cessna 182

F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps' 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: 378

VS

Twin Comanche

Rockwell Commander

Steady, sturdy and strong, Rockwell Commanders (models 112 and 114) have developed a loyal following since they started being produced in a 20-year span from 1972 until 1992. Later models were upgraded with six-cylinder engines and turbo-charged models. Roomy, comfortable, and rugged, the Commander is a time machine.

Votes: 40

Cessna 182

Grumman AA-5B Tiger

Exceptional visibility, sporty handling, and mechanical simplicity with a free-castering nose wheel 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: 221

VS

Twin Comanche

Maule M-4

Designed for “serious pilots who fly for the love of it,” the Maule M-4 inspired the Moultrie, Ga.-based manufacturer’s line of STOL taildraggers that allow access to unimproved and rugged environments. This distinctive tailwheel aircraft earned a reputation as a top-notch aircraft at a reasonable price.

Votes: 201

Cessna 182

Beech Staggerwing

This Golden Age icon single-handedly created the Beech reputation for style and performance. The cabin biplane with retractable 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: 340

VS

Twin Comanche

Helio Courier

An exceptional high-lift wing and gobs of Lycoming power make the heavy hauling Helio-Courier a legend in remote, backcountry operations. Leading edge slats that deploy automatically at speeds below 60 mph allow Helio-Couriers to fly at airspeeds as low at 28 mph. First used by U.S. military special operations, Helio-Couriers remain popular among for bush flying, photography, and parachute jumping.

Votes: 82

Cessna 182

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, Pa.

Votes: 292

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 128

Cessna 182

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: 257

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 320

Cessna 182

PBY 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: 380

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 193

Cessna 182

F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps' 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: 507

VS

Twin Comanche

Grumman AA-5B Tiger

Exceptional visibility, sporty handling, and mechanical simplicity with a free-castering nose wheel 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: 70

Cessna 182

Beech Staggerwing

This Golden Age icon single-handedly created the Beech reputation for style and performance. The cabin biplane with retractable 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: 268

VS

Twin Comanche

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, Pa.

Votes: 293

Cessna 182

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: 121

VS

Twin Comanche

PBY 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: 95

Cessna 182

F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps' 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: 122

VS

Twin Comanche

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, Pa.

Votes: 94

Cessna 182

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: 181

VS

Twin Comanche

F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps' 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: 294

Cessna 182

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, N.J., in 1949 setting a distance record for piston singles that's still hard to comprehend.

Votes: 292

VS

Twin Comanche

Republic Seabee

This unmistakable amphibian is anything but boring: Love it or hate it, but you won't forget it. A Republic Seabee carried James Bond over spectacular scenery—and met a spectacular end—in The Man with the Golden Gun.

Votes: 71

Cessna 182

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 P-38 had the range to carry out the long-distance ambush that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.

Votes: 254

VS

Twin Comanche

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. They were the last piston airplane used by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, and modified versions have been consistent winners at air races.

Votes: 103

Cessna 182

Bellanca Super Viking

A sleek and powerful evolution of Bellanca's “Cruiseair” line, these four-seat speedsters were a bit anachronistic at the time they were built in the late 1960s and 1970s because their steel-tube fuselages were covered in fabric and wings were made from wood. Although the airplanes are optimized for long-distance cruising, the Super Vikings have exceptional performance and handling qualities. Display pilot Debbie Gary used to perform graceful aerobatic routines in them in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Votes: 98

VS

Twin Comanche

Van's RV-10

The four-seat, fixed-gear RV-10 is the definition of what designer Richard Van Grunsven 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: 257

Cessna 182

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: 251

VS

Twin Comanche

Hawker Typhoon

Originally designed as an air-to-air fighter, the Typhoon came into its own in a ground-support role as a fighter/bomber. The thick wing that prevented the Typhoon from reaching its top-speed targets at high altitudes gave it exceptional stability and allowed it to pack a punch with up to four cannons or a dozen machine guns. Typhoon pilots were credited with stopping German counterattacks in France and destroying automated “buzz bombs” over England.

Votes: 92

Cessna 182

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: 150

VS

Twin Comanche

Grumman Widgeon

The six-seat little brother to the Goose was drafted into World War II soon after going into production in 1940. They served as coastal patrol aircraft looking for (and finding and sometimes attacking) German submarines along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts. Now, the Widgeon is sought after among civilian owners, and most of the original Ranger engines have been replaced by Lycomings.

Votes: 191

Cessna 182

Cessna 170

During the decade following World War II, the Cessna 170 was the world's most popular four-place airplane. It still holds a place in the hearts of many tailwheel pilots. Owners celebrate mechanical simplicity and performance equal to Cessna 172 Skyhawks that can cost much more.

Votes: 132

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 211

Cessna 182

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 miles per hour on just 65 horsepower, 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: 191

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 150

Cessna 182

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: 188

VS

Twin Comanche

Douglas Skyraider

Although produced too late to see action in World War II, the Ed Heinemann-designed Skyraider or “Spad” as it came to be known, could carry as much ordinance (8,000 lbs.) as a four-engine B-17 bomber and four times as much as a Corsair or a Mustang. The Spad flew with distinction in a ground-attack role in Korea, and rescuing downed U.S. airmen in Vietnam.

Votes: 153

Cessna 182

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, N.J., in 1949 setting a distance record for piston singles that's still hard to comprehend.

Votes: 125

VS

Twin Comanche

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 P-38 had the range to carry out the long-distance ambush that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.

Votes: 147

Cessna 182

Van's RV-10

The four-seat, fixed-gear RV-10 is the definition of what designer Richard Van Grunsven 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: 111

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 161

Cessna 182

Grumman Widgeon

The six-seat little brother to the Goose was drafted into World War II soon after going into production in 1940. They served as coastal patrol aircraft looking for (and finding and sometimes attacking) German submarines along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts. Now, the Widgeon is sought after among civilian owners, and most of the original Ranger engines have been replaced by Lycomings.

Votes: 138

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 136

Cessna 182

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 miles per hour on just 65 horsepower, 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: 81

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 187

Cessna 182

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 P-38 had the range to carry out the long-distance ambush that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.

Votes: 188

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 111

Cessna 182

Grumman Widgeon

The six-seat little brother to the Goose was drafted into World War II soon after going into production in 1940. They served as coastal patrol aircraft looking for (and finding and sometimes attacking) German submarines along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts. Now, the Widgeon is sought after among civilian owners, and most of the original Ranger engines have been replaced by Lycomings.

Votes: 141

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 150

Cessna 182

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 P-38 had the range to carry out the long-distance ambush that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.

Votes: 294

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 179

Cessna 182

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: 306

VS

Twin Comanche

Spartan Executive

A no-compromises trophy for the ultra-rich, the Spartan Executive was built for speed, comfort, and beauty. Just 34 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: 173

Cessna 182

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: 206

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 251

Cessna 182

Extra 300

Walter Extra's monoplanes have been winners in international aerobatic competitions for more than two decades—and his 300-horsepower, 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: 222

VS

Twin Comanche

Aero Commander

Designed by Ted Smith and popularized by air show legend R.A. “Bob” Hoover, the Aero Commander line kept up with the times. What started as twin-engine piston aircraft in the 1950s was later stretched and modified into a turboprop and a twin jet (Westwind and Astra). Smith envisioned the long evolution from the outset and made the Aero Commander a model of utility and flexibility.

Votes: 235

Cessna 182

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: 283

VS

Twin Comanche

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 Van Grunsven'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: 176

Cessna 182

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: 142

VS

Twin Comanche

Cessna 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: 313

Cessna 182

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: 91

VS

Twin Comanche

B-25 Mitchell

On April 18, 1942, 80 young men led by Jimmy Doolittle launched in North American B-25 Mitchell bombers for a dangerous mission against daunting odds. The successful Tokyo Raid has been credited as a critical morale boost for the U.S. public and earned the B-25 a special place in American history.

Votes: 364

Cessna 182

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: 330

VS

Twin Comanche

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

Cessna 182

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: 172

VS

Twin Comanche

de Havilland Beaver

A rugged and roomy airframe of incredible strength, and a growling Pratt & Whitney engine make the Beaver the airplane of choice for adventurers from the tropics to the Arctic. Nothing is as sturdy as a Beaver on wheels, skis, or floats—and no other bush plane is commemorated with its own minted coin (a 1999 Canadian quarter).

Votes: 270

Cessna 182

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: 372

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 240

Cessna 182

Aero Commander

Designed by Ted Smith and popularized by air show legend R.A. “Bob” Hoover, the Aero Commander line kept up with the times. What started as twin-engine piston aircraft in the 1950s was later stretched and modified into a turboprop and a twin jet (Westwind and Astra). Smith envisioned the long evolution from the outset and made the Aero Commander a model of utility and flexibility.

Votes: 313

VS

Twin Comanche

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: 289

Cessna 182

Cessna 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: 220

VS

Twin Comanche

B-25 Mitchell

On April 18, 1942, 80 young men led by Jimmy Doolittle launched in North American B-25 Mitchell bombers for a dangerous mission against daunting odds. The successful Tokyo Raid has been credited as a critical morale boost for the U.S. public and earned the B-25 a special place in American history.

Votes: 380

Cessna 182

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: 202

VS

Twin Comanche

de Havilland Beaver

A rugged and roomy airframe of incredible strength, and a growling Pratt & Whitney engine make the Beaver the airplane of choice for adventurers from the tropics to the Arctic. Nothing is as sturdy as a Beaver on wheels, skis, or floats—and no other bush plane is commemorated with its own minted coin (a 1999 Canadian quarter).

Votes: 386

Cessna 182

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: 166

VS

Twin Comanche

Aero Commander

Designed by Ted Smith and popularized by air show legend R.A. “Bob” Hoover, the Aero Commander line kept up with the times. What started as twin-engine piston aircraft in the 1950s was later stretched and modified into a turboprop and a twin jet (Westwind and Astra). Smith envisioned the long evolution from the outset and made the Aero Commander a model of utility and flexibility.

Votes: 54

Cessna 182

B-25 Mitchell

On April 18, 1942, 80 young men led by Jimmy Doolittle launched in North American B-25 Mitchell bombers for a dangerous mission against daunting odds. The successful Tokyo Raid has been credited as a critical morale boost for the U.S. public and earned the B-25 a special place in American history.

Votes: 92

VS

Twin Comanche

de Havilland Beaver

A rugged and roomy airframe of incredible strength, and a growling Pratt & Whitney engine make the Beaver the airplane of choice for adventurers from the tropics to the Arctic. Nothing is as sturdy as a Beaver on wheels, skis, or floats—and no other bush plane is commemorated with its own minted coin (a 1999 Canadian quarter).

Votes: 126

Cessna 182

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: 161

VS

Twin Comanche

de Havilland Beaver

A rugged and roomy airframe of incredible strength, and a growling Pratt & Whitney engine make the Beaver the airplane of choice for adventurers from the tropics to the Arctic. Nothing is as sturdy as a Beaver on wheels, skis, or floats—and no other bush plane is commemorated with its own minted coin (a 1999 Canadian quarter).

Votes: 316

Cessna 182

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: 82

VS

Twin Comanche

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 P-38 had the range to carry out the long-distance ambush that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943.

Votes: 78

Cessna 182

F4U Corsair

The distinctive long-nosed, bent-wing F4U Corsair was the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps' 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: 72

VS

Twin Comanche

de Havilland Beaver

A rugged and roomy airframe of incredible strength, and a growling Pratt & Whitney engine make the Beaver the airplane of choice for adventurers from the tropics to the Arctic. Nothing is as sturdy as a Beaver on wheels, skis, or floats—and no other bush plane is commemorated with its own minted coin (a 1999 Canadian quarter).

Votes: 80

Cessna 182

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: 475

VS

Twin Comanche

de Havilland Beaver

A rugged and roomy airframe of incredible strength, and a growling Pratt & Whitney engine make the Beaver the airplane of choice for adventurers from the tropics to the Arctic. Nothing is as sturdy as a Beaver on wheels, skis, or floats—and no other bush plane is commemorated with its own minted coin (a 1999 Canadian quarter).

Votes: 572

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