What Do You Think of Small Planes?

I’m not talking about what the media call small planes - you know regional jets, 12 seat puddle jumpers and stuff. I’m talking about itty bitty planes. What do you think about airplanes flown by private citizens that hold 1 to 6 people? Good thing? Bad thing? Post your opinion here.

Mostly interested in the opinions of non-pilots. Let’s keep it polite.

Not certain what sort of opinion you are you looking for here. Are you interested in knowing how non-pilots feel about flying in them? Or is there a more serious issue, e.g., whether we think small planes (by your definition) should be permitted?

“Not certain what sort of opinion you are looking for here.” Jeebus I need coffee.

I am not a pilot but I LOVE flying in small planes. I don’t mind the bumpy ride, the noise, or the feeling that I’m thousands of feet up in something that feels as sturdy as a volkswagen bug. I have a friend who is a flight instructor and he used to take me up alot. I wish I hadn’t moved far away from him- I miss going flying! So I guess I’ll vote in favour of them!

I have flown in small planes in Alaska for the last 32 years and have good friends that graduated from the 180’s on floats, Beavers, Otters and the Goose to be 1st officers for major airlines. I have never had any ambition to be a pilot but I love to ride and will never pass up an invitation to do so. One of my favorite quotes is about the DeHavilland Beaver. “The most efficient aircraft ever produced at converting fuel to noise.”

I, personally, would not care to fly in a small plane. Well, actually I prefer not to fly in ANY plane, but particularly small ones. When I’m in a bigger plane I can fool myself into thinking that I’m just in a particularly noisy train car or something (I used to ride in commuter trains in Spain all the time when I lived in that country). When I’m in a small plane, though, I cannot tell myself that I’m anywhere but in a plane, and a small one at that. Then it becomes my duty to lift the plane up off the ground and keep it safely in the air by sheer worry power. If you come across fingerprints in an airplane passenger seat, they might be mine.

I am not a good flying passenger.

However, if some nutjobs (no offense) get their kicks from flying large or small aircraft, I really don’t care, as long as I’m not close to the airport or under one when-errrrr, IF- it crashes. Just don’t invite me to go along for a ride and be insulted when I turn you down. If I went up with you, YOU’D have no fun, either, except to watch my face turn white and then green.

I love 'em. About a decade or so ago I got a private pilot’s license (single engine, land, VFR). I’m not current now, but I recall what a great feeling it was. A LOT of work, a lot of studying, a difficult thing to do, but what a rush the first time you land solo on a cross-country flight.

I still enjoy being a passenger on a small plane. You get more of a feeling of actually flying, and you are generally at a low enough altitude that you can actually see stuff on the ground.

I feel safer in a plane than I do in a car. Very few pilots tailgate. The test you have to pass to get even the minimal license that I had is hundreds of times harder than any driving permit test. You have to get at least a minimal medical clearance at regular intervals. I would hazard the guess that you don’t have 80+ year-old pilots who can hardly see and hear, with slow reaction times. Of course, if you have engine trouble, it’s harder to just pull over to the side. But then, most of the time the planes are checked over more carefully than cars. You don’t check the oil every time you drive. You don’t look at a sample of your car’s gas to make sure there’s no water in it. To get a pilot’s license, you also have to demonstrate that you know how to get out of bad situations. Instructors and inspectors have been known to cut the engine during a check ride and expect the new pilot-wannabe to recover appropriately.

Hey fellow sourdough! Yeah, small planes are a way of life up here. The largest float plane base in the world is in Anchorage, and there is a separate airport for the ones on wheels. If it weren’t for the little guys, most of Alaska would be inaccessible.

I flew in an Otter out of King Salmon over to Katmai (what a weird sentence!); what a great aircraft. A couple of years ago we chartered a plane to take us from McCarthy down the Copper River to Cordova and back. Absolutely spectacular scenery and no way to do it except in a small plane.

We also flew in puddle-jumpers when going on safari in Botswana.

I’m not really comfortable in them, since we don’t go up very often, and the bouncing around can be disconcerting, but as long as the pilot doesn’t seem worried, it’s fine.

I guess I’m looking for the opnions of those who don’t want to ride (like Lynn) and those who do not approve without this turning into a complete slugfest.

(Don’t worry Lynn, I wouldn’t be insulted if someone prone to airsickness and full of “worry power” declines an invitation - the sort of aviating I do is strictly for fun, and if it ain’t gonna be fun, we ain’t goin’)

I keep encountering the random person who gets… um… passionate about their views of small aircraft. Passionate in the direction opposite of how pilots feel (we pilot types are quite passionate, too :smiley: ). I guess I was looking for some insight into their viewpoint, although, come to think of it, I’m not sure such a person would be inclined to open this thread, given the title.

Anyhow, that’s my ulterior motive.

Well, I’ve got a hubby who gets motion sickness, and eschews small aircraft. And one daughter who (for no logical reason IMHO) hates all airplanes, and has to be constantly reassured about every creack and jostle even in large ones. There is a lot more attention paid to the occasional small craft mishap as compared to the much higher carnage on the ground in cars, which causes some folks to inaccurately perceive the small planes as dangerous. There’s also the perception that the small craft are fragile as compared to all the metal surrounding you in a car or large plane.

I like them for aerial views. I have gone over cities and the Grand Canyon in the tiny ones. IANA pilot.

I’ve flown in small planes three times(within the space of a week). It was ok, actually kind of fun, although I closed my eyes for the take-off the time I was sitting next to the pilot. And then a day or two later I had to laugh at myself. If a small plane is scary, why does a 747-400 (I think that’s the right number, the really huge new transatlantic planes) feel safe? Well part of it is the number of deaths factor (If hundreds of people would die at once, of course they are going to try harder to keep it safe) and part of it is the familiarity factor, I’d flown in big planes often enough for it to be fairly routine, but never anything that tiny.
I’m not likely to seek out opportunities to fly in a small plane, but it isn’t that scary, I’d do it again if I had the promise of the same kind of opportunities to see things I don’t normally get to see.
Anyway, two years ago(almost) I was in Southern Africa with my grandmother. There were six of us going out to the small planes with the pilots and our guide asks if everyone had flown in planes like this before. I was the only one who hadn’t. (Of course, I was also the youngest by fifteen years and the only one who wasn’t on the trip because of my own wanderlust). I had a moment of thinking that if I’d known that this was part of the tour I might have declined the opportunity to travel with my grandmother(which would porbably have kept her from going, which would have been a shame since her health has only declined since then and she enjoyed travelling so much). Anyway we loaded up and flew out to the grass landing strip near Savute Elephant Camp in Botswana. Two days later when we flew to our next safari camp, we had to chase three giraffes off the runway before the planes could land to take us off. (And then the driver parked by the side of the airstrip to discourage an elephant from walking on to it).
Anyway, I have some great memories that I wouldn’t have if I had been unwilling to fly in a little plane(altough given the circumstances, I would have had a major problem if I hadn’t agreed). And after my last flight on a small plane, I flew on a short but fat plane from Maun, Botswana to Johannesburg, South Africa, then a 747-400, and then I got on one of those breeds of commuter planes which people always mutter about and I could have slugged the lady griping on her cell phone. I wanted to get up, walk over to her and say, “Hey lady, this is NOT a small plane. I’ve been on one much smaller” (Remember, I’d been in Africa for three weeks, no cell phones. Then it was a 45 minute flight, an hour or so of getting organized in Maun, a flight to Johannesburg, several hours of massive noisy crowds, and then an 18 hour flight to Atlanta (which I did not sleep on) a few hours of sitting around and then we boarded one more plane and people were fussing about the little plane and talking on cell phones and I wanted to scream. Also, my tummy was a little upset at the beginning of this series of flights. Doesn’t help with the crankiness factor and then to finish things off, one more flight on a classic 757or something back the other direction, but finally, fortunately without my grandmother. I love her dearly, but was ready to be apart from her for a while.).

Sorry, that’s a long winded answer to Broomstick’s question, but my trip to Africa was such a wonderful experience it doesn’t take much to get me to tell stories from it or dig out my picture album.

I’ve never flown in one, but I’d like to. I’ve daydreamed at times of owning a gyrocopter (go figure) or ultralight, but I’ll never have the time.

Ultralights – now they scare me. As far as I know, they have minimal instrumentation, minimal requirements to operate them, and can get far enough and high enough to get into real trouble really fast.

IANAP but I love flying in the things. Like so_da_ne I had a good pal who was a flight instructor. It was a blast to go along his jaunts.
True story: the first time I ever flew was in an itty bitty plane into the Grand Canyon. There were a few tense moments when the plane jolted due to wind currents but it didn’t take long until the fascination and fun kicked in. After that commercial jets were rather a snooze.

I don’t know if this is kind of opinion you’re looking for, broomstick, but I’ve never considered small planes, and private pilots, as anything but very safe, to themselves and the public at large. They have a certain panache to me–all that freedom of the air–but the training required make them seem uber responsible.

Besides, all the strays bumps and swerves in small planes let me know I’m really flying. Great fun.

They’re not as fun as small helicopters! :smiley:

I love small planes. For short trips (under, say, 400 miles) they can be quicker than an airline – and you don’t have to undergo a cavity search. The view is much better than any airliner. They’re really, really fun. Sure, they’re not as much fun as flying a helicopter with the doors off; but they’re a close second. And they’re more practical than helis too. I guess I’ll have to get one of each.

You are quite correct, sir.

In fact, some of them have NO instrumentation, in the United States NO training is required (although I’d suggest it as a really really good idea), most of 'em can get up to 10,000 feet and higher, and they go forward at motorcycle speeds - most certainly fast enough to get into “real trouble”.

For better or worse, they are quite Darwinian, too - the foolish tend to elminate themselves from the sport quickly.

>sigh<… I miss flying ultralights sometimes…

TVeblen and others, this is mostly flattering, and I’m glad to hear from ya’ll, but the folks who don’t like the little planes have to be out there somewhere…

Word. (do people still say “word”?)

I recall once hearing on the radio about somebody near the Carolina coast who took off in an ultralight and apparently got disoriented and was last seen heading EAST. Right. Out over the Atlantic ocean. Apparently had no compass (!), no radio, nothing. Pretty hard to look for an itty bitty thing like that over the vast ocean. They kind of gave up after the time when they figured his fuel ran out.

I call’em Buddy Holly planes.

Never rode in one, so just talking outta my ass. :smack: