What to learn in?

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After much consideration, I've decided to pursue a pilot's
certificate. If I like as expected, I'd eventually shoot for IFR
and seek to purchase a plane for trips up to 700 miles to Taos, NM
(7200 ft) and room for myself and three others. Safety, capability,
and comfort (I'm 6'4") will be key considerations. So, what do I
initially learn in? There are several flight schools in Austin (and
Georgetown) TX, and I'm sure I can find a CFI I get along with.
School fleets are heavy in 172's but some offer only Diamond and
others Beech. I'll call various schools and get their comments, but
thought it would be of value to get independent opinions. Given my
eventual goals, I don't want to spend too much time in a type that's
well off what I might eventually purchase.

-- Peter Rauch, April 17, 2008


Much as I love the Diamonds, your height and the fact that you will be training in Texas in the summer would lead me to look at the Cessnas. I might even buy a share of a C182 with air conditioning and then find an instructor privately. The one thing that I've never liked about the Cessnas is the height of the panel, but if you're 6'4" you can probably see over it and maybe they've cut it down a bit in the age of glass.

-- Philip Greenspun, April 17, 2008


I am in Austin and training at Streamline Aviation located next to Signature. I am training in the DA40. Philip is correct, I am 5'8" and am comfortable in the Diamond. However, someone much taller than 6' would have trouble. Streamline is in the process of securing a DA40-XLS for the line that has the bubble canopy. Perhaps Philip would know better, but my guess is you could fit in that plane. I have really enjoyed the DA40, so much so that my partner and I just bought a 2006 DA40-180 (we are both under 6' tall). We had considered leasing back to the flight school, but ultimately decided against it (more good PG advice). Streamline may also take a Cirrus SR-20 onto the line which would also fit you (see Philip's comparison of the DA40 vs Cirrus). I took a demonstration flight in the XLS and the cockpit is much roomier than a standard DA40. You may want to look into that plane. It is really nice and has the coveted Garmin auto pilot. You can e-mail me directly if you have any specific questions about Streamline.

-- Scott Zodin, April 19, 2008

I am 6'4" and do not fit in a DA 40 because of the lack of seat adjustability. With the pedals all the way down, my shins hit the panel and I cannot operate the controls. Talked to Diamond directly. They have no modification to make this work. After training in a 172 I bought a newer 182T. With 60 gallons instead of 87 i can fly 3 adults for 3 hours. This is about the best plane i could find for this mission.

-- Fred Rohlfing, April 22, 2008

I would shoot for a 172/182 as well. I done quite a bit of looking as to where I might want to do my flight training, and even sat in a DA20 that our local flight school has. I'm only 5'11", but have a long torso -- so after sitting in the DA20 and not being able to close the canopy without getting a headache, have decided on a Cessna 172. That, and every FBO/flight school would have a 172 on hand to rent, no matter where you went.

-- Lee Pounds, May 20, 2008

Sadly even the new 182's panel is as high as ever. In one of Richard Collins' recent columns he compared the 182 and Columbia 400 and he mentioned the striking difference in panel height, with the 400 being quite a bit lower. He surmised that this was partly to do with the different areas of the country that they were certified in and that the Northwest tended to be a little more flexible.

-- Clifton Rybick, June 14, 2008