- 4-Person family, 755# of people...I'm 6'5" & 260#...14-year old son in 6'3" and still growing
- Likely traveling with 4-people most the time...but desire the option for 6, load & distance permitting.
- Mostly flat terrain, southwest US, Arizona to Alabama, Texas to Nebraska...but might like to fly to Colorado some day?
- OKC to College Station, Texas for the next 4-years is a PRIORITY
Love some guidance. Thanks all.
Beyond that, given the size of the load you're planning to haul, something in the 6-seat, 300HP class is the least you'll need. In the longer run, to carry six adults plus bags, you're talking either a twin or a single-engine turboprop like the TBM series (or maybe a Piper Meridian), but you're a long way from any insurer wanting to touch you in something that far up the scale. For the shorter run, something like a 36 Bonanza, Cessna 210, or Piper PA32R is probably a good choice even if it won't carry an 1800# useful load. Be careful about looking at the planes in that class, since the newer models (say, 2000 and upward) often have much smaller payloads than the older (70's/80's) models thanks to large increases in standard equipment and things like soundproofing and upholstery. I've been seeing newer PA32R's and 36 Bonanzas with cabin loads in the 600# range or less when you load enough fuel to go the distances you want. Make sure you look at the actual W&B data for any plane you examine. Often, the fixed-gear versions like the Cherokee Six or standard Saratoga, or Cessna 206, have significantly larger payloads than their retractable cousins, and for the 300nm distance you're talking, the difference in flying time won't be all that great while the payload and lower insurance cost may be significantly different.
As for Piper vs Cessna vs Bonanza, it's entirely a matter of personal preference. Once you finish your IR and start looking for your plane, try to get some flying time in all three, and see which suits your preferences for flying qualities and access. You also probably want to get your spouse involved, because if she's not happy in that plane, you won't be happy in that plane.
Let me know if I can be of assistance.
-Ronald L. Herold, Ph.D., NSCA, MEII
Senior Certified Aircraft Appraiser
National Aircraft Appraisers Association (NAAA)
Sustaining Member – Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association
EAA Lifetime Member
AOPA Lifetime Member
A high-performance retractable like a 36 Bonanza is an awfully big step up for a 125-hour non-IR Private Pilot. Not sure what you're flying now, but since you've started your IR training already, I'd suggest that your #1 priority right now be finishing the IR in what you're flying now -- horses and streams, and all that.
Depending on your answer, I'll still wager a few guesses: I doubt the V35 is your plane. I would pick an older steam-gauge (lightweight, cheaper) SR22 before that. The undisputed weight-hauler in my opinion is the Turbo 210. One of my friends has one with just about 1700 useful. Go read the flying article on the A36 Bonanza versus the 210. It opened my eyes. Also, don't give up on the Piper - does the one you fly have club seating? A lance or an early Saratoga could also work well for your mission with the club setup. Ron Levy is very right on the newer versus older models. New ones will likely be too heavy. A newer Saratoga I used to fly was a 2-person airplane on any flight over about 450 nm with two good sized guys and a few bags. Yep, it burns a ton of gas and has a small useful load. It was, in my opinion, a dumb airplane. The older ones with a 1400-lb useful are great, even if a bit slower (I've flown a number of them). Good luck. Get out there, fly them, sit in them, see what you like. No substitute for real experience.
All this to say that I agree with the posts regarding the older generation of this class of singles. They were better haulers than the current generation, and with a healthy engine and updated avionics, they could do the job for you. Maintenance costs and insurance would be lower, too. Maybe that 6-300 is still the best choice.
Great counsel everyone - THANK YOU!