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Flying a plane can be hard for many different reasons, but some are just harder to fly than others. What are the hardest planes to fly?

The hardest planes to fly include personal aircraft such as the wildly popular Cessna 150/152, Cessna 162, and the Luscombe Silvaire. The hardest commercial aircraft to fly is the BAC Concorde. And the hardest plane to fly in the world is the US military-used U-2 Spy Plane.

As you read this article, you’ll learn about the most common issues that pilots have with planes that make them hard to fly. If you’re trying to find out which planes are the hardest to fly, just keep in mind that it’s a bit of a subjective topic. You might have even flown a plane that’s on this list and thought it was super simple. But for the average pilot, the planes you see in this article are the hardest ones to fly.

More than anything else, we strive to provide you with the most accurate information that you’ll find anywhere on the web. To ensure that’s the case, we’ve combined our own knowledge and experience with input from other pilots from all over the country to figure out which planes are the hardest ones to fly, for a variety of different reasons.

Table of contents


What Makes Flying A Plane Hard?

Determining what makes a plane hard to fly is a very subjective topic to try to address. Every single pilot will have different aspects of flying that they find easier than other things. Just like every pilot will have slightly different physical and mental capabilities and limits that will cause them to think one thing makes a plane hard to fly that another pilot wouldn’t feel the same way about.

For example, a pilot that is 6’-7” tall might find a smaller aircraft uncomfortable to the point where it actually makes it harder to fly. A pilot in the exact same plane that is, say, 5’-9” tall might think that the plane is perfect and they couldn’t possibly be any more comfortable if they tried. That’s just one example, but you can probably see why it can be so subjective.

All that said, we think that we’ve come up with four of the major aspects of flying a plane that are typically agreed upon as making it hard among most pilots. This brief list includes things about the plane itself such as poor visibility, the sensitivity of controls, and discomfort. It also includes a couple of things about flying in general that can be exacerbated in a poorly-designed plane like the processes of taking off and landing as well as experiencing bad weather.

Let’s take a brief look at each of these and why they make it harder to fly a plane.

Poor Visibility

Visibility refers to the ability of the pilot to see out of the plane. A pilot’s eyesight is arguably the most important sense that gets used during flight. They need to be able to look out of the cockpit and see where they’re headed, what’s around them, find the runway, etc. A plane that has poor visibility due to cockpit and/or wing design will inherently be harder to fly than one with better visibility.

Controls Sensitivity

The sensitivity of the controls goes a long way towards making a plane harder or easier to fly than another plane. And this can go either way, where the controls are too touchy or too sluggish. Touchy controls make the plane difficult to control since it overreacts to each and every input that you give it. But if the controls are too sluggish, the plane will lag behind what you’re trying to do. Having a plane with the right balance will make flying it much easier.


Being comfortable while flying an airplane will just inherently make it easier to fly. This goes back to the example above about the pilots with differing heights having different feelings towards a certain plane. Cockpits need to be spacious enough to accommodate that particular pilot while also not being too roomy so that everything is easy to reach from a normal seated position. This one can be hard to nail down for all pilots, which is why it’s so important to know which planes you can and can’t fly as a pilot.

Bad Weather

While weather doesn’t have as much of an effect on modern aircraft as it used to — especially commercial and military planes — smaller aircraft are still susceptible to the adverse effects of bad weather. If you’re out on a flight in your single-engine airplane, bad weather can be a horrible experience. Poor visibility, high winds, heavy rain, extreme turbulence… it’s all bad for flying. Some planes can handle the weather better than others and will be easier to fly during those times.

Taking Off And Landing

If you ask just about any pilot that you see, they’ll tell you that the hardest parts of flying a plane are taking off and landing — especially landing. During the majority of the flight, while you’re cruising, flying can be even easier than driving a car. But approaching the runway and touching down safely and smoothly is harder than just about anything you do in a car. Planes that are designed to make landing easier are way simpler to fly than planes that don’t really have any aspects of design to make the process easier.

What Are The Hardest Planes To Fly For Beginner Pilots?

If you’re a beginner pilot and you’re trying to decide which plane you want to try to learn how to fly in, you should really consider some of the easiest planes to fly. At least to get you started so that you can get a feel for flying in general, an easy-to-fly plane is almost always better to learn in than one that’s tough to fly.

So if you want to learn how to fly, we recommend checking out our guides on the Easiest Planes To Fly and also the Best Planes For Beginners. That said, even if you don’t necessarily want to fly in the easiest planes out there, you should try to avoid the hardest ones to fly. In time, flying some of the aircraft listed below might be good to help expand your horizon and test your skills. But when it comes to learning how to fly, these are the ones you might want to steer clear of.

Here are the hardest planes to fly as a beginner pilot.

Cessna 150/152

We’re gonna be bold here and start with a crowd favorite, the Cessna 150/152. Sure these are technically two different planes, but they’re often referred to as the same one since they’re so similar. The reason why having this plane on the list of the hardest planes to fly is that it is often also touted as one of the easiest planes to fly (even on our own list!). But for two main reasons, it deserves a place on this list.

First and foremost, the Cessna 150/152 is a small plane with a tight cockpit. This makes it incredibly difficult (nearly impossible) for anyone that’s 6’-4” or taller to fly. Secondly, this plane only has a 100 - 110 hp engine, far less than other planes in its class. While this isn’t always bad, an underpowered plane can be particularly hard to fly if you’re an experienced pilot since it won’t be able to react and respond as you would hope.

Cessna 162 Skycatcher

Most people in the aviation world have heard of the Cessna 150/152 and of course the 170/172, but far fewer know of the one in the middle — the Cessna 162 Skycatcher. That’s because unlike the other two, the Skycatcher was never a great plane and had a lot of small issues that made it inexplicably hard to fly.

Cessna saved weight in the 162 by neglecting to add insulation. This leads to cold and noisy flights and also makes the plane too light. At its reduced weight, the Skycatcher is almost impossible to taxi in strong crosswinds. The flaps on the wings were also designed to be spring loaded and would get smacked up and down uncontrollably by the wind, making it nearly impossible to fly.

Luscombe Silvaire

The Silvaire from Luscombe is one of the most popular planes among private pilots and beginner pilots alike. This is especially true for those who buy their own planes since it’s one of the most affordable options on the market. But even though it’s so affordable and popular, it’s not exactly ever discussed as a plane that’s easy to fly.

The reason that the Silvaire is so hard to fly is mainly because it’s so hard to land. The landing gear on the Silvaire is far too narrow which reduces stability during landing. To compound this issue, the controls of the Silvaire are too touchy, too responsive. This usually isn’t a problem during flight, but as you’re trying to land and account for the narrow landing gear, the touchy controls make landing way more difficult.

What Is The Hardest Commercial Plane To Fly?

Just like some training planes above are known for being particularly difficult to fly, there have been some commercial planes that are notorious for being difficult to fly as well. These days, Boeing and Airbus dominate the commercial airline industry, and the vast majority of passenger and cargo jets are made by these companies. And these modern planes are so advanced and technological, that they’re easier to fly than ever.

So you won’t see any Boeing or Airbus planes on this list, but that’s not to say that all Boeing or Airbus planes are easy to fly! But that’s another story for another article. Here, we’re going to take a look at arguably the hardest commercial plane to fly, for one reason or another. So let’s dive in.

Aerospatiale/BAC Concorde

This might have been the one on your mind as you were reading this article — the famous Concorde commercial jet. The Concorde is of course famous for offering supersonic flight for passenger flights, operating at speeds exceeding twice the speed of sound. As you may have guessed, traveling at these speeds led to problems that made it hard to fly.

Traveling at supersonic speed while approaching the final destination required the pilot to greatly slow down and reach a specific speed and pitch required for the approach. The Concorde also uses a delta-wing design, which is comparable to what’s seen on a fighter jet. Planes with these wings fly completely different from standard airliners, and many pilots struggled to make the transition.

What Is The Hardest Plane To Fly In The World?

Now that you have an idea of some of the personal aircraft and commercial airliners that are hard to fly, it’s time to look at what many consider to be the hardest plane in the world to fly. Of course, there have been many, many airplanes in aviation history that are even harder to fly than what you’re about to read about. During the early days of aviation, the majority of planes were not only hard to fly, they were impossible.

Back in those days, new plane concepts and designs often left pilots with a better chance to never return than to make a safe flight. So we’re not talking about any of these historically bad planes. But rather a plane that is still in service today, but that almost anyone who flies it has the same feelings towards it — it is incredibly difficult to fly.

Without further ado, the hardest plane in the world to fly — the spy plane known as “Dragon Lady”, the Lockheed U-2.

Lockheed U-2 “Dragon Lady”

As one of the most advanced military aircraft in service by the United States, the Lockheed U-2 is irreplaceable. Its ability to carry out reconnaissance missions that no other aircraft on the planet can perform makes it a plane that cannot be retired or replaced, regardless of how hard it is to fly. There are so many reasons that this plane is notoriously difficult to fly, but we’ll stick to the highlights here.

First, the U-2 operates at 70,000 feet in the air to provide 24-hour intelligence gathering for the US military. At this altitude, the sky is always dark — even during the day — and the curvature of the Earth can start to be seen, making it even harder to keep your bearings. While flying, pilots also have to wear a spacesuit since the cabin is only partially pressurized and that height air is way too thin to breathe.

To really make it hard to fly, there is a tiny gap in the speed of the U-2 that’s safe to fly in at altitude. This gap is teetering right between its stall speed (under which it stops producing lift) and the speed of sound. So going too slow, the U-2 will stall and could become unrecoverable. Too fast, and the fuselage risks structural failure.

We could go on and on about this difficult to fly — yet absolutely incredible — airplane. But suffice it to say that although you might want the chance to fly a U-2 at least once, you’ll likely never want to fly one again!