When you’re starting out as a pilot, choose a plane that's easy to fly. In this expert review, we’ll go over why the Cessna 172 is the easiest plane to fly.
If you’re thinking about learning how to fly, then you should aim to find a plane that’s easy to fly. Sure, you might think holding your feet to the fire with a plane that’s hard to fly is the best way to learn, but it’s really not. If you can learn how to fly with a plane that’s easier, you can quickly adapt your skills to master harder-to-fly planes. Which plane is the easiest?
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is widely considered the easiest plane to fly. While many factors come into play that makes the Cessna 172 so easy to fly, the most influential features are its high wing configuration, powerful engine, spacious & comfortable cockpit, and intuitive and forgiving controls.
Finding the easiest planes to fly can make your piloting life a whole lot, well, easier. Although it might be a bit of a subjective question, we’re confident that the vast majority of other experienced pilots will agree with us. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the easiest planes to fly, and then we’ll deep-dive into why the Cessna 172 is our top-ranked choice. At the end, we’ll briefly touch on if you should learn to fly in a 172 or not
While the Cessna 172 being an easy plane to fly is pretty much a consensus within the aviation industry, we also know all about it first-hand. Having spent countless hours at the controls of the Cessna 172 over the years, we can attest to how easy it truly is to fly. This is one of the reasons that the Skyhawk is so popular among pilots both new and old.
Easiest Planes To Fly
Just like all other aspects in life, there are some things about flying that are easier than others. Of course, a big one is how hard the plane itself is to fly. Some planes are relatively easy to fly, while others are significantly harder to fly. Even though seasoned pilots can benefit from planes that are easier to fly, these types of planes are especially ideal for novice pilots or those in training.
For more general information about some of the easiest planes to fly, check out our full article on the topic. But while you’re here, these are the easiest planes to fly:
- Cessna 172 Skyhawk
- Ercoupe 415-C
- Cessna 150/152
- Diamond DV20/DA 20 Katana
- Piper PA-28 Cherokee
- Beechcraft Skipper
- Diamond DA40 Star
As you can see from this list, all of these planes are single-engine, affordable airplanes that you can buy for yourself. There aren’t any commercial planes or fighter jets in this list because those require significantly more training to learn how to fly than single-engine planes like these.
Which Plane Is The Easiest One To Fly?
Although we’ve mentioned it a couple of times already, you can also probably guess which plane is the easiest to fly based on its location in the list above — the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. Without a doubt one of the most popular planes ever produced (arguably the most popular plane ever produced), the Cessna 172 is a breeze to fly.
Not only is it the easiest plane to fly, but it’s also relatively affordable to own and operate, which further leads to its popularity in the aviation industry.
What Makes The Cessna 172 So Easy To Fly?
Now that you know which plane is the easiest to fly, it’s time to get into the really good stuff. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the major features of the Cessna 172 so you get the full picture of why it’s so easy to fly.
What makes the Cessna 172 Skyhawk easy to fly and why do we have it ranked number one on our list?
One of the biggest reasons that the Cessna 172 is so easy to fly is its high wing configuration. While there are all sorts of different types of airplane wings and configurations, the two most common are high wing vs low wing configurations. Both have their pros and cons, but in general, high wing airplanes are typically easier to fly than their low wing counterparts.
The high wing configuration of the Cessna 172 gives the airplane a lot of stability in the air and makes it less susceptible to turbulence. Especially if you’re just starting out as a pilot and just learning to fly, turbulence can be one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. Although it really isn’t typically a big deal, it can be jarring to experience severe turbulence for the first time.
It also provides great visibility, which is important when you’re flying an airplane. With a high wing configuration, you can see everything that’s going on around you and also under you, making it easier to navigate using ground features and ensuring you don’t get too close to obstacles, other aircraft, or the ground when you come back in for a landing.
The engine in the Cessna 172 Skyhawk is another major factor that contributes to its easy-to-fly nature. The newer models of the plane have a powerful Lycoming IO-360 engine that provides plenty of power (180 horsepower) for takeoff and climb out. You won’t have to worry about the engine sputtering or losing power when you need it most.
By having a powerful engine, the Cessna 172 is able to glide right up to its cruising speed and cruising altitude without struggling or feeling like it’s going to stall on you. While the Cessna 172 isn’t the fastest plane around, the smooth, powerful engine does enough to give you the confidence that you want when looking for an easy-to-fly airplane.
Spacious & Comfortable Cockpit
The cockpit of a Cessna 172 is spacious and comfortable, making it easy to spend hours in flight without feeling cramped or uncomfortable. You can move around freely inside the cabin, which is important if you want to stretch your legs during long flights. You’d be surprised at how big of a difference a comfortable cabin can make while flying. Feeling cramped is the worst!
As a four-seater aircraft, the Cessna 172 can also comfortably seat a few passengers, making it a great option to learn to fly in. With an instructor or other experienced pilots on board, you can pick their brains while you fly. The seats are also adjustable so they can be moved back and forth based on how tall you are as well as up and down for added comfort while seated at your controls (or reading charts).
The controls on the Cessna 172 Skyhawk are forgiving, meaning that it's not as sensitive to input as other airplanes. If you make a mistake while flying, the plane will usually correct itself without any drama. This makes it easier for novice pilots to fly and helps reduce the chances of making critical errors while in flight. While planes with more sensitive controls might be a bit more maneuverable, more forgiving planes are easier to fly.
This forgiving nature also extends to the aircraft's stability. The Cessna 172 is a very stable airplane, meaning it doesn’t move around much while in flight. This makes it easier to control and helps reduce the amount of stress you feel while flying. As mentioned above, this is assisted by the 172’s high wing configuration. It really does all work together to make the Cessna easier to fly!
Another feature about the 172’s controls that makes flying this airplane easier than other planes is that they’re also intuitive and ergonomical. The control stick, commonly called the joystick, is easy to use and provides a good level of control over the aircraft. It’s also easy to reach and feels natural, like an extension of your arm when you’re using it.
The rudder pedals are also positioned in a way that makes them easy to reach and operate. This means you won’t have to spend as much time getting used to the controls, which can be frustrating when you’re learning how to fly an airplane. Intuitive, ergonomic controls are a big deal when it comes to making a plane easier to fly!
Factory Or Aftermarket Autopilot System
Another feature that makes the Cessna 172 so easy to fly is its optional wing-leveling system from the factory. This system uses hydraulics to keep the wings level when you’re not using them, which prevents them from drooping or banking too far in either direction. This system is especially helpful for novice pilots who are still learning how to properly use the controls on an airplane.
This is sort of like a pseudo-autopilot system from the factory, but there are also plenty of aftermarket autopilot systems that are compatible with the Cessna 172. If you’re looking to get into a 172 for as cheap as possible, then it might not make financial sense to install a system like this yourself.
But with the popularity of the plane over the decades, many affordable used models will have sophisticated autopilot systems already installed. And, as you can expect, these autopilot systems make it even easier to fly a Cessna 172!
Should I Buy A Cessna 172 To Learn How To Fly?
If you’re in the market for an airplane, I don’t think there are many pilots out there that would tell you to absolutely not buy a Cessna 172. There’s a reason that it’s been the most popular plane in the world for decades, and you would struggle to find a better all-around airplane for the price.
Whether you’re just now learning how to fly or you’ve been a pilot for many years, a Cessna 172 should be at the top of your list when it comes to potential planes that you want to buy. It’s affordable, reliable, and best of all, it’s the easiest plane to fly!
About THE AUTHOR
After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.Read More About Joe Haygood