Nothing, it seems, can ground private aviation. Despite the high costs for planes and fuel, the waiting lists for recent and yet-to-be-released planes are growing, and nearly every major general aviation company has put a new model on the market in the past year or so, or plans to. "Thirty years ago, there were more people getting into flying for the pleasure side of things," says Scott Fank, VP of sales at Illinois-based JA Air Center, which sells private aircraft, as well as providing training and maintenance. "Nowadays, we're seeing more people fed up with airlines and fed up with security. So they're looking to private aviation."
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Buying a plane is, in effect, buying a time machine that enables you to accelerate domestic or international travel by hours, or turn a four-hour stop-and-go drive into a 20-minute hop. That's why, even as companies like NetJets and Wheels Up try to convince fliers to buy fractional shares of planes, the wholly owned private aircraft remains a viable product. Here are the most exciting, appealing, or flat-out audacious models – available now or soon enough to place a preorder.
Beechcraft G36 Bonanza
Available: Since 2006
Range: 643 nautical miles (with four passengers)
The Beechcraft Bonanza is a single-engine piston that has been around longer than any other – it's been in constant production in one form or another since 1947. But Beechcraft has also steadily upgraded it along the way, so while it's still an ultrareliable workhorse, with seating for up to six, the most recent iteration has a higher-visibility glass wraparound windscreen and the kind of touchscreen-centric Garmin avionics that, according to JA Air's Scott Fank, is the single biggest draw (of small-plane features) for new pilots, who've likely never flown with older, purely analog instrumentation. [beechcraft.com]