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.
Available: Since 2009
Range: 440 nautical miles
For many pilots, the Cesna Skycatcher isn't the plane you buy; it's the one that teaches you to fly. The single piston-engine model is a popular trainer, with extremely beginner-friendly Garmin-built avionics – much of the instrumentation is displayed on dual monitors – and just enough seating for a student and a wary instructor. But the Skycatcher is the cheapest (or close to it) light sport aircraft (LSA) on the market, part of a relatively new class of small planes that make general aviation more obtainable than ever. The limited range makes it a bad fit for most business travelers, but a perfect choice for those who simply want to soar. [cessna.com]