Thought exercise - if you had to TEACH in an aircraft

…what would you choose?

And let me qualify that with some…errr…qualifiers…I’m talking civil aviation where money IS an object. :rofl:

Curious what both the lay-person and professional aviators think. My boys are coming up on the age where I might soon want to dabble in getting them into real airplanes. I’m a CFII, but I’m not sure if I’d be the BEST person to teach them…I’m still on the fence about that. I’ve been a long time out of structured flight instruction (about 25 years)…but have instead been instructing green pilots that come on to our company in King Airs and Citations for the past two decades.

Aircraft rental prices are just horrific (I’m looking back at my career where I started flying at Quantico MCAS for about $13 an hour wet…!) so at some point I may want to dip into purchasing an aircraft if the boys take a serious interest.

So…without tainting the water with my own opinions…what aircraft would you guys choose if you were starting flight training or introducing someone to flying? Curious what the opinions are…

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Buy a Cessna 120/140. Cheap(ish) to purchase, simple, reliable, not in demand by flight schools like 150/152’s are these days, and the best part: when you learn in a tail wheel, V1 cuts come easily!

ETA: And they don’t have any bad habits on landing like some of the other TW aircraft of that era. Not squirrely at all, and can cross country at 95-110 mph all day on 4.5 GPH.


Grumman Tiger. They fly great. Visibility is awesome. And it’s a decent airplane to take on a short trip. Plus they hold their value well so once you and the family is done with it you can probably get something close to what you paid.

If you plan to rent, hard to beat a C150/C152. Cherokees and Warriors are also fine. I’d rather drive than fly a 172, honestly. But that’s me. My no.1 desire in an airplane is for it to be light and responsive. If money is no object (and of course it is for nearly all of us), buy a Citabria. It is such an easy taildragger that it almost doesn’t deserve to share the reputation that normally comes with having the mains up front where they belong. Visibility, even on the ground, is terrific. The control harmony is also terrific. And it is happy doing competitive light acro in a pinch. Same can also be said of the CAP-10 but they are hard to find and are $$$.

The guy I am flying with on my current trip bought a Warrior and taught is gf to fly. They put 300 hours on it and sold it for what they paid. Almost no mx other than inspections. If I had any aspirations for a family trip, that would be my pick. It checks all the boxes.


Totally agree with @WarPig. My first tailwheel was a C120. The spring gear is not without challenge so I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is the easiest tailwheel type out there. But man! they are fun. AND he’s also right that they are cheap. Two years ago I considered one that was asking $14k, and it was pretty sweet. Prices are a bit higher now.

I would avoid the 140. The metal wing makes it a touch heavier. On a hot day it will really struggle 2-up. And the flaps give you nothing but another lever to play with.


Good choice. Definitely something I’d consider.

Funny…because that was my first choice. Either a Cheetah or a Tiger. I instructed an instrument student in his own Tiger and I really loved it. Very responsive aircraft and I enjoyed sliding that canopy back on hotter days while taxiing. It required constant control inputs as I recall…not quite as stable as a Cherokee 140 or Cessna 172. I have a thousand or so hours of dual given in a Cherokee 140 and nearly as much in 172s. Something about riding on TOP of the wing felt more dignified to me… :rofl: But then again my dream airplane is a Maule…so there is that…


Not to split hairs, but the 140A had the factory metal wing ('49 & on). The original 140 did not; but you’re 100% correct that the flaps don’t make any difference except for a tiny amount of extra drag; I rarely use them and find it more rewarding (and easier) to slip it if required instead. I agree completely with you on finding one as light as possible, since on a hot day, the 140 is a pretty slow climber with two adults. I’d stick to fabric wings too.

The way to tell... Blah blah blah warning: rabbit trail ahead...

The way to tell is that the 140 has a jury strut, with two struts going down to the fuselage; the 140A only had one wing strut, like a 150. However, a lot of 140s have been modified with metal wings, most of which are not true 140A wings, but an STC that simply replaces the fabric with metal skins and leaves a bit to be desired in terms of quality, in my humble, non A&P opinion.

The 120s originally had no flaps and no electrical systems, and the round rear windows were an option or added later. The 140s had flaps, electrical systems, and all had the rear windows. Then in the decades since, many 120s have had the flaps added, electrical systems installed, and the rear windows.

Stalling the 140s with the flaps down can occasionally result in a neat (and abrupt) up and over spin entry if uncoordinated. The 140 spins okay (not as well as a 150 though) but the problem is its quite easy to overspeed the flaps in the recovery, so probably not a good idea! They do slow down wonderfully though, and albeit not as good a STOL airplane as a cub or champ, they cruise much faster and do a respectable job on grass and short fields.

Haha, it’s a lot easier than the Champs with the air oil shocks where every landing is really two landings; you touch down the mains and then fly the strut down until it settles, LOL! Then you can dance on the rudders as the tail settles, and then have fun with the heel brakes. :sweat_smile: :rofl: :joy:

I admit I’ve only flown Supercubs, Champ, various RV’s and 140s that were TW; so don’t have a great breadth of experience, but a bit of TW time in those types. Of that small sample size, I thought the 140 was the easiest to learn to land and ground handle. Not at all to be argumentative, I’d be really interested to hear what you would say would be easier? Maybe the 65hp Cub, or something else?

Me too! I hated having to fly a 172, it’s a kite! :joy:


Most of my tailwheel is in the Pitts. Which comes across as a brag but really the reputation is totally undeserved. It’s a touch squirrely but the absolute control response actually makes it in some ways easier than something like a cub (but only for those pilots who know how to fly with their fingertips). Of the planes I’ve flown I’d say the Citabria is easiest, followed by the Cub, the Maule M6, the CAP 10 the C170, the C120, the Luscombe, Christen Eagle, Pitts S-2C, -2B ,-2A, -1S. I spoke out of my a$$ regarding the 140 as I have actually never flown one. But I parroted what I was told. Thanks for the correction. Facts are not at all argumentative!


Not at all, wasn’t a correction so much as a clarification; Your point that the flaps and metal wings don’t add anything except weight to an already relatively poor climber on hot days is 100%. I don’t think it’s so much that it’s underpowered (85 or 90HP factory), just that the wings and prop are set up for cruise, not climb.

I’ve always wanted to get to fly a 170. And a CAP-10 is on my bucket list, although as rare as they are I doubt it will happen. They look like a barrel of fun!

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Eurofox. Or whatever the American equivalent is now.

Benign enough to be a good learner, tricky enough to have to be on your toes.

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I have no expertise at all on this subject, so have no business pressing that reply button, but did it anyway :stuck_out_tongue:

Grumman Tiger. Not only is it fit for family trips with plenty of seats and a great view, it most importantly shares the manufacturer name with illustrious machines like the F-6F, the A-6 and the F-14!


It’s also available in different sizes, and looks cool:


But… you’re the experts.


Another vote for the Citabria. I LOVED flying that thing.

And if me and my big a$$ size 12 bear paws can manage to keep that thing on the runway, anyone can.


I got to thinking about this topic this morning, and realized something: Beach is asking what airplane is best to TEACH in. I’ve been thinking about it as “which airplane is the best to LEARN in”, not to teach.

If I’m having to choose an airplane to instruct in, it would have to be a 150/152. Simple, easy, and I don’t have to worry about my student rolling it up in a ball on a cross country solo. So there’s that.

I did bring up the topic of easiest tailwheel to learn on with my colleague in the cockpit today (he’s got lots of TW time as well and TW CFI), and he also said that he thought a Citabria is easier than a 140 (having flown both), and then surprised me by saying the RV-8 was also easier than the 140. So there you go, I’ll have to take y’all’s word for it until I get to fly one (Citabria).


One, it depends on how well they take instructions from you. I know in my teens it had reached a point with my father that he may as well have been Charlie Brown’s teacher with as much as I was tuning him out.

And Two, depending on the cost, it may actually be more beneficial for them to learn from someone else and you can be their assistant coach and help reinforce their lessons.



Just had a somewhat, sorta, similar exchange with my son the other day, concerning the grandson (yeah, I’m old)…

I don’t recall the exact subject, only that I had a chance to inject a little “Old Guy Stuff” here:
Son: “He’s tuned me out”, or something like that.
Me: “Yeah, you can tell him ‘Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty’ all day long, with little affect”, “Someone else, with some authority, says it and he eats it up”. Teenagers.

Note that, when it comes time for my 2-cents with the grand - daughter , I’m out. Not my area :slight_smile:

Of course you know them best.

PS: I assume (perhaps wrongly) that you’ve already show them ‘stuff’ in VR, replete with all the gizmo’s (Yoke, Throttle, etc). If so, I’m curious as to what you observe concerning the benefits of such training.

I just listened to a podcast (from “Rain” waters) on this: the AF seems to be going to a “suitcase simulator” (my wording) kind of thing = they give them a ‘kit’ to take home, VR headset and everything. Not sure where that’s at as I’ve not followed up.

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Of everything mentioned, another vote for the Citabria. Not only a good trainer for your sons, but a really fun plane to do basic aerobatics when the old man gets bored or when the kids need a little inspiration. 2 guys can also do x-country in a pinch. A little heavy on the rudder input, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing IMHO.

Beach, have you tried on a C140? I fit barely, but knees to the chin to get in/out. Can’t believe @smokinhole fits in one comfortably. They are sure pretty, but require some yoga skills.

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Speaking as a current Chief Flying Instructor:

Family dont make the best instructors.

Use a motorglider. It’s cheaper, tailwheel (they use rudder from the beginning) and easy. Once rated on a motorglider it is easy and cheap to add other ratings such as Single Engine Piston. Alternatively teach in an old biplane. But that is expensive. Both teach proper airmanship and handling skills to which they will revert if they find themselves in a high stress situation later in their flying career. Learning on a ‘spam can’ costs more and does not make the use of rudder a muscle memory.
In UK it is cheaper to do a PPL with TMG and then add SEP than it is to train for PPL with SEP.
On Grob 109 we sent 16year olds solo in 8 to 15 hours. It could have been less hours to solo but the RAF would not allow it




Believe! I am 6’5”, 170, and all legs. I fit just fine. I don’t seek comfort when I fly. :grin:

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I like the idea of Citabria. It can do training, aerobatic and sailplanes towing. You can establish your own aeroclub with it :slight_smile:

But 4 seats in the Tiger are also convenient.