Choice of Planes for Private Pilot Instruction

Hello, I will soon begin flight instruction for my private pilot license in South Florida. There enough airports and schools around that I can have my choice of aircraft. I could chose to start training on a Cirrus or learn on a more traditional plane like the Cessna and then undergo additional training to make the transition. I was wondering if anyone could offer some advice on the choices I have.

Best regards,


You’re going to get lots of responses about this. I did my private in the 172, did transition training into the Cirrus, and then did IFR completely in the Cirrus. I liked this approach, worked well for me. I liked the forgiving and slower nature of the skyhawk for learning, but I was ready to be in the Cirrus for instruments.

Good luck,

In reply to:

Hello, I will soon begin flight instruction for my private pilot license in South Florida. There enough airports and schools around that I can have my choice of aircraft. I could chose to start training on a Cirrus or learn on a more traditional plane like the Cessna and then undergo additional training to make the transition. I was wondering if anyone could offer some advice on the choices I have.
Best regards,


You’ll probably solo sooner in a 172 because there are insurance requirements precluding solo less than “x” # of hours in a Cirrus. Find our what this # is with your training school. The Cirrus has a higher hull value so you have to navigate these insurance benchmarks.

IMO, you are more likely to move on to an instrument rating from a PPL in a Cirrus than a PPL in a 172 G1000. A CFI will typically help you get your PPL first in a Cessna glass or not. A CSIP (cirrus CFI) will teach you all the systems simultaneous with your PPL while meeting insurance required benchmarks. YMMV. Comprehensive use of the Cirrus avionics will naturally get you on your way towards an instrument rating.

So, if you want your PPL ASAP…do it in a 150 or 172. If you like the Cirrus and also want to be well rounded in Garminology (430s), Glass, Auto-Pilot, HSI, GPS MFD Awareness, Traffic, WX, Metars…then do it in the Cirrus.

If you intend to fly Cirrus then consider buying. If you are unsure what you intend to fly then rent.

Good Luck with your private!!!

Does money matter? i have found the best way to dispose of a large wad of folding cash is to rent a high performance airplane and laboriously learn

  1. to fly- 30 hrs. To learn ground reference maneuvers to PTS standards in a slippery airplane- 20 more hours.
  2. to communicate on the radios- 15 hours
  3. to learn 430 Garminology- 30 hours
  4. to stay ahead ofa high performance airplane (ie to learn how to slow down and get down in time for the airport, to learn which procedures should be dialed in for each postion, to learn the multiple uses of the OBS key, to make personal waypoints, to preplan departure procedures, and to arrange STARs, etc. etc.)- not done yet.
    If you can find a CFI you can REALLY trust- fly in a 150 with him for about 6 hours, and ask him if you are unusually gifted, and can benefit from compacting your training in a high performance AC.
    If he says yes, and yours was the lucky lottery ticket, fire away. If he says you are a regular guy, then learn to walk before you run, and rent a 172 or a cherokee.
    Alot of the fun is moving on and getting new endorsements and tickets anyway.
    There is no bad decision learning to fly, but some of them take longer and cost more.
    Good luck!

You asked another question, I realize, but let me suggest that what you learn in is far less important than whom you learn with. The equipment matters to the extent that you feel comfortable in your “classroom” and that it allows you to efficiently pick up all necessary flying skills. But your instructor’s lessons are what will guide you out of the inevitable sticky situation in the small hours far from home. So I’d think real hard about whom to train with, and basically go with the nicest plane I could comfortably afford. We discuss equipment transition costs and benefits ad nauseum, but in my view, it’s more noise than signal.

Have fun learning. It only gets better and better!


A few questions/answers—do you plan on ultimately buying a Cirrus? If you do, then I would learn in a Cirrus SR20–great plane to get your private.
Instructor choice: get some recommendations from some of your pilot friends, or even here on COPA (if learning in a Cirrus, make sure they are CSIP) --then have lunch with them and talk about your program–see if the chemistry is right—if good, then get on with it and have a ball!!

If money is a real concern, then learn in the cheapest thing flying and save your money to buy a Cirrus some day! Enjoy!!!

Hey Phil, great problem to have. Several of us have gotten our PPL in a Diamond DA-20. Great vis, slippery fun to fly and takes a beating. I would not start in a Cirrus until I know how to land the Diamond. The wheels and Wheelpants of your Cirrus are much more expensive than the one on the RENTAL plane. I bought a Cirrus and did my entire Instrument it that plane. Like I said the Diamonds are awesome to fly and you get that real seat of the pants feeling and it stalls at 34 kts dirty, so approaches are much easier to learn.

Guys, I can’t thank you enough for your candid advice and welcoming replies. Frankly, I thought asking Cirrus Owners if I should learn in an SR20 would be like asking a fox if I should eat chickens. You have given me plenty to think about and I walk away a lot more informed than I was this morning.

Best regards,

I did all of my primary training and got my PPL in an SR20. If I had to do it all over again, I would have made the same decision, but there are some things to consider and ask about if your are doing it through a flight club.

  1. How many SR20’s are on line. Maintenance and mechanical issues can take the plane off line for extended periods of time and if there are only a couple of planes, you may find that it makes scheduling a bit challenging.

  2. Solo requirements. While flight clubs allow you to train in SR20’s, some planes may not allow solo flight for student pilots (that was my experience and I found out after my solo). Make sure there are multiple planes you can actually solo in, or you may find that your training will be delayed.

  3. Flight club minimums. Some clubs have minimum hour requirements for certain aircraft. For example, some clubs have 200 hour minimums for SR20’s. If you do your primary in the SR20, they may waive those minimums, but if you do your primary in another type of aircraft, you may have to accrue the 200 hours to fly in the SR20.

Don’t be scared away by the approach speeds, complexity and avionics. You will probably spend more time in training in an SR20 than a 172, but a lot of that is learning the systems that exist that make it such a great airplane. If you want to quickly transition to your IFR training, you will be appreciative all of the avionics training that a good CSIP will have made you go through before your PPL checkride and be well on your way to your IR.

Good Luck!

While it is possible to learn from scratch in a plane like a Cirrus, I thing it will be such a handful that it could dissuade you from finishing the training. My view is one should always start with the easiest plane available, and transition to the next level just as soon as you feel comfortable doing it. Even a 172 is not the easiest plane to fly. The real “trainers” on the field today are Cessna 152’s and Diamond DA20’s. Their approach speeds are 10 knots slower than 172’s or Piper Warriers…and probably 30 knots slower than a Cirrus.

One of the problems with starting in more difficult airplanes is that you never have the luxury of making mistakes that you can make in simpler planes. If you come in 15 knots too fast in a 172 on a 3000 foot runway, chances are you’ll be standing on the brakes as you stop at the end of the runway. Good lesson learned. If you do it in a Cirrus, you’re in the ditch. No lesson, no good, just a trashed airplane!

I’m amazed that a Diamond could get up with you and an instructor in it. What was your rotate speed? 100 kias?[;)]

I learned in an SR22 and wouldn’t have done it any other way. Who wants to fly in a tin can![;)] It took me 86 hours before I did my check ride however. I rode in a 172 3 hours before I decided that wasn’t for me. Learning in an SR22 isn’t hard. You don’t know any different anyway!

Phil, welcome to the club, you should see what is going on over on the members side. Best $50 bucks I ever spent on aviation. For you PPL I recommend the King videos. You will think they suck, but they are better than the sportys. They will get you through the written.
You have reached what I like to tell people, “You are now confused on a much higher level.”

Thank Jim, I am going through the King Videos now. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to show up with a little education regardless of aircraft. They are a bit corny at times but it certainly beats googling P-factor and Bernoulli all day long.

The 1 thing sportys is good for is free online practice tests. U can find them on their site.

I agree on that. The real secret is to memorize all the cross country questions.