Suggested Flight Times by Type of Craft


Hello -

I would like to ask a really fundamental question - honestly knowing that I’m going to get opinions that are all over the place. But I think it’s some good information. I am considering getting my private pilot (vfr and then ifr) certificates and eventually would like to own a plane. We live in Colorado and would like to be able to eventually fly in the mountains (we have a place in Leadville - 14,000 ft). Additionally, in the future when trained well I would like to be able to get back and forth to the Seattle/NW (1000nm) area (although maybe only 2-3 times a year) with family in a reasonable amount of time - and no i’m not looking for a jet. Family is me + wife + kids (ages 6 and 4 now). I would like to be able to take the family to places like NM, MT, ID, etc. (500-600 nm).

So here’s the question(s):

If you had to tell a newbie how many hours he should have in a specific type before considering this type of thing what would you say? e.g. go rent for 500 hours before buying a plane. I would rather eventually own a plane vs. a rental (and i understand the costs involved).

Also - (being very conservative and safe with my family) if you had a suggested plane type what would you recommend would be the experience before taking on this type of plane.

So: you suggest: Cessna P210 - you should have at least ‘x’ VFR, ‘y’ IFR and start with something like a 172 for at least ‘z’ hours.

or: I like the capabilities of the Beech A36N or B36T - and it seems to be a very capable aircraft to do what I need - however they are faster and require more experience… So what’s the level of experience that a person should have before walking up to one of these things and saying “I love spending lots of money$ - i need to own one…” understanding that a beech is very expensive vs. something like a piper saratoga, etc. No I’m not a physician. :smiley:

I really appreciate any comments or thoughts you would share.


First off, welcome to FlightAware!
Leadville’s airport elevation is actually 9927’…which is still pretty thin. If it were me, I would require something with a turbocharger. Maybe even pressure, so I won’t have to fumble with canulas and oxygen bottles…
I would also say, no matter what the experience level, take the time to get to know KLXV’s surroundings very well during daytime VFR. It would be good to know exactly where that large mountain is supposed to be when you DO get IFR up there. See if you can find a CFI that knows KLXV very well & shoot a few approaches. I notice they have a couple of obstacle RNAV’s & a GPS there…
As far as what to actually buy/fly, maybe a good used P210, eventually moving up to a Mirage, or even a turboprop Meridian. [/opinion]
Good Luck!


Thanks for the information. yes - you’re right, about the airport elevation - I guess you’re flying in at around 14,000… anyway - if i hit the lotto i guess i can start looking @ the mirage/meridian type of airplane. I mean if I’m going for speed the Socata 850 would be nice. Of course I’m sure my insurance agent would be able to afford his own Mirage for the amount I would have to pay to fly an 850! What’s funny about reading (as a novice) about planes, etc. is that each one of them there is always someone pointing out how bad they either are or “could be”. I found an article about P210’s and how bad they were with landing gear problems, etc. etc. etc. However if you look around there are articles about Mirage breakups in flight - same with Cirrus, Mooney, etc. etc. etc.


There’s nothing preventing you from purchasing an aircraft capable of addressing all of your needs and pursuing your license in that aircraft.

A Cirrus SR-22 Turbo would ably fulfill your need for speed and range, although the non-Turbo variant has slightly longer legs.

Equipped with the Perspective avionics system the aircraft rivals what you would see in any leading edge jet, regardless of size.

Although a high performance aircraft the SR-22 is not a complex aircraft.

Conversely you could purchase an SR-20 under their Access program, complete flight training at your leisure and upgrade to an SR-22 under their Encore program that applies most of the purchase price of your SR-20 and applies it to a Cirrus upgrade.

Given your potential areas of operation and the vagaries of mountain flying, have you considered getting a fractional share from one of the turboprop operators such as Avantair or Planesense instead of pursuing your license at this time? I guess you and your family just remind me of this one.

Get your license for recreation at this time and build your hours and experience, reconsider your need and desire to ferry your family around in a year or two.

Best of luck whatever you decide counselor.


I’ll agree with JHEM there, Cirrus is just about the best way to go for fixed-gear, non-pressurized planes. It’ll take you all the way to FL250, but you’d need to put oxygen masks on everyone aboard.
Flying Magazine’s Robert Goyer flew a new one last year & wrote about it (3 page story). That was before the Perspective system came out, though… Perspective planes will not have a 430 in them, and will be equipped with the GFC 700 a/p. Another 3-page story from Robert Goyer on Perspective I think he really likes that plane 8)


First off, the SR-22 is a fine choice. I mean no disrespect to the Cirrus with this alternative aircraft for consideration – just merely throwing another one in the pool of eligibles. It is nice to have choices. Secondly, I am prejudiced in this matter – the choice that I will throw out is an aircraft that I have hundreds of hours flying (all variants). That said, here we go . . .

I would recommend studying the G36 Turbo Normalized Bonanza. You have more room in the cabin, excellent range, and the Garmin G1000 avionics installation (with the GFC 700 IFCS) is hard to beat. The flying characteristics of the G36 are, IMHO, superior to that of the Cirrus – it is an incredibly easy plane to fly; most pilots, initially, try to over control the aircraft – they are not used to an aircraft that is closer to neutral stability than most others and the wonderful balance of the aircraft.

There’s a good reason why the Bonanza has been around for 60 years plus. . . fly one, and it will be hard to go back to any other single piston powered aircraft.

Just my .02 worth.

Warm Regards,

Christopher Dean
Atlantis Aviation


Yeah, but what do you know Chris, your airplane flies backwards!


LOL…no everyone else flies backwards – we do it the way the Wright Brothers, ya know, the guys who introduced the act of committing aviation to us, wanted it done!



Yes, that’s true. But if we emulated them we’d still be warping wings to turn like a seagull! :wink:


Have you no faith in evolution???



Like this?


Now that’s funny!


Thanks for the information - except the article outlining the family of 4 that died in steamboat springs - scary that i remind you of them… :smiling_imp:

The Cirrus SR20 with full fuel can only carry something like 600 Lbs useful load. With 2 adults + 2 kids + luggage could be really close - so say 450 lbs + luggage of 50 lbs and you’re @ 500 lbs with only 100lbs usable left.

Is that a concern? especially in colorado where you are taking off @ 6,000 ft already. In the summer (mornings) it can already get pretty hot and dry - not that i would take off with almost full load in 90F - or consider it in Leadville…

Is having a normalized plane and/or Turbo recommended for Colorado flying?


Thanks for the information on the Bonanza - I’ve been doing a bunch of research on these planes. The G36’s are very nice - would you still recommend an older A36 that’s been normalized? why normalized vs. Turbo - cost thing? or is there something more? It’s sort of the same thing regarding loads though - i guess if it’s more people it becomes less fuel and more stops - but that’s the way it is.



Your situation (demographic) reminded me of them, not that I think you’ll wind up like them.

Yes, turbo-normalization is always a good thing at altitude and or hot and heavy.

Wasn’t suggesting the SR20 as the solution for you at this point, just a stopgap for you to pursue your license and obtain advanced ratings (Instrument!) for use in the mountains. Leave your family on the ground until you graduate to the SR22.


:laughing: I agree!


So doing a little reading on the Cirrus (which I sat in in January @ the Barret Jackson car show - and thought, boy this is really cool). It seems like insurance companies are a little shy of the SR-22’s and their speed when it comes to pilots.

How much flight time would you suggest a person have before considering moving up? I wonder if people who fly or learn on the Cirrus can easily move to a different aircraft?

Thanks again.


If I was starting from scratch with zero hours and had the means I would do the Cirrus Access program and include the wife and any kids or age.


A normalized turbo maintains a set manifold pressure (e.g. 29.5 in.) up to a critical altitude without increasing rpms. A strict turbocharger will increase rpms to achieve a higher manifold pressure. The two most popular turbocharger units are Rajay and Garrett – they are both normalized in General Aviation applications.

With the normalized turbocharger, you are guaranteed the sea level manifold pressure in the engine up to what is called the critical altitude. Another way to think of this is that your engine “thinks” that it is at sea level until you reach x altitude where it then starts to decrease in horsepower at a rate of 2 to 3 % per 1,000 ft of pressure altitude. The good news about this is that critical altitude can be between 12,000 and 20,000 feet depending on the installation – a great setup for you in Colorado. In a practical application, you would theoretically be able to maintain 100% horsepower at Leadville on takeoff which is far more than a normally asipirate aircraft engine can maintain.

Clear as mud???



In this market, a buyer’s market, it is important to purchase not the plane you need right now, but the plane that you’ll want in the future – you want to position yourself to be in the best position possible come resale time. Right now the market for Seller’s sucks – a Bonanza of any type is never a bad choice resale-wise. The Cirrus hasn’t fared as well comparitively as the Bonanza in the resale market. You can grow into a Bonanza; whereas, it is a little more difficult to do that with a Cirrus despite the fact that it is a great aircraft.