Ranging from nostalgic to innovative, there’s a long list of incredible small aircraft out there. Many were built and designed for war while others serve commercial purposes. Regardless of the reason they were designed and built, many of the aircraft on this list are impressive in their own right. In order to witness most of these small airplanes, you would need to attend an air show. Until then, you can check some of them out here.
1942 Stinson G-77 Gullwing
Gullwing has a history of pumping out fascinating aircraft, and the 1942 Stinson G-77 Gullwing is no different. Many of the military’s top brass flew the Stinson in the ’50s.
The very same plane you see in this image was one of five hundred made for a program developed between Great Britain and the United States. The single-prop plane had a lot of action during WWII, soaring the United Kingdom air and shooting for the Allies.
Introduced to the world in 1947, the Beechcraft Bonanza comes from the Beechcraft Aircraft Corporation in Wichita, Kansas. This small plane sits up to six and carries a single-engine inside as well.
The Beechcraft Bonanza still gets produced today and remains the aircraft with the longest production in airplane history. That can indicate many things, such as low production costs, or it’s a great aircraft to fly the friendly skies. You’ve probably seen one fly over you in the past but didn’t realize what it was!
Between 1948 to 1956, Cessna Aircraft Company manufactured the Cessna 170. It’s small, but in 1948, it was certified with a gross weight of 2,200 pounds and as a Normal category airplane.
That’s a fancy way of saying it will get you to where you need to go safely, regardless of size, as long as you abide by the weight allotments. Overall, if you owned one of these, you’d have an exciting time in the sky, and you can even customize the paint as you see in the photo.
Cobalt Co50 Valkyrie
This here is the Cobalt Co50. It’s a single-engine aircraft that can seat between four and five people. Development of the Cobalt initially took place in San Francisco, California, through Cobalt Aircraft, but they concluded the project at the location in July of 2018 and passed it over to Centauri Aircraft Company.
The first flight took place in January 2015, but still, there is only one prototype. The manufacturer intends on achieving type certification eventually, but right now, they only sell it for amateur construction.
Grumman G-21 Goose
World War II had this beauty on the loose, the amphibious Grumman G-21 Goose. The monoplane came out in 1937, and it represented plenty of firsts for the company that manufactured it.
For starters, it was Grumman’s first monoplane to take flight. Secondly, it was also the first to have twin-engines. Lastly, the G-21 Goose was the first Grumman plane to go into commercial airline services. Those are all some significant accomplishments for an amphibious aircraft.
The American Legend Aircraft Company makes the unique Legend Club. There are two basic designs for this aircraft, and both are pretty awesome (the PA – 11, and the original NJ – 3).
Probably the one thing that makes this plane so recognizable is the nosecone design that looks strikingly like nostrils. It’s a single-propeller engine, and the open cab gives the pilot the ability to see in almost any direction it maneuvers. Something people love most about the Legend Club is that if you look hard enough, you can find one for under $20,000!
The People Liberation Army Air Force used the Nanchang CJ-6, which was a Chinese aircraft. Introduced in 1960, this plane has eight different models: the CJ-6B, BT-6, PT-6A, Haiyan A, CJ-6, CJ-6A, Haiyan B, and Haiyan C.
As a maiden production aircraft, it’s integrated with a Zhuzhou Huosai HS-6 radial piston engine, equipped with 260hp. There’s a reason why the Liberation Army took these aircraft out for a spin. Can you imagine owning one?
North American T-6 Texan
The North American T-6 Texan was crucial in WW2 but ended up retiring in 1995. It may not be in production anymore, but that doesn’t erase the past it has attached to it.
Many designations used the Texan, depending on which model and air force. Several nations utilized the capabilities of the Texan in their air force, which makes this plane an important part of history. Owning a vintage one would be a nice addition.
Beechcraft King Air
The Beechcraft King Air came about in 1964, and the US Army, Navy, Philippine Navy, and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force all put it to good use. Not only does it carry an appealing look, but it gets the job done safely.
There are many variations of the King Air design, which have twin-turboprop models divided into Super King Airs and King Airs depending on what they can do. Beechcraft eventually dropped the “Super” title in 1996.
Who wouldn’t want to own an airplane that looks like a miniature car with wings attached to the top? That question might be rhetorical, but there are only six examples of the Taylor Aerocar ever built.
It never went into production, but it was a roadable aircraft that Moulton Taylor designed in 1949. This looks like the aircraft equivalent to a clown car, which makes it even better. If someone did have a Taylor Aerocar, we wonder if they would try using it on the streets since its roadable.
How often do you see airplanes on U.S. postage? It doesn’t happen all the time, and it has to be very special for that to happen. The Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” managed to accomplish that feat, as it’s on older $0.24 stamps.
Today, it’s over 100 years old and is a staple in American aviation history. If you look closely, you’ll notice bicycle spokes on the tires, something you don’t anywhere anymore. If you want to buy one, you should look for a refurbished model which goes for around $150,000.
Beechcraft T-34 Mentor
The Beechcraft T-34 Mentor was nothing more than a military trainer aircraft that came into play in 1953. It wasn’t limited to one nation, as the Japan Air Self Defense Force, the Philippine Air Force, US Air Force, and Navy all put it to good use.
There are seven different models of this aircraft, including the YT-34C, T-34C Turbo-Mentor, T-34C-1, YT-34, T-34A, T-34B, and Turbo-Mentor 34C. There is one prototype model, and that’s the YT-34.
The Luscombe 8 is a striking aircraft. Luscombe Aircraft produced this monoplane in 1937 after Don Luscombe worked for the majority of his adult life to make and develop an all-metal airplane.
During the process, Luscombe faced near-constant money issues. In 1933, Luscombe left Mono Aircraft, the developers of the fast Monocoupes, and began a company in Kansas City, Missouri. If you’re looking to buy, you can find them ranging between $20,000 and $35,000 depending on where you look.
The Lake Buccaneer is still in production since debuting in 1950. Lake Aircraft made well over 1,000 of these planes, and you might find some parked on a lake, making the title even more appropriate.
The Lake Buccaneer is a light amphibious aircraft, with four seats. It was initially produced as the Colonial C-2 Skimmer, which was a product of the two-seat Colonial C-1 Skimmer. Doesn’t it amaze you how the development of aircraft can change so drastically?
The Cessna Skymaster was introduced in 1961, designed with a twin-engine. This aircraft was manufactured from 1963 to 1982 but continued to be flown by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for over a decade after.
One of the special features of the Skymaster is the center-line thrust, where you’ll notice the fuselage has the design of a nacelle. The front possesses an engine that has a counter-rotating propeller. Is that not different enough for you? Well, the rear has a second engine with a pusher propeller creating what Cessna calls “push-pull”.
Piper PA-32R Saratoga
Located in Vero Beach, Florida, the Piper Aircraft produced the Piper PA-32R, which is a metal fixed-wing airplane. They made it from 1975 to 2009, but it started off with a completely different style.
The first designs started as the Piper Lance, which was a retractable version of the Piper Cherokee Six. As time passed, it eventually became the Piper Saratoga, what you see here. It has that nostril feature discussed earlier that the Legend Club has.
Piper Cherokee 140
When it comes to classic small airplanes, one has to think about the Piper Cherokee 140. It stirs up nostalgia when you consider aviation history. Production first began in January 1960 and they’re still being made today.
With four seats, the Cherokee 140 was originally for flight training and recreational use with its single prop engine. The single cabin is also unpressurized, which is favorable to many pilots. If you wish to grab one, you can get it for around $75,000.
The Cessna 195 went into production in the ’40s and can hold at least six passengers. During that time, it wasn’t very spacious, but folks did consider it comfortable. Back then, you couldn’t complain about much while flying.
One of the downsides about this aircraft is the overwing design. This makes you feel the aircraft more than usual when it swings and sways compared to an onboard wing plane. Whatever the con is, the Cessna 195 is still a classic.
Aero Commander 690B
When it first came out in 1952, the Aero Commander 690B was only a utility and business aircraft. They were manufactured between 1951 and 1986, but two things about it made them unique.
The Commander 690B has a towering tail and a low-slung fuselage making the turboprops unique among the Piper, Beechcraft, and Cessna tiers. The 690B isn’t in production anymore, but they’re still viable options as far as airplanes go, so don’t rule out owning one!
Beriev designed the BE-103, but KnAAPO manufactured this beauty. It first took flight on July 15, 1997, and is an amphibious seaplane. The Russians might’ve built it, but in English, they sometimes call the Beriev “Snipe”.
The primary goal of Snipe is an autonomous operation in the far-out areas of Siberia. If there was an inaccessible route that featured a lake, stream, or river, then the Snipe was the go-to option. Only three of these are on the United States civil register as of 2010.
There’s no such thing as too many Cessna aircraft. The Cessna 208 version came around in 1982, and they’re still in production today, with more than 2,500 built. For such a small plane, you’d be surprised to learn it carries 340 cubic feet of cargo!
If you happen to need more space for your belongings, the Cessna 208 has an optional 111.5-cubic-foot belly pod as well. It’s not spacious enough for a human or animal, but it will fit all of your possessions.
How fun would it be to fly the skies in a plane called Gemini? This classic aircraft hails from Great Britain and has a twin-engine with four seats. Miles Aircraft Company conceptualized the design at the Aerodrome, where they also produced all of the models.
The same company described it as the “safest light aeroplane in the world” when it first debuted. Today, these are quite popular among recreational flyers, as you can purchase one for under $40,000.
The design alone on the Adam A500 is enough to make any plane enthusiast want to own one. The sleek double/single wing in the back is an eye-catcher. When it first came out in 2003, many touted it as revolutionary due to the integrated cockpit design.
Even with all that, it’s safe to say this isn’t a plane for enthusiasts or recreational use. Those who own one usually are more skilled in flying and favor a lavish aircraft.
AT-6 Harvard Texan
Have you ever heard of the Harvard formation team called Yellow Thunder? The classic AT-6 Harvard Texan is part of that unit. Designed in 1934, these aircraft are a sight to see when they’re flying in formation!
They’re powered by a Whitney R1340 and Pratt supercharged radial engine that can get up to 600hp. A crazy fact about the Harvard is that the tips of the propeller exceed the speed of sound, helping the plane make a vigorous roar.
The Stearman 75 is a single prop biplane that has traditional landing gear with delicate steering. The tires are so large that you can land almost anywhere with this aircraft. They initially made the Stearman 75 to train military personnel, with about 10,000 being built between the ’30s and ’40s.
Since then, they’ve become sporting planes and are often used for acrobatics in different types of airshows. These aircraft carry a ton of history, making them a legitimate classic.
Boeing Model 40C
The Boeing Model 40C is a classic, but for a reason different than you would expect. During the 1920s, America rolled out airmail service. This made delivering mail much easier and allowed more to be delivered than before.
The Boeing Model 40C was the perfect match for that job. The plane would continue to perform the service for about a decade, before becoming a part of the United Airlines fleet.
1950 Avro Anson
The 1950 Avro Anson is a postwar aircraft that you can get for around $200,000. Considering it’s a private jet, that’s a pretty fantastic deal since those types of planes generally cost more.
The 1950 Avro Anson has a twin-engine, and was developed by Roy Chadwick in 1934. At first, he used two Cheetah VI engines that gave out 295hp. It also had a single forward-firing machine gun with turrets! They even made it capable of holding a small bomb in the fuselage.
With any field that deals with innovation, there’s always a turning point when something epic takes the spotlight. In aviation, that was the case when the Curtiss-Wright AT-9 hit the skies.
After making a prototype in 1941, production began in 1942. Although they used fabric to cover the wings on the prototype, they switched over to metal in the real construction. Sadly, it wasn’t easy to handle, so they used it to teach new pilots how to perform under duress. Curtiss-Wright stopped making these in 1943.
Cessna 150 G
The Cessna 150 G is small and affordable for anyone looking to purchase one. The version here has a single prop and a 150hp engine. When it comes to short field performers, this is one of the best in class.
They might be older, but some still have an avionics system and leather seats for your flying pleasure. The cool thing is that they’re all designed differently, making each one unique. Pilots adore the Cessna 150 G thanks to its sleek look.
Meyers 1943 OTW Biplane
With an open engine design, the Meyers 1943 OTW Biplane looks sensational. They built this aircraft to compete with the Stearman brand for models used by the Army Air Corps.
Since Stearman was so dominant in the market, any competition had to be stellar, and the Meyers 1943 OTW Biplane was that. It was more attractive thanks to being cheaper, but still fun to pilot. You can find one of these WWII era plans for under $90,000.
Havilland Airco DH-9
The Havilland Airco DH-9 was built in the 1920s as an upgraded version of the DH-4 model. The DH-9 promised a better performance thanks to a new fuselage and Adriatic engine. Before its retirement in 1937, the primary pilots of this aircraft were the Royal Air Force, Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service, and the South African Air Force.
Today, only a few Havilland Airco DH-9 survive. If you’re interested in seeing one of these warplanes, you can find them at various museums around the world, including the Imperial War Museum in England.
Cessna 172 Skyhawk
Since its first flight in 1955, the Cessna 172 Skyhawk has been built more than any other aircraft. The compact plane has four seats, high wings, and a single-engine that allows it to fly across the sky.
Compared to its predecessor, this model has increased engine speed, additional fuel tank space in the wingtips, added wheel pants to help reduce drag, among other things. This is considered one of the most popular planes on the market.
This tiny plane is the ERCO Ercoupe, an aircraft that was up in the sky back in 1937. Although it was built a bit before World Was II, the ERCO didn’t become popular until the war was over, in the ’60s.
The two-seat plane is for those who hold a sports pilot license, and not necessarily for commercial pilots. If you’re interested in purchasing one, the ERCO is relatively affordable. They run for about $7,500.
WACO RPT Monoplane
This 1940 WACO RPT Monoplane is one of the only models produced as a single wing aircraft. Originally, this aircraft was designed for USAF aerobatic training. The tiny and compact nature of the plane makes it one of the best for competition tricks.
Now, pilots use the plane just to cruise the sky. If this compact aircraft interests you, the asking price runs around $65,000. That steep price gets you a classic wooden propeller plane that is museum-worthy.
1946 Beech G17S Staggerwing Biplane
The Beech G17S Staggerwing Biplane first hit the sky in 1932. This plane is notable for its wing formation; the lower pair is more forward than the upper wings. It was used during the second world war as a bomber plane but has since been retired to become utilized more in the private sector.
In 2012, Aviation History magazine ranked the 1946 Beech G17S Staggerwing Biplane in the top 12 World Most Beautiful Airplanes, calling it a “vintage beauty.”
1943 Stinson Gullwing
The 1943 model of the Stinson Gullwing has all the detailing of an Art Deco-era plane. It is a well-known model and has become quite the popular aircraft among small plane collectors. With its beautiful leather interior, it’s not hard to see why!
Unfortunately, the asking price for one of these beauties is pretty high. Traditionally, the price is around $170,000. Ironically, that is affordable by Gullwing standards! That’s why people tend to lean towards purchasing the classic.
The Rutan Voyager might be a bit bigger than other “small planes,” but it sure is unique. This aircraft’s first flight was in 1984, and, in 1986, it became the first plane to circumnavigate the world without stopping to refuel.
The pilots for the groundbreaking day were Jeana Yeager and Dick Rutan. Alongside Rutan’s brother Burt, the trio sketched out the design for the airplane on the back of a napkin during lunch one day. The sketch turned into a five-year-long project!
It was 1918 when the Fokker C.I first flew. The plane was developed by Germany at the end of the first World War. The design has two seats and a BMW IIIa engine, and was originally designed to sell to the German Army.
The planes were going to be used as bomber planes, but they never saw airtime during the war. Now, collectors enjoy customizing the historical planes. The compact fighter aircraft would be fun to take for a spin around the sky!
Junkers JU 52
The first flight for the Junkers JU 52 was on October 13, 1930. During the rise of Nazi Germany, many of these planes were developed for the military as a means of transportation, as it allowed up to 17 passengers. Because of all of the space, the planes were also used as utility transport, too.
As of 2018, there are only two Junkers JU 52s that are operational, mainly for plane shows and pleasure flights out of Dubendorf airport in Switzerland.
The Cirrus SR22 is a newer aircraft that was built back in 2001 and has been the best-selling general aviation aircraft on the market since 2003. It is known as the “plane with the parachute,” one of its safety features, which could be the reason why it’s one of the most produced planes of the 21st century.
This model is a more powerful version of the SR20, having a 310-horsepower engine, larger wings, more power, and higher fuel capacity.