I WILL CONFIDE in you; these are the books our contributors first turn to when preparing for a flight test.

I WILL CONFIDE in you; these are the books our contributors first turn to when preparing for a flight test. Not only does Aviation Consumer tell it as it is, warts and all, but it salts the expert cuisine of its reporting with no small degree of wit.

In casual reading, one trips over things that startle and amuse by turns: 'It's hard to believe at times that the same company that brought us the epitome of single engine class... could make aircraft as dowdy, frumpy and ill performing as the Sport and Sundowner' (on the Beech 19 and 23 series). 'To save weight, the airplane had no shear web in the wing spar. This proved to be a bad mistake...' (the 'avoid like the plague' is traight 35 Bonanza, most fragile of its breed). 'The cabin is comfortable even for four as it should be, because time won't fly,' (the C172). 'Cessna quickly realised it had made a gaff with the Cardinal,' (the first version, that is). 'Partly retracted, the landing gear looks funny. All too often... it acts funny, as well,' (guess!). 'The PA 18 is probably overloaded more consistently, by bigger margins, than any other airplane. Safety ninnies may shake their heads, but... overload a Super Cub by 550 pounds and you've still probably got more climb performance than a grossed out Skyhawk,' and my favourite 'Super Cub cabin comfort is an oxymoron that ranks right up there with jumbo shrimp.’

Aviation Consumer employs excellent flight testers and the truth behind their manifold assertions is borne out by extensive owner comment, much of it very informative. The one drawback for the British reader is that it is all based on U.S. experience, and the depreciation graphs and spares price/availability information does not necessarily read across. Though AD's leap the Pond, the situation regarding STC'd modifications in the USA is something we can only dream about.

With the Used Aircraft Guide, it is important to make sure one is obtaining the correct edition. This, latest, one excludes rarer oldies like the radial engined Cessna 195, which was covered in the seventh. If you are in the market for a type in this category, check first; you may want an earlier edition.

Otherwise, the eighth edition includes improvements like at a glance, standardised aircraft data tables, complete with three views. To use their own vernacular, an already invaluable publication got better. Philip Whiteman.

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