Should you learn to fly in a complex high performance aircraft?

A soon to be student pilot named Larry Shaw has posted a question on the Ask a Flight Instructor website about having the opportunity to purchase a more complex aircraft and whether he could get his private pilot certificate in it:

I have a great opportunity to purchase a Commander 112b. I do not have a private pilot certificate. Can I get my private in my new plane?

Wes Beard responded by saying yes but he also warned that it could be overwhelming while the CFI doing the training would have to give a high performance and complex endorsement before any solo flight. Wes added that it will take longer to solo and get a license while insurance requirements may not allow a student pilot to solo the aircraft.

Sam Dawson then commented that Larry needs to check with insurance BEFORE he purchases the aircraft to confirm it will actually fit his budget and he needs to make sure there is a CFI in his area who can teach him how to fly the aircraft. Sam then gave some good tips for buying an aircraft, including:

Look for reason NOT to purchase this airplane. If you can’t find any, then it is probably a good purchase.

Sam concluded by noting that he knows pilots who have done what Larry plans on doing and it took them longer to solo, but they also ended their training with “intimate knowledge of their airplane.”

One Response to Should you learn to fly in a complex high performance aircraft?

  1. Mark April 23, 2013 at 14:05 #

    Did my first 45 hours on a Piper Archer to get my PPL-A, then I immediately transitioned to a Mooney (turbocharged), but the increased workload is significant. I have flown the Mooney 30 hours as PIC under supervision and completed a check-out with a pilot approved by the insurance company, and only now am I insured to fly her as PIC. Now I’m planning to do my IR on the Mooney. I probably would advise against starting your initial training on a complex aircraft such as a turbocharged Mooney, maybe it could be different for a Piper Arrow.
    Everything goes so much faster and you need to keep more parameters in check, it’s a lot to tackle for a novice. I started on an Archer (and not on a e.g. C172) with the Mooney in mind for after the PPL checkride, and I don’t regret that. Made everything manageable and fun!

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