Buying new is a huge undertaking both financially and time as you probably wait for your new aircraft to be built, and you may question whether you’re making the right choice. It all depends on your budget and your mission profile.
It sounds harsh, but it’s essential to let go of the opinions and unsolicited advice to decide what you want versus what you need while staying within your budget. Naturally, people want to help when you’re making a decision, such as buying an aircraft. And when you’re concerned about whether it will appreciate over time, it’s essential to know your options.
We encourage you to dig deeper into your research. However, we can help. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 general appreciating aircraft on the market to help you find the aircraft right for you. Learn more about the year, make, model, and features that consider it an investment favorite by aviation experts across the globe.
Have a particular aircraft in mind and need reliable data? Join VREF Online.
Top 10 General Appreciating Aircraft Aviation Fanatics Admire
When purchasing an aircraft, make sure you are investing wisely. So please take a look at our top 10 list of appreciating aircraft to make an informed choice.
Find affordable subscription options to meet your needs.
1. Cessna 172
An American favorite since its 1956 debut is the Cessna 172. Owners and pilots enjoy this aircraft because of its relatively reasonable operating costs and ease of operations. These factors also make it a reliable aircraft for flight training. Furthermore, the 172 is the most produced single-engine plane in aviation history, as it is still in production today, with over 44,000 manufactured in total.
Appreciation Value for a 1959 172: The original new price was $11,751 and today’s values demonstrate a 340% increased residual value.
2. Cessna 182
The Cessna 182 also debuted in 1956, and it is still in current production as well. The 182 only falls behind the 172 as the second best-selling Cessna piston aircraft of all time. Pilots enjoy flying the 182 because of its ground stability, operating costs, and forgiving nature while flying. Because of this, flight training schools, military, and other government entities commonly fly the Cessna 182. The 182 is also one of the most heavily modified aircraft on the market, as there are more STC’s available for the 182 than other aircraft, including several engine modifications and too numerous to mention avionics upgrades. Because of its multiple uses, the 182 platform is one of the most famous aircraft built.
Appreciation Value for a 1966 182J: The original new price was $22,400 and today’s values demonstrate a 414% increased residual value.
3. Beechcraft Bonanza
First introduced in 1947, the Beechcraft Bonanza is still in production, making its continuous production one of the most extended aircraft history. The aircraft has been produced with both V-tail and conventional tail configurations.
The Beechcraft Bonanza A36 has been a fan favorite throughout Beechcraft’s long history. Furthermore, this aircraft can reach 234 mph, making its high speed one of its alluring factors. Additionally, the A36’s ability to travel far and its six-seat design make it a desirable choice for pilots with families. The A36 is one of the more popular aircraft for seasoned pilots, and it is well supported in terms of avionics modifications and available STC’s.
Appreciation Value for a 1971 A36: The original new price was $64,550 and today’s values demonstrate a 252% increased residual value.
4. Beechcraft Baron
This Beechcraft model debuted in 1961 and is still in production today. Its predecessor was the Travel Air, which had the fuselage of the Bonanza and the tail control of the T34 Mentor. Beechcraft replaced the Travel Air tail with the Debonair, streamlined the engine nacelles, and added six-cylinder engines to create the Beechcraft Baron. It is available in pressurized versions and has several engineer modifications to increase performance. While most twin-engine aircraft rarely appreciate, the B55 and A55’s have done well over the years, making them an exception to the rule.
Appreciation Value for 1974 B55: The original new price was $112,100 and today’s values demonstrate a 110% increased residual value.
5. Piper Archer II/III 28-181
Part of the Cherokee family of aircraft, these Piper models are well-liked by pilots because of their landing ability and operational forgiveness. The Piper aircraft was first introduced in 1960 and is designed for flight training, air taxi, and personal use. These models can’t travel as fast as other aircraft, but they handle crosswinds well. This makes it ideal for pilots in training and those who want to fly an “uncomplicated” aircraft.
Appreciation Value for a 1976 28-181: The original new price was $33,500 and today’s values demonstrate a 150% increased residual value.
6. Piper Cherokee 28-180
The Cherokee 180 is the predessocr to the Archer, Arrow, Warrior and Pilot and has one fo the more robust pre-owned markets. The Cherokee is one of the more popular entry level aircraft and there are a number of STC’s available including numerous power plant and avionics upgrades.
Appreciation Value for a 1967 28-180 C: The original new price was $15,000 and today’s values demonstrate a 400% increased residual value.
7. Cessna Skywagon 180
The “Swiss Army Knife” back country aircraft is one of the most sought after and becoming increasingly harder to find. It also has one of the best resiudal values in aviation history with older models fetching almost 600% more than the factory delivered price. Famous for its utility performance, the bush aircraft is allmetal and can be equipped with floats, skis as well as a number of back country modificaitons.
Appreciation Value for a 157 Skywagon 180: The original new price was $17,000 and today’s values demonstrate a 485% increased residual value.
8. Piper Super Cub PA18
The two seat aircraft started production in 1950, based off the J-3 of the 1930’s. It is another example of an aircraft that can be heavily modified, in fact, it is not uncommon to see them with 180 HP engines, extended gear, cargo pods, skis, floats, STOL kits, and they can be used for both utility and passenger operations.
Appreciation Value for a 1950 Piper Super Cub PA-18-105: The original new price was $4,000 and today’s values demonstrate a 1660% increased residual value.
9. Cessna Stationair U206
The Stationair once known as the Super Skywagon is also a super performing aircraft both in terms of performance and residual value. Its rugges construction, and powerful engine make this aircraft a true SUV of the sky. It is popular amongst back country operators, sky divers, and it can be outfitted with just about everything under the sun including floats and skis.
Appreciation Value for a 1967 U206B: The original new price was $31,300 and today’s values demonstrate a 253.7% increased residual value.
10. Cessna Turbo Centurion T210
The 210 was originally a 182 with retractable gear, but it went through a number of updates over the years. It was the first single with factory-installed deicing and later the first single approved for flight in icing conditions. It was also the first single offered with factory-installed weather radar, with the receiver/transmitter and antenna mounted in a pod slung beneath the right wing. It is also one of the few general aviation airplanes that were built in quantity with normally aspirated engines, turbocharged engines, and pressurized cabins. While it is not the best handling aircraft, with its truck like performance it provides a true six passenger interior, with payload that is pretty much untouched in its class. The turbo varient is a true hotrod at altitude and often out performs many pressurized varients.
Appreciation Value for a 1966 Turbo Centurion T210F: The original new price was $37,100 and today’s values demonstrate a 175% increased residual value.
Real-Time Aviation Data For Thousands Of Aircraft
Compare, contrast, read up and explore real-time data covering thousands of aircraft through VREF Online. Whether your interests lie in a single-piston aircraft that’s new, a business jet for your company, or a fleet for your flight school, we have the information you need to make an informed decision.
Explore aircraft values (historical and current), equipment lists, performance data, and so much more through VREF Online.