General Aviation

General aviation refers to any nonscheduled, nonmilitary flight operation—in other words, all civil aircraft not flown by commercial carriers or the military. It includes everything from personal to business flying, air taxi, sightseeing tours, and life-saving medical flights. General aviation accounts for nearly 80 percent of the civil aircraft and three-fourths of all flight operations in the United States.

Speed, flexibility, convenience, safety, and security make general aviation appealing. For many it offers a viable, more efficient alternative to commercial aviation. The General Aviation section describes the evolution of general aviation and its diverse roles.


Piper J-3 Cub at the Udvar-Hazy Center

Piper J-3 Cub
First built in 1937, the Piper J-3 earned fame as a trainer and sport plane. Its success made the name "Cub" a generic term for light airplanes. The little yellow tail dragger remains one of the most recognized designs in aviation. J-3 Cubs and subsequent models are still found at fields around the world. Thousands of pilots, including three-fourths of those in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, trained in Cubs.

More information: Piper J-3 Cub

Grumman G-22 "Gulfhawk II" at the Udvar-Hazy Center

Grumman G-22 Gulfhawk II
One of the most exciting aerobatic aircraft of the 1930s and '40s, the Grumman Gulfhawk II was built for retired naval aviator and air show pilot Al Williams. As head of the Gulf Oil Company's aviation department, Williams flew in military and civilian air shows around the country, performing precision aerobatics and dive-bombing maneuvers to promote military aviation during the interwar years.

More information: Grumman G-22 Gulfhawk II

Arrow Sport A2-60 at the Udvar-Hazy Center

Arrow Sport A2-60
The Arrow Sport A2-60 is a rare example of an alternative design, depression-era biplane. It complements the Smithsonian's Kreider-Reisner Challenger and Waco 9, conventional tandem open-cockpit biplanes. The Arrow Sport offered a side-by-side, dual-control cockpit arrangement. Its cantilever wings were attached only to the upper center section strut and lower fuselage — they had no other struts or external flying wires for bracing. However, enough pilots were uncomfortable without some sort of visible wing support that "N" struts later became standard.

More information: Arrow Sport A2-60