The innovative Slovenian company Pipistrel is still toiling away on the sleek and sexy Panthera single-engine retractable. In this in-depth video, AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli took the airplane for a couple of flights and crunched all the numbers. So is it as fast as it looks? Pretty much.


  1. Pretty cool plane. We checked out the Panthera, Virus and Alpha Trainer today at INF. Great handling characteristics for such light planes in some pretty unpleasant conditions. I think Pipistrel is onto to something here.

  2. Yes good video, graphics, editing, camera work and dialog Paul. You’ll be pleased to know that I took seriously your exhortation at 8 minutes and 23 seconds into the video to get high airplane price point frustration out of my system long before you exhorted your audience to do so. I’m not sure when it was, perhaps when I was your age Paul, the irony dawned on me that despite having been a life long, passionate flying professional who made an honest, hard working respectable living, I would never be financially entitled to justify borrowing let alone purchasing this class of airplane, ever. I just wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor or lawyer or even a businessman who might be able to write something like this off. So I watch these videos and read these pilot reports for pure entertainment. Meanwhile, whether the airplane will be powered by an IO-390 or an IO something bigger is, again, just entertainment but really es macht nichts. And then when I have watched and read to my heart’s content, as I have said here before, I go out and hug my 1946 Cessna 120. Again.

  3. Pual,
    Although I don’t have Cessna 120 to hug, I do have a first generation Bonanza which I have already embraced after watching another one of your professionally crafted video pilot reports. Thank you again for a job well done including your help in fending off price point frustration ( PPF).

    1953…150kts at 9.7 gph of 87 octane non-ethanol auto fuel on 225hp
    2020…180kts at 11-14gph of 93 octane non-ethanol auto fuel on 260hp
    I get my non-ethanol mogas from Walmart at $2.30-2.75 per gallon depending where I am at regionally. Where do you get 93 octane non-ethanol fuel outside of racing fuel?
    Advantage 1953 airplane.

    1953…electric landing gear, flaps, and prop. 67 years of proven reliability, parts availability, and a no AD prop. Also, well fitting doors, no part of landing gear exposed, gear strong enough for carrier use. 2020…more door synchronization, no yet proven reliability, completely new maintenance curve for rigging and preventive maintenance. While Pipestrel has to start somewhere, with owner stuck with mechanic’s lack of knowledge/learning curve, advantage 1953 at this point.

    1953…useful load 983lbs
    2020…useful load 1200lbs as equipped ( which does not include options likely desired as AC and YKS)
    1953…has a simple to use and quite effective swamp cooler for cooling needs. Advantage 1953. No TKS…maybe advantage for 2020. No doubt the CG issues with first generation Bonanzas allow for potential TO within CG and be aft of limits while landing. Advantage 2020.

    Taxi, TO, Climb, Cruise, and Landing visibility outstanding in 1953. 2020 has serious forward visibility issues in critical phases of flight. Advantage 1953.

    Light, well harmonized control forces on both 1953 and 2020. Advantage…draw.
    Both easy to land…Advantage draw,

    1953 Bonanza…with AP, GPS, digital engine monitoring, mid-time engine, ADS-B IN/OUT, ( IFR panel) and 5500 hour airframe…$35,000
    2020 with the usual glass panel offerings and AP…no/low time airframe and engine….$672,000

    Price difference for arguably easier loading, 20kts more speed @ 25-35% more fuel burn on non-obtainable to limited obtainable fuel in America, and the new airplane smell…$637,000

    Time to hug the Bo again.

    • Yes, you can’t beat legacy aircraft if you have the patience to upgrade and maintain. The numbers just don’t lie. The numbers are overwhelming, but, the eye candy is hypnotizing. Honestly, I don’t know why more people don’t take a hard look at refurbishing legacy aircraft. I guess instant gratification can be blinding.

  4. “Honestly, I don’t know why more people don’t take a hard look at refurbishing legacy aircraft.”

    A lot of people do take a look at refurbishing a legacy aircraft. However, many refurb shops have a specialty based on employee talent, accumulated experience, parts availability, and the usually narrow range of models they are comfortable with. All of these reasons have validity. They specialize in a range of type specific airplanes. They usually have outstanding credentials, a solid customer base, more expensive, and have long lead times.

    However, that model/type specific range specialty can and does create problems for potential customer when the airplane they currently own does not fit those parameters. So, many become disillusioned because now they have to deal with getting rid of ol’ Bessie, or turning down a really good candidate airplane, and beginning a search for the “right” candidate airplane that particular refurb shop is comfortable with.

    Many other refurb shops are located in areas with low labor rates in an effort to be more competitive. But getting good help is very difficult because you are looking for talent, asking them to move in an area that is usually less desirable , and being offered a substandard wage but good enough for that area. Most quality help will not go to those places.

    Since many operate on a Part 145 certificate, you get local, usually automotive oriented or trained help being “supervised” by very few AP/IA’s. It amazes me how few A&P’s are actually employed at these facilities with fewer having IA qualifications. Most of the refurb is being done by mostly unskilled labor, unfamiliar with airplanes, getting a wage similar to the local Walmart, with few supervisory A&P’s. These shops usually handle a lot of broker owned airplanes that are simply being flipped. They will refurb just about anything. If a prospect compares these shops with the others who are more highly specialized, the prices are usually quite less, with much shorter leads times.

    Part 145 credentials implies to the average aviation consumer a lot of assumptions of quality and experience. But it is surprising how much of that is actually lacking in practice.

    Since many people really cannot discern quality work from sub-standard work as both appear shiny, with new paint and/or new interior, the airplane is delivered. When the airplane is flown, the problems start to show up, and then process of making the warranty repairs begin. That is where the “war stories” start because you have to take your airplane back to the place who did not do it right in the first place. Then the negotiations/arguments develop for a solution.

    Quality shops make few mistakes, deliver a quality airplane, and stand behind any issues that might some up. They usually step up in relocating the airplane from home base to their shop.

    All of the above and more can make the mere shopping for the right facility at an affordable, mutually agreeable price a long drawn out, daunting process. Most of us would not know the right questions to ask. It’s quite a learning curve for the average aircraft owner. Therefore, a lot of critical decisions are made after consulting with a buddy who might have some personal experience, or a huge amount of time, effort, and coordination invested by the prospect in one’s attempt to get educated.

    Also, to get most shops to begin the quote dialogue require a long list of personal information to be shared. The proverbial “ball park” estimate is not a good way to start off the dialogue for either party.

    I can see where a person who is affluent enough to do pursue either option of new or refurbished legacy would turn toward new. Refurbishment of legacy aircraft is a complicated process worthy of considerable investigation. Coordinating financing for the level of refurbishment desired or suggested is another challenge.

    There are absolutely great shops in aircraft refurbishment. However, there are many sub-standard as well. Not an easy process for many aircraft owners to determine the right balance to accomplish their goals.

    The real question is not really the vast difference in performance between legacy and new. Its a combination of many things such as age, time invested to refurb, tax liabilities/capital investment write-offs, financing, and the desire to be the first fanny in the seat. Plus, ya can’t dismiss “how do I look in this?”

  5. I am one of those people Jim. I have one Aerostar completely refurbished. It took about five years. I have another that is about a year away from completion and have a third that is just beginning the process. You are pretty much right-on on all accounts you have described. Fortunately for me, I accidentally stumbled upon a few people who really know what they’re doing in addition to Aerostar Corporation holding the type certificate. All parts for the aircraft are just a phone call away.

    As far as price, budgets, or, time frame are concerned, forget about it, it’s open ended. You’re not buying something off the shelf already built. It’s a process of uncovering, building and on going decision making. The emotional roller coaster is continuous and gut wrenching. Once you go down this this road there really is no turning back. The whole thing is addicting.

    One thing you did say that stuck in my head, “Since many people really cannot discern quality work from sub-standard work as both appear shiny, with new paint and/or new interior, the airplane is delivered.” Nothing is more true. The real beauty of refurbishment is in the things you don’t see and that’s also where most of the cost is.

    In the end, the finish product is nothing, but, pure bliss in appearance and performance. And yes, it is better than sex.

  6. As usual, Paul, a good thorough review of the subject. While the plane is not superior to many similar aircraft, it is a well designed craft that shows excellent design and fit and finish. I was impressed by the description of using kevlar over the carbon fiber in the cabin to minimize injury from shards of carbon fiber in an accident. Something you likely would not think about until you were in that situation. The designers have put a lot of thought into things the end users will probably never actually see. Like most other comments, I too grumble at the sticker shock. It makes me like my Cardinal RG even more. But, redesigning the Cardinal to meet modern safety and operational standards might produce a similar sticker shock. Comparing legacy airframes to a modern design is kind of apples and oranges. As you said, every airplane has its warts, regardless of when or how it was built. Thanks for the good video.

  7. That was an awesome video with great graphics, editing and camera work Paul. The technical analysis was per usual focused and helpful. I’ve flown a new Bonanza and an SR22T this year. Suppose now I’ll have to fly a Panthera to be sure. That Bo was a lot easier to ingress/egress than the Cirrus, appears to be likewise for the Pipistrel.