As I said, it depends what suits you. I find it difficult to understand, though, why auto modes gave "awful results". I can understand that, shooting planes against the sky, would require some exposure adjustment, so that the plane is not a silhouette against the sky, but surely using Tv mode with the shutter speed of 1/1250sec (as shown on your exif data) with +1 or +2 stops exposure compensation would have given you a similar result. As a matter of interest, when you took this shot, did the camera show that you were over-exposing (using the viewfinder graph)? And when you were using an auto mode, did you dial in any exposure compensation?