Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Allegro 2000: Light Sport and Fun!
Fast, Easy to Fly and Relatively Inexpensive—This Plane Is Part of the Sport Pilot Family
|Not all light sport aircraft are created equal; some are more equal than others. From old aircraft barely able to get off the ground to speedy, shiny, new glass aircraft—LSA covers a lot of ground.|
Not all light sport aircraft are created equal; some are more equal than others. From old aircraft barely able to get off the ground to speedy, shiny, new glass aircraft—LSA covers a lot of ground.
From the outset, light sport was conceived as a way to simplify flying and reduce costs. When Uncle Sam gets involved, it sometimes works out that way and it sometimes doesn’t. The price for a lower-cost hurdle is a complex set of rules. The question for us is whether the new rules take the fun out of flying.
When you fly the Allegro 2000, the answer is a resounding “no.” Go try one out and you’ll see what I mean. Fast, fun, easy to fly and relatively inexpensive—the Allegro is a top-notch airplane in any category.
As with all things in the 21st century, we have to deal with the complexities before we get to the fun. The bottom line is that you must operate within the limitations of that particular LSA.
Perhaps the gold standard of LSA performance is the venerable J-3 Cub, an LSA before LSA was cool. A 65 hp Cub weighs 1,220 pounds, cruises at 65 knots, stalls at 33 and still bounds off the ground with two people in less than 400 feet. Of course, the youngest of these airplanes is north of 60 years old. The Cub is light and fun, and allows passengers to see everything up close, but it doesn’t go anywhere fast. Most “new” LSA aircraft come from the microlight/ultralight world.
The Allegro 2000 is no exception; the aircraft, which is originally from Czechoslovakia, has been flying in Europe for more than 11 years. Doug Hempstead, of Fantasy Air USA, “discovered” the Allegro and brought it to the United States at the start of the LSA craze. “I was involved in ultralights, and decided that I’d like to take my wife on cross-countries,” says Hempstead. “I began searching and narrowed the field down to four. None of them had dealers, and when I called, they all asked if I wanted to become one. I decided to concentrate on two manufacturers. First, we visited one in Spain; we discovered that they were less than prepared to produce the airplane. Discouraged, we went to Czechoslovakia and, when we got there, the airplanes were ready to fly right away.
“We ended up staying at the factory for three and a half weeks. Everything they did there was right. All the workmanship was good and showed an understanding of what they needed. They already had more than 500 flying in Europe, so it was a proven airplane. We came back to the United States to get started on certification. In May 2005, we became third in the nation to get the S-LSA certification. Now there are 41 Allegros in the country, and we have 11 more on order.”