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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Easy Ownership: The Great LSA

Paradigm shifts happen...and we’re right in the middle of one!

"I took two big Baron pilots for a ride. They were nervous...until we flew. Then they were so excited! They want to buy one; they can't believe how much fun it is. This is a great time for people to be flying. Light-sport is amazing. I started in a J3 when I was 15. These are modern versions of that kind of flying. I recommend LSA to anybody," Wozniak adds excitedly.

Dillard "Doc" Williams loves flying his Remos G3 for cross-countries and sky camping. "I've put 1,250 hours on it, and flown it in all but five states. It's my seventh aircraft." He also has owned ultralights and Cessna 182s.

Williams folds the Remos' wings, loads it onto his trailer, and goes looking for adventure. "The trailer becomes my hotel. I find a place with 300 feet of dirt road, unload, go fly, then land and watch the sunset with a good steak and California Cabernet—not camp food!"

Typical fuel burn: 3.5 gallons per hour at 50% cruise. "The 182 was 13 gph," Williams says. That's a savings of around $70 per hour on fuel alone—and the Rotax likes even-cheaper auto gas. (See sidebar: "The Mogas Mojo.")

For Training, For Fun

Scott Trumbull of Suburban Aviation at Toledo Suburban Airport thinks of light-sports as the go-karts of the sky. "We teach in a Cessna 206 and a C-172, and a C-162 Skycatcher."

Suburban's students are "either young grads fresh out of school or wealthy older people." Skycatcher training runs $2,000-$3,000 less than the typical GA-based $10,000 cost of getting a private. No students have completed sport pilot training yet, but Trumbull estimates costs at $5,000. "The C-172 burns nine to 10 gallons per hour—the Skycatcher, around five. Inspections cost less too; there's less to check. And once people fly an LSA, they fall in love with it," Trumbull remarks.

Charlie Davis owns a Legend Cub for one reason: "It's a lot of fun to fly. That's the biggest point to me," he says. Most of his trips are local to his Fredericksburg, Va., home—classic Get Up flying. "Sometimes, I fly down to the Potomac River or Chesapeake Bay for seafood."

Pilots are often romantic creatures, and Davis is no exception. His Ford Focus is yellow...with a black J3 Cub lightning bolt painted on the side! His license plate? VFR ONLY.

Joe Friend loves Get Up and Go Long flying, and has logged 1,070 hours in his Florida-based SeaRey. He has also made 2,000-mile trips. Friend commutes to work from Spruce Creek's flying community to Progressive Aerodyne (SeaRey's manufacturer), where he was hired on "for fun" after retiring from Bell Labs.

"The airplane is so versatile: I land on water, pavement or grass," Friend explains. "I fly around the patch or low over the beach, and feel totally safe because I can put it down anywhere: I once landed on a river to wait out the clouds when the airports got socked in!"


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