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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!


Are Used GA Planes Really Cheaper?

I hear this a lot: "I can buy an old classic for under $40,000, and fly it just as cheap as an LSA." Mike Z has another take on that. "I flew a Breezer to Oshkosh, then flew a Luscombe home. A Luscombe is arguably the cheapest GA airplane you can buy. People claimed it would get 4.5 gallons per hour; it didn't. And it used more oil in two hours than the Breezer would have used round trip!

"The Luscombe was so slow, I spent an extra night in a hotel room. It's a 65-year-old airplane," Mike Z continues. "It needs more maintenance, and from an IA mechanic at that. Spark plugs for the Rotax are $3 apiece. They're $37 for a Luscombe—costs people forget to factor in. Look, I love my Luscombe, it's like an antique car. But they're old, worn-out planes! Lovely to flutter around in; not cheaper to own."

A Matter Of Choice

"I teach how to fly, not drive, an airplane. Pilots with GA backgrounds ask me, 'Where's the artificial horizon?' I say, 'You've got the real one right out there!' My students learn to keep their heads outside the airplane," says Mike Z.

"LSA flying is a lifestyle thing, like driving versus riding motorcyles. You don't buy a car or a motorcycle. LSA and GA are for different kinds of flying. We want to enjoy ourselves. We use LSA to reset our internal clocks. GA airplanes have gotten too expensive to fly often. LSA is that dream, that fly-like-a-bird thing."

Mike Z, newly appointed LSA Ambassador to the Bahamas, really knows how to get the most from his LSA flying. "I tell people, 'Hey, we don't burn 42 gallons each way going down to Nassau. We don't do the $400 burger thing...we do the $100 dollar conch-salad thing!

The Mogas Mojo

fMike Zidziunas, the all-around pilot/CFIS/mechanic who has sold, maintained and used LSA in his operation since 2005, knows the Rotax engine's preference for burning E-zero (E0) "mogas." E0 is unleaded, ethanol-free auto gas. Rotax and Jabiru engines prefer E0, although they can run auto gas with some ethanol content. They burn regular avgas, too.

Tecnam's Phil Solomon boasts that all his company's aircraft, GA and LSA alike, use mogas.
"But avgas currently costs more than $7 for each gallon," says Mike Z. "So most LSA offer that additional savings."

Yet the mogas benefit comes with a giant bottleneck: Of 3,500 airport FBOs across the country that sell avgas, only 100 sell mogas! As Dan Johnson says, "Talk about your missed opportunities!"
A new organization, the Aviation Fuel Club (AFC), is working to help pilots and airports acquire mogas. AFC created the Sport Fuel Program to provide E0 for aviation and other applications. Kent Misegades, AFC's go-to guy, talks up the "Sport Fuel Station" as a way for aircraft operators "across the country to create a grassroots organization aimed at making sport aviation
more affordable."

U-Fuel produces a new line of compact, low-cost Sport Fuel stations. The portable, 24/7 self-service systems have cell-based card readers and patented safety features, and come in smaller capacities starting at 1,500 gallons—a less-pricey alternative to larger fuel tanks and truck fueling for AFC members, airports, FBOs, flight schools, flying clubs and manufacturers.

How to get mogas to your airport? Dan Johnson suggests speaking with your FBO manager and airport commissioners about getting a second fuel pump to support the 70-80% of aircraft that don't require 100 octane avgas. Contact: www.aviationfuelclub.org.







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