Home : Aircraft : LSA :
Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's An LSA World

Fun, useful, life-changing: LSA proving themselves at work and play

New movements can take awhile to root in the public consciousness. A sure sign that new technology and concepts have arrived is in how creatively and broadly they're used. Since 2004, light sports have shown they can safely and comfortably fly great distances with complete reliability, and have a lot of fun along the way. Flight schools are catching on, and LSA are proving to be effective tools for law enforcement, firefighting and Homeland Security duties.

Mike Zidziunas of Mike Z Sport Aviation has done a lot of work getting the sport-pilot license adopted in the Bahamas—the first country to do so. He's also that island nation's "LSA Flying Ambassador" for his pioneering efforts in leading gaggles of LSA pilots across the water to paradise. How cool is that?

American-made LSA are going global, too. The spec is legal in Brazil and Australia, with accommodations for features such as in-flight adjustable props. Europe should be onboard soon, which will open a market for producers such as Rans, Legend, Arion and CubCrafters. Let's check out four ways LSA are making waves.

Smokey's Eye In The Sky
Roger Crow of Tulsa, Okla., flew jets for the Air National Guard for 35 years, then, "I was looking for something after I retired and had a passion for airborne law enforcement." He had flown with the Tulsa law enforcement for two years as an "attachable flight officer." One day, he had an epiphany: What about an LSA for police work?
When people first see these aircraft, they laugh, just like I did. I scoffed at it. It wasn't until I actually flew it...law-enforcement pilots can't believe its capabilities. It feels like you're in a chopper.
— Roger Crow, LSA-Flying Law-Enforcement Officer
He researched every LSA out there—no small task. At Sebring last year, he decided the Flight Design CTLS was the right horse for his particular race. "I'd already worked with an aeronautical engineer on how to install an aerial surveillance camera on an LSA," Crow mentions. At Sebring, he met Matthias Betsch, head of Flight Design, who liked the project and offered design and development help. "I shared my data with his engineers to make the CTLS operational for airborne law enforcement, border protection and similar duties," Crow says. The design work started in January of 2011. "We had an airplane by June 30th!"

The newly dubbed CTLE (LE for Law Enforcement) has since flown on law-enforcement missions with the Tulsa Sheriff's Office. So what makes it so ideal for police work? Crow replies, "A helicopter pilot told me he'd never piloted any aircraft like this. It orbits at 50 knots within a four-block area, and burns 3.7 to 4 gph on a 90-minute mission.


Add Comment