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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

LSA Buyer's Guide

Time for young (and old) pilots’ fancies to turn skyward with 30+ sport planes


Three all-metal, Italian-built S-LSA (and also kit versions) help pilots on tighter budgets get airborne: Savannah VG (vortex generators), Savannah VGW (W for wide-body) and the impressive Rampage, with electric leading-edge slats and double-slotted Fowler flaps for a 34 mph stall and a 147-foot takeoff roll. Floats also available. Price: $73,995 (Savannah VG); $76,995 (Savannah VGW); $84,995 (Rampage).

Cessna Skycatcher
Expect Cessna to be in the top five in registrations before long: The U.S.-designed, China-manufactured, U.S.-assembled and test-flown Skycatcher (Cessna 162) is finding its way to hangars everywhere after a long production delay. Standard instrument package is the Garmin G300 multifunction display (MFD) with Garmin SL40 Com radio, Garmin GTX327 Mode C transponder, VFR GPS and 121.5 MHz ELT. It’s powered by a 100 hp Continental 0-200D. Price: $112,500.

This popular Florida-based company has something for everyone with a number of LSA, general aviation and ultralight models. The A-22 Valor and its CapeTown (float) version, A-20 Vista and A-24 Viking are S-LSA. With their roomy (52-inch) cabins, these all-metal, fabric-covered fun flyers cruise at 90 knots and start at $79,999. The company is tied for 8th in registrations for 2010, and operates several flight schools in Florida.

Paradise Aircraft
The Paradise P-1 is the U.S.-assembled, ASTM-certified LSA version of a popular Brazilian certified aircraft that first flew in 1999. Originally a four-seater, the two-seat high-winger has lots of baggage space. All around, it’s a solid, docile, enjoyable airplane to fly, with chrome-moly steel tubing and aluminum skin construction and solid aluminum spring gear, Amsafe seat-belt airbags, dual yokes, steerable nosewheel and several avionics packages. Price: $108,830.

Kitfox Aircraft
One of the all-time top recreational aircraft success stories, this one-time kitplane (4,500 delivered), lives on as the Kitfox S7 Super Sport. Other models include kits, like the Radial S7 with a Rotec R2800 radial engine (and sexy bump cowl to go with it) and backcountry STOL performance (320-foot takeoff roll, 1150 fpm climb, 105-knot cruise). Price: $83,495 (Super Sport S7).

Breezer Aircraft
The all-metal Breezer II has been popular in Europe for a decade. Its clean lines, all-metal construction, solid, general aviation-like handling and excellent cross-country chops make it one of the real sleepers in the U.S. S-LSA market. A beveled panel angles toward the pilot for easier viewing of the center GPS. Price: $116,500.


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