Tuesday, June 5, 2012
The Look-Homeward Angel
Twisting through the sky in the first SLSA two-seat aerobat!
Shootout At The High-G Corral
|James DeHart gives every impression of a kid who can't sleep the night before Christmas. He's a mainstay at Atlanta Light Sport Aviation, which he describes as the largest LSA flight school in Georgia. And when he talks about getting his mitts on the very first fully fuel-injected, 124 hp, inverted oil/fuel system-rigged Lycoming AEIO-233 LSA engine, you want to send him to bed with a warm glass of milk to calm his nerves—he's that excited.
No small wonder either: The Comet "will cause a new category of competition airplanes for I.A.C. (International Aerobatic Club)-sanctioned competition," he says. He hopes to do exactly that by June or July.
The Georgia native is already walking his talk and walking it tall, with sponsors in place to back his play, including David Clark, Precision Airmotive, Tempest spark plugs/oil filters and Hooker Harness. "There's a marketing plan behind the competition, too," he continues. "We hope to prove the Comet's potential in the sportsman class. It's factory built, not experimental. It can't fly in the intermediate class, but is perfect for the primary and sportsman classes.
"Nothing in its price range will even come close to its roll rate or vertical climb. And don't forget the optional BRS parachute: in my opinion, a must-have for aerobatics."
A recent ultralight-class pilot in Europe proved the point when he shed an entire wing in a high-G outside loop—400 feet above ground! The pilot yanked the red handle, and the chute explosively deployed and opened in time to save him—without injury. It's a must-see on YouTube!
DeHart sees the Comet as a valuable training tool, as well. "We have six students lined up for spin-recovery training. I know my LSA spin recovery and basic aerobatic courses will be very popular."
With 2,000 hours of LSA instruction in 13 different LSA under his lap belt—Atlanta Light Sport has six different models in continuous operation, including the Sky Arrow 600 (now back in production) and FK 9 ELA – he has learned that LSA aren't your grandfather's Cessna 172.
"They take a more precise touch on the stick and are by far more responsive."
The school has had 36 students—22 have earned their tickets—and currently enjoys 32 LSA renters. Those are enviable numbers for any LSA operation.
Air show star Sean D. Tucker, appreciatively ogling the Comet at Sun 'n Fun, told DeHart, "You have a great opportunity to make this plane and yourself look very good, or very bad."
The comment caused DeHart some sobering moments. Later, he thought, "You're right, Sean...but I also saw that 'I want to fly that little monster!' look in your eye. And yes, Sean, you can—anytime and anywhere!"
Okay boys, pistols at 20 paces!
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