Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leader Of The Pack

Fuel injection, constant refinements: why the CT line remains number one

Hand of The Beholder

Whether you're a veteran pilot or a newcomer to flight, remember this: It's all in your mind. I'm talking about the first time you step into an airplane that's new to you. No matter what your background, no matter how many hours you're always a student pilot.

Some LSA are ideal for training newcomers, some are better suited to pilots with at least some hours under their harnesses. The Flight Design CTLS is a good example of the latter...but the former, too.

My first flights in the CTLS in 2008 were initially challenging. I had flown some GA aircraft, hang gliders and ultralights over the years, but never completed my private pilot training.

That first CT was sophisticated in performance, much like a GA airplane, and with some superior performance traits such as an excellent engine-idle glide ratio. I kept overshooting my landings.
Also, learning to use digital avionics was a confusing distraction on my first flights. The controls were stiff and unfriendly- feeling. The result: At first, I felt like an all-thumbs noob.

My instructor had Flight Design relax the tension on the control springs. Suddenly, I had an airplane I could communicate with. My training transformed from chore time to fun time.

Since those CT training days four years ago, I've flown 40 LSA. As Tom Peghiny said after my demo, when I praised its handling: "It's probably you, too."

Which makes my point: Some dedicated trainers such as the Pipistrel Alpha or Tecnam P92 Eaglet are ideal for brand- new students. They're forgiving, docile and intuitive. Others, like the tailwheeled Piper Cub J3 or Allegro, are seat-of-the-pants challengers, but they give you a solid grounding in basic airmanship.

And then come those smooth operators like the CTLSi, Lightning LS-1 and Sting S4, with their sophisticated flight personalities and complex avionics. They can be a bigger handful at first, but reward with nuanced performance.

But the bottom line is, no matter what a new airplane throws at you, with the right attitude and the right instructor to challenge you just enough, you'll grow to love, respect and feel right at home in every single airplane.

Learning to fly a new airplane teaches you humility, and pride: humility from the effort to adapt to the new bird, and pride when you succeed.

Labels: LSAs


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