Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PiperSport: Piper’s Big Play

Race-car gorgeous. Great performance. Available now!

Jones, a highly respected pilot and one of aviation’s really nice guys, has flown thousands of hours in such complex airplanes as Piper’s Meridian and Seneca V. Because the program only began (in secrecy) last summer, I asked him if the 30 hours he has put into the PiperSport were a yawner after flying those thoroughbred Pipers? Au contraire.

“Sure, it’s a lightweight airplane,” he said, “but you can feel the flying again. Isn’t that why we got into flying in the first place? It’s stable, easy to turn. I really like it. It’s a fun airplane to fly.”

We zipped around the countryside for a half-hour or so, rubbernecking to dodge traffic in the hazy, crazy Sebring airspace. Rolling in and out of turns wanted a bit of rudder, but this isn’t a rudder airplane per se. Just a little push to roll in, then center up, and PiperSport stays where you put it until you roll out. Aileron electric trim is quick and responsive. In pitch, as expected, it’s quick to answer: a couple taps on the top-of-stick buttons and you’re set for climb, cruise or landing.

Wrapping Up
Here’s my two cents’ worth: PiperSport is a joy to fly. Visibility and comfort are top-notch with that big, seamless canopy and stylish leather interior. Cabin width is 46.5 inches, and it feels roomy, which is more important than the number. Pilots from 5’2” to 6’6” fit the cockpit just fine. Performance is commendable: With 370 pounds of people and almost full fuel, we saw more than 900 fpm on an 80-degree day.

Three models are offered: PiperSport for $119,000, the LT model for $129,000 and the LTD (with a two-screen Dynon EFIS package and Garmin GPS goodies) for $139,000.

Honestly, I could rattle on for another 2,000 words. That’s how much I like this airplane. But the real story isn’t my impression: This is the ship that Piper Aircraft felt worthy of its imprimatur. If the company doesn’t sell a thousand of them in the next couple years, it sure won’t be the fault of the airplane.

Labels: LSAs


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