Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The New Old Classic

The Tecnam Echo Light is a new, no-frills version of a veteran fun flyer that won’t bust the budget

On Tree Landings And LSA Pilot Skills

Tecnam North America's president Tommy Grimes runs the company with CEO Phil Solomon, as well as the full-service Heart of Virgina (HOVA) FBO he founded with his wife, Kim, in 1992.

The topic of emergency airframe parachutes came up since the Echo Light doesn't come with one.

"Well, I'm not a fan of the parachute," he said. "If you can't land this airplane just about anywhere, you shouldn't be flying. With power on and the stick full aft, you could probably land it anywhere and walk away.

"You can hit a crocodile while water skiing, break your neck skateboarding, get hit by a car while bicycling," Grimes continued. "If flying isn't an acceptable risk to you, maybe you're in the wrong sport."

I counter by saying a non-flying passenger with an incapacitated pilot has few options other than pulling that red handle. I suggested the airframe 'chute is the last-ditch savior after a mid-air, bird- strike, engine out over water or an ocean of trees—any calamity that prevents a dead-stick landing.

"But in most other emergencies," he persists, "you can land almost anywhere, if you know what you're doing. I tell people not to worry flying, even here in Virginia. What's Virginia full of? Trees! But, there's a difference in the color of trees. There are pine tree plantations all over here and pine trees are darker.

"So I say, get as slow as you can over pines, stall it, and you'll walk away every time. Pine trees bend and just fall over with you. If you see an oak tree, forget it."Grimes laughs. "You hit that sucker, you're toast!"

I ask him—he's a veteran commercial pilot with more than 8,000 hours—if he's ever had the pleasure of a tree landing.

"Nope. Don't plan to, either."

The topic shifts to LSA pilot skills.

"I think they're better pilots. If you take a Cessna 172 driver and a sport pilot, the latter typically has better flying skills. We've seen that here at HOVA,"Grimes explained.

He's talking about pure, hands-on flying skills, not the deeper knowledge of airspace that comes with the extra training for a private pilot license.

"It's a light airplane. You have to fly it. To me, that is the key to air safety. If all the other stuff in the cockpit quits, my brain kicks in, my hands and feet start working, and I fly the airplane.

"That's where LSA can really shine. If you want more safety in the air...teach people how to fly," Grimes concluded.

Labels: LSAs

1 Comment

Add Comment