Five years ago, the first special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) received its airworthiness certificate, opening up a new chapter in the regulation of simple personal flight. More than 1,000 of these factory-built aircraft and more than 8,000 former ultralights (experimental light-sport aircraft, E-LSA) are now flying under the sport pilot and LSA category.
There was a time when aviation seemed to be a distant world, out of my reach. I didn’t know any pilots, and as far as I knew, you had to be in the military or have millions of dollars to become one. While my classmates forged ahead on paths to become doctors and lawyers, I stumbled around, sneaking peeks at airplanes passing overhead and memorizing the aviation alphabet. But, one day, everything changed.
The sport pilot rule is clear and easy to understand...except when it isn’t. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The sport pilot rule under which LSA pilots fly was intended to cover a broad array of recreational vehicles and conditions, gently wrapped within a beneficent, safety-minded envelope of permissions and restrictions.
In keeping with the buyer’s guide theme, I got to thinking about the epidemic of choices modern consumers face every day. There was a time when you’d walk into a fast-food place and order a burger, fries and Coke, and if you really felt like living large, you’d get a chocolate, strawberry or vanilla milkshake.
“Spot Check OK. Latitude: 37.7445. Longitude: -97.224,” read a text message on my cell phone, and I knew that contributor Bill Stein had made it safely in his Edge 540 to Wichita, Kans., the final stop on his cross-country flight from Chicago, Ill.
A snapshot compendium of LSA overview, new aircraft and dish-the-dirt scuttlebutt
In a recent attempt to scare myself about how old I’m getting, I calculated the total time I’ve spent at EAA’s annual air show in Oshkosh. It’s more than half a year of my life—27 visits of around a week each! Pass the orthotic, please.
I first met Lina Borozdina at Oshkosh in 2005, when Richard Branson and Burt Rutan announced a joint venture between Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites to manufacture a fleet of suborbital spacecrafts intended for space tourism. Lina, a biochemist who had mortgaged her home to purchase a $200,000 ticket on the suborbital flight, was next to me in line for a helicopter flight over the air show grounds. But as our flight time approached, she looked increasingly worried. She was having second thoughts about going in the air, and it became apparent that this astronaut-to-be was afflicted by a fear of flying. Nonetheless, Lina was determined to travel to space, having dreamed of it since her childhood days in Ukraine.
The more you learn about flying, the more you know there is to learn about flying
With his big rawboned hand almost lovingly cradling a gigantic bag of Skittles candies, Bob Elliott might almost—almost—pass for Professor Dumbledore munching on Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. But the baseball cap and screaming-loud, airplane-festooned print shirt puts the kibosh to that comparison in a hurry. His eyes are mere slits from the bright overcast, or insufficient sleep the night before, or more likely, too many Skittles. Tempting me with the open bag, he explains how he got the nickname “A.D.D. Bob” from his flying buddies because he’s constantly diving out of formation (“A.D.D.”=Aviation Deficit Disorder).
A new era of private space exploration is in prospect
NASA. ESA. JAXA. RKA. These are the world’s major national space agencies. They are the names that have dominated the past 50 years of space exploration. But over the next 50 years, new names will emerge. The names that history will remember from the next five decades will be those of entrepreneurs, members of the private sector who saw in space an opportunity for expansion and vast wealth creation.
Managing Fatigue, Flying The Fury & Using Google Earth
I’ll never forget the first cross-country flight that I was on. I sat left seat as we departed the Los Angeles Basin, headed north for the coastal hamlet of Shelter Cove, Calif. After reaching cruise altitude, my right-seat companion, who was the aircraft owner and PIC, told me he was going to take a nap. As a low-time student pilot, I was eager to take over as the human autopilot, and I followed the course set on our handheld GPS.
Environmental awareness across the globe is becoming increasingly acute. The global media and the world’s population are increasingly focused on climate change and the extent to which aviation contributes to it. The general aviation manufacturing industry wants to actively participate in this discussion to speed the introduction of innovative technology and flight procedures that will reduce aviation’s impact on the environment.
It’s cold. It’s white. And it’s north. (Very north.) Underneath us is 10,000 feet of ice. Surrounding us is an additional 1.7 million square kilometers of ice, and not much else. Looking out the cockpit window, I can’t tell the difference between 1,000 feet and 10 miles, vertically or horizontally. For me, this is the middle of nowhere. For the researchers we’re bringing to their frozen summer home, this is where it all happens.
The market for new general aviation airplanes seems to be changing. Today’s new airplane buyer has different needs, goals and experience. To pinpoint this psychographic, Marc C. Lee spoke with sales representatives from various aircraft manufacturers, and it’s clear that there has been a shift in who’s buying what, and why.
This could be the greatest thing to happen to general aviation since the 1940s,” says Mike Zidziunas. “This” refers to the rise of light-sport aircraft (LSA). Industry “pundits” set the number of LSA sold so far in the United States at nearly 1,400, give or take an airframe or two. Although the credit crisis and fuel woes are doing a sumo squat on the picture as we speak, recreational pilots, aviation career seekers and flight schools intent on bringing fresh hardware and energy to aging trainer fleets forge ahead.