PARTNER UP. Private pilot Brian Garrett rented during his training and now owns a Sting Sport LSA through a four-way partnership
Sometimes, I like to douse my assumptions and fantasies with a cup of cold, real-world info about the kinds of LSA flying all you folks are actually doing, versus what I might imagine you're doing. Here's a sampling from the responses of 15 pilots. When we run out of space, we'll carry over into subsequent columns.
Question 1: Do you currently own or rent an LSA? Sole owner or partnership? If you rent, do you tend to rent the same LSA or a variety of models? From the same location/FBO or more than one?
Thomas W. Ivines (private pilot license—PPL) of Port Charlotte, Fla., is sole owner of a certified, factory-built LSA (not identified): "I've never rented an LSA."
Tim Greer (PPL) owns a 2006 Flight Design CTSW and is also a solo owner: "I am getting my sport-pilot (SPL) certificate. I fly a single-seat, high-drag, low- power airplane of wood construction. In most other countries, this would be an ultralight aircraft. All my friends fly this style of plane."
Harold Anthony Sweet (SPL) says: "I will never, nor will any of my friends ever, be able to afford one of these. We all fly homebuilt airplanes, for they only cost materials to build. These are single-seat, high-drag, low-power airplanes. None of us will fly a passenger, nor ever take a trip farther than 50 miles from home."
C.Brian Kerr (SPL) rents a Tecnam P92 Eaglet from FBO Chesapeake Sport Pilot (CSP) at his home field, Bay Bridge Airport in Maryland: "I tend to rent the same airplane—hey, I have two Eaglets—but I will be getting checked out in their Flight Design CT, Remos and Sky Arrow." Brian also trained at CSP.
Brian Garrett (PPL) owns his LSA through a four-way partnership. "I rented during my training process, then purchased the only share available in a partnership in the only LSA in the surrounding area. I'm flying a StingSport; it's the only one in the region that I'm aware of."
Tom Grinolds (SPL student) is close to his checkride: "I rent an Evektor from Acuwings in Renton, Wash." Rob Finfrock (SPL) rents a Remos GX (N28GX) from New Mexico Sport Aviation (NMSA) at Sante Fe Municipal Airport (KSAF) and writes, "It is the only aircraft the business owns, and the only LSA available for private rental within 150 miles of Albuquerque. NMSA operates much like a flying club, minus monthly dues. The Remos rents for $103/hour wet ($40 less than the least expensive C150 in Albuquerque) and all pilot-rated club members have a key for the airplane."
Sam Dollenmeier (PPL) is the sole owner of a SportCruiser (N122YT), which he currently flies at Anderson Regional Airport in South Carolina (KAND). Steve Mink (SPL) owns a used Tecnam P2002 (used LSA are popping up everywhere). "It's a great plane, underrated. Excellent combo of speed, payload, range and handling."
Roger Heller (PPL) also owned a 2006 CTSW. A brief memorial note: Roger's daughter just wrote me that not long after her father answered the survey, he passed away. We extend his family and friends our sincere condolences. Blue skies and tailwinds forever, Roger.
Pete Zaitcev (PPL), yet another New Mexico pilot, also rents the same Remos GX as Rob Finfrock. On the other end of the LSA prosperity spectrum, Steve Lindell (SPL) is the sole owner of two LSA: a Piper Sport and a Cub Crafters Sport Cub ELSA (engine power upgrade).
Dan Kent (SPL) owns a Sting S4. Phil Howe (PPL), another member of a partnership, owns a Tecnam Sierra. "We are two partners wanting to add two more. I got back into flying renting a Sierra and a Remos GX. The FBO has since closed. That leaves only two LSAs (Evektor SportStars) to rent in the Seattle area that I am aware of."
Seattle readers, if you know of other LSA available for rent, please drop me an email at [email protected], and I'll update in the next column.
Ron Gibson (PPL) writes, "I own a Tecnam Bravo (sole owner)." He adds that the Bravo is the only LSA he'd be willing to own, although he doesn't elaborate.
Question 2: If you have a sport-pilot license, how many hours did it take, and did you have another license first?
As you can see above, several of our survey pilots already had their PPLs. Tom Ivines flew a Cessna 172 for years but gave it up for fear of losing his medical—a frequent cause of migration to sport pilot for older pilots. "My last 10 years were on a special-issuance medical. Recently, I have turned over a little more than 2,000 hours with most of it cross-country."
Tim Greer went the opposite way: He soloed in a Cessna 152 before switching to the CTSW. He has 75 hours total on his PPL. Sam Dollenmeier is also instrument rated with 500 hours total, but 400 of them are on the SportCruiser! Way to rack up the fun time, Sam!
The late Roger Heller got his PPL in 1976, while Brian Kerr had no prior flight experience and took 70 hours and "exactly one year" to get his SPL. Namesake Brian Garrett has flown for nearly three years. "I just got my PPL on 9/1 of this year. My SPL took far longer than it should have. My checkride was done at 104 hours. The only thing I can chalk it up to is that I'm a slow learner. I had no other flying time or experience prior to starting my training." Well done, Brian.
Tom Grinolds "started at zero (age 66). I have 53 hours currently on the Evektor." Rob Finfrock had a lot of restarts over five years, which took 100 hours to get his SPL. Steve Mink got his in 60 hours, also spread out over a few years. And Dan Kent started SPL training after taking delivery of his Sting S4. "It took me 55 hours, including 26 hours of cross- country experience (Sebring and two trips home during training)."
Thanks to our pilots for sharing their experiences. Next month, we'll see what they think of the sport-pilot category...and the light-sport airplanes they fly.