Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Decision Shock? Poppycock!


Just relax, and breathe...breathe...


light sport chroniclesIn 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.
" />

light sport chronicles
CZAW SPORTCRUISER. Choosing between this snazzy LSA and one of the other 86 currently ASTM-approved models is a daunting challenge...or is it?

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.

Then some marketing genius with a shiny new MBA decided that the little burger stand was doing so well, it should offer more choices. Voilà: scalding-hot, deep-fried apple pies that led to lawsuits by people who are, apparently, unable to detect heat signals from their fingertips. When onion rings, crinkle-cut potatoes and wilted salads found their way onto the lighted overhead menu board, we found ourselves sliding down the slippery slope to Decision Shock Syndrome (DSS).

Before long, frightening choices such as Quadruple-Berry Schmoozie-Fritz Whipper Delight (with your choice of 127 different toppings) confirmed our deliverance to the ultimate consumer nightmare: We could have everything—but we had to decide. Arrgghhh!

I now avoid fast-food emporiums like the plague. For nutrition reasons? Au contraire, mon frère: It’s the stress of choosing. I can no longer stand before an impatient, uniformed fast-foodie and (hurry, hurry!) choose between 374 menu items and 43 drinks. Call it my aversion to panic attack.

Each of us has our own decision-making process. It’s amazing how much time you can spend buying a 96-pack of Schick Xtreme3 razor blades, isn’t it? But think of that $1.39 savings. Wa-how!

Alas, even the squeaky-clean, bright and new world of light-sport aviation has fallen prey to DSS. No fewer than 87 LSA models—ranging from ultralight trikes to motorgliders to composite cruisers to retooled classics—are ASTM-approved and ready to, gulp, choose from.

But hold on there, consumer-pardner: Even after you’ve set your sights on the filly of your dreams, there are more choices. Should you spring for an EFIS glass panel or steam gauges? How about an autopilot? GPS? XM Satellite Weather and Radio? Leather or vinyl interior? And which of 41 paint schemes is right?

Yikes! Is there no relief in sight? Are we doomed to rapidly tread water in a sea of ever-expanding choices, only to drown six months later in Upgrade Bay?

After cogitating mightily on this profound topic, and utterly unable to decide (of course) on a conclusion, I took the question to the experts—pilot-owners who have confronted the many-headed Hydra of LSA selection—and lived to tell the tale.

In the end, Franklin D. Roosevelt was right yet again: The only thing to fear...was fear itself.

Harvey Hood has been flying since 1971. Like so many other sport pilots, he faced the specter of losing his medical and quickly concluded a sport license would let him keep flying. But then...(drum roll)...he had to choose which LSA to buy. Oh, the humanity!

Now, Harvey had flown Cessna aircraft most of his life. “But,” he says, “I didn’t want some 40-year-old airplane. I looked at several LSA, but nothing really interested me. My brother had built a Rans RV-7 kitplane. I’d logged 30 hours in that and really liked its looks and handling. But I didn’t want to spend five years on a project at my age; I was 68. Then I saw the CZAW SportCruiser. For me, it was a case of apples to oranges: the head and shoulder room, styling and workmanship were just what I wanted.”

He took a demo flight: “That was it. I told the dealer, ‘Order me one!’”

“I’ve since logged 300 hours in under two years. I’m tickled to death with it.”

So tickled, he took a comely lass he’d just met up for a flight on their first date. “She loved it too,” he reports. They’ve since tied the knot. Could this be the first LSA love match?






0 Comments

Add Comment