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.
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“Nope. She says she’d have married me even without the SportCruiser.” Hmmm. No DSS there. Let’s try another owner.

Retired airline captain Dick Parsons has logged around 36,000 hours. His decision process was guided by two major considerations: a recent operation and his love of the Piper Cub, the first airplane he’d ever owned.

“I didn’t want to go through the medical recertification process,” he says. “And I wanted a Cub-like airplane. It was an easy choice.”

Dang, so much for my theory. And talk about a chooser’s cakewalk: There were just two LSA Cub types he considered buying. “In my estimation, the Legend Cub was more like a real Super Cub. I felt it was the most authentic to the original.”

Dick wasn’t interested in a composite LSA. “I’m not a Clorox bottle fan,” he jokes. “I had been a Super Cub owner and knew what I wanted. Legend Aircraft had just improved on it.”

He describes the “real aircraft engine” factor as important too: “I’m a traditionalist, let’s put it that way. I like a proven aircraft engine. I also like having doors on both sides, a wider cabin and the fact that the company researched and incorporated most of the ‘Alaska’ mods. Nobody can find all the weaknesses of an airplane better than an Alaska bush pilot.”

“What about the sport pilot license restrictions?” I asked.

“I probably wouldn’t fly at night anyway. I just enjoy flying. My airplane turned two years old in June 2008. I’ve put 525 hours on it. And I haven’t found one reason to trade it in for anything else.”

Still hoping to confirm rampant DSS, I talked with Fred Runde about his choice of a Flight Design CTLS.

“Our business owns four salvage yards and a Columbia 350,” says Fred. “The 350 is great for visiting one of the yards, which has a nice paved runway nearby. But the others, each with a local grass strip, are only half an hour away. It wasn’t worth dragging the Columbia out and firing it up for such a short trip.”

Grass strip? Half an hour away? This sounds like a job for an LSA.

“I started looking for a high wing, for the downward visibility. I’m always flying below 3,000 feet, scouting the ground for possible scrap contracts.”

“And what,” I asked, eyebrows twitching with anticipation, “about the dreaded task of choosing from all those high-wing LSA? Huh?”
“Well, I am kind of a compulsive guy. I checked everything out, and settled on the quality of the Flight Design CT. I felt it was just superior to everything else I saw.”

During a visit to Oshkosh 2007, he made several demo flights in a CTSW.

“I wanted that very plane, it was available, so I bought it,” he says. “When I sold it four months later, I’d put 175 hours on it! I flew it everywhere, I just fell in love with the airplane.”

The reason for the sale: to take delivery on a new CTLS, Flight Design’s major upgrade to the SW model.

“It’s got 182 hours on it in under six months. I use it like a car. Besides, when I try to drive, I get speeding tickets.”

Fred flies the CTLS “at least three times a week, and every weekend, just for fun.”

And though he checked out everything at Oshkosh 2008, “I still feel this is the best airplane for my needs. Give me a 2,500-foot ceiling and I’m good. I’ve even landed in 26 mph winds, gusting to 32, at about a 30-degree crosswind. The CTLS handled it just fine.”

Well, so much for my freak-out on the selection process.

Perhaps the lesson here is disarmingly simple: Focus on the kind of flying you want to do, then find the plane to fit it. Who knew?

 





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