Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Light-Sport Chronicles: Ears Wide Open


When Lou Mancuso talks about LSA...people listen


"Let's say you know from the Wx briefing you can fly northeast to clear weather that's well within your range. Locally, it might be four miles and haze, or the temperature/dew-point spread may be dropping below six degrees. To decide to go anyway, with safety, you need a Solid Gold Out well within your fuel reserve where you know there's great VFR weather. And so you set that limitation: You don't fly unless you know you can easily reach that good weather if necessary.

"If the dew-point spread is five degrees everywhere within a 500-mile radius, well, you have no business flying VFR at all. Things could go to zero/zero. Your Solid Gold Out isn't available, so you don't fly," Mancuso adds.

Other items include landing only on runways longer than 3,000 feet until the pilot has 10 to 30 hours in the specific plane; minimum runway width of 75 feet and a maximum crosswind component of six knots until 10 logged hours in the plane; and maintaining a 1.5-hour fuel reserve, rather than the minimum 30-minute reserve we're all used to.

"That 30 minutes FAA requires was never meant for the newly certified pilot," clarifies Mancuso. "It's meant for almost nobody in fact. There are only a handful of pilots who can truly be safe on just 30 minutes of reserve fuel.

"Maybe pilots who own their own planes, do their own fueling and can accurately predict within 1⁄10 of a gallon what the fuel burn is, and who know of six close alternate airports to their landing field, well maybe they can use 30 minutes. But we tell new pilots to keep 11⁄2 hours of fuel in reserve. For one thing, a top-off is usually not a complete top-off. You can lose half an hour right there, and that means you've now got an hour reserve. In an LSA, that's about seven gallons, considering a near-five-gallon-per-hour burn," Mancuso concludes.

We'll come back to visit with Lou Mancuso; he shared a lot more than there's room for here. Meanwhile, if you ever get the chance, say hello to Lou and be ready to listen. You'll learn things you never knew you wanted to.



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