Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Light-Sport Chronicles: Gag Reel

Real-world kudos from the folks who fly LSA day in, day out

Mancuso's students range from "very young to very old," and he aims all his first-timers toward the sport-pilot license. "We have a lot less dropouts that way."

He's also developed a landing technique that works really well with his light, responsive, fast-climbing LSA. "I have students fly low, just above the ground, halfway down the runway to get comfortable," Mancuso says. "One student with 80 hours and still no checkride couldn't get his landings right, and was very frustrated. He was mushing, very slow, at 15 feet. He was trying to parachute the plane down like a feather.

"I had him fly the runway in landing configuration, full flaps, just three feet up," Mancuso explains. He learned how to use the rudder and power to keep us there and not let the nose get so high. In an hour and a half, he was beaming and happy. It was like a light went off in his head!

"That kind of teaching is great in a light-sport, but not so much in a GA plane," Mancuso continues. "You can't go nearly as far down the runway before the go-around, because climb performance is weaker. With an LSA, you often have 1,000 fpm, so you can fly 2,000 feet down a 4,000-feet runway, and still have plenty of room for a safe go-around."

I got a taste of this technique a couple years back when Randy Schlitter had me take off and land four times in one pass in his new, all-metal S-19 low winger. It was a real eye-opener for me: so easy, felt safe and lots of fun, too. LSA may give some things away in strong turbulence and windy conditions, but for near-ultralight, low/slow fun flying, they're hard to beat.

Charlie Davis of Virginia flies a Legend Cub and loves it. How much? He painted a Cub lightning strip on the sides of his yellow Ford Focus! "It's a lot of fun to fly. That's the biggest point for me, especially in warm weather. I can open the doors and windows on both sides. It's well constructed, I've put 365 hours on it in five years for mostly local flying," Davis says.

"I have an A&P license and do all my own work, and can sign off my annual, too," Davis added. Any LSA owner can take a certification course to do the same. "I like LSA, I think it's a great idea. I'm 73 now. I've never failed the FAA medical, but I use my sport-pilot driver's license."

Scott Trumbull of Suburban Aviation in Toledo, Ohio, teaches on a Cessna 206, C-172, and C-162 Skycatcher LSA. His students are either recent high-school or college grads or "wealthy older people."

He recently took the Skycatcher on a demo tour of Michigan. "Lots of people walked up and said, 'What's that? That's cute!' They had a preplanted idea of what an LSA would be like, and it was nothing too positive," Trumbull recalls. Once they jumped in the plane, they had big smiles from ear to ear. I think it's the name 'light-sport' that brings skepticism. Once they fly one, they fall in love with it."

You can check out Trumbull's website of testimonials here:

Light-sport flying is winning people over, one flight at a time. Fly safe!


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