Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Light-Sport Chronicles: Hansen Family Values


This family tree has wings for branches and clouds for leaves


Jon Hansen has been a major player in the LSA movement since it was merely a twinkle in the FAA's eye. What's less well-known is that he and his twin brother Ron built their own aviation category: It's called the Hansen Family. It's a good story I've been wanting to tell for some time, so here we go.

Jon and Ron head up the family enterprise Hansen Air Group, which sells and services several quality LSA. Notable are the Sky Arrow (this month's LSA pilot report); several of German wunder designer Peter Funk's FK models (FK9, FK12 Comet biplane and the smash hit of Europe's Aero 2013—the FK-51 Mustang); and the custom made-to-order FA04 Peregrine.

I met the Hansens—and there are a passel of them, including four sons who fly—a few years back at Sebring's LSA show. Jon and Ron have been professional pilots all their lives. And it all began with a boyhood ride in a flivver.

"Ron and I come by our aviation genes illegally," Jon quips. "My dad took flying lessons in the early '30s—before they required pilot's licenses."

With his two partners, winged progenitor Hansen senior delivered newspapers in a Curtiss Robin with its Curtiss V-8 OX5 engine (390 pounds) that put out all of 90 horsepower. "Sometimes they'd land, sometimes they'd just shove the papers over the side," says Jon.

A twist of fate decreed the Hansen lineage would issue forth. Both partners were killed in a crash Jon's dad would have been a part of...if he hadn't had a date that day with his future wife.

"Dad said, 'That's it, I'm through with aviation. I need to start a family anyway,' and he backed off."

Flash-forward to Jon and twin brother Ron at four years old. Dad takes them to an airport and gets them rides in an early Aeronca Champ.

"And we really, really didn't want to get out of that plane, either one of us," Jon remembers. "We were bit with the bug."

Their boyhoods were spent building model airplanes, then early flight lessons at age 12 given by a friend of the family, Hollis Sanders, in his surplus WWII Waco UPF-7 biplane.

"Hollis went back to war in Korea, and we kept working odd jobs for Martin School of Aviation at Santa Ana Airport (now John Wayne International), sweeping hangars, things like that," Jon recalls.



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