Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Light-Sport Chronicles: Learn To Fly The LSA Way

A quick look at the light-sport aircraft category and the sport-pilot rule

In line with this issue's Learn To Fly article, I thought it might sync up nicely to give new and returning readers a look at how LSA and the sport-pilot license make earning your wings faster and more affordable than ever. No doubt you've heard about the light-sport aircraft (LSA) category and the sport-pilot (SP) rule. Let's take a look to help you decide whether LSA is the right nest for you.

Light-Sport Aircraft Basics
LSA is the new category of aircraft created by the FAA in 2004 to provide an easy-to-fly, lower-cost, recreational-themed alternative to traditional civilian flight.

There are two types of light-sport aircraft: S-LSA and E-LSA. S-LSA (special light-sport aircraft) are ASTM-certified, ready-to-fly aircraft for personal flight and flight training. E-LSA (Experimental Light Sport Aircraft) are built from kits (which must conform strictly to the manufacturer's certified S-LSA model).

LSA carry a maximum of two occupants in two seats

LSA are heavier-than-air (propeller driven) or lighter-than-air. Helicopters aren't included.

Types of LSA: conventional wing/tail, gliders, powered parachutes, gyroplanes, weight-shift control (motorized "trikes"), free balloons/airships

Maximum takeoff weight (MTOW): 1,320 pounds

MTOW exception: 1,430 for float planes and amphibians

Maximum full power, straight and level cruise speed: 120 knots

Maximum stall speed, no flaps: 45 knots

Must-haves: fixed landing gear, a single, reciprocating engine and fixed or ground-adjustable propeller


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