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

A low-cost "volksplane" was the initial dream of early LSA promoters. Economic realities put the kibosh on that notion: Many top-tier LSA cost more than $125,000.

But if first-cabin fitments and comfort aren't that important to you, many quality LSA sell in the $40,000-$50,000 price range. Find a club, or a couple of co-owner partners, and you're airborne for less than a monthly car payment, which can include maintenance, insurance, hangaring and repairs.

Check out used LSA, too: After nine years, the listings are expanding.
LSA are no slouches in the cross-country department. Many have ranges of 1000 miles and more on
a single fill-up.
LSA offer many more enticements: roomy cockpits often wider than 42 inches; excellent visibility; neighbor-friendly noise levels.

One remarkable bonus: the sheer bounty and diversity of 133 certified LSA models. This is a dynamic industry that thrives on innovation.

LSA are no slouches in the cross-country department, either. Many have ranges of 1,000 miles and more on a single fill- up. One adventurous couple flew coast-to-coast (Florida to California) in a record-setting 19 hours. Others have flown around the world without engine failure or major mishap.

Safety hasn't been compromised by the faster, less-costly ASTM certification process. LSA enjoy a safety record on par with the rest of piston-powered GA.

The LSA category allows owners to do their own annual condition inspections, with a 16-hour, one-weekend course. A month-long full maintenance course lets you do more with your LSA.

Many LSA can carry 50 or more pounds cargo with full fuel and two passengers.

New and transitioning pilots have learned that light-sport aircraft can put the joy back in flying. It certainly has for me and every LSA pilot I've met.


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