Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Light-Sport Chronicles: Sport-Pilot Survey Says! Part III

Wrapping up our look at how we do our LSA thing

In our first two summaries of LSA pilot opinion, we covered the LSA Who/What/When/Where basics. Our final installment here shares the insights of your fellow pilots on topics such as service and maintenance; high ownership cost; industry challenges ahead and likes and dislikes about the category.

Denver-area pilot Geoff McHarg flies 45 miles for LSA service and wants a partner because "$120k is too much for me alone,"—a typical sport-pilot sentiment. He likes new LSA design, but dislikes the sport-pilot 120-knot top speed and no night-flying restrictions. He sees LSA reliability 20 years down the road as the industry's greatest challenge.

Thomas W. Ivines of Port Charlotte, Fla., plans "to take the maintenance course so I can perform my own annuals and extended service work. LSA parts can be ordered online."

He finds LSA upkeep costs excessive, "but the same goes for GA airplanes. The industry is overpriced, and that's probably the number-one reason aviation is nearly stifled in the U. S. and other countries. The average Joe cannot afford to rent an LSA regularly, let alone buy one."

His biggest dislike: the 1,320-pound, full gross-weight limitation. "This makes for a bouncy ride in even the slightest of winds. Airplanes are like boats; the heavier they are, the better the ride in all conditions. There are days I can't fly my LSA where the Cessna would have been fine.

"One other aspect irks me: Pilots flying standard GA airplanes seem to think lesser of us light-sport aircraft pilots, even if we do have a regular pilot's license."

Ivines would "much rather fly with a passenger to share the experience. When I was dating, I couldn't find a woman who would ride on my Harley and fly in my airplane, too—most would do neither! Then I met a woman who consented to let me take her in my airplane for lunch. Before we left, I asked, 'Can I pick you up on my Harley?'

'You have a motorcycle, too!' she said enthusiastically. I married that woman. To this day, she still rides on the Harley and flies in my airplane with me everywhere. How could I not marry her?"


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