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

Ivines doesn't find sport-pilot restrictions a drawback. "I hardly went over 7,500 feet in my Cessna, anyway. My little LSA has a higher ceiling than my Cessna did; getting to 12,000 feet is nothing. I seldom fly higher than 5,500 feet. And my LSA is faster than my old Cessna by 10 knots. Do I need to say more?"

Tim Greer gets his Flight Design CTSW serviced an hour's flight away in Tucson. His LSA likes include lower fuel burn, inexpensive maintenance and parts, modern equipment, new airframes, long range and the airframe parachute.

Dislikes? "They're slow compared to a Cessna 182 and only have two seats." He's concerned about LSA dealer long-term viability.

He enjoys 100- to 200-mile weekend jaunts. "My wife loves it so much, I can hardly ever take anyone else up! I got my private pilot license because there is no reciprocal sport pilot agreement for flying in Mexico. I don't see SPL restrictions as a problem, although a sport pilot can't fly over the Grand Canyon...bummer."

Homebuilt, single-seater pilot Harold Anthony Sweet says, "Too many see LSA as a way of commuting GA-style at a cheaper cost. To me, the LSA is a recreational certificate aircraft and should be flown like one. Those who see it as a GA airplane at a cheaper cost want to fly with glass cockpits; this is not light sport to me. To keep costs down, an LSA should be a simple airplane made for local trips around the patch to get into the air and nothing more."

Tecnam Eaglet renter C. Brian Kerr sees drawbacks in LSA cost, lack of rental availability and useful load. He likes to fly near the Dover Air Force Base Class D in Dover, Del., "to watch the big boys takeoff and land from the air." According to LSA limitations, he would prefer "a little bigger plane, but I don't care about flying at night or the 10,000-foot max ceiling."

Brian Garrett of Colorado feels his partnership was "the only way I could have afforded buying a plane. What happened to the $60,000 LSAs?" He likes "the absolute dead-simple ease of flying they offer and the reasonably low hourly rates in an ownership mode. And, they are fun to fly."

He dislikes the lack of higher speed (his GA friends recently took four hours to get to a destination—he took seven) and lack of more room (for his dog) and payload. Greatest challenges to the LSA industry? "The cost of flying, maintenance, parts and maintaining skill level. Flying is a serious commitment most people don't have the time or energy to make.

"The 120-knot speed really drove me crazy. Fun for flying around the neighborhood, but if I really want to go somewhere—no fun at all."


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