Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Light-Sport Chronicles: Sport-Pilot Survey Says!

Just how are we pilots doing our sport flying these days?

Roger Heller (PPL) also owned a 2006 CTSW. A brief memorial note: Roger's daughter just wrote me that not long after her father answered the survey, he passed away. We extend his family and friends our sincere condolences. Blue skies and tailwinds forever, Roger.

Pete Zaitcev (PPL), yet another New Mexico pilot, also rents the same Remos GX as Rob Finfrock. On the other end of the LSA prosperity spectrum, Steve Lindell (SPL) is the sole owner of two LSA: a Piper Sport and a Cub Crafters Sport Cub ELSA (engine power upgrade).

Dan Kent (SPL) owns a Sting S4. Phil Howe (PPL), another member of a partnership, owns a Tecnam Sierra. "We are two partners wanting to add two more. I got back into flying renting a Sierra and a Remos GX. The FBO has since closed. That leaves only two LSAs (Evektor SportStars) to rent in the Seattle area that I am aware of."

Seattle readers, if you know of other LSA available for rent, please drop me an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and I'll update in the next column.

Ron Gibson (PPL) writes, "I own a Tecnam Bravo (sole owner)." He adds that the Bravo is the only LSA he'd be willing to own, although he doesn't elaborate.

Question 2: If you have a sport-pilot license, how many hours did it take, and did you have another license first?

As you can see above, several of our survey pilots already had their PPLs. Tom Ivines flew a Cessna 172 for years but gave it up for fear of losing his medical—a frequent cause of migration to sport pilot for older pilots. "My last 10 years were on a special-issuance medical. Recently, I have turned over a little more than 2,000 hours with most of it cross-country."

Tim Greer went the opposite way: He soloed in a Cessna 152 before switching to the CTSW. He has 75 hours total on his PPL. Sam Dollenmeier is also instrument rated with 500 hours total, but 400 of them are on the SportCruiser! Way to rack up the fun time, Sam!

The late Roger Heller got his PPL in 1976, while Brian Kerr had no prior flight experience and took 70 hours and "exactly one year" to get his SPL. Namesake Brian Garrett has flown for nearly three years. "I just got my PPL on 9/1 of this year. My SPL took far longer than it should have. My checkride was done at 104 hours. The only thing I can chalk it up to is that I'm a slow learner. I had no other flying time or experience prior to starting my training." Well done, Brian.

Tom Grinolds "started at zero (age 66). I have 53 hours currently on the Evektor." Rob Finfrock had a lot of restarts over five years, which took 100 hours to get his SPL. Steve Mink got his in 60 hours, also spread out over a few years. And Dan Kent started SPL training after taking delivery of his Sting S4. "It took me 55 hours, including 26 hours of cross- country experience (Sebring and two trips home during training)."

Thanks to our pilots for sharing their experiences. Next month, we'll see what they think of the sport-pilot category...and the light-sport airplanes they fly.


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