Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Profiles In Vision: Larry Burke

Engineering whiz, airplane lover, LSA rule maker...founding father

Evolving standards remains a principal activity of LAMA. Larry gives an example: “We worried about ongoing airworthiness. What if a manufacturer folds? Who’ll implement necessary changes to their aircraft, or monitor its flight activities? So we added a paragraph that stipulated any manufacturer, before going out of business, was required to name another entity to take over those responsibilities, or the airworthiness certificates for the models they produced would be revoked.”

Larry recalls the early days of crafting rules and standards while part of ARAC as among his favorite times: “It was exciting doing work that would have such a major impact on the growth of the light aircraft industry.”

Does he have a favorite LSA?
“I’ve put the most hours into an Evektor Sportstar. They all fly pretty similarly. They’re not GA aircraft—more like ultralights, but twitchy. They take off right away like an ultralight; the ailerons are within the range of sensitivity I was used to, but pitch and rudder are more responsive than on spam cans.

“I’m not saying they’re unflyable: You get used to it; you learn to make smaller movements. That troubled me a bit in the beginning, the thought of putting a student through that, but everybody I talk to tells me it’s not a problem—they quickly catch on.

“At the same time, manufacturers will tell you it takes five solid hours of transition training for a GA or commercial pilot. LSA are a different animal.”

Larry’s semi-retired now, but still sits on the board of LAMA as founder and chairman emeritus.

And it’s no hyperbole at all to say that each and every one of us who flies LSA these days is the direct beneficiary of the tireless work of Larry Burke.

He has had our backs, quietly but with unwavering regard for the greater good—our greater good—all these years.


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