Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Light-Sport Chronicles: Three From The Heart

Of inspiring flights, parachute saves and electric flight from China

THE UFM-13 LAMBADA. Urban Air USA’s Jim Lee (left) and John Dunham (right) distribute this LSA standard with a ballistic parachute.
Weeks into the New England summer season, which, as of July 4, is more like an extended March, I’m feeling a serious need for some LSA speed. People are flying all over America: just not here. Days-long rainstorms, violent winds, midnight thunderstorms—enough already! I’ve got saddle sores from riding my computer chair.

But enough whining: I hereby invoke the Law of Positive Attraction by putting on my happy flying face. Time to chant “Om mani padme LSA,” and here we go.

LSA’s Seven-League Boots
From the Wish I’d Done That! Dept., two enterprising pilots came up with a wild and crazy venture to demonstrate the long-reach viability of LSA: They flew from the right coast to the left—in one day!

In June, Jessica Scharle and Matt Hansen flew a lovely Peregrine FA-04 (German-designed, carbon-fiber low-winger) 1,813 nm, setting a transcontinental speed record in the process. Since the National Aeronautic Association doesn’t have a category for LSA records yet, the pair applied to Guinness World Records for recognition.

Total time (with five fuel stops) was 19 hours and 21 minutes. Average groundspeed: 110 knots. The purpose of the flight was twofold: demonstrate LSA as a viable way to fly long distances and draw attention to a nonprofit organization that gives free flight training to people with physical disabilities.

Hansen is a CFI at Hansen Air Group (; Scharle is one of his former students. They flew in support of Able Flight (, which offers scholarships to people with disabilities who are new to flight, returning pilots, or want to fly but aren’t seeking a license.

Scharle, 24, is an Able Flight scholarship winner who was born with a rare condition that fused all her joints. Her accomplishments of a pilot’s license and the transcon flight are stirring tributes to courage and perseverance, exactly the traits Able Flight hopes to arouse in physically challenged people. Well done, all!


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