Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Ticket To Ride
Earning a sport pilot license: Part I
|The CTLS isn’t just aesthetically pleasing on the outside; inside, the cabin features equally smooth and stylish lines. The cockpit offers a 49-inch-wide cabin with lumbar-adjustable seats, and pilots sit facing dual Dynon EFIS glass panels and a Garmin GPS.|
Choosing the right bird from 80-plus ASTM-certified LSA was daunting. I love them all: Cub-alikes, ultralights, hang-glider trikes and all that sexy Euro plasti-carbon. Wow! I was a Wii addict in a Nintendo store.
I know and respect Flight Design’s founder and president Tom Peghiny, a true sport-aviation visionary, from my hang- gliding days (www.flightdesignusa.com). Peghiny’s a straight-up guy and a real industry leader (“Light-Sport Chronicles: Profiles In Vision” ). When I told him I hoped to earn my wings in a new-breed LSA, he offered me the use of a CTLS for training. I jumped at the chance.
The all-carbon-fiber CTLS rolled out last year. It’s a customer-request refinement of its popular forebear, the CTSW. It sports beefier gear, a longer fuselage for dampened pitch sensitivity and other enhancements.
Quite a performer, the CTLS is both fast (115-knot cruise) and slow (39-knot stall) and has long legs (1,000 nm range). There’s also the aesthetic factor: It’s a pretty airplane.
Rockin’ And A-Rollin’
Peghiny asked John Lampson, a local CFI who’s equally passionate about flying and music, to be my mentor. Lampson even has his own rock band, called Stealing Jupiter (www.stealingjupiter.com). I imagined us doing dual air guitar at 4,000 feet.
I was a touch nervous on the first day. Would I shape up? I was eager to learn, but that old perfectionist’s ego was in there pitching expectation curves at me too.
We met at Premier Flight Center (www.premierflightct.com), an FBO at Hartford-Brainard Airport (KHFD). That’s a real friendly hangout; next time you’re winging over New England, drop in and say hello.
The right instructor is crucial to the flight-training experience. Right off the bat, I knew Lampson and I were a good match. Good-hearted and gentle, he has the patience of a Mets coach enduring a 20-game losing streak—no Marine DI screamer, this guy. And his role as CTLS transition trainer for new owners made him ideal for my mission.
Out we walked to the CT. I did my first preflight, nicely aided by the ringed booklet of laminated cards that come with the airplane.
The bird is lovely: smooth, stylish and gracefully curved, yet cute as a button; well-finished inside and out; and that roomy (49-inch-wide) cabin with semi-reclined, lumbar-adjustable seats? Very comfy.
Controls are ergonomically well-placed. The panel’s dual Dynon EFIS glass panels and Garmin GPS provide all the in-flight data flyboys/girls could want, once you learn where to look for the readouts. Modern EFIS displays are packed tighter than a blueberry box and take time to learn to scan properly.
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