Five years ago, the first special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) received its airworthiness certificate, opening up a new chapter in the regulation of simple personal flight. More than 1,000 of these factory-built aircraft and more than 8,000 former ultralights (experimental light-sport aircraft, E-LSA) are now flying under the sport pilot and LSA category.
There’s nothing so constant as change. Trouble is, change is hard to come by in the far north.
When I returned to Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, in early December to complete the delivery of the world’s brightest Marchetti (yellow and red with blue stars, formerly owned by an air show pilot), I was hoping it was cold enough that ice season was pretty much over. It was, but not without a few dying gasps.
The morning sun had yet to break over the horizon, and as I speed-walked my usual early morning, let’s-get-the-blood-flowing-and-the-joints-loose route, I could actually see my breath. Light frost crusted the yards—a rare but not unknown happening here in the desert. Then I heard a single honk overhead and glanced up: Instantly, I felt just a little melancholy.
The quantity and quality of information have improved, but icing is ever a deadly foe
Ten years ago, the National Aviation Weather Program Council met in Washington, D.C., to develop ideas that could be turned into practical steps toward reducing the number of weather-related aircraft accidents. Regarding in-flight icing, the group—which included FAA, Department of Defense, NASA, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture and NTSB representatives—concluded that better observation systems were needed for detecting icing, and weather forecasts should present icing hazards in clear, easily understood formats.
Skylane 250CW, cleared to land, runway two seven.” Those words marked the start of my anniversary weekend in historic Savannah, Ga. The VFR flight to Savannah from Lawrenceville, Ga., on the morning of August 1, 2008, was smooth and uneventful, as was my first-time arrival into Savannah International Airport. Plane parked and rental car obtained, my wife and I headed off to the resort.
There was a time when aviation seemed to be a distant world, out of my reach. I didn’t know any pilots, and as far as I knew, you had to be in the military or have millions of dollars to become one. While my classmates forged ahead on paths to become doctors and lawyers, I stumbled around, sneaking peeks at airplanes passing overhead and memorizing the aviation alphabet. But, one day, everything changed.
An opportunity to see the world from a different perspective
Leonardo da Vinci once said, “For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” There are more than 600,000 registered pilots in the United States, and each of them can relate to this quote.
The sport pilot rule is clear and easy to understand...except when it isn’t. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The sport pilot rule under which LSA pilots fly was intended to cover a broad array of recreational vehicles and conditions, gently wrapped within a beneficent, safety-minded envelope of permissions and restrictions.
I’m not sure what it means, but this morning I glanced down at the Tail-Dragger Dragger dolly that I use to push/pull my bird from its nest, and I realized that the tires are wearing out. Bald, as it were. I was a little surprised and asked myself, “Exactly how much mileage should we expect from the accessories we surround ourselves with while flying?”
Fall, not winter, is the tough time in some parts of the world
If there’s one absolute truth about flying the North Atlantic in normally aspirated piston aircraft, it’s ice. Those pilots who’ve been flying the ocean at low level for a few years recognize airframe icing as perhaps the most dangerous threat.
My first use of advanced avionics in the backcountry
finfIt was one of those cool fall mornings with low, scudding clouds. The kind where you keep blowing on cold, damp hands while loading the airplane and glancing occasionally at the leaden skies, the north country’s harbinger of imminent seasonal change.
In keeping with the buyer’s guide theme, I got to thinking about the epidemic of choices modern consumers face every day. There was a time when you’d walk into a fast-food place and order a burger, fries and Coke, and if you really felt like living large, you’d get a chocolate, strawberry or vanilla milkshake.
A simple, four-hour round-trip helps remind me of the reliability of GA airplanes
In most recognizable respects, the trip was hardly unusual. It was just an easy 280 nm hop from Long Beach to Groveland, Calif., for a speaking engagement before the Pine Mountain Lake Aviation Association, a typical out-and-back, 1+50 hop in the LoPresti Mooney, precursor to at least a four-pack of 400 to 600 nm trips around the Southwest.
To some of us, just getting off the ground is an adventure
Elsewhere in this issue, we’re bantering around the phrase “adventure aircraft” as if it’s a universally understood term. Personally, I’m not sure it is. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think the term “adventure” itself is open to definition and is very much colored by your aviation life and how you live it—one man’s adventure is another’s ho-hum afternoon.