Today’s light-sport market boasts 131 ASTM-certified airplanes and is as diverse as it has ever been. Aircraft range from all-electric, STOL taildraggers, aerobatic biplanes, amphibians and even a P-51 Mustang replica. In this issue’s LSA buyer’s guide, James Lawrence features more than 40 light-sport models that include the top sellers, those new to the market and airplanes still in development.
One getaway destination that LSA owners are loving is the Bahamas, with the shortest crossing point from Florida being only 50 nm. Mike Zidziunas, known as Mike Z, organizes group LSA fly-outs to the islands—about five times per year—in coordination with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. James talks to Mike Z, who was named the first LSA flying ambassador to the Bahamas, about his island flying experiences and plans for the future.
Our pilot report this month is the new Decathlon Xtreme from American Champion. High-time tailwheel pilot Budd Davisson caught up with air show performer Greg Koontz at this year’s Sun ‘n Fun for a flight in Greg’s new airplane. They put the high-wing akro performer through its paces with loops, rolls and inverted flight, and it lived up to its extreme name.
When flying an aerobatic plane like the Decathlon, it’s important to stay focused in the air. But it’s just as important to be focused on the ground. A big part of aerobatic flying is thinking about flying and mentally processing your flight beforehand. In her “Let It Roll” column this month, Patty Wagstaff talks about the mental aspects of flying. She explains how you can become a better and more confident pilot by visualizing your flight on the ground using various techniques. As Patty says, “Flying isn’t all about flying. It’s also about visualizing, thinking and watching.”
Plane & Pilot was recently invited to a screening at Disney studios for a preview of their upcoming film, Planes. It’s the story of Dusty, a crop duster who dreams of being an air racer, but is afraid of heights. For film director Klay Hall, who comes from an aviation background, the film was a work built on passion. Hall and his team spent several years researching aerodynamics and interviewing pilots in an effort to make each detail in the film as realistic as possible. They visited aviation operations, from small airfields in the Midwest to the USS Carl Vinson, as part of their research efforts. Planes hits theaters on August 9th, but if you’re attending this year’s EAA AirVenture, you’ll be treated to a special preview screening.