Last month, through our survey, we met our group of respondents and found out what light-sport aircraft (LSA) they fly. This month, let’s find out more about their endorsements, further ratings planned and how often they fly.
Survey newcomer Matthew Geoff McHarg, a physics instructor at my alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy, flies in the Denver area in a rented AT-4L (formerly Gobosh G700). His fixed-base operation (FBO) is Aspen Flying Club, Centennial Airport (KAPA). At press time, he needed just one hour more of hood time before his private pilot license (PPL) checkride. Good luck, Geoff!
Thomas W. Ivines of Port Charlotte, Fla., echoes the sentiments of many sport pilots: “My private pilot license (PPL) affords me all the privileges except night flight when I fly an LSA.” He also has a taildragger endorsement.
Ivines first trained 40 years ago! He worked for an FBO in his 20s, bartered to pay for flight lessons and got his PPL in less than 40 hours. Then financial realities (marriage, school and children) prohibited him from even renting an airplane, despite “what we now think of as a ridiculous price of $27 an hour wet for a Piper J3.” He didn’t fly for 20 years.
Last month, I mixed up information I got from two pilots, so here’s the fix: Tim Greer has a PPL and trained in a C-152 at Deer Valley (KDVT) near Phoenix, Ariz., (“the busiest GA airport in the USA,” he says). He’s the sole owner of a 2006 Flight Design CTSW. After soloing the 152, “I switched to the CT, and spent another 20 hours to solo that.” Greer got his license in 75 hours and holds a Class B airspace endorsement for Phoenix.
Harold Sweet flies locally in a single-seat LSA-legal kit plane (unnamed), and laments the difficulty in being taught single-seater flight. “Training in a bigger bird than what I am flying does me no good at all. I am forced to train in a plane with a yoke, not a stick. Sport-pilot-certified flight instructors (CFIs) have lost sight of the fact that the sport-pilot license (SPL) is also for single-seat powered parachutes, trikes, gyroplanes, etc.”
Tecnam P92 Eaglet renter C. Brian Kerr plans to move up to the recreational pilot license “if the (AOPA/EAA) petition to remove the Class III medical exam gets approval from the FAA.” As a sport pilot, he has all the airspace and the higher- speed (above 87 knots) endorsements. He trained at Chesapeake Sport Pilot, Bay Bridge Airport (W29), Md.
Sting Sport partner Brian Garrett trained at Skyraider Aviation, Erie, Col. (KEIK). “Ever since earning my sport-pilot license (SPL), I kept checking off the boxes necessary to move towards a PPL. I started with controlled airports, then kept up with the training.”
Sport-pilot student pilot and Evektor SportStar renter Tom Grinolds has endorsements for higher speed and Class D airspace. He trains out of Acuwings (Renton, Wash.).
Private pilot holder Rob Finfrock learned to fly in a Cessna 172 at Albuquerque in 2003, then twin setbacks— finances and a cancer scare—stopped the flying in 2005 and he let his Third Class medical lapse in 2006.
When Rob heard about the new sport pilot license, “I realized it was a godsend for my situation. I restarted flight training in January 2007 in an Evektor Sportstar in Grand Prairie, Texas.”
Although beset by economic challenges again, he persevered to earn his SPL in 2008, “inside of two weeks, in central Florida.” Back in Albuquerque, N.M., he rents a Remos GX.
With an Icon A5 amphibian on order, SportCruiser owner Sam Dollenmeier plans to get a seaplane rating. He trained with Airwolf Aviation out of Anderson, South Carolina.s Steve Mink flies his Tecnam P2002 from Concord, Calif., has a Class C endorsement, and “will probably get a glider rating.”
An anonymous LSA owner has endorsements for Class B, C and D airspace and got his training at N. Little Rock Airport (KORK), home of SportairUSA, the U.S. distributor for several LSA, including the Sting.
Answers to our next question—how often do you fly an LSA?—ranged from “not much at all any more” to 20 or more hours per month.
Geoff McHarg tracked the national civilian pilot average with a total 56 hours over 12 months in his rented AT-4L, while Thomas Ivines racked up 200 hours in his LSA.
“The first week I put 30 hours on it flying from California, where I bought it, to Florida,” Ivines says. Now, there’s an adventurer!
In his five years as a pilot, Tim Greer has 500 hours of mostly weekend flying, with several longer trips including from Phoenix to Seattle and Baja, Calif. Single-seat kitbuilder Harold Sweet prefers the local turf. “Ninety percent of our flying is ‘around-the-patch’ style within 10 miles of our home field. Maybe once or twice a year, we travel 30 miles for a meal and to visit flying clubs.”
Brian Kerr flies about once a month and has 85 hours total as a renter. Brian Garrett flew around 50 hours last year but says, “My goal is to fly 100 hours a year. An incident during my checkride resulted in an emergency off-airport landing and structural damage.” The plane will be down for several months, so meanwhile, Kerr rents and work on his proficiency “in a GA aircraft.”
More fortunate is Tim Grinolds, who describes his flying activity as intense, “usually three times a week.”
Since checking out in his rented Remos GX, Rob Finfrock averages five hours per month. “Fortunately time (and not finances) has been the primary limiting factor,” he adds.
Sam Dollenmeier tries to fly twice weekly and logs 100 hours a year, while Steve Mink flies “every week it’s not raining, probably 125 hours per year. I fly 40 minutes to a dealer center for service.”
Another anonymous Sting S4 owner took 12 hours of lessons in the spring of 2011 “to see if I liked flying and whether I was capable of earning a SP license.” He passed his sport pilot written and during the next 10 months logged 108 hours—55 for training.
Tecnam Sierra partner Phil Howe averages five to 10 hours a month, while LSA owner Ron Gibson tries to fly twice a month but still averages 25 hours a year. He’s currently grounded: His Tecnam Bravo was badly damaged in a landing accident. “It’s taking forever to get repaired and there are no acceptable LSAs for rent in my state (Seattle area.)”
We’ll wrap our survey next month with our responders’ insights and opinions on the sport pilot category and what LSA flying has meant to them. Once again, thanks to everyone for sharing your personal aviation histories!