Since the debut of the Light Sport category more than a decade ago, the segment has grown into one that has proven its promise of opening up manufacturing to many, many more companies by the common-sense easing of certification standards for light and modest-performing models. The real surprise to many has been the incredible variety of models that emerged from the rules. Truly, would-be LSA owners can find an airplane type to suit their needs, from amphibians to folding-wing trainers to hot-performing backcountry dream machines. The name that dominated press coverage of the LSA market for the last few years, ICON Aircraft, is not in our guide after it announced a year’s production delay, though it has delivered a few airplanes. We look forward to its return in next year’s guide. Below we feature a couple of emerging designs that have stoked the interest of light sport flyers, and there’s more on the horizon.
CubCrafters Carbon Cub
If ever you needed proof that there’s no one formula for a successful LSA, the Carbon Cub might be it. The airplane looks for all the world like an old J-3, but despite the LSA category’s restrictions on performance, CubCrafters has managed to make a 21st-century backcountry rocketship in the guise of a Cubbie with tandem seating and the company’s cool 3x3 landing gear option. The Carbon Cub isn’t really made of carbon, though it does have some carbon-fiber components. The airplane is welded chromoly tubing with aircraft fabric for light weight and high strength. CubCrafters hangs nothing less than a 180 hp Titan engine on front for some obscene climb performance, up to 2,100 fpm, claims CubCrafters. Because of its LSA certification, full power is limited to the first five minutes of operation and top speed to 120 knots, and we’re certain every pilot adheres to those restrictions faithfully.
Niche: High-wing taildragger
Base Price: $189,990
Competitors: Legend Cub, Rans S7-LS Courier
Learn more at CubCrafters.