We had just returned to straight and level following a loop, a roll and a spin entered from an altitude that shall remain numberless just outside Florida’s Lakeland Linder Regional Airport airspace, where Sun ‘n Fun 2014 was in full swing. “Is this legal?” I asked Randy Schlitter, founder and president of RANS Designs, Inc., as he gleefully demonstrated from the right seat the handling characteristics of the new S-20 Raven high-wing STOL aircraft. “We’re experimental,” Schlitter answered. “The rules are a little different for us.”
Experimental today, but will it be an LSA tomorrow? The kit-built Raven light-sport bush plane was intended to become RANS’ flagship crossover into the LSA world, but Schlitter says recent FAA regulatory mandates for the LSA category require maneuvering through hoops and loops far more challenging than any aerobatic routine—requirements that could impede the Raven’s LSA approval. That would be a loss for the LSA world because the Raven provides a level of capability, performance and even comfort in its bare-bones interior that category customers would appreciate—not to mention the benefits of exposing more pilots to Schlitter’s no-nonsense practicality, expressed in more than a score of successful kit aircraft designs.