Editorial: How Much

By Ed Downs

The first major aviation tradeshow of the 2017 season is just around the corner, and the timing is perfect for those who want to get away from what will probably be the coldest time of the year. How about a visit to the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo, to be held in Sebring, Fla., on Jan. 25-28? This show is dedicated to recreational flying, featuring an expanding range of S-LSA aircraft and kit planes that can be flown by those exercising the privileges of a Sport Pilot. This category of flying was really taking off in 2008 but took a terrible hit when the economy collapsed.  With the economic crisis seeming to level off, the world of S-LSA’s is stronger than ever, with some fantastic planes on the market. 

However, there is an “elephant in the room.” When the Sport Plane rule passed in late 2004, expectations had been set that this new category of airplane would drastically reduce the cost of a new plane, perhaps with prices in the low $40K range. Actual prices have ended up starting in the $100K range, often reaching prices of above $150K. What happened? Why can’t you just get a great little airplane for under $20K, like we did in the 1960s? For that matter, why do you have to spend more than $250K for a new Cessna 172? Where do these prices come from?

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New Breakthroughs in Aviation Technology


An Interview with Michael Lam and Erik Stephansen of LAM Aviation

By Ed Downs and Annamarie Buonocore

LAM Aviation is a new aviation company that has engineered a cutting-edge flight control system that results in dramatically improved roll control, decreased stall speeds, increased climb and cruise speed performance, and a solution to loss of control. This is a remarkable achievement, especially given that some of these elusive goals conflict with one another. LAM Aviation recently announced the test results from their highly modified Columbia 300, now named the “Volant,” at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016. This is a major breakthrough, as the new flight control system integrates anti-spin and high-lift technology in one package. In Flight USA recently had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Lam (founder) and Erik Stephansen (President and CEO) of LAM Aviation. The two offered useful information about the new system, which is sure to change how we think about controlling an airplane.

In Flight USA: Tell me about the history of LAM Aviation. How did all of this get started?

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An Uprising Generation Setting Aviation World Records


An Interview with Robin Petgrave, Founder of Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum

By Annamarie Buonocore

Anyone thinking that aviation is for an older crowd needs to spend some time with Robin Petgrave, Founder of Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum. After many years of difficulties, Robin decided to make it his mission to help underachieving youth. With a background in aviation, he has found a way to inspire them in their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) studies and even help a few become pilots. His most amazing story comes with the achievements of 16-year-old Isaiah who made his first flight around the Earth before his 18th birthday. Isaiah’s story is an inspiring one that fills the world of flight with hope for the youth of tomorrow.

In Flight USA: Tell me about the teen solo flight. How did the Museum celebrate this event?

Robin Petgrave: We had a youth air fair that exposed youth to the aviation industry. We had more than 7,500 people at the airport. There were many participants, including sheriffs, firefighters, the navy, and the local schools. We had a lot of airplanes that came down and even a job fair. Many people got jobs that day, and the entertainment was great too. We had the largest drone manufacturer in the world educating people about drones. We had lots of food and a car show too. It was a great event that educated many people. We announced Isaiah’s plan to fly around the Earth solo. He will be the youngest person to do so. He is starting with a trip around the United States to prepare him for his one around the world. It is going to be an epic journey. It will make people realize that if a 16-year-old African American kid can accomplish this, they can apply this to their lives and be more successful.

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