Sport Flying With In Flight USA - August 2010

LSA’s Sprout Technology

By Ed Downs

Most readers of this column know by now that the S-LSA category of airplane evolved from the low tech world of ultra light designs. Some 6 years after the birth of LSA, one has to look hard to see the simplicity of its origin. Airframes have become increasingly sophisticated, and avionics packages are beginning to challenge big buck machines. A first timer renting or buying the typical S-LSA will be surprised upon entering a cockpit that looks more like an F-22 than single engine sport plane. Now, that sounds pretty exciting, but let’s take a look at who that “first timer” might actually be.

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Sport Flying With In Flight USA - May 2010

PiperSport – In For the Long Haul?

In Flight USA Exclusive Interview

By Edward S Downs

Piper’s new Light Sport Aircraft, the PiperSport. (Courtesy of Carl Miller)The recently completed Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In and Airshow certainly underscored the ever-growing popularity of Light Sport Aircraft.  High on the list of exciting announcements made this year was introduction of the new PiperSport. Piper Aircraft’s entry into the S-LSA market re-kindled this writers desire to learn more about how the “big guys” are dealing with ASTM type certification challenges.  Typically, my columns are written in the third person, keeping personal views and comments out of the story.  This time is different.  My quest to interview Cessna, and now Piper, about their decision and commitment to enter the S-LSA market has a personal side that I need to share.

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Sport Flying With In Flight USA - April 2010

The LSA’s of Sun ‘n Fun

By Ed Downs

Many readers will be at the 2010 Sun ‘n Fun Airshow, or will be following reports of this event over the next few months. With more than 100 S-LSA offerings now available, trying to decide which of these great airplanes will be best for personal use or flight training is challenging.  You may be asking yourself, does this S-LSA really meet the industry consensus standards (referred to as “ASTM Standards”) and is the manufacturer ready to support the plane, long term?  The concern of continuing support is especially important for S-LSA’s being imported from distant lands.

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Sport Flying With In Flight USA - March 2010

Where the Rubber Meets the Runway

By Ed Downs

This column has been addressing the Sport Pilot rule and Special Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSA) primarily from the perspective of general education.  In others word, what this Sport Pilot movement is all about and how you, the reader, can apply Sport Pilot to your flying.  The frustrating part of both writing and reading such accounts of these exciting, new, flying opportunities is that it lacks the “let’s go flying” side of the story.  To be sure, S-LSA’s are being seen more often, but in general, one can wander around most airports and not see this new breed of airplane. 

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Sport Flying With In Flight USA

Sport Pilot and Rotorcraft

By Ed Downs

So, here we are, already in February, with this issue of In Flight USA looking into the exciting topic of helicopters. To be sure, vertical flight has long excited those seeking to defy gravity. In fact, one of our first true aeronautical engineers, Leonardo DaVinci, designed an “air screw” that forecasted principles we use today in modern helicopters. The fact is DaVinci’s machine would have been capable of an autrotative decent, although the landing might have been just a bit bumpy!

The DaVinci design does, however, remind us that helicopters are not the only type of “rotorcraft” out there. A flying machine that is generically referred to as gyroplane by the FAA is another form of rotorcraft that has been on the aviation scene since the late 1920s. Essentially, the rotors of a gyroplane (often referred to as an autogyro) are unpowered. Their rotation is caused by airflow that results from moving the gyroplane through the air with an engine/propeller combination that is attached to the airframe, much like a pusher or tractor airplane. It is the gyroplane that gives us the Sport Pilot/rotorcraft connection.

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