Light Sport Aircraft Archive

O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A (or Texas?)

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

We’ve completed our first full day of travel to bring the Fun to Fly Remos to the West Coast. (I’m not counting the day it took to get to Mount Vernon, Illinois, for the Midwest LSA Expo.) Launching Monday morning under clear skies (that extra day to wait out a low pressure system paid off big time), we made extremely good time on our first leg, flying about 3.5 hours and seeing a groundspeed of about 95 to 99 knots. We detoured about five miles off our path to fly by the St. Louis Arch, first asking the tower controller at St. Louis Downtown Airport if we could skim the edge of his airspace to meander up the Mississippi River a few miles.

Even with this little diversion, we did so well that we scrapped our first planned fuel stop at Jefferson, Missouri, and landed at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport in Kansas City. If you’re a carnivore, you’ve got to have BBQ or a steak when you’re in this part of the country, and so a Signature lineman obligingly took us to Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue downtown for a fantastic lunch, followed by a quick tour of Union Station. Trains have never interested me as being anything more than a mode of transportation, but the history and architecture of this place drew me in nonetheless. They have a model train setup that rivals anything you’ve seen.

Our second leg brought us to Wichita Mid-Continent in downtown Wichita, where we spent the night in Cessna country. Yingling Aviation personnel came out to view the Remos and compare notes with the Skycatcher, recently brought onto the rental line here. Yingling is also an assembly center for the Skycatcher.

Our fantastic lunch was followed by an amazing dinner at Hangar One Steakhouse, a few blocks from the airport. Owned by a retired Cessna employee, this restaurant is almost beyond description. I’ll throw out a few details: door handles made of props, tables constructed of rotary engines; quotes from Bob Hoover and other greats on the walls; waitstaff who wear captain’s shirts; a bartender in a flight suit. And that’s not even talking about the food.

Today we set out for Oklahoma and wonder of wonders, it looks like we’ll even have a tailwind! Our tentative plans are for Oklahoma City or Gainesville, Texas. Patrick and I continue to update our progress via Twitter (@jtallman1959, @skyhawk8519, or search for the #fun2fly hashtag) and Facebook. Keep those airport suggestions coming!

The Remos meets the nicest people

Monday, September 27th, 2010

One of the best parts of my job is getting out and about and meeting people who just plain love airplanes. This weekend at the Midwest LSA Expo in Mount Vernon, Ill., was no exception. While the turnout was small–understandable for a show just in its second year–the opportunity to talk to members, wannabe pilots, and everybody in between paid big dividends.

William Rogers (left) and 'AOPA Pilot' Associate Editor Jill Tallman (right) at the Mt. Vernon LSA Expo

William Rogers (left) and 'AOPA Pilot' Associate Editor Jill Tallman (right) at the Mt. Vernon LSA Expo.

William and Debbie Rogers stopped by to admire the Fun to Fly Remos and dream about what they might do with the airplane if they happen to win. The Rogerses live in Michigan, and they drove all the way to Mount Vernon to sample LSAs. You see, William is soon to finish his sport pilot certificate–and when he does, he wants to buy an LSA. He and Debbie want to travel around the country to visit their children and grandchildren, who are scattered in several states. William was pleased to be able to sit in the Remos, and he investigated it thoroughly.

Later in the day Patrick Smith and I had the pleasure of allowing a beautiful family of youngsters–redheads all–a chance to sit in the airplane. Their dad got a turn as well. “This is the first airplane that they’ve been allowed to sit in,” their mom told me. That’s one of the reasons we bring our airplane to events like this: so children can experience for themselves what we are privileged to experience on a near-daily basis.

Kansas City, here we come?

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The Midwest LSA Expo is over, and the Fun to Fly Remos is ready to move on. Our route today will be Jefferson County, Mo. (KJEF) for fuel, arriving anywhere from 11 to noon CST. We may stop for fuel again at Charles B. Wheeler/Downtown Airport (MKC). If weather and winds are favorable, we will press on to Wichita, Kan., before stopping for the night.

We waited out a low-pressure system that brought rains and low ceilings to southern Illinois, but that’s cleared out, and it’s time to hit the skyways. We’ll head west a bit to get around the low, then start south on Tuesday.

If you’re a Twitter user, follow Patrick Smith (@skyhawk8519). He’s got a SPOT set up that will track our progress. I’ll continue to tweet (@jtallman1959) our planned destinations and approximate ETAs. Hope to meet you along the way!

What’s next for Fun to Fly?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

My time with the 2010 Fun to Fly Remos GX is winding down. AOPA Summit 2010 in Long Beach, California, will be here before we know it (November 11-13).

The little girl has been on a bit of a break since returning from AirVenture in Oshkosh. But she has a few more appearances before Summit, and if you’re in the area I hope you’ll stop by and see her.

On Sept. 11, Alyssa J. Miller (she of the Road and Runway Rally excitement) will bring 210FN to Wings Field (KLOM) in Philadelphia, for the Angel Flight East Wings ‘n’ Wheels Fly-In. This is your chance to ask Alyssa how a smart car handles on a race track, among other things.

Next stop is the Midwest LSA Show in Mount Vernon, Ill., Sept. 23-25. I’m bringing 210FN to Mount Vernon for this one. Look for us next to SeaRey directly next to the Aviators Hotline Exhibitor Hall. This should be a great show if the weather cooperates (and isn’t that the case with anything aviation-related?). The LSA manufacturers you’ve been reading about are bringing their airplanes for you to check out. See the exhibitor map on the site for the complete list, but I’ll drop a few names here: American Legend, Gobosh, Piper, Remos, and Vans. Chris Collins, one of the driving forces of the show, is an incredibly enthusiastic participant in the light sport arena, and I’m anxious to see what this show brings to the table.

Hot fun in the summertime

Monday, June 28th, 2010

girlsInRemosMaryland is having one of its hottest summers on record–we exceeded 100 degrees F over the weekend–but that didn’t keep Frederick folks from coming out to Frederick Municipal Airport on Saturday. Even a broiling tarmac can be a welcoming place when you have an open house with lots of cool airplanes on display.

And I love showing the Fun to Fly Remos to everyone–especially children. It’s not often people outside the aviation community get to touch airplanes. Kids, with their parents in tow, make a beeline for the Remos. “Don’t touch!” their parents command (thanks, Mom and Dad, I appreciate your parenting!). And they’re used to hearing that. But when I say “Do you want to get inside?” their little faces are incredulous and then joyous at the prospect. They’re going to sit in a real airplane!

Kids are pretty well behaved around our aircraft. Oh yes, occasionally one will start punching buttons like crazy. These kids in particular are remarkably adept at finding the ELT switch. But for the most part, the worst that will happen is that they will try to climb in by stepping on the wheel pant, and I’ve gotten pretty adept at cutting them off at the pass before they try to do that.

Saturday’s crowd included pilots who participated in the Air Race Classic, the all-woman’s cross-country race that ended this year in Frederick. One of the teams, a pair of college students, brought young girls out to see the airplanes. I stood back while they explained aerodynamics at a very basic level to these girls as they sat in the Remos cockpit and moved the controls. A tip of the hat to these young women, who already recognize how very, very important it is to get girls engaged in aviation at a young age.

Finished! Two new sport pilots

Friday, June 18th, 2010

It’s been a great week for sport pilots, what with two new ones added to the fold!

First, on Monday, our very own Sgt. Michael Blair–”Bulldog,” to his Marine Corps buddies–successfully passed his SP checkride in the Fun to Fly Remos. Read Dave Hirschman’s blog about teaching Michael here. Flight Training readers got to know Michael in the May issue, and AOPA Pilot readers will see his incredible story in the August issue. You’ll also be able to view a video interview with Blair and Hirschman on AOPA Live.

And on Thursday–today!–Darren Hook of Texas passed his SP checkride. Darren, you’ll recall from this blog, had been training in an LSA and was very close to finishing up when the airplane was grounded after an accident involving another student pilot. Darren was disappointed, but not down and out. He was able to get checked out in a Breezy600L, then “met with my DPE and passed.” “I feel excited, yet spent,” Darren e-mailed me. “I am anxious to be PIC and go where I want to now.”

Darren’s 18-year-old son, who was learning to fly at the same time as his dad, has opted to wait until the damaged airplane is back on line to continue his training. Meanwhile, Darren is already thinking about starting on fulfilling the requirements for the private pilot certificate. That’ll be in October, he says.

Congratulations to Michael and Darren! If you have any sucess stories to share about your training, please let me know in the Comments section. First flight? Solo? Cross-country? First successful crosswind landing? Let’s celebrate!

The LSA arena widens

Friday, June 11th, 2010

There’s a persistent young man on the AOPA Forums named Kevin who lives in New Jersey. Kevin’s determined to get a sport pilot certificate, but the only problem–a problem he shares with a lot of wannabe pilots–is that there are no light sport aircraft at airports closer than an hour’s drive. But he doesn’t let that stop him. He’s called flight schools in his area to try to persuade them to add LSAs. People on the forums have explained to Kevin that flight schools have to weigh the cost-benefit ratio when adding an aircraft: Will they get enough hours on that LSA to pay for its upkeep and (maybe) make a profit? But Kevin hasn’t given up. And I hope he never does, because GA needs Kevins–kids who want to fly more than anything.

It’s gratifying to see more LSAs trickling into the rental fleet. Yingling Aircraft in Wichita has placed a SkyCatcher on its rental line, so expect to see more at Cessna Pilot Centers in the coming year. Piper’s PiperSport has been popping up here and there too, most recently at First Landings Aviation in Florida. (Does Florida have a monopoly on sport pilot training?) CTs, Evektors, Remos, and Tecnam can be found at more and more locations. And you can even get a seaplane rating in an LSA in South Carolina or Georgia, flying Coast Empire Flight Training’s FPNA Capetown. There are light sport options out there, and I fully anticipate there will be a lot more in the years to come.

In the meantime, the best place to check for LSA training and rental is Dan Johnson’s F.I.R.M. list on his website. F.I.R.M. stands for Flight Instruction, Rentals, and Maintenance, and this list is updated frequently.

Fun to Fly lands on a creek! Well, sort of

Monday, June 7th, 2010

“How’d you get that airplane in here?”

If we heard that question once, we heard it a hundred times this past weekend at the Festival of the Arts on Carroll Creek in downtown Frederick, Md. This annual two-day festival is spread up and down a three-block stretch that is bisected by a creek. More than 100 arts and crafts vendors spread out their colorful wares on either side of the creek, and thousands of people amble through. But this was the first time that they’d seen an airplane here.

Folding the wings and transporting the Fun to Fly Remos was a two-day affair. On Friday evening, we worked with Remos demo pilot Luke Stouffer to fold back the wings and secure them in a special brace that holds the wing tips stationary. (Two brackets are installed at the strut attach point and the wing root, also to keep the wings from moving around in transport.) Bright and early on Saturday morning we loaded the airplane onto a roll-off truck and secured it with many, many straps. We then drove the two miles to downtown Frederick. Early birds out for a morning stroll stopped to stare the sight of an airplane on a truck rolling into town. That’s something you don’t see every day, either.

Reverse the process: airplane off truck, and pushed to its spot right alongside Carroll Creek. Wing unfolding commenced, the airplane was chocked and secured with some railroad ties–no place on the concrete to secure a tiedown–and the Remos was ready to meet the public.

Carroll Creek 002And did she create a sensation? Yes she did. Several people told us they had never been this close to an airplane. Everyone wanted to climb inside, even those who commented, “It’s so small!” We had plenty of learn to fly materials and coupons for discounted introductory rides at local flight schools to pass out, and we weren’t stingy.

Thunderstorms threatened the area on Sunday afternoon, and we were forced to pack up the airplane and get her back to KFDK sooner than we’d planned. Still, we were glad to get a chance to share the fun of flying with the general public, many of who just don’t get exposed to GA very much. And folding the wings was good practice for November, because we’ll be doing it again in Long Beach, California. That’s when the airplane goes on display at AOPA Summit and the Fun to Fly Sweepstake winner is announced. And like they say, practice makes perfect…

Trials and tribulations

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Last year, I wrote on the Reporting Points Blog about how several flight schools were taking advantage of the ease with which they can position their LSAs to park them in venues where you don’t normally see airplanes–like malls. Black Friday saw CTs, Remoses, and Tecnams in malls in Texas, Maryland, and Florida. Darren Hook wrote in February that he saw a Remos at a mall in Lewisville, Texas, and decided to get going on a sport pilot certificate. His 18-year-old son signed up too, and father and son have been learning to fly together (although Darren’s a little farther along).

Darren e-mailed me this morning to say that he had taken and passed the oral portion of his sport pilot checkride. The practical test portion was delayed because of weather. He was all set to complete his checkride when he got a call from the flight school: the school’s LSA had been involved in a landing accident. CFI and student were not injured, thankfully. Now Darren has to wait until another LSA can be obtained to complete his checkride.

My heart aches for Darren–so close, and yet so far! But while he’s disappointed, he’s also not taking this as a sign from the heavens that it wasn’t meant to be. He’s full of plans for when he does get his sport pilot certificate. “Once I get the sport pilot done, I plan to enjoy the Summer flying and taking in the accomplishment. I plan to go for PPL this fall.” Darren’s flight instructor is a CFI, so that means all of his dual hours can be applied toward getting his private pilot certificate. Eventually, Darren says he would like to get his flight instructor certificate and/or a commercial certificate so that he could give rides at museums.

“First things first, though,” he says, “need to keep learning and get certified.”

Hang in there, Darren, it will happen. In the meantime, what should Darren do to keep sharp? We know he can take dual instruction in any airplane, but do you think it would help or hinder him to fly something like a Cessna 172 while he waits for another LSA to be put on the line? Please share your suggestions in the comments section.

Wing-folding 101

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Whenever we take the Fun to Fly Remos GX to a show, people are always intrigued to learn that you can fold the airplane’s wings. I always say it looks kind of like a grasshopper. “Or like a Corsair?” some people will ask. Well, not exactly, as the Corsair’s wings go up and the Remos’ wings go down and back. I saw the process back in November when AOPA’s Sweepstakes airplane was transported via flat bed truck to the Tampa Convention Center to be put on display at AOPA Summit 2009. But we haven’t folded the wings since.

In June, however, we’re taking the Fun to Fly Remos to a location in downtown Frederick that isn’t accessible by runway. So wing-folding 101 took place today. Remos demo pilot Ron Glazer stopped by to show us how it’s done.  We’ll practice some more and videotape it, and I’ll let you in on the complete procedure in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot.