Archive for January, 2010

More LSA fun in the Midwest

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

If you didn’t make it to Sebring, Florida, last week for the US Sport Expo, fear not: More LSA fun can be had in September. Simply point your airplane or car toward Southern Illinois. The Midwest LSA Expo will be held Sept. 23-25 at Mount Vernon Outland Airport (KMVN).

Airport Director Chris Collins came up to the 2010 Fun to Fly display at Sebring, and he told me plans are under way to make the Midwest event bigger and better than last year’s, which was the inaugural expo. Chris brims with enthusiasm when he talks about the expo, which, he admitted, had somewhat spotty attendance last year because of rain. But organizers got a lot of support from the community and those who did make it in were well pleased with the variety of LSAs on display. He says organizers are trying to meet everyone’s needs, from scheduling evening activities like movie screenings to making sure there are prompt shuttle buses from KMVN to the hotels that are located a few miles from the airport. Find out more at the Web site, or call 618-242-7016. For lodging information, call 800-252-5464.

Sebring bound (On the road again, part III)

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

On a loooong cross-country like the one we flew from Maryland this week, it’s great to have a right-seater (particularly if he or she is also a pilot, and can share the flying with you). Our trip was enhanced with the addition of another airplane–another LSA, in fact.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, we met up with Mitch Lock flying a Van’s RV12 at Hickory, N.C. We were a flight of two for the remaining two legs, from Hickory to Waycross, Georgia, and then to Sebring. We kept tabs on each other via the multicom frequency. From time to time we’d check in and compare notes on the TAS numbers we were seeing (the RV12 also has a Dynon display). Mitch alerted us to traffic (airplanes and a bird), and also pointed out an unusual U-shaped contrail in the skies over Georgia. We theorized that it might belong to an aerial tanker.

From Waycross we headed to Ocala to avoid a final bit of restricted airspace, and landed in Sebring at just about 2300Z. Three legs, about nine or so hours of flying time, and we were ready to show off the 2010 Fun to Fly Remos at the US Sport Expo. The trip back to Maryland promises to be as much fun, if not more.

On the road again, part 2

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Sebring 012It wasn’t a hardship to put Maryland’s cold temperatures behind us for Florida’s warmth this week. Flying no higher than 4,500 feet for most of our route, we noticed that the snow which had blanketed the Northeast in December was still hanging on in many areas, even in southwestern Virginia.

But by the time we landed at our second fuel stop–Waycross, Georgia (AYS)–the snow was definitely behind us. Our friendly lineman laughed as we began to shed outer layers. “Go ahead,” he said. “You’re in the South!”

At HKY, Senior Editor Dave Hirschman and I met up with Mitch Lock, the East Coast demo pilot for Van’s Aircraft. Mitch was bringing a Van’s Rv12 to Sebring. The RV12 happened to be the same one that Mitch had brought to Frederick last year for AOPA’s editors to investigate. The RV12′s right seat was packed with Mitch’s gear.

The leg from Waycross to Sebring took us over the Okefenokee swamp. Try figuring out where to make an emergency landing in that seemingly endless stretch of nothing but trees and water! Florida and Georgia pilots, what’s your strategy? Let me know in the comments section.

On the road again, part 1

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was flying up the East Coast in your 2010 Fun To Fly Sweepstakes Remos, bringing it to Frederick (KFDK) from Tampa, Fla. And this week I again found myself in the left seat flying from Maryland to Florida to show off the airplane at the US Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring.

A trip of this length, with two pilots (Senior Editor Dave Hirschman is my right-seater for this trip), in an LSA, requires a little bit of strategic planning. I shipped my clothing and laptop to Sebring so that Dave could bring his in the airplane. Dave’s knapsack and laptop, plus tiedowns, oil, cleaning cloths, and airplane cleaner, fit handily in the baggage compartment behind the seat. There was plenty of room in the cabin for Gatorade and snacks.

We left FDK on Jan. 19 at 1230Z, leaving behind 32 degrees F. We had a choice of flying down the coast, which didn’t look promising weather-wise and would mean dealing with a lot of restricted airspace, or flying inland, with better weather. Our first fuel stop was Hickory, N.C. (HKY).

The first leg was our longest, at three and one-half hours. Headwinds aggravated our progress, and so we plodded along at groundspeeds ranging from 75 to 85 knots. But the airplane’s range easily handled the leg, and we landed with an hour of fuel in the tank. Gotta love an airplane that burns 4.5 gallons per hour on a trip like this!

There’s an airplane in my mall, part two

Friday, January 8th, 2010

We saw a mini-wave of light sport aircraft popping up in malls around the country this past holiday season. Chesapeake Sport Pilot in Maryland put a Tecnam in an Annapolis mall; Air Orlando positioned a Remos inside a Florida mall, and US Aviation in Texas put their Remos at a Lewisville mall  for an entire month. It’s a savvy marketing technique that capitalizes on the smaller size of the LSAs. While all of the flight schools said the response was good, US Aviation came back with numbers: They sold 170 introductory flights and gots dozens of sales and partnership contacts.

It’s a variation on the theme of “If Mohammed won’t come to the mountain…” That is, if we can’t get folks to our airports, then we need to look for opportunities to bring our airplanes to them. And it shows no signs of stopping.

LSA North, a flight school near Minneapolis, said this week it will position a Flight Design CT at Mall of America on Sunday, Jan. 10. They’re there to support the Boy Scouts of America, who are hosting an “Extreme Day” at the Mall. The event is to raise funds for Project Extreme, a nonprofit that provides innovative services and programming for teens at risk and their families.

“Airplanes have a high profile and bringing one inside the shopping mall can spark discussions and offer a path to flying that should appeal to youth,” said LSA North’s Scott Caverly.