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.