What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Talk about airplanes! At last count, there are 39 (and growing) FAA certificated S-LSA (special light sport aircraft). These are factory-built ready to fly airplanes. If you can't afford a factory-built LSA, consider buying an E-LSA kit (experimental LSA - up to 99% complete).

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Nomore767
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What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby Nomore767 » Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:55 pm

Things seem pretty quiet around here.

Got me wondering about the interest level in light sport flying. At this time of year folks are contemplating the better flying weather in the coming months and may be making plans to go to air-shows such as Sun-n-Fun, acquiring an airplane, learning to fly, re-new their interest in flying and so on.

Or…are there folks who are contemplating light sport flying but are going to wait for the imminent, any-day-now, maybe possible ruling from the FAA regarding any possible changes to the Class 3 medical.

For me I continue to fly and learn about my RV-12. So far it's been a good airplane but I wish I had it in a full hangar. I have a big partial shade-type hangar and I wish I had an enclosed one. I'm just totally amazed at the hangar situation in the USA, or more so here in SC. My airport is typical…county owned, run with nit-picky zeal and so is rather unpopular with tenants. Few closed hangars which I could buy for the sum of $55k or rent for almost $400 per month. The manager has no plans to add hangars and I know there would be great interest. There was some talk but…… The airfield is nice enough and it's 30 mins from home and is quiet and peaceful. On the other hand there is little reason for many to want to come here which I explained to the manager but his eye glazed over.
Frustratingly, further south about a 2+ hour drive there are nice new hangars going for $125 month including electric. I just can't see driving 4+ hours r/t to get to it. There are a couple of air parks same distance one with 'issues' amongst the residents which doesn't bode for happy times.

I have thought, if the change goes through of changing to an airplane like the AOPA refurbished 152…almost brand new, good price, good engine and everyone can work on it. Haven't decided just a 'thought' at the moment as life might just be a bit easier.
The mission is to keep things as simple as I can. The Rotax is a great little engine and runs very well. I try to use auto-gas as much as I can but I'm about 50-50 right now with 100LL. One airport 95 miles away has 93-autogas on the pump and I can buy it locally for $2.68gal. Schlepping it in gas cans hasn't been a good experience trying t fuel the cabin tank and I'm trying to talk to a local guy who has a tanker-car and pumps it in his 150 himself and talk about his pump set up.
I have a pretty good Rotax mechanic about 45 mins flying time and so far it's been routine servicing, doing the Rotax S/B for carb floats (I replaced all four over past few months) and other minor stuff. I'm going to Lockwood for my first annual (4 hour flight to Sebring FL) since it'll still be under warranty plus there are some confusing S/Bs to review and I may have them install a couple of mods. I also want to ensure that I get the warranty items covered by Vans at that time I have to try and get the new (of the bad lot) carb floats covered as well as the Bing replacement ones whenever they arrive on the market. I have to say I find the Rotax culture as far as S/Bs somewhat frustrating and confusing but I'm guessing it's a learning experience.

I've flown my plane 100 hours since I took delivery with 4.9 on the Hobbs.

I've a couple of longer trips planned to PA when the weather improves and I'm trying to explore the airports in SC and some in NC. There are probably a few fly-ins I may attend but I'm currently trying to do my mission of flying as much as I can and being able to do as much of everything I can on my own. If I can ever get a closed hangar I might then have the space/shelter to contemplate getting the couple of day course to work on the plane myself.
I have a friend in SC who was #1 to buy the RV-12 SLSA. He actually opted for unit #6 but he has a 2013 with the Van Grunsven signature on the side.It's been cool having a friend who shares the same airplane type and he's done the Rotax service training.

Well…this has turned out to be somewhat of a 'state of the union' but that's where I'm at and I'm curious to see how other folks are doing and what you would like to do or have planned.

Any input…..?

SportPilot
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby SportPilot » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:31 pm

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zaitcev
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby zaitcev » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:17 pm

Cessna 150 does not have anywhere near the typical LSA's performance. As I pointed it out in this forum several times, it's not only excuriatingly slow, but it's essentially a solo airplane. The fact is, if I and my wife get into a 150, we can only take fuel for 40 minutes (legally, e.g. without overgross). But if we load into a Remos GX, we can fly from Albuquerque, NM to Denver, CO non-stop -- and take baggage enough for an overnight stay.

I came very close to buying a 150 out of sheer financial desperation (even put down a deposit for one), and I became somewhat familiar with them. I consider my escape fortunate.

A 172 has a performance that exceeds that of most LSAs. Although a CTLS is still faster than most 172s, a 172 has much greater payload, so it's a wash: you can take spare underwear for more overnights.

Nomore767
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby Nomore767 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:07 am

SportPilot wrote:Screw it. Why bother?


Huh?

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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby SportPilot » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:11 am

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Jack Tyler
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby Jack Tyler » Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:55 am

Howard, I'm afraid you make some fairly universal observations.

" My airport is typical…county owned, run with nit-picky zeal and so is rather unpopular with tenants. Few closed hangars which I could buy for the sum of $55k or rent for almost $400 per month. The manager has no plans to add hangars and I know there would be great interest."

My observation is that you & your fellow tenants could likely be in charge of your own aviation destiny if you so chose. But most of your fellow tenants probably don't care enough to change your collective status quo.

Our largest GA airport here in Jacksonville (KCRG) suffers from lots of older hangars and high rents, in part because they are all owned by FBO's who a) must fold their own revenue needs into the fees and b) who have seen their other revenue dwindle as GA activity has decreased. The aviation authority which owns the airport didn't see a need to change the status quo because (big surprise...) they aren't pilots, just bureaucrats. So one group of a/c owners worked through the city/county govt. and forced the leasing of a parcel of land for private hangar development. Designing and contracting the construction of hangars to meet their own set of needs, they now have 99 year leaseholds they can sell (equity) as well as a decent way to protect their a/c in the interim. This process is not common here in Florida - probably not in SC either - but it is the norm out west. It's quite unusual to find publicly owned hangars there. Instead, airport authorities let the demand/supply formula dictate how much land should be leased for hangar construction, and they issue long term leases as hangar needs grow. This also puts the design and amenities of a hangar in the hands of those who plan to use them, removing the 'one size must fit all' approach a municipality might take. The problem, of course, is that many a/c owners would like their problems solved for them, including the capital investment to do so, and would claim they don't have the time to wrestle with city officials and/or their aviation authority. Yet this isn't conceptually different than the person who decides the cost of learning to fly and then having a subsequent aviation lifestyle will cost less in the long run by buying a plane upfront to serve those multiple needs. When/if things change in the future, you sell what you have to the next person. And just like joint a/c ownership, construction loans and hangar use is often shared by multiple co-owners, which reduces the loan's burden and the upfront downpayment to each individual. E.g. a good friend in Bozeman MT built a pretty expensive hangar but OTOH he can get 4 a/c in there with some effort.

NIt-picky airport management usually co-exists with tenant apathy. I've been doing some volunteer work with a group in south-central Florida that is rescuing and reinvigorating a municipal airport that was orphaned by its municipal owner a decade ago. No applications for FAA matching funds, an FBO that has the fuel contract so it can sell its fuel to airboats (I've yet to be able to fuel there), and an airport advisory committee that actually petitioned the City to prohibit volunteer-based aesthetic work improvements on the airport grounds. One of the most dysfunctional airport situations I've seen. It's now thriving with activity, had over 80 a/c at its last pancake breakfast, and will soon have the first Pilot Shelter built at a public airport in Florida, a 3 acre site that includes a semi-circular taxiway in amongst the tall shady oaks with parking spaces and campsites. The FBO contract ends this summer and things will improve even further. The downside: It's taken five years of incremental, frustration-inducing work before the city, the county and the local population all began to appreciate the economic benefits from this change, and still with the inevitable sniper fire from a few disgruntled diehards who hate change because it forces them to surrender power. We are again helping to sponsor a Fly in/Camp out Rodeo Weekend there next month - http://theraf.org/civicrm/event/info?id=153 - and I'm sure it will again be a wonderful experience and just the kind of flying + friendship inducing event that is at the heart of recreational aviation. But the 'cost' to create this change has been high for this volunteer group, and most a/c owners choose not to make this kind of effort. Let's just remember that it is a choice.

FWIW I've seen this same change occurring at my rural, recreational airport (KHEG), also managed by that same Jacksonville Aviation Authority. Many physical improvements, a shift from just about the highest 100LL price in the region to one of the lowest, a list of empty hangars to a waiting list, and a new management team - in part all generated because there were a number of tenants who kept speaking truth to power. We'll have to wait and see if this willingness to continue changing to a more entrepreneurial vs. a 'pubic utility' mindset is sustained. But I think these examples do illustrate that some of our airport circumstances can be changed if folks are willing to invest themselves in the process. Unfortunately, that's not as common as I believe it once was.
Jack
Flying in/out KBZN, Bozeman MT in a Grumman Tiger
Do you fly for recreational purposes? Please visit http://www.theraf.org

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MrMorden
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby MrMorden » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:56 am

zaitcev wrote:Cessna 150 does not have anywhere near the typical LSA's performance. As I pointed it out in this forum several times, it's not only excuriatingly slow, but it's essentially a solo airplane.


Last summer I flew into a fly-in at a 2200ft strip in Brasstown, SC. a 152 flew in there with two people. It did okay coming in, but they waited until too late (or maybe too early) to make their departure, right in the hottest part of the day. There is rising terrain off the departure end of the runway and the grass was not super short.

I waited for him to lift off. And waited. And waited. Finally about 3/4 of the way down the runway he came off the ground, made a slight left turn to go between two stands of trees, and began the most painfully slow turning climb out I have ever seen. It looked like he was literally not moving, and I expected to see his wing snap over and spin him into the ground at any minute. He made it out, but *just* barely.

The 150/152 is a neat plane, but you have to abide by its limitations. What it needs is an STC for a 160hp engine and 2000lb gross weight. THAT would be a fun machine!

EDIT: Here is a discussion of the 150/150, an STC conversion for a 150 to use a 150hp O-320. 1000fpm climb and 172 cruis speeds. Pretty neat, but the gross weight is still 1600lb and stock fuel tanks only give two hours of flying with VFR reserves. Nothing is perfect!

http://wings.esisupply.com/introduction150150.html
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
Sport Pilot ASEL, LSRI
2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

Nomore767
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby Nomore767 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:40 am

"My observation is that you & your fellow tenants could likely be in charge of your own aviation destiny if you so chose. But most of your fellow tenants probably don't care enough to change your collective status quo."

Jack, in a nutshell your statement covers it.

There are already spaces in the type of hangar that I have and I know a neighboring CTLS owner wants out too. I've had some conversations along the lines you spoke of but usually the answer is a shrug and an "Oh well." I know they're looking to go elsewhere, as am I.

They run the airport with a tight rein, as if any minute the inmates will run amok. Sure, a few give out the gate code or drive their car on the ramp where they shouldn't but there is a definite lack of attraction for anyone to go there other than as a place to keep their plane, for now.

There are no airplanes on the numerous tie-downs. There is a small little 'terminal' which checks the boxes but the manager is really like the 'Maytag Repairman' with idle time in which he can sit and watch the surveillance videos for hours ( he really does this) to catch offenders.
The pumps aren't in great shape, the price of 100LL is not competitive and there is a whole lot of nothing going on. Several have sold their older planes and the space is still vacant. There is a feeling of cause and effect…they won't provide anything new because there aren't many planes there.
Fly to any of the smaller airports not that far away and the whole atmosphere changes. At one a guy actually runs out to greet you and pump gas….which is one of the reasons he gets my gas business.

Good post Jack.

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FastEddieB
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby FastEddieB » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:04 am

Well, as a counterpoint, Copperhill, TN is on an upswing.

No hangars or fuel a while back.

Built 10 hangars and filled them all, and had self-serve installed.

All 10 hangars are filled - with planes - and the foundation is poured for 10 more.

None of which negates the general downhill trend others are seeing - just that there do seem to be pockets of improvement.
Fast Eddie B.
Sky Arrow 600 E-LSA • N467SA
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nbjeeptj
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby nbjeeptj » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:10 am

I can say from my experience a 2 hr ride one way to get to my air plane and it would never get used. I have a 50 min ride one way now, and dont get out there as much as I did when my office was 15 min from the airport. I have bought a hangar lot at a private airport about 5 min from the house, and hope this will get me flying more often once I get the hangar built.

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MrMorden
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby MrMorden » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:11 am

Airports around here seem to play whack-a-mole with pilot/owners who fly recreationally. A nearby airport used to be *the* place to go. Cheapest gas, most fun place to hang out, lots of activity. Then the airport managers clamped down and made a bunch of nonsensical rules, now the place is a ghost town. Nobody goes there.

That chased all that activity to my home airport, which has done really well. Now the county airport authority sees the place as a cash cow, and has shifted their focus to commercial ops. The airport authority started kicking pilots out of the larger hangars (where they have been for decades) because "those hangar are for commercial operations only". The rent doesn't change, they just want bigger airplanes there that use more fuel and generate more tax payments.

I'm afraid my airport may become a ghost town soon too. :(
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
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Wm.Ince
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby Wm.Ince » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:15 am

SportPilot wrote:I guess I need to lay off the boards for a while. I'm getting frustrated at all the experts that have to tell you why you're wrong no matter what you post. I have 100's of hours in C150's. I can buy a C150 for 1/4 the price of a used LSA. I usually fly about 200nm at the most or a couple 200nm legs. For the difference in price, I can leave 12 minutes sooner. I can tie it down outside and wouldn't need in insure it (other than liability). My wife doesn't fly, so I'm either by myself or with my sister who is slim and trim as is my wife. Useful load is not an issue for me. If I needed to go far and fast, I would get a medical and buy something more capable or fly my friends Mooney. It would be good if people would remember that we all have a different perspective, different backgrounds, different experience levels, etc. What makes sense to one of us might not make sense to another.
Concur totally and appreciate your perspective on the C-150.
That is a great little airplane and does its mission very well.
Mission and cost are the primary drivers for purchasing a personal aircraft. Your analysis makes perfect sense.
Bill Ince
CTSW
Retired Heavy Equipment Operator

SportPilot
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby SportPilot » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:43 am

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MrMorden
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby MrMorden » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:45 am

SportPilot wrote:Thanks. I really need to resist the urge to buy something now and wait until the FAA announces something. If they let us fly retracts (which I doubt), I'll be back in the Mooney.


I think it's smart to wait. If I didn't already have an airplane that's what I'd be doing, to see how things shake out.
Andy Walker
Athens, GA
Sport Pilot ASEL, LSRI
2007 Flight Design CTSW E-LSA

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dstclair
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Re: What is your interest level in Light Sport flying?

Postby dstclair » Thu Feb 19, 2015 10:46 am

It's pretty much the real estate mantra of "Location, Location, Location". North Texas is doing well from both a GA and LSA perspective.

I'm in the North Dallas 'burbs and have two very nice airports within 10-15 minutes. My home drone is a privately owned non-towered airport with a developer actively building high-end hangar/hangar homes on the east side of the airport. The west side is pretty much built out. The other airport is tower controlled and has millions of $$$ being invested. Lots of public hangars and a very nice area of privately owned hangars on 99 year lease land. Hangars are not cheap but its not too difficult to find shared space (2-3 planes in a 60x60 hangar) for 2-300/month.

Expanding to 30-40 minutes away adds several private/residential airports, 3 tower controlled and a nice Muni. Other than one (KADS) that is in the center of the metro area, the others are outside the Mode C veil and offer less expensive options. One developer is working on a fly-in community with a grass strip and he's already recruited a mechanic to relocate his business there.

The same is true with access to Rotax and LSA-familiar mechanics. I have a choice of 2 independent Rotax trained mechanics in addition to a major LSA maintenance center a 10 minute flight away. There's also a SportCruiser dealer at KADS that has a maintenance shop. And if that's not enough, I'm next door to an RV builder-assist hangar. They've built at least 2 RV-12s and take care of others which gives me access to some more smart people.

Fuel prices vary greatly with no airport in the metro area carrying 91 octane MoGas.

My biggest gripe on Light Sport flying is having the time. My last 2 years have not been the best on getting up due to knee surgery, broken wrist (hit by a truck while cycling) and 3-4 months of downtime for ignition modules. Maybe 12 months of available flying over a 24 month period :(

My wife and I do have some weekend trips penciled in to places like Texas Wine Country (Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg -- look it up!), Eureka Springs, AR and Memphis. No real purpose to the trips -- just an excuse to fly somewhere different.

I guess my area counts as a pocket of improvement.
dave


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