chicagorandy wrote:I've been mulling over this whole Sport Pilot thing for more than a year now. Doing some pre-checks I am not able to pass a 3rd Class medical so Sport Pilot or Ultralights are my only realistic options. I was up at AirVenture for 9 days and frequently experienced just how often current pilots look down their nose at the notion of the Sport Pilot even existing.
My conclusions are:
1. If one can afford to buy, hangar and maintain their own LSA then the Sport Pilot rating is a wonderful thing to pursue.
2. If one cannot afford their own plane but a sufficient number of LSA rental aircraft and instructors are conveniently located to their home, then the Sport Pilot rating is a wonderful thing to pursue.
3. Failing #1 or #2 if one is satisfied with spending far more time commuting in their vehicle than actually flying in an airplane, then the Sport Pilot rating is a wonderful thing to pursue.
4. There is NO #4.
My personal experience is that most folks that can afford to rent, can afford to own. The only catch is that they might not be able to own a "dream" airplane, and you might have to settle for something a bit more basic than you really want. I have a friend who bought an Avid Flyer for $12k six years ago and he still flies it several times a week and loves it. You also might have to park on the ramp instead of a hangar if you're trying to save money, and that will further restrict which airplanes are suitable. But something like a Luscomb, Taylorcraft, or Ercoupe can be a fine airplane and can be had for $12-20k depending on condition. When you take away the additional travel time, rental insurance, etc and then add back in liability insurance and other fixed costs on an owned airplane, I think the per hour cost of owning a modest airplane can be close to rental costs if you are careful.
Chances are if you can't afford that level of financial commitment, you might not be able to fly enough to maintain proficiency in any airplane, even a rental. That's not a judgement, it's just a fact that aviation is not cheap.