This past weekend I called upon a friend (who happens to be a private pilot working toward his instrument rating) and invited him to join me for a late afternoon leisure flight in the Remos G3. He would be my third passenger since certification. Admittedly, it’s more fun for me to have someone along so I always have my passenger radar on, but I’ve also tasked myself with sharing this great experience with others whenever possible. With this particular friend it also meant a chance for me to debunk a myth or two among some pilots about light-sport aircraft. My guess was that he was one of those in the aviation community who don’t give LSA the time of day. Maybe it’s a snap judgment on my part, but it seems like many who gain their wings as adults at conventional flight training schools and airports without any outside influence (Read: didn’t have the good fortune of growing up around taildraggers and country airstrips) tend to lack the appreciation for stick and rudder flying of the smaller airplanes. LSA, tricycle or taildragger, offer just that.
Sure enough, on the drive out to the airport he shared with me that he did have some skepticism about LSAs, but it was a beautiful day to go flying no matter and he was excited. And it was gorgeous. Sky clear. 70 degrees F. I wanted him to have the full experience of my kind of local flying so the first thing I made sure to do after preflight was to take the doors off the Remos (Note: I prepared him by suggesting that he both wear long pants and bring along a jacket … the usual shorts and top would not suffice like they did last weekend — hints of a Florida Winter were upon us!). Now, I’ve known my friend for more than 25 years and I was betting that he would get an unexpected kick out of the stick and rudder recreational flying at 1,500 or so feet above the quiet farmland and along the calm lakefront just west of the uncontrolled airport.
We had a ball just tooling around. So much so that he told me later that he was surprised how stable the Remos was. A sensible man, the fuel use didn’t go unnoticed either. Which brought us to a crossing point. He said that no matter how much he would love to fly himself to business meetings in Atlanta or South Florida, he can’t justify the expense to rent the Cessna 182T since it costs more than buying a commercial airline ticket. Sad for him because being able to pilot his own way means more time logged and less dust collecting between his leisure flights, which he laments aren’t often enough. When he noticed the Remos sipping less than 4 gph of mogas during our local flight that set him to thinking. (Wanting to be completely transparent with him, I warned him that he should bank on 5 gph for cross-country flights.) Of course, he wouldn’t necessarily want to fly a an LSA to Atlanta at 110 knots or so, but to South Florida? Heck yeah! Affordable and fun.
True, he recognized there are obvious limitations to consider with LSA that he doesn’t have to with the 182 — like being able to only carry one other person and maybe not all the baggage he’d like. But, I reminded him that those “extras” aren’t doing much for him of late — like getting him into the air as often as he likes — so the tradeoff might be worth it. Fueling that passion to fly as much as you reasonably can is the goal, right?
At the end of the day, my mission was accomplished. My hope is that he will tell his instructors and other pilot friends of the same mind how much fun he had and how surprised he was at how much he liked the Remos and that he was considering getting checked out in an LSA. Then maybe one of them will give an LSA a try and see how much fun they can be to fly. And then he or she will tell someone else... So it goes.
What do you think about LSA? Are you checked out to fly one? Or are you curious about them? Are you skeptical? If so, what has fostered this skepticism? Has the economy made you consider moving to an LSA? We want to hear!