Classics Under LSA Rules

Piper Cub (Photo: EAA / Jim Koepnick)

Each month, Flying answers questions about the new sport pilot/light sport aircraft rule with assistance from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the authority on the opportunities available within the category commonly known as "Sport Pilot":

Q: I've heard about all the new airplanes that sport pilots can fly. But I like older airplanes. Are there any that I could fly as a sport pilot?

A: There certainly are! There are many, many vintage aircraft that fit the light sport aircraft standards. Some of those include the legendary Piper Cub, several Aeronca models, some Ercoupes and others. Your best resource is the list found at Go to the "Aircraft" listing and click on the "Standard Aircraft Listing" category. That listing explains which vintage aircraft do qualify and which ones do not.

Q: I can handle many of the basic maintenance tasks on my light sport aircraft myself, and I plan on eventually earning a repairman certificate to do more. My question is this: Can I earn a repairman certificate to maintain a standard category aircraft that meets the definition of an LSA?

A: No. Even though certain standard category aircraft meet the definition of an LSA and therefore can be flown by a sport pilot, the aircraft certification and maintenance rules do not change. It is still a standard category aircraft. Therefore, the maintenance requirements remain unchanged and an airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic with inspection authorization (A&P-IA) must conduct the aircraft's annual inspection.

Q: I recently became a sport pilot instructor and most of my own flying experience is in tailwheel aircraft. I've run into some hurdles in obtaining insurance and having good advice for my students. How difficult is the insurance picture for sport pilots?

A: According to Bob Mackey at Falcon Insurance, which administers the EAA Aircraft Insurance Plan, there are various factors that work into insurance companies' decisions on what they will insure. Some companies prefer to work with larger flight-training operations or cite statistics to shy away from covering tailwheel operations. This has been the case whether it is sport pilot or private pilot training. More than half of the aviation insurance companies will currently offer coverage for sport pilots and light sport aircraft owners. With each layer of complexity, of course, come additional challenges for coverage. We recommend working with an aviation insurance agent who is willing to explore all options, because coverage is often available through agents and brokers who work on behalf of their client.

Of course, the best way to make sure that insurance coverage will be available for sport pilots in the future is to build a history of safe operations that give the insurance underwriters the statistics they use to build their risk assessments.

For more information on sport pilot, go to EAA's sport pilot website at EAA, which also hosts the annual EAA AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh, provides in-depth information on the website, as well as a sport pilot hotline and complete membership services for all aviation enthusiasts. Call 800/564-6322 for membership information.

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