Nothing compares to the heart-pounding…life-altering…soul-affirming exhilaration of flying!
Why fly an airplane light-sport aircraft (LSA)? They are easier and less expensive to own and operate than typical aircraft. With modern technology, they perform well and burn less fuel. Most of the new airplane LSA are designed to burn less expensive auto fuel. Generally, the lighter-weight sport airplanes go about the same speed as other small aircraft and burn about half the amount of fuel. In combination of running autogas versus more expensive 100LL aviation fuel, the sport plane is below one-third the fuel costs to operate like the larger heavier general aviation airplane.
Fast speed (120 Knots/138 MPH) and heated/enclosed cockpits makes an airplane the travel choice in the LSA category. With high-performance, composite technology sport planes have almost 1000 mile range with 5 hours of fuel capacity. Besides being one of the most fun things to do, airplane LSA provide economical travel alternatives. New LSA can be flown IFR if properly equipped.
Some airplane LSA are known for the ability to fly low and slow, to see the earth from a different point of view. The LSA’s typical airspeed for super slow airplanes is about 25-35 mph (40-60 km/h). You’ll typical operate at altitudes between 300 and 3000 feet (90-900 meters). But you can ground skim just a few feet off the ground (a popular use of the aircraft). These slower aircraft are primarily for fun flying.
Overall, an airplane is the standard for aviation and the most popular for general aviation.
Become a member of an exclusive and wonderful family of “pilots.” Experience the thrill of breaking the bonds of the earth and navigating above the towns and fields to see your world in a way that few experience and can only be understood by those who have done it.
Here are some of the reasons LSA airplanes have become so popular:
Easy to get a FAA Pilot license
With only half the time and cost to get an FAA pilot certificate with a sport pilot license, this allows more people to start flying LSA airplanes.
No FAA Medical Hassle
For all students and pilots alike, no FAA medical is required to fly an LSA. Your driver’s license can be used as medical eligibility for anyone (unless someone with an FAA medical was suspended, revoked, or denied). I know many pilots who are transitioning to LSA as they get older and have less chance of passing the FAA medical.
All pilots can Fly an LSA Airplane
Private, commercial and Air Transport pilots can fly LSA with an FAA medical OR a drivers license as medical eligibility. This makes the LSA popular for all to fly as long as you can drive.
Less Expensive to Own and Operate
With the smaller size, more efficient engines that run on autogas, fewer maintenance requirements, less regulation, fewer systems to maintain, the LSA is less expensive to own and operate than a larger GA airplane. I have heard many times someone say, “I can buy a Cessna for $40,000 and these LSA airplanes are $150,000”. Well yes if you are comparing an old beat-up Cessna to a modern NEW LSA. But a new Cessna 172 now is about $400,000, costs more to insure, costs more to fly with higher fuel burn and expensive aviation fuel, cost more for annual inspections, etc…. People need to compare apples to apples.
Overall being small and lightweight, they perform well at lower and higher speeds and burn less fuel. Most modern LSA airplanes are designed to burn less expensive auto fuel using the Rotax 912 modern aircraft engine.
Depending on new versus used, the airplane and options you choose, LSA airplanes are less expensive to own and operate.
LSA airplanes are the most fun to fly. An LSA airplane is most easily compared to a “sports car” rather than a larger airplane “van or bus”. They are simply fun to fly.
An LSA airplane is a much simpler aircraft. The basic rules for the LSA are to have them simple with no retractile landing gear, fixed-pitch prop, non-pressurized cabin, single-engine and slow stall speeds.
Because of the modern design, most LSA airplanes are stall resistant and safe to fly airplanes with these safer slow flying characteristics. Many trikes have emergency parachute systems making them safer than regular airplanes. With the great glide performance, if the engine fails you just glide down and land just like a hang glider.
Speed and Range
LSA airplanes are known for the ability to fly low and slow, to see the earth from a different point of view while others are designed to fly high and fast. The airplane’s typical cruise speed can range from slow at 30 MPH to high at 138 MPH. You’ll typical operate at heights between 500 and 1500 feet. But you can ground skim just a few feet off the ground (a popular use of the aircraft) or cross country to altitudes as high as 18,000 feet (5.5 km). Equipped with a larger 40-gallon fuel tank, you can typically fly for about eight hours and go about 800 miles.
With the simple modern design, the LSA airplane easier to fly than larger complex airplane because there are fewer systems and you fly the airplane rather than manage systems. Most are designed to be easy to fly.
Transport and Storage
Some LSA airplanes have the option of folding the wings back and transported in a trailer and stored in a trailer or garage. This makes them fun to take along on road trips and fly where you want.
With the smaller size, they can fit into hangers easily along with other aircraft so they are cheaper to store.
If you want to go from airport to airport and travel, you’ll want a sleek tricycle gear with a large engine and big fuel tanks. If you want to fly from beaches or in the boonies, you’ll want a tail wheel with fat tires. If you want to fly off the water you will want the SEA option. If you want the most inexpensive, single place with the least amount of regulation than the single place ultralight might be your choice.
There are some interesting options in LSA when you consider wing size, wing configuration, engine size, cabin configuration, and accessories. Overall, you must first decide what configuration, and then find the brand and dealer who can supply it. It is like buying a car. You must decide upon SUV, sports car, 4WD jeep, truck, minivan, or RV. Then you go looking for the dealer who can supply it.
This is where the next section on “An Airplane to Fit Your Lifestyle” should be evaluated to engineer your lifestyle as an LSA airplane pilot.
With the speed, easy pilot license, no FAA medical, ease of flying, lower operating costs, transport/storage and large variety, LSA airplanes are a great option for owning an aircraft.