September 2011 Issue

Moving (Down) To Light Sport

Even experienced pilots will need transition training when moving to an LSA, thanks to different wing- and power-loading.

Are you an experienced pilot with a light sport aircraft (LSA) in your future? For many of us, LSAs answer the need for a lower-cost option as we seek to continue flying even as the expense of doing so keeps rising. For others, an LSA is a way to scale back to the type of flying that attracted them to aviation in the first place. Yet other rated pilots see the medical self-certification of sport pilot rules as a way to keep flying longer, perhaps after becoming ineligible for an FAA medical certificate, while accepting the rules limit us to flying LSAs. Regardless of your motivation, moving from "traditional" airplanes to LSAs may be a little more involved than you’d expect. For example, what are the design and engineering issues that make LSAs handle differently than larger airplanes? What’s the safety record for pilots moving "down" to light sport? And, is there anything we can do to better manage the differences?

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