Certified Vs. Experimental


This passage from “As We Know It,” the July 2014 Editor’s Log, caught my attention: “What we’ve seen, instead, is the proliferation of smaller, lighter airplanes, often with range and capabilities that seem limiting when compared to what was the norm 30 years ago. This market is populated by storebought LSAs and experimental aircraft. They’re great for a $100 hamburger run, and possibly even an overnight getaway to the mountains or a beach, but the destinations need to be close, the load light and the weather good.”

An LSA can fly up to 120 knots…try that in your grandpa’s Cessna 152 or 172. And that’s while consuming less fuel and probably with a much better climb rate. True, the 172 can fit four people, if they’re typical Americans of 50 years ago, not the fatties of today, and if you’re making just a local flight.

Both LSAs and experimentals can fly legal IFR if so equipped and, for LSAs, if the manufacturer’s operating instructions permit it. Just make sure the pilot has the proper ratings, as with certified aircraft. If I were to make the buy/build decision now, I’d buy a flying experimental. Prices are no more than the retail price of the pieces or less.

General aviation is entering a great time, but no thanks to the traditional manufacturers. For instance, Van’s Aircraft, the maker of my RV, also makes an LSA model. You can buy this in kit form or ready-to-fly, mostly made in the USA (major assemblies are made overseas).
Ralph Finch
Davis, Calif.

Used experimental aircraft are a very real option for some potential owners, but the time and effort necessary to construct a capable cross-country cruiser from a kit can be more than some pilots want to invest.
For some detailed thoughts on choosing the correct airplane for your transportation mission—and some to stay away from—see Bob Wright’s article in this issue, which begins on page 4.

Thank you ever so much for my first free issue. What a practical approach to aviation safety. Probably 80 to 85 percent of the articles in July’s issue actually applied to me.

I am a private pilot, with an instrument and multi-engine rating. After being away for some time, I’ve re-entered the industry. OMG. Evidently, I’ve been living under a rock: GPS? HSI? Where’s my ILS and VOR? And your article, “How Much Proficiency Is Enough?” was absolutely perfect, keeping me grounded (not literally, but emotionally).

I’ve decided to get my commercial certificate. I probably will never use it, but what a cool way to become proficient. Thank you! I’ve already gladly sent in my check.
Patrick Scribner
Via email

We love it when a plan comes together!

Flying The Plane
It’s not enough that a great number of pilots are not looking out the window, but are looking at all their electronic gizmos on the panel during cruise. Now these same pilots will be looking at the AoA in the traffic pattern! A really bad idea! Why don’t we just learn how to fly the airplane?
Anthony Rodono
Milford, Conn.

That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? The new crop of angle of attack (AoA) indicators highlighted in our July 2014 article, “Not Just For Jets Anymore,” is one way to help prevent losing control, which tops the list of pilot-related accident causes. And the recent relaxation of regulations on manufacturing and installing AoA indicators is a great example of the FAA and industry working together to solve problems.

Time will tell if these steps improve the fatal accident rate. We bet they will, however, and they’ll ultimately will help pilots fly more precisely, especially in the pattern.


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