March 2009 Issue
Using LSAs for Travel: Practical But Not Perfect
Itís both less of a limitation and less of a gain than it may seem on the surface. Success favors the flexible.
Fuel prices may be in a momentary decline, but the handwriting is clear: The cost of owning even a fixed-gear, four-place single is slipping away from more and more pilots. Light sport aircraft (LSAs) are heralded as a possible solution, but what happens when you need to go several hundred miles? Are these "hobby planes" up to the task? The question isnít whether you can travel in an LSAópeople have taken ultralights around the world, so, of course, you can. The question is whether they have reached a level of utility close enough to a four-seat single that the tradeoffs are minimal and the gains are worth it. In our view, this analysis comes down to four things: comfort, efficiency (for both fuel and time), payload and adverse-weather capacity. We asked owners and operators for their thoughts and then put our findings to the test. One January afternoon, we borrowed a new Remos GX from Tommy Lee of Adventure Flight in Springdale, Arkansas, and took off for a meeting in Houston, Texas, just shy of 400 miles away.
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