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...a web log of developments in Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft
Fifteen Years for Jabiru USA; Celebrate and Save
By Dan Johnson, September 18, 2014

This composite image shows the J230 and J170 Jabiru LSA in flight.
In the Light-Sport Aircraft industry, many companies are celebrating fairly young birthdays, at least compared to 80-year-old legacy companies in the GA space. One of those is Number 8 ranked Jabiru, with more than 100 airplanes delivered in the USA. That is whole aircraft with that name, but remember, this is one only a very few companies that produces both airframes and engines under their brand. The U.S. outlet for the Australian brand (more on this below) announced, "Jabiru USA Sport Aircraft, LLC will celebrate its 15th anniversary the weekend of October 3rd through the 5th, 2014." They sent out an invitation for all Jabiru owners, both aircraft and engine, as well as anyone interested in the lighter end of aviation to join them for a celebration. The company said it "will feature a Friday evening cookout with some fun & games, a Saturday breakfast fly-out to Winchester, TN, engine maintenance sessions Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, a presentation on avionics updates including ADS-B, and a separate session on available engine updates.

Jabiru's six cylinder 120-horsepower 3300 engine.
Some history is in order for this Shelbyville, Tennessee light aircraft producer. Jabiru USA began in Neenah, Wisconsin, just north of Oshkosh. Back in September 1999 Pete Krotje was appointed a Jabiru dealer and service center for the upper midwest area. He had been flying a Jabiru 2200 on his Titan Tornado and accepted Jabiru's offer of a dealership. Later, Jabiru Australia reorganized its marketing network for the USA and Pete became a full time Jabiru enterprise in 2001. From then through 2004 the business concentrated on sales and support of the Jabiru 2200 and 3300 engines and quickly became the world's largest Jabiru engine dealer. During that time period Pete and son Ben — who worked in the family business for many years — developed the first of many firewall forward installation kits, facilitating easier installation of the Jabiru engines into different homebuilt aircraft. For example, Zenith Aircraft has been a significant user of the Aussie powerplants.

For their 15th anniversary celebration, Jabiru is inviting all owners and anyone interested in light aviation to their Shelbyville, Tennessee headquarters.
After years in Wisconsin — and coping with the difficult winters in that state — Pete moved the business into a larger facility in Shelbyville, Tennessee (south of Nashville) in December 2004. His aim was to begin fully manufacturing Jabiru aircraft for the new Light-Sport Aircraft market that had just been announced that summer. That goal was achieved with Jabiru USA producing 120 LSA-eligible aircraft through the end of 2013. However, the period from 2008 until 2011 and beyond has been a challenging period for any company and likewise for LSA companies. The so-called Great Recession pounded many small business and the more progressive ones looked hard for ways they could improve their business model. Pete did similarly and in 2014 executed on a major change in the way he'll do business.

South Africa receives a kit and assembles it, then shipping to the USA, where Jabiru USA completes the airplane.
Pete reported, "Since early 2014, with the change in FAA approach to manufacturers, Jabiru USA now imports the Jabiru Aircraft line while still developing new firewall forward kits for new aircraft coming onto the market. Service has become a much larger part of the business as the USA Jabiru fleet of engines and airframes mature. Jabiru USA's A&P mechanics and senior mechanics with Inspection Authorization service or rebuild an engine every week at the Shelbyville location. Jabiru USA's service department repairs damaged aircraft and performs all sorts of service and inspections for many LSA and experimental amateur built aircraft. Meanwhile, Jabiru airplanes like the popular J230 will now be available for a sharply reduced price ... a savings of $25,000! Catch this video to hear more about Jabiru's new pricing. Those folks who think LSA are getting too costly ought to consider what Pete Krotje and his team have accomplished.

You can also watch this interview to hear about new improvements in the Jabiru 3300 120-horsepower engine:

Light Is Right In the Eyes of FAA and World CAAs
By Dan Johnson, September 15, 2014

Evidently, a magic number exists to authorities in various civil aviation agencies around the developed world. That magic number — more correctly a range — is 115 to 120 kilograms, or 253 to 264 pounds. FAA led this charge way back in 1982 with the introduction of FAR Part 103 codifying that an airplane, 'er ... "ultralight vehicle" with an empty weight of 254 pounds — subject to certain exceptions for emergency airframe parachutes or float equipment — could be flown without three requirements common to all other aircraft. Part 103 vehicles do not require registration (N-numbers); the pilots of these ultralights need no pilot certificate of any kind; nor do they need a medical. Such aircraft can be sold fully built, ready to fly. The entire regulation governing their use can be printed on the front and back of a single page of paper. This simply must be one of the most remarkable deregulatory efforts in all of aviation. Thanks to Mike Sacrey and his team for surmounting that Mt. Everest of obstacles to push through this remarkably brief rule. EAA even inducted Mike into the Ultralight Hall of Fame and he noted in his acceptance speech that it was probably the only time an FAA rule writer had been so honored.

Vierwerk test pilot Tim reviews the Aerolite 120 before going aloft.
While the numbers are the same or similar, the names are different. In America FAA says FAR Part 103, Germans refer to their 120 kilogram Class or "120 Class," and in England a 115 kilogram class is known as SSDR for Single Seat De Regulated. All these classifications share similar — but not identical — freedom from the burden and expense of more traditional certification methods. In the USA, an aircraft called the Aerolite 103 has been selling well and flying successfully for many years. Now hear this: even in 2014 you can buy a 32-horsepower Kawasaki 340-powered Aerolite 103 for only $15,900. This is completely assembled and ready to fly. The Kawasaki is manually started or for $590 more you can have electric starting. A 28-horsepower Hirth F-33-powered Aerolite 103 is just $16,790, again fully built and includes electric starting powered by a lightweight Lithium battery. Both models come with choice of colors, two-blade Tennessee Prop, windscreen and nose fairing, basic flight and engine instruments (airspeed, altimeter, slip indicator, tachometer, EGT, CHT), electric flaps, steerable nose wheel with suspension, four-point seat belts, a five gallon aluminum gas tank, Dacron wing and tail covering needing no paint, Azusa brakes, and a anodized aluminum airframe.

Aerolite excels at low and slow flying (even if that isn't as common in Germany).
In Germany, the costs will be somewhat higher as the German 120-Class still demands some levels of approval that are not needed in the USA, plus freight from America to Europe adds expense. The German representatives (see article from Aero last April), Vierwerk Aviation, plans to sell the Aerolite 120 for €25,000 (or about $32,000) but this includes 19% German VAT tax. Strip away the tax and the overseas shipping cost and the German Aerolite is only modestly more than we see in the USA and that extra will help pay for the cost of gaining approval. A few days ago, Vierwerk advised, "The extensive flight test program has been carried out successfully. We are very happy about the positive feed back of the test pilots." Test pilots related such comments as, "the pilot gets the feeling of a very well controllable aircraft," and "the pilot gets used to the aircraft quite quickly." Another test pilot who runs a flight school said, "I flew several flight maneuvers to simulate an inexperienced student-pilot to figure out the best methods for recovery. The amazing part was, the [Aerolite 120] always reacted ... with a good self-recovering tendency at all flight envelops with or without flaps." The latter pilot, Ronny Schäfer, added, "All documents, flight test protocols, load test protocols, videos and photos will be sent to the French Aviation Authorities by the end of this week." After their successful test program, Vierwerk announced, "We are certain to receive the EU certification [as] we have accomplished and proven all safety and quality related figures and tests according to the strict German LTF-L." They expect approval in 4-6 weeks.

Evaluating the Aerolite 103 in America; it's all good.
Too many people gripe about the cost of Light-Sport Airplanes even though they are far less costly than most new general aviation aircraft. In truth, they're lower cost brand new than many 10 or 20 year-old GA aircraft. The problem remains that a large number of interested pilots cannot afford $150,000. Hint: consider a partnership; this is an excellent way for some to have ownership. Nonetheless for many, six figures is simply more than they can stomach. Maybe it's time to think about a Part 103 or a 120-Class airplane ... perhaps the Aerolite — Aerolite 103 in America or Aerolite 120 in Germany. Let's review again: a nice, ready-to-fly airplane with most of the features you need to enjoy flying the friendly skies for less than $20,000. You may prefer a two seater or desire fancy equipment; if so, you have many great choices. Yet if you want to get airborne in a sweet-flying little airplane, Aerolite will bring a smile without emptying your retirement account.

"Ultralight vehicle" was chosen to avoid running afoul of FAA definitions, which are quite specific. By steering clear of "airplane" or "aircraft," Sacrey's FAA team was able to put into place the remarkable Part 103 rule that removes so much of the burdensome regulation that confounds traditional American and international airplane development and raises the cost of aircraft. Of course Aerolite and other "vehicles" are actually genuine aircraft and so dealt with by FAA but such a description was apparently needed to get Part 103 through the system. Present-day FAA people suggest such a regulation would never succeed now ... so enjoy the magic of Part 103.

Helping One Another: Two Aircraft ... One ‘Chute
By Dan Johnson, September 11, 2014

It wasn't supposed to work out this way, but three people in two aircraft were saved when a European ultralight used an airframe parachute to save everyone. On Sunday, September 7, 2014 — commonly, these things happen over the weekend when recreational aviation is often pursued — at the German airport Koblenz-Winningen a Zenair CH-601 and K-18 glider collided in midair. During the collision, the planes became hopelessly entangled. The pilot of the CH-601 activated his Magnum Rescue System manufactured by the Czech Stratos07 company and the aircraft descended as one safely to the ground. Two occupants aboard the CH-601 plus a 17-year-old pilot of the glider were able to walk away from the aircraft with what was reported as "slight injuries." One aircraft apparently struck the other almost perpendicularly in a classic "t-bone" mishap. Such accidents are bad enough between two cars, but when airborne such an incident can often be fatal to all aboard both aircraft. The parachute's performance was likely aided by the substantial drag afforded by two aircraft, slowing the descent speed somewhat.

The Czech-designed, German-distributed Magnum Rescue System is only designed to handle an ultralight aircraft with maximum permitted gross weight of 472.5 kilograms or 1,042 pounds (including the weight of the parachute system, about 35 pounds). Fortunately these systems are designed with safety margins and the Stratos07 canopy proved to have an ample reserve making a most unfortunate event end without loss of life. Midair collision is one of the most threatening situations referenced by sellers of airframe parachutes. No matter the faults, after such a dramatic collision (photos) these pilots had zero chance to guide their aircraft safely to an emergency landing. Other possible deployment scenarios include: engine out over unlandable terrain such as trees or water; significant loss of control such as a damaged aircraft elevator or other component; serious medical trauma for the pilot with a non-pilot passenger; or loss of engine power at night with little or no visibility. In these situations the pilot or person electing to pull the parachute handle has a tough decision that must be made swiftly under great duress: try to fly the airplane to an emergency landing with the hazard that below a minimum of about 300 feet AGL, the parachute will no longer help, or deploy and become a passenger of an unguided aircraft.

Thanks to Mary Grady of AVweb for bringing this to our attention. Find her story here. Mary requested and I passed along some names to contact but those persons were not able to help so Mary used the broad reach of the Internet to find details. In her article using information found on a German website she quoted a police spokesperson, "The 17-year-old pilot of the glider was lucky. Without the parachute [of the] ultralight ... he [would have] crashed into the ground," the police representative said. Mary reported that two people were on board the ultralight aircraft, a man and a woman, ages 29 and 32. Parachute touchdown speeds are higher than you may think. Engineers create a survivable landing at a higher rate of descent over a softer touchdown that brings with it higher cost, higher system weight, and greater bulk, all of which may be seen as negatives that can cause aircraft owners not to choose a parachute. The parachute business (in which I worked for 18 years) has a tongue-in-cheek line: "If you ever need a parachute and you don't have one, you'll never need one again." It's a bit sardonic but I know I prefer flying with a parachute whenever possible as they offer a superb final option. I'm sure all three Europeans involved are feeling mighty good about airframe parachute systems today.

Thanks also to my friend and colleague, Jan Fridrich of Czech LAA and LAMA Europe, for providing information on this scary incident.

Midwest LSA Expo 2014 Highlights
By Dan Johnson, September 9, 2014

The sixth annual Midwest LSA Expo just concluded. These LSA-only events offer a more intimate setting where you can speak at length with an aircraft or other product representative. They don't offer the dense traffic of the big shows but the valued trade off is that nearly everyone who shows is interested. People came from as far as California and I witnessed many demo flights. The Mt. Vernon airport is as good as it gets for this purpose with easy access to big broad runways and plenty of open airspace. Lead by energetic Chris Collins, a team of volunteers made it work again. When the event isn't swallowing all their time these folks have a little fun. Don't worry about the nearby picture; TSA and Homeland Security can calm down. This was a planned promotional venture on the side of a great new restaurant called Rare, a chop house. The airplane suffered a crash and the tail is all that escaped undamaged; thankfully, the pilot suffered only minor injuries. Now it's immortalized ... though the N-number was altered to protect the owner's privacy.

Be creative and win an iPad. That's the news from Sportair USA, importer of TL Ultralights (Sting and Sirius) and the Savage line of "Cubalikes," to borrow Sportair boss Bill Canino's word. Now the "Cub" part has to go. "In our enthusiasm for the Cub-S we overlooked something when we introduced it at AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh," said the Arkansas company. "The word 'Cub' is a registered trademark in the USA [that was purchased from the originator of the name, Piper]. Even though many manufacturers of kits and ready-to-fly airplanes do use Cub in the names of their products, that word belongs to someone who asked us to stop using it." Being a respectful company, Sportair will cease using the "Cub" name. Indeed, that's why they're using a contest to rename the airplane. Sportair sells variations called Savage Cub, Bobber, and Cruiser but it was the Titan Stroker 180-horsepower Savage Cub-S that really raised the red flag for the name owner, perhaps as Cub-S is only $128,000, tens of thousands less than some other Cubalikes! So, if you come up with a winning name for this powerful variant, you could win one of three prizes worth several hundred dollars. Visit Sportair's Name The Plane page.

Looking all bush, Cub-S — as it shall be known for a short time — is capable of landing on a creek bed or a lumpy turf field. Bush capability on Light-Sport Aircraft is more available thanks to new product releases. At the Midwest LSA Expo, RANS displayed their S-20 Raven on big tundra tires (video coming) as did Just Aircraft and Aerotrek. The Indiana company that sells the affordable A240 trigear and A220 taildragger — with a list price of $88,950 — can now be ordered with large tundra tires and this is on a nose-dragger. Nearly always such bush capability comes on a taildragger which configuration is not right for everyone. Insurance companies know tailwheel training is less common than it was many years ago and therefore getting coverage may require more training or experience. With the A240 in tundra tires for the same low price, you can have bush capability without a large investment. Aerotrek is a stable and successful importer that has steadily climbed the market share ladder now appearing in 10th place nationally and their order book stays full.

Just Aircraft just can't sit still on their SuperSTOL. The airplane is selling briskly and chief designer Troy Woodland keeps improving this amazing aerial animal. It's already a fascinating airplane to watch make incredibly short takeoffs and even shorter landings. Now, it will have even more control at its crawling approach speed because Troy added spoilers to the wings (arrow), joining movable slats, vortex generators, tip plates, and large-volume flaps. My longtime interest in gliders and soaring gives me familiarity with spoilers. I feel they are an underused flight control that can have a significant effect on the wing's lift and, unlike flaps, they can be retracted quickly without adverse results. Indeed, when I flew the Cumulus ultralight motorglider extensively I became very accustomed to using them intermittently, in short on-off bursts, to control approaches to landing. For a super-short-field performer like SuperSTOL, this may prove a compelling idea and one more reason to consider this intriguing design. Just Aircraft has sold more than 500 kits and is going strong ... no wonder with this steady development work they're doing.

Rotax largely owns the LSA space so far as powerplants go at somewhere around 80% market share. Of course, Continental is never to be counted out with their O-200 series that lifts many airplanes including the new batch of "LSA 4.0" GA-like aircraft and Jabiru also serves both LSA and homebuilt fleets (the latter with no less than seven firewall forward packages). Plus, we have the D-Motor coming and Florida-based Viking remains busy in the homebuilt space. At the Midwest LSA Expo importer Robert Helm told us "most of the work is complete to make the ASTM declaration" for the UL Power engines to become available on Light-Sport Aircraft. The Belgium company hasn't made a final decision to enter fully built aircraft due to liability concerns but Robert says he's very busy handling warm response from homebuilders. He recently signed a deal with Wicks Aircraft to handle parts fulfillment, giving him more time to work with tech support for installers and maintainers.

KMVN is one of the best places for my video partner and I to shoot video pilot reports (VPRs). Over three days, we gathered footage for several new video interviews and VPRs. For the first time we used a new set of the new Garmin VIRB cameras. We installed a total of six cameras in or on each airplane plus shooting takeoffs, landings, and low-and-slow passes. Doing these VPRs takes one to two hours each — 30-45 minutes just to mount all the cameras. The slower pace of Mt. Vernon is excellent for these more comprehensive video productions. Once we leave the field, the real post-production work begins but watch for videos on the 180-hp Savage Cub-S, Rans S-20 Raven, Zenith 750 Cruzer, ICP Savannah plus several new video interviews. We hope you'll enjoy them.

Amazing LSA Seaplanes: Lisa’s Supersleek Akoya
By Dan Johnson, September 4, 2014

We just passed September 1st and that date is significant in the LSA universe. It is the day, ten years ago, that the Sport Pilot & Light-Sport Aircraft rule we have been celebrating all summer officially became part of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs). If you're thinking, "Hey, I thought it was announced in the summertime, at AirVenture!" ... you're correct. It was, but that was just the administrator's public relations timing to get the biggest bang for the buck, at Oshkosh. As we continue the tenth anniversary celebration — looking back on the first decade — we see the astounding development of 136 models of LSA, more than one every month for ten years running. This profusion of models runs the length and breadth of aviation, from fixed wing, three axis airplanes to powered parachutes to trikes to motorgliders and from less than $30,000 to over $200,000. I fully expect designers to continue pushing the envelope in every direction but one facet of LSA development seems as energized as a Saturn V moon rocket: LSA seaplanes. Consider:

  • Chip Erwin's Mermaid ... first approved seaplane — SLSA #15
  • Freedom from Spain ... with long motorglider wings — SLSA #44
  • SeaMax from Brazil ... compact, fast, and a light handling — SLSA #63
  • Searey from USA ... FAA accepted the day it was audited, a first! — SLSA #129
  • Super Petrel from Brazil ... a highly developed biwing — SLSA #134
  • Icon's A5 from USA ... the original "wow" creation among LSA seaplanes
  •'s Most Versatile Plane from USA ... a huge splash at AirVenture 2014
  • Vickers Wave from New Zealand ... powerful and feature laden design
  • ATOL from Norway ... well proven wood structure, freshly redesigned
  • Lisa Akoya from France ... smooth and expensive, but more "wow"

The list above does not even include numerous LSA floatplanes where amphibious or straight (unwheeled) floats are added to an existing landplane. What grabs the attention of most people is how stunning the newest designs are — they are taking LSA design into what might be called its third generation — all in the sector's first ten years (although the A5, MVP, Wave, ATOL, and Akoya have yet to arrive as deliverable aircraft). The photos give you more on Lisa's aircraft and the company recently updated their corporate message after receiving substantial funding from (where else?) China. According to other sources a 75% controlling interest in Lisa was purchased by Heima Mining Company of China for $20 million in February 2013.

Lisa Airplanes' two-seat amphibian aircraft can take off and land on multiple types of surfaces (like MVP, which calls itself a "triphibian"). Lisa test pilots report "outstanding flight performance, combining long distances and exceptional comfort." Spokespersons elaborated, "From the cockpit up to the edge of the wings, and through the Seafoils, a number of technical innovations offer elegance, operating convenience and exceptional aerodynamic performance: top speed of 156 mph, range of 1,250 miles, fuel consumption of 42 mph, and Akoya takes off and lands in as little as 650 feet." Thanks to folding wings (photo & video), Akoya can be stored in a garage or aboard your yacht. With its stratospheric price tag of $395,000, Lisa will have to market to well-heeled customers.

Lisa developers also boast of Akoya's 180-degree panoramic view through its tinted bubble canopy and a cockpit specially designed to combine both aesthetics and maximum comfort. Engineered to meet the LSA regulation, Lisa said Akoya is positioned between [European] ultralight aircraft and standard category certified aircraft. They said that while the LSA concept is still not widely known in Europe, "this new U.S. standard is becoming international" and they intend to prove compliance of Akoya to ASTM industry consensus standards. Lisa assures that a Sport Pilot certificate will suffice in the USA while Europeans can obtain a Light Aircraft Pilot License after a 20 to 30-hour training session varying slightly to meet each country's regulation. It was good to see Lisa back at AirVenture 2014 where we shot a new video that will be available soon.

Watch for our interview. Until then, here's some flying scenes courtesy of Lisa:

The Next Decade of Light-Sport & Sport Pilot
By Dan Johnson, September 2, 2014

In July I posted an article about an AOPA survey conducted through the biggest member organization's daily newsletter, eBrief (sign-up page). That provided a broad glimpse into both the mind of an AOPA eBrief reader (and responder) but might also be used to forecast some possibilities for the LSA industry. In this article, I'm going to again use the survey data but look at such information in a different manner. I suspect LSA business people will read this with interest but it may be meaningful to any pilot interested in buying or partnering their way into a LSA or in finding a Light-Sport Aircraft available for students and others to fly at flight schools and FBOs around the country. LSA are by no means limited to the USA, of course, so I'll also make some informed guesses about what I see as the global aspect to the LSA development, now beginning its second decade*.

Let's do a bit of number review to help put this in context. AOPA reports about 400,000 members, making it by far the largest pilot membership organization in the world. Let's be conservative and say only about 300,000 are active or interested in being active. (I hope the number is not this small, but I prefer to err on the side of caution in this review.) As the nearby chart shows, 12.59% of eBrief readers say they are now flying while using the privileges of the Sport Pilot certificate. While 26.4% said they were not interested in sport pilot, the largest single group responding said they could envision themselves flying as a sport pilot in the future. The two affirmative answers total 73.6 percent. I stress that these numbers come from eBrief readers and may not mirror all AOPA member opinions. However, assuming the sample size was large enough to be valid — for reference, surveys of about 1,000 are commonly used to sample the entire U.S. population — then this eBrief survey might mean the following.

engineering artwork prepared by Jaro Dostal
Assuming 300,000 "active" AOPA members, 12.59% of them represents 37,770 members. The future figure 61.01% would represent 183,030, and the two numbers sum to 220,800 members. Based on FAA registration data, we know 37,700 do not presently own a LSA nor a compatible kit aircraft nor a parameter-meeting Standard Category airplane but aircraft ownership was not the question posed. However, whether they own them or someone else does, that many pilots could be flying LSA or LSA-like aircraft that do not require a medical. Apparently many more are intrigued by flying modern, fuel-efficient, and superbly equipped LSA or other aircraft that don't require a medical. Note that beside fully built Special LSA, Sport Pilot certificate holders may fly Standard Category aircraft or homebuilt aircraft so long as those flying machines meet the parameters (1,320 pound gross weight; speed less than 120 knots, etc.). Thus, available aircraft include SLSA, ELSA, Experimental kit-built aircraft, or other Sport Pilot-eligible aircraft beyond LSA.

If at some time 220,800 AOPA members are interested in flying as a sport pilot, how many might one day consider buying a new or used Light-Sport Aircraft? This question is far fuzzier so let's soberly reduce the numbers. We can guess that only one in ten of those (or 22,080) are truly interested to buy a LSA. Of that group, we can estimate only one in six of potential buyers (3,680 or 1.67% of interested members) will act on that interest. If it took ten years to fulfill such market potential, that averages 368 aircraft per year. Based on the first decade of LSA, this figure is certainly achieveable; the industry can safely produce this number ... indeed, has produced many more in the years before the Great Recession. Are these assumptions reasonable? Who knows? The GA industry sells more single-engine piston aircraft per year so those numbers certainly aren't beyond belief when considering the potential large interest from AOPA members as reflected by responses to the eBrief survey.

For LSA producers, the estimates above are only part of the story. In the sport or recreational aircraft world, the USA is not the dominant market. It is surely the largest single-nation market but the rest of the world easily accounts for at least 1:1, that is, for every sport aircraft sold in America, at least one may be sold in some other country (though we lack hard evidence of this). As LSA are presently accepted in several other nations with more to follow, the 1:1 ratio remains conservative, I feel. Thus, 368 U.S.-delivered aircraft could translate to 736 aircraft sold globally each year for the second decade of Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft. Will this occur? The only sure way to know is to ask again in 2024 but my speculation using the AOPA eBrief survey numbers is that the future for LSA remains bright.

* The SP/LSA rule was announced July 20, 2004 but the first aircraft were not FAA accepted then delivered to customers until April of 2005. So, LSA will only reach their first full decade completed by Sun 'n Fun 2015.

A Million Minutes (of Video) Every Month
By Dan Johnson, August 29, 2014

Traffic to this website grew significantly in the last few years, starting a steep upward path in 2012 and in May this year hitting a peak of almost 75,000 Unique Visitors. First, a thank you for your regular visits! Then, a question: why is that so? It's impossible to say why 60-70,000 people do something each month but a leading candidate reason has to be our embrace of video thanks to our partnerhip with Lightsport and Ultralight Flyer, publishing these days to YouTube under the name It seems clear ... people love video! Comments we receive at airshows are now commonly related to video though we hear good things about our effort at covering all the news for Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, and ultralights.

Recent Posts — (top left, clockwise) Sampling the AeroGlass heads-up display eyewear when visiting Levil TechGarmin's new G3X Touch • Flight Design CTLSi comparing Rotax 912ULS and 912iS plus new Dynon gear • New MVP from wowed the crowds at AirVenture 2014

My video partner and I create well over 100 new videos per year and I just uploaded eight new ones (images) with many, many more to follow. We will post a few more each week, but if you want to see what else is available now — head over to Lightsport and Ultralight Flyer channel. Google's statistics service reports this channel logs about a million minutes per month of viewership. That's over 550 hours per day and at 10 minutes per video on average, that's better than 3,000 videos every day. Obviously, they tap an interest. More than a billion unique users visit YouTube each month and the website is therefore an excellent tool for aviation outreach to the unwinged masses that need to see and hear our joy of flight.

With this in mind one of our conclusions about the growth in traffic: Since people are watching more video than ever, YouTube's reach is sending people to websites like this one for more info. Great! Welcome!

Recent Posts (top left, clockwise) Ekolot's Topaz and importer Kris Siuba •Aerotrek A240 inside a custom trailer with a companion Fiat 500 • Adventure Aircraft's new Electric Motor Glider • Interview with Eric Evans of the Midwest LSA Expo about his new flight training service using Jabiru

Sam Aircraft Prepares for Next Phase
By Dan Johnson, August 27, 2014
images courtesy of Sam Aircraft

Hey, buddy, wanna buy an airplane company? Thierry Zibi, proprietor of SAM Aircraft, has put his company up for sale. This decision comes only a year and a half after the first flight of the prototype Sam aircraft. I flew and reported on this tandem seating all-metal airplane. Several other reporters flew the Sam LS and reviews were favorable. Some have likened the design, which Zibi spent years developing, to a Light-Sport version of a early military fighter or trainer modeled somewhat after the Ryan STA. It was done with a style that is uncommon among aircraft designers. An attention-getting image (photo) released just before AirVenture Oshkosh 2014 shows the innards of the airplane appliquéd to the fuselage exterior. Like the logo, nose art, and other aspects of the design, the effect is one reminiscent of art deco, an art fashion of the 1920s, '30s and '40s. After all the work of creating a new design, why would the entrepreneur behind it put the company on the blocks?

Like many before him — in and outside of aviation — Zibi realized that his interest dissipated once the "fun" part was over and the work truly began. "I came to the realization that I love designing airplanes, but I am not so keen on running a production company," said Zibi. It may be the right time for a business manager type to take the reins. Sam Aircraft has flown a full test regimen, which the company said, "has shown it to be spin-proof at both full-forward and full-aft center of gravity." Canadian certification has been awarded under the country's Advanced Ultralight regulation and proof to demonstrate compliance to ASTM industry consensus standards has been "completely documented, awaiting only another production example," added Thierry. He observed that tooling and fixtures are done, production has already started, and orders are in the books.

"Come to Lachute, Quebec," Thierry invited, "and see the LS aircraft, the factory, and everything that is part of the Sam Aircraft legacy. See what convinced our customers to put down their deposits, and you'll have a ready-to-go operation, for dimes on the development dollar, for a tested, ready-to-deliver design to add to [your] existing line."

To read SPLOG postings going back to 2005 -- all organized in chronological order -- click SPLOG.




Progressive Aerodyne designed and supplies the SeaRey series, arguably the most celebrated of all light seaplanes in America. A close community of hundreds of owners offers camaraderie few other brands can match.

SkyCraft Airplanes is America’s first Light-Sport Aircraft single seater. SD-1 Minisport is affordably priced, very well equipped, and was designed to exhibit docile handing qualities. It can be flown for less than $12 per hour.

Hansen Air Group represents recognized brands in the LSA
space: FK Lightplanes and their distinctive biplane Comet, FK9, and FK51 plus the great-flying Magnaghi Sky Arrow. Based in Atlanta, Georgia Hansen Air Group is an experienced player in the LSA space.
Multiple LSA

Aeromarine-LSA represents an economical Part 103 ultralight that is within reach of almost any budget. For local fun flying, or for those who enjoy soaring flight Zigolo is light enough to be lifted by even the most gentle thermals.

Kitfox is one of the world's best selling light aircraft kits with more than 5,000 delivered. With unrivaled name recognition, Kitfox is admired for crisp handling, excellent performance, easily folded wings, and more. The design is flown around the world.

Tecnam is the world's leading manufacturer of Light-Sport aircraft offering more models and variations than any other producer.
Besides the world's fastest-selling light twin and a new four seater, Tecnam offers these LSA: Echo Classic, Eaglet, Bravo, Astore, and P2008.
Many LSA
& GA models

North Wing is America's leading manufacturer of weight shift LSA and Part 103 ultralight trikes. The company's wing designs are so good that most other trike manufacturers use them. Aircraft prices are highly affordable by all.

Aerotrek Aircraft imports the A240 and A220 tricycle gear or taildragger Special Light-Sport Aircraft. A finely finished aircraft at an excellent price, Aerotrek has wide, affordable appeal.

U.S. Sport Aircraft Importing represents the popular SportCruiser, one of the best selling Special Light-Sport Aircraft among 130 models on the market. The Texas-headquartered importer has long represented this familiar model.

Arion Aircraft has designed and built one of the most beautiful low wing entries in the Special LSA and kit-built aircraft sector. The all-American designed and built aircraft is priced fairly and flies wonderfully ... need you search for more?

Flight Design USA imports CT, the top selling Light-Sport Aircraft. CT is a 98% carbon fiber design
with superb performance, roomy cockpit, great useful load, and a parachute as standard equipment ... the market leader for 10 years!

Lockwood Aircraft is the builder of two of light aviation's best-recognized flying machines: AirCam and the Drifter line. Most sport aviators already know the Lockwood brand, a leader in Rotax maintenance and aircraft services.

World Aircraft Company is Columbian design expertise joined to Canadian entrepreneurship based in Paris, Tennessee USA. Welcome to World Aircraft and a brand-new short takeoff and landing (STOL) Light-Sport Aircraft, the all-metal Spirit.

SportairUSA imports the dashing and superbly-equipped StingSport S4 that has won a loyal following from American pilots. More recently, they introduced their TL-3000 high-wing LSA. SportairUSA is a full-line operation with maintenance and training, too.

Pipistrel has designed and manufactures a range of beautiful, sleek aircraft that have found markets around the world. Starting with gliders and motorgliders, Pipistrel now offers a line of powered aircraft using multiple power sources.

Vickers Aircraft has created one of the most distinctive new LSA seaplanes yet to emerge.Powered by the 180-horsepower
Lycoming O-360, their Wave model is like no other seaplane ever introduced with multiple features to set it apart from the crowd.

Renegade Light Sport produces the sexy low wing, all composite Falcon in America. The Florida company has also established itself as the premiere installer of Lycoming’s IO-233 engine.

BushCat is the distinctive Light-Sport Aircraft within reach of almost any budget. With a solid heritage BushCat by SkyReach is fun, capable, and available as a kit, fully-built SLSA or ELSA.

X-Air brings a return to reasonably priced Light-Sport Aircraft, with a ready-to-fly flying machine you can purchase for a genuinely low price. No new arrival, X-Air has a rich history in light aviation.

Jabiru USA builds the spacious and speedy J-250 and more recently J-230 plus the training-optimized J-170, each certified as Special LSA. The Tennessee-based company also imports and services the popular Jabiru engine line.

Just Aircraft has delivered more than 300 kit aircraft since 2002, but in 2012 they electrified pilots with the awesome performance of their all-new SuperSTOL. It may look extreme and performs extremely well, but it is truly docile and forgiving to fly.

Corbi Air represents the Made-for-Americans Direct Fly Alto 100. Created in the Czech Republic, Alto 100 was upgraded for USA sales and the result is a comfortable, handsome low wing, all-metal LSA with features you want.

BRM Aero manufacturers the handsome Bristell all-metal SLSA. This highly evolved, next-generation Light-Sport was carefully engineered for luxury, comfort, excellent stability, and safety while being fun, fast, and easy to fly.

Phoenix Air USA imports the beautiful Phoenix Special Light-Sport Aircraft, a performance motorglider that can cruise swiftly and serve both functions with excellent creature comfort. Given its clever wing extension design, you get two aircraft in one!

Super Petrel LS, manufactured by Edra Aeronautica in Brazil and represented by Florida Light Sport Aviation, is a unique and highly effective LSA seaplane. A biplane design, this is well established flying boat with more than 20 years of history.

Quicksilver Aeronautics is the world's largest producer of ultralight aircraft, selling some 15,000 aircraft. The company's designs are thoroughly tested, superbly supported, and have an excellent safety record.

Evektor is Number One and always will be. The Czech company's SportStar was the number one SLSA to win approval but engineers have steadily improved the model far beyond that 2005 version that started the race.

Zenith Aircraft is one of America's leading kit suppliers featuring well proven models from legendary designer, Chris Heintz. Centrally based in Mexico, Missouri, Zenith offers kit aircraft for several popular models.

The Airplane Factory (TAF) produces the Sling series of world-circling aircraft (literally) and now this fine-flying, all-metal beauty is available in the United States as a Special Light-Sport Aircraft. Here is an LSA to follow.

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Updated: September 20, 2014

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