Knocking around the ‘Net looking for signs that Light Sport is alive and well… *** Michael Combs is nearing the end of his 19,000 mile odyssey — what a vision. Latest word from PR dude Dave Gustafson is that the Flight for the Human Spirit in a Remos GX has made it to my old west coast stompin’ grounds. Five jewels of the left coast — San Diego, Burbank, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and San Jose — were on the itinerary for one magical flight day over one of the most beautiful stretches of coastal landscape in the world. God speed Michael, 18,000 miles and 45 states and you’re nearly done. • Imagine the human experience he’s having, flying all summer, meeting all the great people he’s met. I’m jealous, I admit it. • BTW, pilots are encouraged to fly along for any portion of Michael’s Flight. *** Slow recovery? Double-dip recession? Not as far as Skyraider Aviation is concerned. This hustling sport pilot flying club and training center is plenty active at Denver’s busy Centennial Airport as well as at it’s Erie Municipal location nearby. A new PiperSport just joined the training and rental fleet — that’s bound to perk anybody up — to share duties with two Gobosh 700s, an Evektor SportStar and a Remos G-3. • The outfit has operated for four years and claims to be the first in Colorado to offer specific Sport Pilot training. *** Loosely-Connected-to-Light-Sport-Dept. — Another of those weird and wonderful experimental alternative-powered aircraft just made its maiden flight. *** AeroVironment, the braintrust company begun by the late Dr. Paul MacCready, who gave us Gossamer Albatross, the first successful human-powered aircraft, back in the ’70s, has begun flight test on Global Observer,an unmanned hybrid-electric surveillance prototype that will eventually be powered by a liquid hydrogen fuel system. • It launched from California’s famed Edwards Air Force Base and flew for an hour at 4,000, controlled from a ground LRE (Launch and Recovery Element, officialese for a flight sim-like control booth) with a retired Air Force light colonel at the controls. Can you say “X-Box?” • Here’s an interesting image phrase the company uses: “The future is unmanned.” Indeed, it’s pioneering all kinds of hand-launched small electric-powered surveillance aircraft for the military. • Global Observer will ultimately fly between 55,000 and 65,000 feet for up to a week at a time for disaster relief, reconnaissance and surveillance. Expect some sophisticated tech fallout that will in time trickle down to general aviation from projects like this. *** Not to be outdone by the West, a local news organ in the Greenville, South Carolina area reports that Spartanburg’s downtown aircraft have discovered Light Sport aircraft and anticipate it will “fuel growth” at the airport. The report compares the initial purchase price and operating costs between LSA and GA aircraft. • Although it was a bit wide-eyed in its example of an LSA that will fly at 120 knots for 9 hours straight, the story clearly gets the advantage the public is beginning to perceive from our piece of the personal flight pie, and that’s a good thing. *** Finishing up back on the west coast comes a news story, this time from Yakima, WA, that profiles a retired LSA pilot who flies his Challenger II from nearby Prosser Airport. The article accurately chronicles the inception of the Sport Pilot rule and claims Light Sport training is the biggest student draw at the airport — a “miniature boom in activity” — an increase of 50% in operations since 2007. *** In this economy, it’s good to see the word is getting out and people remember that instead of moping around, there are still plenty of affordable ways to get out and enjoy life — like flying an LSA!
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