Aero-Sports Connection Brings Sport Pilot Ratings Closer To
Londoners, there's no need to look for the nearest tube station;
this Blitz is being launched by the good guys, to wit, Aero-Sports
Connection. What Blitz? Well, if you're an ultralight pilot or
instructor (AFI/BFI), you've probably been scratching your head
about what the many changes in Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft
mean to you. One of the quickest outfits to get it all figured out
(along with --ahem -- Aero-News, of course) was Aero-Sports
Connection, and it's announced a series of "Blitz" training events
that will get an otherwise qualified ultralight pilot and his
aircraft Sport Pilot (or Sport Pilot Instructor) and Experimental
Light Sport Aircraft legal as quickly as possible.
The acronym ASC's Jim Stephenson has coined to describe Blitz
events is FAST: Focused Accelerated Sport Training.
These events are timed for the week before major aviation
events, and the pilot that does things the ASC way will in some
cases be able to enjoy the show with his Sport Pilot ticket and his
ELSA registration and N-number in his pocket. The original plan was
to make this possible for everybody, but the DAR process in
particular, and just FAA processes in general, is making this take
a lot longer than expected. ASC is having persistent problems
finding enough teachers, inspectors and examiners for their
ambitious Blitz schedule (see: ASC Pencils In Blitz Schedule), so if
you qualify and want to help out, follow the FMI link to ASC.
The original plan for one colossal Blitz session has been broken
down into three bite-size classes, because not all the ducks are
quite lined up right. It's not a matter of official foot-dragging:
the FAA appears to be pedaling as fast as it can go, but these
things just take time. The three classes aim to prepare erstwhile
Ultralight pilots and planes for the new Sport Pilot world
- A Written Test Ground School. This prepares candidates for
either the Sport Pilot or the SP Instructor knowledge test (which
we still call "writtens" after years of doing them by computer...
how come?). ASC will be going on the road with this school.
- An Aircraft Inspection class that teaches the ultralight
vehicle or training-exemption aircraft owner what he or she needs
to know to get the machine ready for licensing as an Experimental
Light Sport Aircraft. For much of the Ultralight world, the minutia
of N-registration and placarding are terra incognita. With the
information in this class, you'll be ready for the DAR when the DAR
is ready for you.
- A Check Ride preparation class. At this time it isn't going to
include actual flying, but it's a 2-day classroom session meant to
prepare the pilot for conducting test prep with a CFI or Sport
Pilot Instructor, and taking the oral and practical exams to Sport
Pilot Practical Test Standards.
This modular approach not only lets ASC manage the gradual
availability of actual Sport Pilot Examiners and ELSA DARs, but
allows those to take only those parts of the program that they
The conundrum that led to the "Blitz" is explained as a "chicken
and egg problem" by ASC's Jim Stephenson: "When you register your
plane with the FAA and receive an N number and it is certificated
as an Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (ELSA) you can not fly it
until you have an FAA pilot certificate. You can not take
your check ride for a sport pilot certificate in your own plane
until it has an N numbered and an airworthiness certificate."
To qualify, the pilot (or instructor) and plane need to be
registered with a sanctioning body: ASC, EAA or USUA. The pilot
needs to do his paperwork in advance; when he applies to ASC to
participate in a Blitz event, they send a complete packet of
information, forms and instructions. On arriving at the Blitz site,
he or she will meet all the pros necessary to complete the
transition: instructors, examiners (pilot and airframe),
inspectors, teachers. The candidate gets the SP or SPI airman
certificate, ELSA airworthiness certificate, and aircraft
registration all in parallel.
It will also be, of course, an unprecedented opportunity to
network with your fellow pilots in a high-performance,
highly-supportive, low-distraction environment.
The first Blitz is underway this week at ultralight-friendly
South Lakeland, Florida, April 5-11, 2005. South Lakeland is ideal;
it's well-known to us as one of the places that Sun-n-Fun
exhibitors prefer for demo flights, safely away from the aerial
pandemonium gang rumble of Lakeland Linder Regional during the big
ASC's long term plans include Blitz events over the next three
years, at rotating locations around the country. The master plan is
to have them at new regional "ASC Aviation Support Centers" and
Sport-Pilot friendly FBOs. Stephenson sees the "Support Centers" as
one-stop shops for basic and advanced training and certification of
ELSA aircraft and Sport Pilots.