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Mon, Sep 18, 2006

Part Two: Sport Pilot -- Small, Simple, Easy To Fly... And Learn

First-Time Flyer Takes In The View From A CTSW

by ANN Correspondent Annette Kurman

It sure was damn cute, that Flight Design CTSW (composite-technology short wing), not to mention the pilot that took me up in the skies over Lawrence, MA. What better way to "sell" your aircraft than giving complimentary rides to interested individuals -- and the press?

By the time I thought to add my name, the list of names for the complimentary flight was long; I knew it would be a couple hours before my turn came -- which gave me lots of time to read the plane's collateral literature so I could ask intelligent questions of Flight Design USA President Tom Peghiny, and pilot (and Red Sox fan) John Lampson.

  • Read Part One Of Annette's Report Here

Which I really never got around to. Peghiny, the North East distributor for the Flight Design CTSW 2006, spoke to me about the large cabin and wide doors, making it easier for the "make mine extra large" folks to climb in (my words, not his).

Also of interest was that the empty aircraft weighed only 698 pounds -- including parachute (parachute?!), leaving 622 pounds for (fast food nation; my words again) people and luggage to not exceed the maximum gross weight of 1,320 pounds for an LSA (1,430 pounds for seaplanes).

Another interesting point: the minimum single pilot weight is 120 pounds solo. What about all the non-fast food nation-esque young women and men? Would the plane blow over? Somehow, however, I don't think that will be an issue for too many.

As I climbed in backwards and moved myself into the adjustable seat, it took Tom's help for me to work the four-point safety harness, which reminded me of the car seat my nephew uses. The view was terrific, even before we got off the ground. The one-piece windshield and gull door windows gave a panoramic view of the field.

Pilot John, whose credentials include pilot, CFI, CFII, and AGI, offered me the opportunity to "drive" the plane along the taxiway. After steering the plane toward to grass along the side, I gave the stick back to him.

For people who are flying, even if it's just "in the pattern" and are not familiar with the area, one city, for the most part, must look like another from a couple thousand feet in the air. For me, however, it was exciting seeing the city in which my husband grew up, in which we lived for seven years (there, by the water tower!), and in which he maintains his business.

The view of the Merrimack River, the new multi-million dollar high school, the area's vast manufacturing facilities, and the dozens of huge old mills... all of it was breathtaking.

Holding my left hand ("the other left hand") on the throttle while John demonstrated the plane's performance was a good indication of how responsive it was to minimal adjustments. Cool!

We did a "touch and go" (ah, the benefits of being a member of the press) and finally taxied back into place to give the patient gentleman next on the list his turn in the sky.

Sign me up for the next sport pilot class!

(Editor's Note -- In fact, Annette will soon take her first steps into the world of flight, by beginning flying lessons and ground school to obtain her sport-pilot certificate. She will likely not be the last ANN staffer to do so, either.)



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