Sport Starts Up
By John Ballantyne, ANN Correspondent
"It has been an exciting, exciting, year," began Ron Wagner, EAA
Manager of Field Relations, to the 60 or so folks gathered under
the permanent forum building in the north area of AirVenture
"It is amazing to think back for three or four years when we
were giving forums like this on this great initiative we hoped that
we would someday get. This time last year the sport pilot rule was
not even effective. EAA has had a huge influence in the new sport
pilot certificate program and the corresponding light-sport
aircraft certifications," Wagner said. The rule had been issued
only one year ago, so EAA AirVenture hosted quite a celebration.
Now, one year later, Wagner pointed out that the planes and pilots
are gathering around the EAA.
Wagner also said he knew that it has been a frustrating year for
those who have been wanted to but were unable to get a sport pilot
certificate from the local flight school. Many couldn't find a
flight instructor, pilot examiner, airworthiness inspector or even
an airplane to fly. Wagner said EAA was working very hard to
resolve these problems and he sincerely believed that over the next
several months we will see some amazing things in recreational
"It has been an exciting, exciting, year," he repeated.
The sport pilot initiative allows operation of light, two-place
aircraft with just a driver license instead of medical certificate.
Wagner said that, for many folks, the medical was the most
important aspect of the rule. Sport pilot has resolved the problems
for those who have special issuance medicals or have never applied
for an aviation medical. EAA is still working with FAA to find
solutions for those who have had a medical denied, revoked or
suspended by FAA.
Sport pilot is much more than that, though," said Wagner. He
then listed other important items that came in the rule such
-New maintenance certificates for those who elect to do
owner-maintenance on their aircraft. The training is affordable and
-Flight instructor certificate for sport pilot can be gained
with as little as 150 hours of experience, and without having to
obtain a commercial or instrument rating.
-The creation of new categories of aircraft and the method of
certification for those aircraft. Weight-shift Control (trikes) and
Powered Parachutes are all referred to as Light Sport Aircraft
-Light-Sport Aircraft certification is developed through a new
method of using "Consensus Standards" where industry provides the
basis for certification through a facilitator, in this case
Wagner reported thirteen new make/models of aircraft that have
been certified with the consensus standard during the past year.
All thirteen were represented at EAA AirVenture.
Questions from the audience began with insurance availability
for those standard category aircraft which meet the LSA parameters.
They are all tail-wheel airplanes and present a special insurance
issue. Other insurance questions had to do with trikes and powered
The ubiquitous medical questions came about, "what, exactly, was
meant by medicals being revoked, suspended or denied?" The answer
was, if your medical was revoked, suspended or denied, then FAA
prohibits flights under sport pilot privileges.
Wagner began to close by saying that the future was a little
hard to predict with precision. He suggested that rapid growth of
sport pilot was partly dependent on increasing acceptance by
traditional flight schools and instructors, and that aircraft
availability was improving as more airworthiness inspectors are
designated by FAA.
"I see enormous potential in the opportunity that Sport pilot
and LSA offers as a recreational activity rather than personal
transportation," he concluded. He assured everyone that EAA was in
for the long-term and would continue to be at the fore-front of the
implementation and improvement of this huge shift in private
Finally (Won't be the first time seminar-goers hear this) was an
admonition to all pilots about Temporary Flight Restrictions and
checking with the EAA web site related to TFR listings before each