Disabled Pilot Option Offers A New Option
One of the great things about the new LSA program is the
acceleration of new and innovative technologies to make flying more
accessible for pilots. Sky Arrow, manufactured by Iniziative
Industriali Italiane (3I) of Italy, has come up with an option on
their aircraft that now allows disabled sport pilots to operate the
aircraft's rudder using the left hand, instead of their
The Sky Arrow's cockpit is configured very much like a jet
fighter with the side joystick controller on the right, and the
throttle on the left of the narrow, but comfortable cockpit. The
brake levers are controlled by the right hand, as are the electric
rudder and elevator trim. The rudder pedals come with stirrups so
that the pilot's legs can be stabilized, if necessary.
To convert the Sky Arrow into a disabled pilot model, a T-shaped
handle is inserted into a collar adjacent to the throttle and can
be rotated like a horizontal ship's wheel on a boat. With the
throttle lever properly tightened by the friction lock, it is quite
intuitive to turn the rudder as appropriate for full 3-axis
Removing the T-handle converts the Sky Arrow back to its
standard configuration and takes approximately 2.4 seconds to
complete. Once removed, the hand-rudder mechanism is virtually
invisible to the pilot.
While there have been numerous modifications to factory aircraft
to allow disabled pilots to fly, these have usually been
complicated, unwieldy, and expensive affairs. The only other option
has been ultralights and powered parachutes whose operation usually
doesn't require legwork.
Sky Arrow's founder, Dr. Fuori Lauri, who himself lost the use
of his legs as an Italian combat pilot during WWII, was the driving
force in developing this option.
The disabled-pilot optional control is also available on Sky
Arrow's slightly heavier Part 23-certified aircraft for flight in
day and night VFR. The disabled pilot option adds approximately
$6000 more to the cost of either airplane -- which ranges from
$66,700 for the most basic LSA type to $115,000 for a tricked-out
Part 23 model.