Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Paradise P-1 Insured By Travers

Here’s some notes from a release sent to me by Chris Regis of Paradise Aircraft, maker of the all-metal P-1 SLSA I’ve featured here in the past.
Paradise started in Brazil in 1985, and has its HQ and a big new factory there, as well as the U.S. presence which Chris wrangles along with his dad, Gen. Mgr. Paolo Oliveira.

I also did a story then about Dylan Redd, a paraplegic young man who flies a specially-modified all-hand-control P-1.
Chris is one of the people I look forward to running into at airshows. His constant smile and genuine, sunny disposition bring a lift to the heavy workload.
Back to Paradise, which has just partnered with
Travers & Associates, an aviation insurance brokerage established in 1950.
The company covers P-1s based in the USA with
favorable rates.
Chris Travers
, Sales Mgr. for the insurance company, says: “Paradise aircraft are one of the most insurable Light Sport Aircraft in the world. The outstanding safety record, parts availability, and docile nature also make them one of the least expensive Light Sport Aircraft in the industry to insure.”
Specifics: "A Paradise P1 valued at around $100,000 will cost approximately $1,400 per year to insure for personal use, which would include $1,000,000 in liability coverage.”

I posted Mike Adams’ (V.P., Avemco Insurance) comments here the other day. Insurance underwriters have to make it their job to understand the inherent risks of aircraft coverage, so Travers Insurance’s enthusiastic support of the P-1 is not to be taken lightly.
Chris Travers goes on to say he’s impressed with the 33 knot (full flaps) stall speed and stability of the P-1.
Insurance folk also like welded steel tube crash cages and beefy landing gear too: LSA that have them, including the P-1 (solid aluminum mains), have lower bodily-injury claim rates.
Travers, like Avemco, quotes rates based on the plane’s market value, pilot experience, and other risk factors.
“Because Paradise Aircraft are typically safe and reasonably priced, our rates tend to be very affordable. We work with sport pilots to put together a comprehensive program based on their experience and how often they fly."
I really enjoyed flying the P-1 at Sebring '09. Very stable, easy to land, comfortable, plenty of room behind the seats for storage. The P-1 is a sturdy, proven design worth looking into.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In Praise of Skyhawks

I was stimulated to blathering by a couple comments on my 2-part post on Santa Monica Flyer's Charles Thomson the other day.
Thanks always for all comments: very helpful and thought-provoking.

Comment from Anonymous:

Bad rap for the 172 in general. It's one of the safest airplanes to fly, and it has the track record to prove it.
I like the Piper, but let's give it a few years in the air and then compare it to a 172.
Sounds a little like the arrogance of youth. You might want to be careful with that while you're in the air.

AnotherAnonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome looking plane! I want to come fly it. Good luck to you!!

Thanks to both of you. Starting off, I never meant to give the impression Charles Thomson was bad-rapping the C-172. He was justifiably critical of the Skyhawk that broke in flight and delivered him directly to the scene of a nasty crash afterward.
Fortunately there were no major injuries.
But imagine losing power at 1,000 over dense suburban thanks.
Obviously Charlie was knocking that particular airplane, and old trainers in general, not the C-172 in particular.
It's no secret our economically-challenged GA training industry has increasingly been forced to use often-dilapidated airplanes just to stay in business.
And of course many fresh versions of the 172 abound since Cessna, as a quick trip to Wikipedia confirms, reintroduced the design in 1996. (Yikes. It's been that long already?)
More than 43,000 Skyhawks in total have been built! There's no bad-rapping such an incredible success story: it's the most-produced civilian airplane in history.
I share the universal high regard for the C-172 and C-150/152 designs. Got many hours in both types myself. They've done their job magnificently!
Still, let's do some straight talking. Of the scores of Cessna 172 photoships I've rented for P&P shoots over the years, the majority were, well, kinda ratty.
Most were flight training airplanes. Often they smelled bad, looked worse, parts were falling off, paint was turning to powder, screws inside and out were missing, and while they weren't unsafe (I'm still here), they sure were way past their prime, (or midlife...or even seniorhood.)
That's not a rap against the airplane.
It is a rap against the extended service life too many schools are forced to put on those airplanes.
Of course, why would a flight school spend $200,000 or more on a new 172 when so many used Skyhawks and 150/152s are available for far less?
That rationale extends to LSA too: If schools can pick up three or four decent C-152s or 172s on the used market for every new $100,000 LSA, why wouldn't they continue to do so? The economics here are a no brainer.
Still, we're talking about perceptions here.
If you're 16, or 18, or 21, do you want to learn to fly in an airplane twice as old as you are? Or if a young newbie's school has newer 172s, but he/she can save $25 or more per hour of instruction by learning in an LSA, which choice do you think they're likely to make, at least for primary instruction?
The notion of students, young and old, being turned on by shiny new airplanes is a human one. We can be excited about that, because God knows GA needs fresh juice.
As the commenter above points out, we don't know how LSAs will hold up.
That's not really at issue though. Sure, the stellar training longevity of Wichita Tin may never be equalled by any LSA. Right now, the job is to keep GA alive, and growing again.
So let's get down with the idea of turning students on to flight again.
I submit that Light Sport can, and already is, doing exactly that.

Nose Gear Collapse Tutorial

Here's a fascinating example of why I love the Net and how it can affect our lives for the better.
Surfing around for LSA tidbits to share with you, I came across an excellent YouTube video.

The poster (mikehoverstreet) spent a fair amount of time crafting this thorough Anatomy Of An Incident discourse, including a scrolling commentary on post-crash theories as well as his ongoing uncertainty about why the accident happened.
There are multiple benefits for us here:

* The pilot's no-ego willingness to take responsibility in the service of greater understanding, (even though many commenters place blame on the instructor!)
* Multiple observations and postings that serve up a consensus on the actual cause
* The value of sharing insights - both in the vid itself and in the many comments, most of which were clearly posted by experienced pilots.

My challenge to you: After you've seen the video, but before you read the comments posted below, study the crash and the slo-mo versions again until you have your own theory as to what happened.
Then read the comments.
Do they jive with your own conclusions?
Were you surprised?
In the pre-web past, how else would we have learned from this incident, unless we read it in an article or were one of the fortunate few in this pilot's circle of acquaintances?
Viva la Internet!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Santa Monica Flyers II

Wrapping (that’s moviespeak) yesterday’s item with Charles Thomson and Santa Monica Flyers, the erstwhile flight training entrepreneur happily reports a good start. “I haven’t done any marketing whatsoever; it’s all been word of mouth. People were waiting for a light sport airplane in this area.”
Note: Photo at right is Charlie's SportCruiser.
That’s a scenario many LSA operations can envy. It doesn’t hurt to be smack in the middle of a huge megalopolis and general aviation mecca either.
Thomson believes the wish to fly is universal. “Flying provides the connection between man and God. Look at angels: people with wings. It’s sad to me that someone might go through life and never fly.”
Yet his business philosophy is anything but idealistic: He charges students less than some local schools for instructor time, but gives a greater percentage of the hourly fee to instructors.
“I can get the best instructors that way. Some schools charge $80/hour...and only give $18 to the instructor! We charge $50 and give instructors more. There’s no need for a school to make a huge profit on that aspect of the training.”
Student rental rate for the SportCruiser after a modest membership fee is $105/hour wet. Rated pilots can get a block rate of $110/hr.
“That’s cheaper than most Cessna 172s - which are typically 20 years old and more. I tell students they will probably spend $3,500 to $4,500 to get their Sport Pilot license. That’s been our average.”
Here’s wishing the best of good fortune to Charles Thomson as well as his “rival” on SMO, Karine Noel, whom I profiled here a few weeks ago here. She teaches on a Flight Design CTLS, which means students have more LSA training choices.
It’s also kind of a neat update to the classic Cessna/Piper rivalry that’s been part of general aviation, and Santa Monica Airport, for generations.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another LSA Flight School Lands in So Cal

Charles Thomson sounds wise beyond his 21 years, all the better since he’s just started up a flight training operation at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) in the general aviation-dense L.A. Basin.
NOTE: photo at left is a SportCruiser I shot at Sun'nFun '07, Thomson is not the pilot.
Santa Monica Flyers is its moniker, and transplanted Brit and CFII Charlie seems ideally suited to the task of teaching people to fly...since he could easily have died himself in a recent training accident.
“Starting a flight school came out of my anger and annoyance at my own student pilot experience. I found it too expensive, and during my Commercial check ride, a throttle linkage on the Cessna 172 broke. We were only 1000' up in this old airplane with steam gauges, the airplane’s horrible inside and out anyway, and then it breaks and tries to kill me! We had a bad crash.”
“I feel that training in a Light Sport aircraft has got to be the future of flight training if general aviation is going anywhere. LSA training has to be cheaper, more fun, safer, nicer and it’s done in newer aircraft.”
Now that Piper is marketing the PiperSport, its rebadged version of the popular SportCruiser, (Santa Monica Flyers trains in one), Thomson feels flight training will only improve.
“It’s already been busier than I expected. People were champing at the bit to fly the SportCruiser. Once Piper announced, well, we were already ahead of the curve.”
The SportCruiser is “a great little plane, I absolutely love it.”
He’s hoping to become an official dealer for Piper in the area, and is glad the company will supply parts and maintenance for existing SportCruisers as well as the PiperSport.
“Santa Monica Flyers is my first business. I wrote letters to every SportCruiser owner in America. The volume of responses was astounding! People fell all over themselves to say nice things about the airplane and encouraged me to start a school with one - even people who already had their own flight schools.”
His confidence suitably bolstered, he bought the SportCruiser and jumped in with both feet.
---inflight photos courtesy Piper Aircraft and CSA

—more on Charles Thomson and Santa Monica Flyers tomorrow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

American Eagle Flies East

Soon to be a part of the GA flight line at a quaint country strip in western Mass. is the American Eagle.
It's new home will be at
Great Barrington Airport (GBR), typical of small airdromes throughout our great land with its 2,585' paved strip, flight training and repair stations, charter ops and a loyal cadre of hangar-flyin' pilots, some of whom I met the other day when I dropped in to say hi.
The lovely airport is five minutes from the cultural mecca of Great Barrington, nestled in the Berkshire Hills, a great place to live and a draw for Gothamites (NYC) to the south and Bostonians to the east.
The strip was converted from a potato field in the '20s, (maybe that explains its appeal to those of us of the Irish persuasion.)
One regular who's flown out of GBR for decades, after I asked him when the new Eagle SLSA would arrive, shot back, partly in jest, "Whattya want one of them for?"
Once I told him a bit more about the industry and my little corner of it, we had a good yak about things all pilots love to talk about, starting with airplanes and ending with...airplanes.
The American Eagle is an all-metal, ASTM-certified (#62, Nov. 2007) high-wing airplane produced wholly in the U.S.
Plans are to train with it and also rent it for $100/hr.
It's an attractive airplane, and Cessna flyers, the yoke's on you - two of them in fact.
I'll report on it once I get a checkout, likely in March when we'll be looking for signs of Spring.
Apparently the production Eagle is built and just waiting for good weather to relocate to GBR from its birthplace - which, fittingly, is Oshkosh, WI.
---photo courtesy Eagle Aviation

Friday, February 12, 2010

1st Video - Tecnam P2008!

Fresh from the skies of Sebring, FL comes my short clip of the Tecnam P2008, a truly beautiful SLSA built in Italy. Construction is traditional aluminum skin and structure for the wings and tail and composite/carbon fiber for the fuselage and all the gorgeous curvy parts.
The airplane will go for $170,000, making it truly the Mercedes Benz - or perhaps Ferrari - of the LSA elite.

I had the pleasure of flying it: very smooth and solid, it feels like a much heavier airplane in the way it rides out the bumps and responds to control inputs.

Lovely interior; full boat of top-line avionics; quality finish inside and out.
I'll have a full pilot report two issues from now in dead-tree Plane & Pilot.
Meanwhile, though I had limited opportunity to shoot many angles that morning as I was sharing the airplane of EAA's Jim Koepnick, who along with his editor Mary Jones, was kind enough to let me beg my way onto the flight.
I'm hoping by Sun 'n Fun in April to be able to do more extensive videos and will post as I get them done.

Meanwhile, enjoy!

Monday, February 8, 2010

FAA Sport Pilot Revision Is Out!

Some long-awaited revisions to the Sport Pilot Rule have just been released and as we've anticipated in earlier posts, there are positive improvements.
First up: the restrictive 10,000' maximum altitude limitation for Light Sport flight, which among other scenarios restricted flying over high terrain such as in the Rockies, was amended to allow flight above the limit, with one important condition: pilots must remain at or below 2,000 AGL - whichever is greater.
The proposal to change the original maximum altitude was made to address concerns of LSA pilots about flying safely in the mountains or over large bodies of water.
Another concern was keeping sufficient altitude over sensitive wildlife areas, where 2000' AGL or greater is often required.
The rule change only allows for greater-than-10,000' if that altitude doesn't put the airplane more than 2,000' above ground level.
Example: If the highest point on your route is 9,500', you're legal up to and including 11,500', which is within the 2,000' AGL maximum.
But even if you plan to fly over Lake Superior, you can't go higher than 10,000', even though it might allow you to glide safely to land after an engine-out, because the water surface is several thousand feet lower than 10,000'. Maintaining a safe glide distance relative to shore would still be the prudent flight plan to make.
Other changes:
* SLSA aircraft may now be used in Part 141 training courses
* Flight instructors with a sport pilot rating no longer need to log five hours in a specific make and model of LSA before they can train it it, if it's within the same aircraft set, before giving training in it.
Rationale: Sets include airplane, powered parachute, glider etc. The change means an instructor in a Tecnam Eaglet won't have to fly an additional 5 hours of checkout in an Evektor Max to give instruction in it, because both are in the same LSA set: Airplane.
* Aircraft owners or operators must retain a record of the current status of safety directives for SLSA.
Not adopted:
* The proposal to require an hour of "hood time" during training was withdrawn. Typically a student wears a hood that restricts view outside the cockpit so students can learn the basics of maintaining controlled flight solely by reference to instruments. The proposal was keyed to aircraft capable of 87 Kts or greater max level speed.
Reason for withdrawal: Since some LSA aren't equipped with basic IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) gauges used to fly without visual reference, FAA felt it was adding an unreasonable burden on owners and pilots of those aircraft.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Running Some Numbers

I just had the pleasure of a nice long chat with Mike Adams, the always-helpful V.P. of Underwriting for Avemco Insurance, who updated me on the accident picture for Light Sport flying this past year or so.
good news and bad news:
Bad news first - "The results are still not what we'd like them to be," says Mike. He's talking about Avemco's payouts to insured customers for repairs and total losses to SLSA.
"But the good news is, the picture is improving."
The bottom line: LSA accidents continue to cost, on average, between 100% and 200% more than similar accidents in the General Aviation fleet.
primarily due to the average cost of SLSA: around $100,000 equipped.
"The other factor is the accident rate, which still averages about twice that of GA."
Mike explains though that the 2X rate includes the first four years of LSA flight - during which the ratio was four times the accident rate of GA!
"Through 2008 and 2009, the accident rate dropped considerably. Changes we incorporated into our coverage, calling for five hours transition time even for rated GA pilots, flight reviews for pilots with a Sport Pilot license or 10 hours for students with 15 or less takeoffs and landings, cut down our landing losses considerably. And landings are where the majority of claims come from."
Landing mishaps in fact comprise 45 to 55% of all GA accidents, including SLSA stats.
"Apparently", he says, "we can takeoff; we can get where we're going safely; we just can't land once we get there!"
I'll cover our entire conversation in the May issue of dead tree P&P.
Thanks, Mike!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

First Clips: PiperSport Flies at Sebring!

Here's a quick clip shot during a photo session, shared in the back of a Cessna 210 with Jim Koepnick, EAA's master photographer, who graciously invited me to share the flight. Thanks to EAA's editor Mary Jones too!

(That's Jim's hair whipping around at the bottom of the frame near the end of the clip - tight quarters!)