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  #1  
Old 06-09-2009, 04:25 PM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is online now
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Why so few sport pilot licensees in the US?

The sport pilot certificate has been around for 5 years, intended to allow an easier route for civilians to get licensed to fly light recreational aircraft. According to that page, there are fewer than 1000 sport pilots (compared to 236,148 private pilots and 84,866 student pilots - although I suppose some fraction of student pilots may be training for light aircraft - do you need the same student license to train for it?).

That number seems low to me, given that it was designed to allow easier entry into piloting. What are the factors there? Do most people interested in flying already have a private pilot's license, perhaps?

I want to become a pilot one way or another, and this could be an option for me. Are there major drawbacks to becoming a sport pilot (other than the obvious restriction to a certain class of aircraft)? Is it relatively cheap to rent/fly light aircraft compared to most general aviation aircraft? If so, it seems that with flight instruction with fewer required hours in cheaper aircraft, getting a sport license could be relatively inexpensive - and if you wanted to go for a full private pilot license from there, the flight hours would translate, right?

Last edited by SenorBeef; 06-09-2009 at 04:26 PM.
  #2  
Old 06-09-2009, 05:02 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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There are some odd restrictions for it. For a new pilot, all you need is a driver's license which is great for many people who can't pass a medical exam. However, if you take a medical exam and fail, you can't use the driver's license option anymore which defeats a lot of the purpose of a sport pilots license. I have been training for a private pilot's license (very slowly) for years and I am going to switch over to sport pilot training because that is all I really need for my interests. There is also a strict limitation on the weight and configuration of the planes that you can fly and there weren't many available a few years ago. Now, lots of them are being rolled out so that may increase interest.

You can transfer the hours later if you want to.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 06-09-2009 at 05:05 PM.
  #3  
Old 06-09-2009, 06:41 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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It's more of a backward license for most pilots. If you go to the trouble of training to fly real airplanes you might as well get a real license. It's a nice shortcut for the ultralight crowd who want to legally fly with a passenger. It would also allow a certified pilot to keep flying (in lighter aircraft) if maintaining a 3rd class medical becomes a problem.
  #4  
Old 06-09-2009, 07:56 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
The sport pilot certificate has been around for 5 years, intended to allow an easier route for civilians to get licensed to fly light recreational aircraft. According to that page, there are fewer than 1000 sport pilots (compared to 236,148 private pilots and 84,866 student pilots - although I suppose some fraction of student pilots may be training for light aircraft - do you need the same student license to train for it?).
A "student certificate" for either private, recreational, or sport pilot would be the same, and prior to taking your tests/checkrides there would be minimal obstacles to switching from one to another (the medical exam required by two of the three being the main one). So, until the person in question gets their license they would be listed under "student pilot", not "sport pilot".

Quote:
That number seems low to me, given that it was designed to allow easier entry into piloting. What are the factors there? Do most people interested in flying already have a private pilot's license, perhaps?
Well, there are several things at work here.

First of all, the economy is crap - you might have noticed. That means even a lot of established pilots such as myself aren't flying anymore. I would expect there to be a drop in new certficates issued over the past few years.

Second, when sport pilot was first issued there was a distinct lack of applicable aircraft available for rent. I remember this, since I looked for sport planes as I prefer the smaller, lighter end of general aviation. The ones that qualified were either taildragger antiques or very, very new models. Of the two, the antiques were more common BUT in many cases there were prohibitions via insurance policy that would have made it difficult or impossible for a sport pilot to rent or fly them without blowing the insurance. For example, some taildragger policies prohibit anyone with less than a private pilot certificate from acting as pilot in command - necessary if the person is intended to solo at some point. I did rent a German-made Ikarus for awhile before I discontinued flying, an airplane the FBO that owned it bought specifically to attract and train sport pilots (though obviously they let the rest of us fly it, too). If you can't find an airplane to rent then your only other option is to BUY an aircraft and be taught in it. Some people do exercise that option, both in ultralights and other parts of general aviation, but the price of an aircraft is a definite obstacle and many who would find it feasible to rent do not find purchasing to be an option for them. This sharply limited the number of people initially taking up a Sport Pilot course of study.

Third, a LOT of pilots actively discourage people from going the sport pilot route. For example, our own Magiver in post #3 poo-poo's the whole Sport Pilot concept, basically saying they aren't real pilots or real airplanes (more on that later). This also has an effect on who gets that certficate.

Quote:
I want to become a pilot one way or another, and this could be an option for me. Are there major drawbacks to becoming a sport pilot (other than the obvious restriction to a certain class of aircraft)? Is it relatively cheap to rent/fly light aircraft compared to most general aviation aircraft? If so, it seems that with flight instruction with fewer required hours in cheaper aircraft, getting a sport license could be relatively inexpensive - and if you wanted to go for a full private pilot license from there, the flight hours would translate, right?
First of all - don't ever for a moment think aviation is cheap. It's not. You can get relatively less expensive but if it's cheap you need to ask what's wrong here?

Now, for the rest of what you ask.

The first thing you should do is ask yourself "What do I want from flying?" (Also a good idea to keep asking that). If all you want to do is fly small planes in good to excellent weather in the daytime and don't mind being limited to no more than one passenger it certainly can be a good option. I was actively pursuing sport planes for rent because that pretty much describes my flying - the only time I flew at night was to fulfill the licensing requirements of the private license (sport not existing when I was in training) and while I dabbled in larger and more complex airplanes the vast majority of my time is in two-seaters. Really, I fly like a Sport Pilot even if I have the full Private. A certain number of Privates will "downgrade" to Sport because it fits their flying habits and why pay for more than you need? If nothing else, I'll save the cost of that flight physical every two years. But I will always be listed in the stats as a "Private Pilot" because that's the highest rating I hold, even if I fly exclusively as a Sport Pilot the rest of my life. So those folks aren't included in the numbers.

The Sport aircraft are not necessarially cheaper. The older taildraggers, for example, tend to have higher insurance rates and this is reflected in the price of rental. They also tend to burn more fuel per unit of time than the newer Sport planes, and that is also reflected in the rental rates. Some of the newer models rent for the same prices as 30 year old Cessna 150's because, well, they're new airplanes with a higher price and a higher replacement price should they be damaged. So, the rental price of a Sport airplane may or may not be lower, the same, or higher depending on the airplane in question and where/who you rent from.

I would also like to tell you, just in case you weren't aware of it, that the listed number of hours in the regs are a minimum number of hours. If you don't master the skills required in that minimum then you must continue to study until you do, while paying for instructor and airplane. For example, while the Private license has a minimum requirement of 40 hours the average student takes 80, and some even longer. Keep that in mind when you are budgeting. I hope you can do it in the minimum, but most people don't. You also have to find someplace willing to have you in a Sport Pilot course - I've known some FBO's that offer Recreational, Sport, and Private licenses and others that refuse to even consider anything but Private.

Well, a Sport Pilot doesn't have quite as much to learn as a Private Pilot, and it probably would take you less time to earn a Sport. How much less I don't know - you still have a lot of the same basic territory to cover. Regardless, it will take you less time to earn a Sport than for you to earn a Private, but those no guarantee that someone else won't earn a Private in half the time you take to earn your Sport. YOU are the big variable in this equation.

It is true, however, that all hours you fly as a Sport Pilot count in your GA logbook. Going from Sport to Private would entail going over those parts of the Private that aren't covered in the Sport then taking another written, oral, and checkride test. If you are planning to do these in quick succession then just going for Private might be the better course, but if there's a gap of several years (for whatever reasons) then there is some merit in getting a Sport license and getting some flight time under your belt which, once you get your license, will be mostly the cost of renting the plane without needing to pay an instructor or being under the instructor's supervision. You will not in any way lose any Sport Pilot hours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
There are some odd restrictions for it. For a new pilot, all you need is a driver's license which is great for many people who can't pass a medical exam. However, if you take a medical exam and fail, you can't use the driver's license option anymore which defeats a lot of the purpose of a sport pilots license.
The FAA has been quite adamant that this is NOT for people who know they would fail a medical exam. I think the way the regs were written weren't terribly well done, but it has been said over and over that if you KNOW you would fail a 3rd Class physical you are not legal to fly as a Sport Pilot. This is also true of glider pilots who "self-certify". If you KNOW you have a condition not compatible with safe flight it's not legal for you to fly (though I have no doubt some people do this). As an example, someone with controlled epilepsy may have a valid driver's license but god help them if they try to argue that they're safe to fly as a Sport on that basis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
I have been training for a private pilot's license (very slowly) for years and I am going to switch over to sport pilot training because that is all I really need for my interests. There is also a strict limitation on the weight and configuration of the planes that you can fly and there weren't many available a few years ago. Now, lots of them are being rolled out so that may increase interest.
^ See - if Sport had been available me when I went through flight training that's what I would have done. Sport fits my flying, but it wasn't an option for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
It's more of a backward license for most pilots. If you go to the trouble of training to fly real airplanes you might as well get a real license. It's a nice shortcut for the ultralight crowd who want to legally fly with a passenger. It would also allow a certified pilot to keep flying (in lighter aircraft) if maintaining a 3rd class medical becomes a problem.
OK - this pisses me off. Excuse me, what makes you think an ultralight isn't a "real" airplane? I understand that in the regs they're listed as "vehicles" but the fixed wings, at least, look like airplanes, they fly like airplanes, if you build 51% of yours you can have it registed and N-numbered as an airplane. They're airplanes. I will also point out that it is not and never has been legal to fly an ultralight with a passenger. Not ever. Ultralights under Part 103 are single seat aircraft by definition. The training aircraft - the two-seat "ultralights" - were exceptions, were not legally ultralights, and only flown under restricted conditions (said regs being much ignored and abused, yes, but still there). ALL of those two-seat "ultralights" must now be either N-numbered as Sport or homebuilt airplanes and the training exemption is being discontinued.

As someone who started in ultralights I must say that in some ways they are more challenging to fly than your typical GA airplane, many models being less forgiving and less capable than the standard Cessnas and Pipers. While there are certainly some bad apples among UL flyers there are also a lot of very accomplished stick and rudder pilots. Would you tell a glider pilot that they aren't a "real" pilot?

Yes, ultralight pilots who want to fly legally with a passenger may well opt for Sport. On the other other hand, some may still opt for a Private (I know of two ultralight pilots who went on to be GA CFI's). It wouldn't surprise me if in the future if we see a lot of people who were encouraged to get full Privates to drop back to Sport once they get out on their own, just as we see people earn instrument ratings then revert back to strict VFR either because they find it difficult to stay current or they find they prefer VFR. Certainly, additional knowledge doesn't hurt but given the cost of aviation I can't argue that we should force people to pay for what they don't want as long as they get what they need in the way of training.

Also, as I already pointed out, "having trouble maintaining a 3rd class physical" may also preclude flying as a legal Sport pilot. Personally, I don't think that will be more of a problem than people who can't pass physicals flying as Private pilots. I wouldn't call it common, but it does occur. MOST people have the sense to stop flying when their health goes down the toilet. I expect that will be as true of Sport pilots as anyone else.

Last edited by Broomstick; 06-09-2009 at 07:57 PM.
  #5  
Old 06-09-2009, 09:02 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
If you go to the trouble of training to fly real airplanes you might as well get a real license.
Plenty of sport pilot approved planes are "real airplanes". Some of them look like fancy ultralights but certainly not all of them. There are too many examples to list but here is one sport pilot plane.

http://www.sportpilot.org/learn/slsa...html#TopOfPage

There are many others on that site.
  #6  
Old 06-09-2009, 09:06 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick
OK - this pisses me off. Excuse me, what makes you think an ultralight isn't a "real" airplane? I understand that in the regs they're listed as "vehicles" but the fixed wings, at least, look like airplanes, they fly like airplanes, if you build 51% of yours you can have it registed and N-numbered as an airplane. They're airplanes. I will also point out that it is not and never has been legal to fly an ultralight with a passenger. Not ever. Ultralights under Part 103 are single seat aircraft by definition. The training aircraft - the two-seat "ultralights" - were exceptions, were not legally ultralights, and only flown under restricted conditions (said regs being much ignored and abused, yes, but still there). ALL of those two-seat "ultralights" must now be either N-numbered as Sport or homebuilt airplanes and the training exemption is being discontinued.
Isn't that kind of Magiver's point Broomstick? They ARE real aeroplanes, they fly like real aeroplanes and they look like real aeroplanes, so if you're going to go to the trouble of learning to fly a real aeroplane you may as well go the extra 10% and get a full licence.

Are the pilots with sport licences allowed to fly in controlled airspace in the States? They're not in Australia and that can be limiting at times.
  #7  
Old 06-09-2009, 09:10 PM
A Man A Plan A Canal A Man A Plan A Canal is offline
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I'm just a PSEL with 450 or so hours, but the Sport Pilot license seems to me to be not so good if its the first and only certification you've ever received.

It seems to me that my own training to the standards of the private pilot license and my experience level is just sufficient to fly safely under VFR conditions--and then, only if I'm careful to plan, think, work, and stay ahead of the airplane.

Maybe others could be safe at the Sport Pilot level--the FAA thinks so, I guess--but me, I'd want a full license just for my own and my pax safety.

That's just me, though--I'm sure there are plenty of Sport Pilots that are safe, careful, knowledgeable, and so forth.

(Boy, I gotta get working on that instrument rating!)

AMAPAC
  #8  
Old 06-09-2009, 09:11 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
Plenty of sport pilot approved planes are "real airplanes". Some of them look like fancy ultralights but certainly not all of them. There are too many examples to list but here is one sport pilot plane.

http://www.sportpilot.org/learn/slsa...html#TopOfPage

There are many others on that site.
Oh, hey - ! They list the Citabria (7ECA) as a Sport Pilot! I'd think that would depend heavily on the options you install, as a bunch of avionics and radios could tip it over the weight limit, but that's the one I got my tailwheel sign-off in. Aerobatic, too - ya, that's a "real airplane" alright. They're a lot of fun to fly, too, if you want a Sport license and can train in one like that... wish I had had my primary training in one of those. If you handed me the money to buy an airplane right now I'd seriously consider one of those.

Last edited by Broomstick; 06-09-2009 at 09:12 PM.
  #9  
Old 06-09-2009, 09:33 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by 1920s Style "Death Ray" View Post
Isn't that kind of Magiver's point Broomstick? They ARE real aeroplanes, they fly like real aeroplanes and they look like real aeroplanes, so if you're going to go to the trouble of learning to fly a real aeroplane you may as well go the extra 10% and get a full licence.
I don't consider the difference between Sport and Private to be "10%", it's considerably more than that. For example:

- Minimum flight time for Sport is 20 hours. For Private it's 40. Right there that doubles your aircraft rental costs, which are the bulk of your training costs. Assuming $70-100 for aircraft rental, that's the difference between a bill for $1,400-2,000 and a bill for $2,800-4,000.

- Sport requires one solo cross country flight, of 75 miles or more. Private requires three, one of which must be at least 150 miles in total length. Because I trained mostly in slow airplanes my long solo wound up being a 6-7 hour ordeal, would have been happy to strut my stuff in half the time and distance.

- Sport has no night training requirement. Private requires at least 3 hours of night flying.

- Sport has no instrument training requirement. Private requires at least 3 hours of flight solely by reference to instruments.

- Sport requires 5 hours of solo time. Private at least 10.

The way I see it, that's more than 10% extra. If you think you're only going to fly under Sport conditions, even if just for a few years, it's going to be cheaper to get a Sport license. You can always get more training later. Going from Sport to Private just means getting those additional areas that are the difference between the two ratings, and I'd assume, an an example, that if you did a solo cross country of 150 miles after you got your Sport license it would count towards your private requirements. All your Sport hours count towards your Private hours. You lose nothing by flying under Sport. If you do Sport then Private you might wind up spending as much in total on training as if you went straight for Private, it will just be spread over more time.

Quote:
Are the pilots with sport licences allowed to fly in controlled airspace in the States? They're not in Australia and that can be limiting at times.
Yes, as a matter of fact they are allowed to fly in controlled airspace. Anything up to E automatically, and with a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor in accordance with reg 61.325, they can fly in class D, C, and some B including operations involving control towers. So it's slightly more than the minimum for Sport pilot, but considerably less than all the additional required for a Private.

The "not above 10,000 MSL" limitation can be problematic in the Rockies, I've heard more complaints about that than operations in controlled airspace. If you live in Denver you'd probably want a Private, but if you live in Florida you might well need no more than Sport.

Last edited by Broomstick; 06-09-2009 at 09:36 PM.
  #10  
Old 06-09-2009, 10:02 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Thanks Broomstick, I must admit I wasn't aware that the difference between the licenses was so great.

It's interesting the differences between your PPL and the one I did in New Zealand. We had no requirement for night hours and no requirement for instrument hours, however the minimum hours for the license was 50. We did do some instrument flight in the CPL though.
  #11  
Old 06-09-2009, 11:05 PM
Waffle Decider Waffle Decider is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1920s Style "Death Ray" View Post
It's interesting the differences between your PPL and the one I did in New Zealand. We had no requirement for night hours and no requirement for instrument hours, however the minimum hours for the license was 50. We did do some instrument flight in the CPL though.
I think the night and instrument hours are due to the fact that a plain vanilla US PPL is allowed conduct night and VFR over-the-top operations; if I understand correctly, in most other countries, those operations are either prohibited under VFR, or require additional ratings even when conducted under VFR.

As mentioned before, though, the 40 hours minimum in the US is wildly optimistic. Almost everyone needs more than that.
  #12  
Old 06-09-2009, 11:28 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Yeah I think at the time you could only do night VFR up to 25nm from your departure aerodrome and it was a separate rating. Most people didn't bother because it was so limited. Night VFR is also a separate rating in Australia, though someone with a current instrument rating can conduct night VFR wthout having a NVFR rating.
  #13  
Old 06-10-2009, 02:38 AM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
OK - this pisses me off. Excuse me, what makes you think an ultralight isn't a "real" airplane? I understand that in the regs they're listed as "vehicles" but the fixed wings, at least, look like airplanes, they fly like airplanes, if you build 51% of yours you can have it registed and N-numbered as an airplane. They're airplanes.
Because realistically they're not. They're motorized kites that can't handle a 15 knot crosswind without blowing around like a leaf. Loads of fun to fly around a pumpkin patch on a clear day with no wind. They're designed to stall at very slow speeds and be relatively easy to fly.

But, if as you say, they are real airplanes then you should advocate a 40 hr license versus a 20 hr license as a matter of safety.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I will also point out that it is not and never has been legal to fly an ultralight with a passenger. Not ever. Ultralights under Part 103 are single seat aircraft by definition. The training aircraft - the two-seat "ultralights" - were exceptions, were not legally ultralights, and only flown under restricted conditions (said regs being much ignored and abused, yes, but still there). ALL of those two-seat "ultralights" must now be either N-numbered as Sport or homebuilt airplanes and the training exemption is being discontinued..
Thus the reason I gave for getting a sport pilot license.

As far as getting a sport license to fly 1300 lb planes it doesn't make financial sense. The money saved limits what you can buy and I don't know if anybody is renting sport planes so that would severely limit what can be rented.

What I did to save money was to join a flying club and get my instruction with their aircraft. By joining a club I was able to fly 3 different aircraft before I soloed. I already had a good idea what I wanted in a plane before I got my license. I also helped restore an airplane to defray the cost of flying which worked out well because I ended up buying a share of the plane.

Last edited by Magiver; 06-10-2009 at 02:41 AM.
  #14  
Old 06-10-2009, 04:14 AM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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A reason to fly ultralights. I couldn't watch this video with the computer in my lap. Hope it shows up at Oshkosh.
  #15  
Old 06-10-2009, 04:28 AM
jackdavinci jackdavinci is offline
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Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
A reason to fly ultralights. I couldn't watch this video with the computer in my lap. Hope it shows up at Oshkosh.
What about powered hanggliders, which are sometimes called ultralights? Do you need a license for those? How do you go about finding lessons locally (I live on Long Island)?
  #16  
Old 06-10-2009, 08:37 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
Because realistically they're not. They're motorized kites that can't handle a 15 knot crosswind without blowing around like a leaf. Loads of fun to fly around a pumpkin patch on a clear day with no wind. They're designed to stall at very slow speeds and be relatively easy to fly.
I don't know too many people who'd fly a Cessna in a 15 knot direct crosswind, and though I've done it successfully I'm not eager to do it again. I did say that they were for those intending to fly only in good weather, what did you think I meant? Do weekend pilots flying out to breakfast need to be flying in 15 knot crosswinds? Not to mention that, given the very short ground runs of these airplanes, landing on grassy areas more directly into the wind instead of a less optimally-aligned runway is a viable option in some areas

Motorized kites? Yes, back in the 1970's. Arguably the Quicksilver still falls into that category, except that, having flown the 3-axis model, I can tell you it flies like an airplane though I'd say it's more comparable to a Stearman in feel than a Cessna (that's in the air - ground handling is totally different between those two). The CGS Hawk, Challenger, Kolb, and the like are much more like airplanes than "motorized kites".

Quote:
But, if as you say, they are real airplanes then you should advocate a 40 hr license versus a 20 hr license as a matter of safety.
Why? For example, what possible use would three hours of "flight solely by instruments" be in flying an ultralight or an ultralight-derived Sport plane, or an antique taildragger that meets Sport requirements? The don't have the instruments to allow that. Not only would you have to rent a larger airplane with those instruments to do that, such training would have zero relevance to aircraft that simply can't do those things. Training to fly the airplane you're in strikes me as the best course, not training to fly an airplane you don't want to be in (unless you're getting paid for it, but that's not what we're talking about here). There is a portion of the Private syllabus that is simply superfluous to ultralight and Sport airplanes, I don't see the purpose in forcing people to spend the time and money on it. I would certainly encourage people to do more than the minimum. You might as well say "advocate an 80 hour license" for safety.

They're simple flying machines with a minimum of instruments and complications. Simple to fly, yes, although some of them have a few quirks you need to be aware of, but that's becoming less common. It doesn't take 40 hours to learn to fly these airplanes. Of course, the license limits you to those airplanes you are qualified to fly, just like my license limits me to single-end land. But you know, since I don't currently have a desire to fly sea planes or multi-engine airplanes the limitation doesn't feel limiting. I did add tailwheels to my privileges because I wanted to, and at one point was working on complex but dropped it when I realized that it didn't really appeal to me. Likewise I believe a lot of people would be happy flying Sport planes. If that changes they can get additional training. If that doesn't, why force them to train for what they aren't interested in?

Quote:
As far as getting a sport license to fly 1300 lb planes it doesn't make financial sense.
In a lot of ways, flying for recreation at all doesn't make financial sense.

Quote:
The money saved limits what you can buy and I don't know if anybody is renting sport planes so that would severely limit what can be rented.
In the Chicago area there are Sport planes for rent - I know, because I've rented them. I even mentioned that upthread. The Lowell airport has a champ that's been rented out for years, it easily qualifies as Sport. Morris has an Ikarus, or at least it did two years ago (I haven't flown for awhile). I don't think the Morris Citabria qualifies, it has enough avionics to put it overweight but I'm not 100% sure, I'd have to find my official weight and balance information for it, but it might. Poplar Grove has a few vintage planes that would qualify, so does one of the Waukegan flying clubs. The planes are less common than Cessnas, which are a like a bad rash that won't go away, but they are out there.

As for "limits what you can buy" - there are a LOT of models to choose from, follow some of the links provided, and you don't even have to opt for kit planes anymore if you don't want to, you have options that are factory assembled.

I'm the weird one, with 17 different airplanes in my logbook - most Privates I know fly maybe one or two different types of airplane in a decade, or even a lifetime, almost always either a Cessna or a Piper, which sounds pretty limiting to me. To some degree, that's financial constraints, and that's true unless you have tens of millions to spend on flying.

Quote:
What I did to save money was to join a flying club and get my instruction with their aircraft. By joining a club I was able to fly 3 different aircraft before I soloed. I already had a good idea what I wanted in a plane before I got my license. I also helped restore an airplane to defray the cost of flying which worked out well because I ended up buying a share of the plane.
And that worked for you. Unfortunately, some flying clubs are badly run and turn into nightmares. There are a lot of options out there for training and I tell people interested in flying to check out as many as possible and do some thinking before making a commitment.
  #17  
Old 06-10-2009, 12:46 PM
Scruff Scruff is offline
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Originally Posted by Waffle Decider View Post
[snip] a plain vanilla US PPL is allowed conduct night and VFR over-the-top operations.
I thought that VFR-on-top was forbidden these days?
  #18  
Old 06-10-2009, 12:51 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I don't know too many people who'd fly a Cessna in a 15 knot direct crosswind, and though I've done it successfully I'm not eager to do it again. I did say that they were for those intending to fly only in good weather, what did you think I meant? Do weekend pilots flying out to breakfast need to be flying in 15 knot crosswinds? Not to mention that, given the very short ground runs of these airplanes, landing on grassy areas more directly into the wind instead of a less optimally-aligned runway is a viable option in some areas.
I fly in 15 knot crosswinds all the time. I usually choose the crosswind runway for the fun of flying it. Ultralights are fair weather machines built for the local enjoyment of flight and therefore do not require the skillsets of a full pilot's license.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
In a lot of ways, flying for recreation at all doesn't make financial sense.

In the Chicago area there are Sport planes for rent - I know, because I've rented them. I even mentioned that upthread. The Lowell airport has a champ that's been rented out for years, it easily qualifies as Sport. Morris has an Ikarus, or at least it did two years ago (I haven't flown for awhile). I don't think the Morris Citabria qualifies, it has enough avionics to put it overweight but I'm not 100% sure, I'd have to find my official weight and balance information for it, but it might. Poplar Grove has a few vintage planes that would qualify, so does one of the Waukegan flying clubs. The planes are less common than Cessnas, which are a like a bad rash that won't go away, but they are out there.

As for "limits what you can buy" - there are a LOT of models to choose from, follow some of the links provided, and you don't even have to opt for kit planes anymore if you don't want to, you have options that are factory assembled.
None of what you said negates my point. Getting a sport pilot license limits your choice of aircraft and what you can rent. That is a fact. It doesn't make sense to skimp on the cost of a pilot's license to save money.
  #19  
Old 06-10-2009, 12:52 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Nope.

Which is not to say it's a good idea. The "trick", if that's the word, is that a VFR pilot wanting to fly VFR-over-the-top has to get up there from either the edge of the overcast or through a "sucker hole", he can't fly through clouds to get there. And once up there, he better have a way back down other than through clouds 'cause if it's found out he deliberately got himself into a hazardous situation there could be substantial penalities both to the wallet and flying privileges. Assuming said pilot survives a bout with IFR-only conditions, which is by no means guaranteed.

So it's strongly discouraged for the VFR-only but technically still legal under some circumstances.

Last edited by Broomstick; 06-10-2009 at 12:52 PM.
  #20  
Old 06-10-2009, 02:21 PM
Waffle Decider Waffle Decider is offline
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Originally Posted by Scruff View Post
I thought that VFR-on-top was forbidden these days?
Not that I'm aware of. There's no regulation that forbids a non-instrument rated pilot or aircraft from operating VFR above an undercast in the US, provided that the normal VFR minimums are maintained. Unlike, as an example, Canada, which explicitly states that the ground/water must be in sight at all times.

One possible source of confusion is that, technically speaking, over-the-top is not to be confused with VFR-on-top, which is an IFR clearance that allows an IFR aircraft to operate at a VFR altitude; which is also not to be confused with cancelling IFR once you get on top.
  #21  
Old 06-10-2009, 03:19 PM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is online now
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Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
None of what you said negates my point. Getting a sport pilot license limits your choice of aircraft and what you can rent. That is a fact. It doesn't make sense to skimp on the cost of a pilot's license to save money.
You keep saying that like it's some unshakable fact. It makes sense if that's the sort of flying a person wants to do. Lots of people doing GA piloting only fly around locally in VFR conditions in situations that would easily suit sport aircraft. And I'm guessing it's becoming more common for light sport aircraft to be available to flying clubs or for rent. If the license fits you, then getting it would be quicker and cheaper than a full pilot's license - with the option of using your hours later to upgrade.
  #22  
Old 06-10-2009, 03:47 PM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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There's no good way to be sure of the numbers, but I suspect it has more to do with medicals than with aspirations. There are plenty of pilots, especially older ones, who are having trouble with theirs now, but have traded in their planes on LSA's just to stay legal. Since there is no FAA notification required to stay within a "lower level" license's restrictions, the number of people actually flying as SP's is not known. But I know a few myself, and LSA salespeople I've talked to say their primary customer base is seniors who have lost (abandoned, rather) their medicals.

Availability of aircraft is an issue still, but decreasing as the insurance companies get some experience built up with LSA's. For instance, AFAIK there are only 3 FBO's in New England that offer them for rent right now. The ones that have them are using them as low-cost primary trainers even for people going PPL's, replacing their 150's and such. There are still relatively few used LSA's available in the US, since they just became available a couple of years ago. That is certainly restricting the market but is likely to ease up as the lost-medical seniors who bought the first ones stop flying altogether.

For younger students, there just aren't many who can't pass a medical and would have to stop at SP. But that's about the only group you'd see listed in the total. For the rest, there isn't much more time or expense involved in getting a regular PPL and avoiding the SP restrictions. The far-smaller number of Recreational Pilot licenses is explainable by its requiring a medical and almost as much work as a Private Pilot license, but with far greater restrictions.
  #23  
Old 06-10-2009, 04:17 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick
I don't know too many people who'd fly a Cessna in a 15 knot direct crosswind, and though I've done it successfully I'm not eager to do it again. I did say that they were for those intending to fly only in good weather, what did you think I meant? Do weekend pilots flying out to breakfast need to be flying in 15 knot crosswinds? Not to mention that, given the very short ground runs of these airplanes, landing on grassy areas more directly into the wind instead of a less optimally-aligned runway is a viable option in some areas.
I fly in 15 knot crosswinds all the time.
Fine. That's you. Nonetheless, most people I know as pilots do not fly in 15 mph direct crosswinds. Not everyone thinks that is fun.

Quote:
Ultralights are fair weather machines built for the local enjoyment of flight and therefore do not require the skillsets of a full pilot's license.
Yes. I don't think we disagree with that.

Sport pilot airplanes are, likewise, primarially built for the local enjoyment of flight in good weather in daylight, and likewise do not require the skillset of a full pilot's license.

In reality there is not a sharp dividing line from true ultralight to sportplane to typical general aviation. There are some arbitrary lines drawn, but really, it doesn't take "the skillsets of a full pilot's license" to fly a Censsa 150 in good weather in daylight, either, and that airplane doesn't qualify as a sportplane. I'm satisfied that the Sport license requirements teach the necessary basics to flying a simple machine in simple conditions, which is all a lot of people want.

As I keep pointing out, I got my full Private years ago. Despite some minor dabbling, virtually all of my flying since would easily fall under Sport pilot except that I've mostly flown C150's which are just a little bit too heavy to qualify. Even some of my further training past Private - my tailwheel sign-off - took place in an airplane that, in many cases, could qualify as a Sportplane. It may not be YOUR choice but there's definitely a bunch of us out here who voluntarily choose to fly those "limited" airplanes you think so little of because that's what we like to fly. Seriously, if you gave me 10 million dollars I'd be flying the same airplanes I was two years ago, about the only difference would be I'd be able to buy enough time in the Stearman to solo it. Other than that - two seaters all the way, open cockpit whenever possible, when not I'll have the window open.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick
In a lot of ways, flying for recreation at all doesn't make financial sense.

In the Chicago area there are Sport planes for rent - I know, because I've rented them. I even mentioned that upthread. The Lowell airport has a champ that's been rented out for years, it easily qualifies as Sport. Morris has an Ikarus, or at least it did two years ago (I haven't flown for awhile). I don't think the Morris Citabria qualifies, it has enough avionics to put it overweight but I'm not 100% sure, I'd have to find my official weight and balance information for it, but it might. Poplar Grove has a few vintage planes that would qualify, so does one of the Waukegan flying clubs. The planes are less common than Cessnas, which are a like a bad rash that won't go away, but they are out there.

As for "limits what you can buy" - there are a LOT of models to choose from, follow some of the links provided, and you don't even have to opt for kit planes anymore if you don't want to, you have options that are factory assembled.
None of what you said negates my point.
What? You said there were no sportplanes for rent. I just listed some very specific places, even very specific individual airplanes. How does that not negate your claim that these aircraft and unavailable for rent?

Quote:
Getting a sport pilot license limits your choice of aircraft and what you can rent.
For pity's sake - my PRIVATE limits my choice of aircraft and what I can rent! I'm not allowed to rent/fly ANYTHING with multiple engines. Since I never finished the log book endorsements I'm not allowed to fly either retractable gear or high power airplanes solo, either. I'm not allowed to rent seaplanes or airplanes with skis. I'm not allowed to fly either helicopters or gyrocopters. I'm not authorized to fly airships. For that matter, neither you nor I are permitted to fly sportaircraft in the weightshift or powered parachute category, either! ALL flying licenses have limitations! If you don't like the limitation then, assuming you are otherwise eligible, you have the option to buy the training required to have it removed.

Quote:
That is a fact. It doesn't make sense to skimp on the cost of a pilot's license to save money.
It doesn't make sense to force people to train beyond what they need to safely fly, either. I mean, from a safety standpoint, you could bundle Private and IFR ratings and never let anyone fly as a licensed pilot until they have both, but what's the benefit? Most recreational flyers will never use an IFR rating. I considered it at one point, but given that most of the 17 or so different aircraft I've flown aren't equipped for IFR flight it seemed worse than pointless - what was I going to do, spend my limited flying money on airplanes I didn't really care for to maintain a rating I couldn't use in the airplanes I did want to fly? THAT would have been a waste of money!

YOU view Sport as something less, a straightjacket, a limitation. That means it is not for YOU. Other people can well find it liberating and all they'll ever need, or at least all they'll need for quite some time. It's not "skimping" - the airplanes and instructors cost the same, and for damn sure the testing still costs the same! Sport pilots are free at any time to push on to a full Private, just as I am free at any time to push on to an IFR or Commercial or whatever else I may want. But until I want to fly at that level it doesn't make any sense to force me to pay for that training.

YOU might find 15 mph crosswinds fun - I know people who won't fly if the wind exceeds 10 mph (and true, they don't fly as often as some other people). I know a guy who flew a Piper Warrior in a 50 mph wind (but fortunately he realized the downsides of that without getting hurt). I know people who don't give a damn if the airplane is upside down or right side up, though frankly just watching aerobatics can make me sweaty and my hands shake.

One of the things I most valued about the instructor I completed my Private under was, despite his preference, nay, love of high power, complex, multi-engine airplanes and flying on instruments he never pressured me to "move up" beyond my VFR daytime flying. He certainly offered to show me other aspects of flying (and I took him up on those offers) but when I figured out the sort of flying I wanted to do he genuinely did his best to make me the very best VFR day flying pilot I could be, and suggested several other types of continued training beyond just the standard "get your IFR" because he knew it was highly unlikely that I'd ever use such a rating or even fly airplanes capable of that kind of flying.

(We did compromise on one thing - when I train with him I rent four-seaters. He finds a lot of what I like to fly uncomfortable or even scary and I don't like to make my instructors uncomfortable if I can avoid it. Of course, I am allowed to rent four seaters. Before I was OK'd to fly four seaters he got into the C150's with me. What a guy. He also also been quite upfront that for some things he is not the best instructor and for those I should go elsewhere)

So, Magiver, I disagree with your opinion that a Sport license is somehow "skimping", or even very "limiting", for a great many people although you are not in that category. I disagree - based on personal experience - that it is impossible to find sportplanes for rent. Sport is clearly not a good fit for you - it would, however, be an excellent fit for ME, despite my Private certificate, and I am seriously considering that, when my finances allow me to start flying again, simply not going back for the flight physical for the full Private level BFR and just flying at the Sport level because I just don't see spending anything extra for what I'm not using. Or maybe I will get fully current again as a Private, but continue to fly aircraft that would fall under Sport because that's what I've been doing for 14 years!

Do I regret learning some extra knowledge? No - but I would have rather spent some of that money on the flying I really enjoy. Did I regret trying complex or high powered airplanes? No - but I didn't need a Private certificate for that, only to solo them. There's no reason a Sport pilot can't buy a few hours in a "higher" level aircraft with an instructor to see if they even want that sort of flying. If they do, they have the same option as everybody else to pursue that level of training. Just like I, as a Private pilot, am able to hire a CFII to take me through a few hours of instrument time, including, perhaps, actual conditions, to see if it holds any interest for me, or to purchase a few hours in a multi-engine aircraft to see what that is like. Earning a Sport license in no way restricts a person to that level forever and ever. The only difference is that they wait to pay for higher training until they really want or need it, instead of being required to pay upfront for training they aren't using.
  #24  
Old 06-10-2009, 04:19 PM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
A "student certificate" for either private, recreational, or sport pilot would be the same
Not quite. The regular student certificate is part of the medical, because you would need one to solo a non-LSA. There is a similar, but not identical, 8710 form for a sport student which has a block for driver's license info instead of an AME's signoff.

Quote:
If all you want to do is fly small planes in good to excellent weather in the daytime and don't mind being limited to no more than one passenger it certainly can be a good option.
That's me too, and a lot of other people I know. If you're not planning to fly for a living, then a lot of training and experience simply becomes inapplicable - you don't need an instrument rating if you wouldn't even think of flying in IMC, for instance.

Quote:
So, the rental price of a Sport airplane may or may not be lower, the same, or higher depending on the airplane in question and where/who you rent from.
FWIW, at the FBO I learned at, a 2003 C172SP is $120/hr wet, a 2007 Gobosh LSA is $95, and a 2007 Valor LSA is $85, all prices wet.

Quote:
You also have to find someplace willing to have you in a Sport Pilot course - I've known some FBO's that offer Recreational, Sport, and Private licenses and others that refuse to even consider anything but Private.
That's probably related to their insurance coverage - the underwriters have been reportedly very reluctant to offer coverage for something new here. A CFI can "drop down" as easily as a pilot, btw - there's no separate Sport CFI license required for someone who has a higher CFI license already.

Quote:
The FAA has been quite adamant that this is NOT for people who know they would fail a medical exam. I think the way the regs were written weren't terribly well done, but it has been said over and over that if you KNOW you would fail a 3rd Class physical you are not legal to fly as a Sport Pilot.
Not quite. The requirement is that you be able to meet the medical requirements for a driver's license in the state in which yours was issued, and of course that you have one. So, if you get stupid and lose yours, you're grounded too.

There are rumblings that the FAA might rescind the inexplicable "Catch 22 Rule", but meanwhile, if you have worries about a medical condition, it's best to do your homework and find out what the acceptable limits are (those are clear-cut and public for most conditions), get tested, see if you'd pass, and only then go for the medical. You can even get tested by an understanding AME who will agree to just not submit the paperwork if you fail, so you won't have an official denial to deal with.

Quote:
Excuse me, what makes you think an ultralight isn't a "real" airplane? I understand that in the regs they're listed as "vehicles" but the fixed wings, at least, look like airplanes, they fly like airplanes, if you build 51% of yours you can have it registed and N-numbered as an airplane.
One conspiracy theory (and is there a Doper who doesn't love those?) is that the FAA put the LSA rule into effect as a way of getting all those pesky homebuilt ultralights under regulatory control. The stuff about opening up aviation for more people was the cover story.

Quote:
As someone who started in ultralights I must say that in some ways they are more challenging to fly than your typical GA airplane, many models being less forgiving and less capable than the standard Cessnas and Pipers.
The one LSA I've flown (and I understand they're all about the same, due to meeting all the same restrictions) was a lot twitchier and wind-affected than the light single I normally fly, which has twice the wing loading. I thought the LSA was actually harder to fly, but I might not think so after a little experience with it.
  #25  
Old 06-10-2009, 04:30 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by ElvisL1ves View Post
There's no good way to be sure of the numbers, but I suspect it has more to do with medicals than with aspirations. There are plenty of pilots, especially older ones, who are having trouble with theirs now, but have traded in their planes on LSA's just to stay legal. Since there is no FAA notification required to stay within a "lower level" license's restrictions, the number of people actually flying as SP's is not known. But I know a few myself, and LSA salespeople I've talked to say their primary customer base is seniors who have lost (abandoned, rather) their medicals.
I know a few guys who can still pass their medicals but, being middle aged, are already "downsizing" to LSA's so they can stop worrying about the medical. I know one pilot who sold his twin Cessna and bought an LSA because 1) the twin was too expensive for him to maintain and fly anymore and 2) he preferred buying a brand new aircraft that was an LSA to purchasing a 30-40 year old more typical GA airplane. I know some people who have been flying N-numbered homebuilts for years as Privates that, now that their homebuilts meet LSA requirements, are simply not planning to go back for another physical. Yes, a lot of middle-aged pilots are opting for Sport. You know, I don't have a problem with that. But, as I said, they won't show up as Sport pilots. The airline pilot who used to keep his private aircraft at my local field retired and moved to Texas, sold his GA planes, bought a Cub, and is intending to fly on Sport... but he'll always be listed as an ATP, won't he?

Quote:
Availability of aircraft is an issue still, but decreasing as the insurance companies get some experience built up with LSA's. For instance, AFAIK there are only 3 FBO's in New England that offer them for rent right now. The ones that have them are using them as low-cost primary trainers even for people going PPL's, replacing their 150's and such.
I think that, going forward, that will start to have a greater effect. As the older training fleet is replaced people will "grow up" flying Sportplanes and won't be as adverse to the concept.

Quote:
For the rest, there isn't much more time or expense involved in getting a regular PPL and avoiding the SP restrictions.
I still disagree - airplane rental is going to be about twice as much to get a Private as a Sport, even at the same hourly rental rate.

I think you have to find the right fit - seriously, how many Privates continue to fly at night past primary training? I know one Private who so enjoyed night flying that he did it regularly after he got his license, but he's the exception. In fact, I know several FBO's that flat out refuse to allow a Private to fly their airplanes at night, they won't let you unless you have an IFR rating. Speaking of IFR's, how many actually go on to get an IFR? Certainly not everyone. And frankly, even if a Sport pilot eventually goes on to those things a bunch of hours of VFR experience won't hurt them prior to getting that training.
  #26  
Old 06-10-2009, 04:48 PM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
In fact, I know several FBO's that flat out refuse to allow a Private to fly their airplanes at night, they won't let you unless you have an IFR rating.
True, that's something else you have to do regularly to remain proficient. Accident rates are substantially higher at night, after all, even in good weather with no mechanical problems, largely because of the various optical illusions that can get you if you don't remember them.

Quote:
Speaking of IFR's, how many actually go on to get an IFR? Certainly not everyone.
It can take as much time and expense as the basic PPL, and that's another "use it or lose it" capability, even without considering currency requirements. Many people do get it because they think they should and they're still in the habit of getting flight training, but really, you only need it if you're going on to a career in flying. I haven't done it for those reasons, and because it would only make me legal to be in conditions I wouldn't think of going into anyway. I couldn't maintain sufficient proficiency or even legal currency.

But I do understand that IFR training will make you a better VFR pilot (and it cuts your insurance rates too). By the same token, Private training or better should make you a better Sport pilot even if that's all you plan to do.
  #27  
Old 06-10-2009, 04:56 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by ElvisL1ves View Post
Not quite. The regular student certificate is part of the medical, because you would need one to solo a non-LSA. There is a similar, but not identical, 8710 form for a sport student which has a block for driver's license info instead of an AME's signoff.
Yes and no - there actually has always been a student license that isn't combined with a medical form. I know this because, due to a situation I don't want to clutter this post with (but I'll explain in another if you want details) my original student pilot license expired before my physical so I had to obtain a second one, this time without the medical being combined with it. I think people who start primary training as glider pilots also use the "license only" form but I don't know that for sure. In fact, I believe I still have both my original medical form and my second student license somewhere in my flying stuff.

I wasn't aware that they now have a student pilot/driver's license info form, but now that I think about it that makes sense.

Quote:
That's probably related to their insurance coverage - the underwriters have been reportedly very reluctant to offer coverage for something new here. A CFI can "drop down" as easily as a pilot, btw - there's no separate Sport CFI license required for someone who has a higher CFI license already.
Well, not for fixed wing, no - however, I do know a CFI who is also certified to instruct in powered parachutes which isn't that common as most CFI's don't know squat about them (the guy started as a UL PP guy and went on to become a fixed-wing CFI later, he's actually been instructing in powered parachutes about twice as long as he's been a CFI. I met him during my tailwheel training, he subbed once or twice for my regular CFI when he couldn't make it). For a few forms of Sport flying you'd need to find a CFI qualified to teach those particular areas, and they'll more likely be someone who started in ULs and and became UL instructors before Sport came about.

Quote:
Not quite. The requirement is that you be able to meet the medical requirements for a driver's license in the state in which yours was issued, and of course that you have one. So, if you get stupid and lose yours, you're grounded too.
Funny - the local FAA at my local FSDO have been quite emphatic that if you KNOW you have a condition that would ground you if you took a 3rd class medical simply going to Sport isn't going to cut it. The example I gave about epilepsy was an example - there are many epileptics who are permitted to drive cars, but the FAA doesn't want anyone with a history of seizure disorder flying (unless they can go through the waiver process). Now, granted, for a lot of conditions you don't KNOW you'd be grounded. You might suspect you'd be grounded, or have to go through a waiver process, but you don't know, for sure, the outcome. That's the grey area.

Another example they gave was someone with vision in only one eye - those folks don't pass a 3rd class, but the waiver for their condition is one-time and fairly straightforward, almost everyone passes. So in that case, sure, they're OK for Sport because it's reasonable to assume in most cases they it's not a safety issue and they'd be able to get a 3rd class in the end anyway.

I think that the reg was written (including the Catch-22 part) and we'll have to sort out the unintended consequences as we go.

Quote:
if you have worries about a medical condition, it's best to do your homework and find out what the acceptable limits are (those are clear-cut and public for most conditions), get tested, see if you'd pass, and only then go for the medical.
That has always been the case. Only until recently, the choice was either pass the 3rd class, fly gliders or fly ULs. Now we have another option that will fit some people.

Quote:
One conspiracy theory (and is there a Doper who doesn't love those?) is that the FAA put the LSA rule into effect as a way of getting all those pesky homebuilt ultralights under regulatory control. The stuff about opening up aviation for more people was the cover story.
There's no doubt in the UL community that it was a lot about getting control of the "fat ULs". Part 103 does continue to exist with no changes, but Sport cuts out the excuses for those who were flying overweight machines as ULs

Quote:
The one LSA I've flown (and I understand they're all about the same, due to meeting all the same restrictions) was a lot twitchier and wind-affected than the light single I normally fly, which has twice the wing loading. I thought the LSA was actually harder to fly, but I might not think so after a little experience with it.
The biggest problem I've seen for Privates accustomed to larger GA airplanes (and by "large" I mean C150's and heavier!) is that they really do have to adjust their thinking to a new set of capabilities. Lighter airplanes ARE more "wind-affected". It's a fact of life. This can make them feel "twitchier", in some cases they are twitchier. Another trait is that a lot of them have more adverse yaw than 1950's and newer airplanes, and demand more ruder input. This can be surprising or even alarming to people accustomed to Cessnas and Pipers but it is something one can become accustomed to. Really, if you think about the difference in "twitchiness" between a C172 and a C150, there's a similar increase in twitchy between a C150 and the heavier LSA's, then again in the next step down to lighter LSA's, then again down to ULs. It's all manageable, but that's why a Private who wants to fly an LSA needs a couple hours to get used to it, and an instructor to point out the differences and suggest techniques helps a lot.
  #28  
Old 06-10-2009, 05:01 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by ElvisL1ves
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Originally Posted by Broomstick
In fact, I know several FBO's that flat out refuse to allow a Private to fly their airplanes at night, they won't let you unless you have an IFR rating.
True, that's something else you have to do regularly to remain proficient. Accident rates are substantially higher at night, after all, even in good weather with no mechanical problems, largely because of the various optical illusions that can get you if you don't remember them.
I understand their reasoning - but as I said, they will let NO Private pilot fly their aircraft solo at night, no matter how night current. My local FBO will rent at night to VFR pilots, but the front desk personal are required to confirm currency prior to handing over the keys.

Quote:
But I do understand that IFR training will make you a better VFR pilot (and it cuts your insurance rates too). By the same token, Private training or better should make you a better Sport pilot even if that's all you plan to do.
True, and I'm a big advocate of continuing to learn new things, or at least try new things. But a Private can be daunting for a lot of people in both cost and time. At a certain point economics works its way into the equation. The cost of a full Private discourages some people. How many people I'm not sure anyone knows, but some of them might feel Sport is more manageable.

Last edited by Broomstick; 06-10-2009 at 05:01 PM.
  #29  
Old 06-10-2009, 08:14 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I think you have to find the right fit - seriously, how many Privates continue to fly at night past primary training?
Everybody I know who flies? Flying at night is spectacular when you see the stars at 10,000 feet, fireworks at 2500 feet, or a city like Chicago from the shoreline.

A night restriction further limits flying to local fair-weather hops. If a common summer popup shower delays a return flight then you're grounded. It would make a trip to an event like Oshkosh a real PITA. Many a year I've had to wait until late to depart.

AFAIK a sport pilot license is for ultra lights and people who have problems passing a 3rd class medical (which is usually a BP related problem). The lack of IFR and long distance training makes it a truly local license and the low hours makes it a danger to the user and passengers.
  #30  
Old 06-10-2009, 08:42 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Everybody I know who flies?
All I can say to that is that pilots based in Dayton and pilots based in Chicago must be different pilots. Either that, or we both know different groups of pilots.

Quote:
Flying at night is spectacular when you see the stars at 10,000 feet, fireworks at 2500 feet, or a city like Chicago from the shoreline.
Not so much fun when lake-effect weather rolls in off the water, though. I suspect our weather may have an effect on how we view flying at night vs. how you view flying at night.

Quote:
A night restriction further limits flying to local fair-weather hops. If a common summer popup shower delays a return flight then you're grounded. It would make a trip to an event like Oshkosh a real PITA. Many a year I've had to wait until late to depart.
I've given more than a few IFR pilots directions to local hotels - at a certain point anyone is grounded.

You do realize that not everyone is even interested in long trips in small airplanes, yes?

If all that someone wants to do is local flights then why not just get a Sport license? The blunt truth is that I stuck to local flying because I couldn't afford long trips in rented airplanes. It was either 1 long trip a month or getting to fly nearly other weekend. I though more frequent, if shorter, flights was a better thing that infrequent very long flights. My choice, even if not yours.

Quote:
AFAIK a sport pilot license is for ultra lights and people who have problems passing a 3rd class medical (which is usually a BP related problem). The lack of IFR and long distance training makes it a truly local license and the low hours makes it a danger to the user and passengers.
Low hours make ANY new pilot a danger to the user and the passengers. That applies just as much to a 40 hour Private pilot as to a 20 hour Sport.

Thing is, though, some of the UL pilots I know have hundreds of hours of flying experience... the FAA just says those hours don't count because they aren't properly documented. That doesn't erase the experience, though, does it? Got an internet friend who's been involved in an annual 1,200 mile trip in her UL (a Max-Air Drifter) for about 15 years now, along with all the rest of the flying she does in a year. If she gets a Sport then she may only have 20 or so "official" hours but it's hard to argue she's a low time pilot or inexperienced.

Whatever - clearly Sport doesn't fit you, you don't like the entire idea, and you assume anyone slumming in a sportplane must have a health problem. I've made my arguments, don't have anything more to say. I regret that you assume those of us who like small, simple airplanes are either quasi-cripples or somehow else your inferiors but I've been aware for years that some of my fellow pilots are quite biased.
  #31  
Old 06-10-2009, 10:30 PM
SenorBeef SenorBeef is online now
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A related question - people were saying 20 or 40 (sport or private) was the minimum hours required for a license but that most people would need more. What is it that they need more for? Is there a certain set of requirements that need to be met that take 50+ hours, or is it just a matter of them needing a lot of practice to be able to pass their check ride?
  #32  
Old 06-10-2009, 10:53 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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It's a mixture of the two. Different people learn at different rates. It is possible you might take 20 hours just to get good enough to fly the aeroplane solo. Someone else might do the same thing after 6 hours or even less. The other thing that makes it take longer is that the flights themselves for each lesson may take longer than planned due to things like having a training area that is some distance from the airport, or being delayed by other air traffic. Also, no matter how quickly you learn, if you don't fly constantly you'll find yourself wasting hours and money getting back up to speed on things you've already learned.

The thing is, if you can only afford to do the minimum 20 hours then you won't be able to afford to keep flying after you get the license anyway so what's the point?
  #33  
Old 06-10-2009, 11:33 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Whatever - clearly Sport doesn't fit you, you don't like the entire idea, and you assume anyone slumming in a sportplane must have a health problem. I've made my arguments, don't have anything more to say. I regret that you assume those of us who like small, simple airplanes are either quasi-cripples or somehow else your inferiors but I've been aware for years that some of my fellow pilots are quite biased.
Somehow you're taking my posts personally. I never said the license was skimping, I said it was limiting. It's fine for ultralights but it is limiting for GA use. The thread is not about which license is best, it's a question as to why there are so few sport pilots.
  #34  
Old 06-10-2009, 11:48 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SenorBeef View Post
A related question - people were saying 20 or 40 (sport or private) was the minimum hours required for a license but that most people would need more. What is it that they need more for? Is there a certain set of requirements that need to be met that take 50+ hours, or is it just a matter of them needing a lot of practice to be able to pass their check ride?
The major reason people take more than the specified number of hours is time. If you can't fly a 2-4 hrs a week then you are losing the feel of the airplane. Weather is usually the culprit in my area of the country. And the license itself is just a certification to continue learning so passing the test is not a rubber stamp to get stupid.

For me, there was a "critical mass" of skill that was obvious regarding my abililty. It was around 100 hrs before I felt I could jump in a plane at any time and feel comfortable. I've had years where my only real flight was a cross country to Oshkosh by myself. I damn sure wouldn't do this unless I felt comfortable in the plane.

Last edited by Magiver; 06-10-2009 at 11:49 PM.
  #35  
Old 06-11-2009, 06:18 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1920s Style "Death Ray" View Post
The thing is, if you can only afford to do the minimum 20 hours then you won't be able to afford to keep flying after you get the license anyway so what's the point?
That is a good point.

Not everyone has the money up front. At that point either

1) you put off lessons until you do have the money
2) figure out a budget that will let you pay as you go while flying reasonably often
3) resign yourself to the fact you can't afford to fly and
--- a) deal with it
--- b) increase your income.

1 is frequently recommended, but only really viable if, after you get the license, you can continue to afford to fly with a certain frequency

2 can be done, but you must account for the fact that at some points training requirements may conflict with that budget. For example, the long solo cross country usually costs more than the average lesson. The final tests and checkride will cost more than you usual weekly cost.

3 just sucks. Facing it, I got a better job which worked well for awhile. Unfortunately, I lost the job and can no longer fly because I can't afford to do it. If you can't afford to rent a decent airplane or (if you own) maintain an airplane properly, if you can't afford to fly often enough to keep your skills sharp, you can't afford to fly. Which is why I haven't for nearly two years now (no, not a happy camper about that...) So... right now I'm just dealing with it.
  #36  
Old 06-11-2009, 07:14 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
3 just sucks. Facing it, I got a better job which worked well for awhile. Unfortunately, I lost the job and can no longer fly because I can't afford to do it. If you can't afford to rent a decent airplane or (if you own) maintain an airplane properly, if you can't afford to fly often enough to keep your skills sharp, you can't afford to fly. Which is why I haven't for nearly two years now (no, not a happy camper about that...) So... right now I'm just dealing with it.
Welcome to the club. This is the first year my plane won't be at Oshkosh in the last 15. I guess I'm lucky that a buddy is letting me tag along. The only flight I make this year will probably be the annual.
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