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Dennis Bamtton, owner of fixed-base operator St. Charles Flying Service in St. Charles, Missouri, is launching one of the United States’ first sport pilot/light-sport aircraft (SP/LSA) flight training centers. Back in April, he and his chief pilot attended the Sun ’n Fun Fly-In at Lakeland, Florida, checked out several new light-sport aircraft (LSA), and decided the Evektor SportStar would serve their purpose.

The airplane arrived on July 15 and was promptly flown to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for EAA AirVenture 2005, where they started talking up the new training center. Now, with a couple of flight students already progressing through the program, Bamtton feels they’re well on their way to serving a potentially huge need in the aviation marketplace.

“We’re giving it a shot and seeing how it works,” Bamtton said. “We just see that it’s a niche in the market. We see it as another way for people to get involved in aviation.”

So far five of St. Charles’ 31 CFIs have become certificated sport pilot instructors, and the others are not far behind. Bamtton says the school has already ordered a second SportStar scheduled for delivery in September.

“People are calling from as far away as California wanting to come here and get their sport pilot’s certificate,” Bamtton said. “So we created an accelerated program, and worked out a deal with a hotel a mile-and-a-half away. If people really apply themselves, they can come in here and get it (the SP certificate) knocked out in two weeks.”

The accelerated program is based on a pre-paid sport pilot package, which includes classroom and DVD training, ground school and books, 20 hours of dual instruction, and five hours solo time in the 2005 SportStar. Add to that pre- and post-flight briefings for the total cost of $2,875.50.

“A person comes in and pays that, and they can do the accelerated training if they want to, or they can pre-pay for the package and do it over a six month period if they want,” Bamtton said. Four students have already taken advantage of the deal, but are stretching their training out over a couple of months. The first student scheduled for the accelerated program begins training on September 10. Two students have already ordered airplanes and are using the St. Charles Flying Service SportStar to work on their ratings before the aircraft arrive.

Bamtton says he is using these first few weeks to learn how to use the airplane in a flight-training environment. He talks to Evektor every day, giving constructive feedback about the airplane.

“We’re one of the first ones in the country trying to put the aircraft into a flight-training environment,” Bamtton said. “It’s new and there’s going to be a learning curve. We just figure we’re going to have to play it by ear and see how it works out.”

The SportStar is a two-place, low-wing metal airplane with a fixed tricycle undercarriage and controllable nose wheel. Engines include a choice of the four-cylinder, four-stroke, 80-hp Rotax 912 UL or the 100-hp Rotax 912 ULS. Operating limitations exclude aerobatic maneuvers and limit the airplane to VFR operations only.

For more information on St. Charles Flying Service’s Sport Pilot training package visit www.stcharlesflyingsvs.com, or call 800/447-6066.

EAA Aviation Center, 3000 Poberezny Road, Oshkosh, WI 54902
Phone: 920/426.4800

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