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Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, Texas, was bustling with aviation activity Saturday, November 12, as EAA’s Sport Pilot Tour landed there for the fourth in a series of six EAA-sponsored tour stops. McKinney had the largest turnout yet with an estimated 750 people in attendance for the one-day event. While many were seasoned aviation enthusiasts eager to learn more about the FAA’s new Sport Pilot/Light-Sport Aircraft rule, others sought to attend informational presentations as well as see the demonstration aircraft parked on the ramp.

No matter what the reason, scores of people took advantage of the opportunity to see what sport pilot is all about, with EAA leading the way.

“Sport pilot is all about providing new ways for people to get involved in aviation,” said Ron Wagner, EAA field operations manager who led the Oshkosh contingent. “The underlying purpose of the tour is to bring the airplanes before the public so they can see for themselves that aviation is more achievable today, with lower cost and time barriers.”

For those who were at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this past summer, think of it as a traveling LSA Mall with a baker’s dozen of special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA) on display representing 10 different manufacturers. The aircraft included:

Aerostar Festival;
Aveo USA SportRider;
Evektor’s Sportstar;
Flight Design CT SW;
IndUS Aviation Thorpedo and Sky Skooter;
Legend Cub’s American Legend;
RANS S-7S Courier;
Sportair USA StingSpor, and;
Jabiru J250, the latest edition to the S-LSA fleet certificated by the FAA earlier in the week.

Many of the manufacturers provided demonstration flights. And like Oshkosh, EAA provided more than 30 free sport pilot student certificates to members.

Presentations were held throughout the day, and included subjects such as an SP/LSA general overview; medical certificate provisions; maintenance issues and requirements, advice on purchasing an LSA, and other topics. Wagner noted that more than 20 flight instructors attended a late-afternoon session that outlined new SP/LSA opportunities for flight schools. “They (instructors) were eager to learn about opportunities to expand their businesses through sport pilot,” he said.

As is the case with all grassroots events, it could not have been done without volunteers. EAA Chapters 1246 (McKinney) and 168 (Farmers Branch) were official event hosts, while Chapter 34 members ran the registration table. “Our members showed plenty of enthusiasm for this event, and that made a huge difference,” Wagner said. Special thanks were also given to Wingspoint Aviation, which not only offered use of their large hangar, but also allowed 10 LSA to park inside overnight at no charge.

December 3 marks Sport Pilot Tour Stop No. 5, at Camarillo, California. Additional locations for 2006 will be announced soon. In addition, EAA will bring many of the tour's informational and demonstration elements to the U.S. Sport Aviation Expo at Sebring, Florida, on January 12-15. For more information, visit www.sportpilot.org.

An estimated 750 people attended EAA's fourth Sport Pilot Tour stop.

An SRO crowd listens to EAA's Joe Norris present,
"Sport Pilot: Now You Can Fly!"

Attendees peruse more than a dozen S-LSA on display at Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, Texas.

EAA provided nearly three-dozen free Sport Pilot Student certificates to EAA members at McKinney.

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

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