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02/20/06 – EAA SPORT PILOT TOUR MAKES BIG SPLASH IN THE DESERT
EAA's latest Sport Pilot Tour stop drew several hundred aviation enthusiasts to Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona, last Saturday to learn more about opportunities in the growing sport pilot/light-sport aircraft community. The successful event drew a best-yet 18 certificated light-sport aircraft (LSA) from 13 manufacturers and more than 600 attendees. The 500-plus attendee registrations is another high for the tour, resulting in a large number of new EAA members.
“This was definitely the best event so far,” said EAA Senior Vice President Bob Warner, who made two well-attended presentations. “That’s a result of the continued evolution of not only the industry, but of the events themselves, by sheer repetition, learning how to do things better. We’re looking forward to the next phase of events.”
The Commemorative Air Force graciously offered the use of their facilities located on the Falcon Field, which is among the busiest general aviation airports in the country. “What a great backdrop for this event,” Warner added. “All the great CAF aircraft on the ramp, plus numerous and varied aircraft flying throughout the day. We were glad to be a part of it.”
Along with Warner, EAA Sport Pilot Team representatives Ron Wagner and Dan Johnson also spoke at well-attended presentations. Throughout the day, EAA helped issue 60 FAA sport pilot student pilot certificates. Manufacturers reported brisk activity, including aircraft sales and even more potential sales opportunities. EAA chapters 228, 538, and 1217 provided volunteers to help run the event, along with several CAF volunteers.
The event represented the last of the six stops in the initial phase of the EAA Sport Pilot Tour. More events are being planned and will be announced soon. But if there exists a tour stop EAA would like to box up and take with them, this was the one.
“This was our sixth event and every one got better, stronger,” Johnson said. “Many of the manufacturers made a point of telling me that this was the best yet.”
Participating manufacturers included:
- RANS S-7S Courier (2 aircraft)
- RANS S-6ES Coyote
- Evektor Sportstar
- Czech Aircraft Works Parrot
- Fantasy Air USA Allegro 2000 (2 aircraft)
- Jihlaven Kappa KP-5
- TL Sport StingSport (2 aircraft)
- Gryfair/FlyItalia Sport Rider
- Iniziative Industriali Italiane Sky Arrow 600 Sport
- Flight Design CT
- American Legend Aircraft Legend Cub
- AMD Zodiac 601 XL
- Higher Class Aviation Super Hornet
- Quad City Challenger (2 aircraft)
Weather forced IndUS Aviation to cancel its appearance with two aircraft (Thorpedo and Sky Skooter).
Another significant participant was Falcon Executive Aviation, which operates a flight school at Mesa. It offers not only private pilot instruction in traditional Piper/Cessna aircraft, but now teaches aspiring sport pilots in a new Allegro 2000. Wagner and Johnson met with flight school officials earlier and learned that the LSA students have for the most part brought new income to the flight school and not affected the Cessna/Piper fleet activity.
“This shows that they’re bringing new people into aviation and not at the expense of their other operations,” Wagner said. “That represents one of the intended consequences of sport pilot/light-sport aircraft: making flying more affordable and practical by lowering the cost and time barriers.”
EAA thanks the CAF for opening their doors to the tour, offering free admission to their museum for tour attendees, and volunteer help throughout the event.