by Judie Betz
Daily Sun column February 14, 2010
After aviating for many years, pilots sometimes lose sight of the fun in flying. A recent
visit to Ocala Aviation Services, Inc. (OAS) at the Ocala International Airport reminded
me of how much fun one can have in an airplane.
This particular fun airplane was the guppy-shaped Flight Design CTLS, my introduction
to an aircraft in the relatively new light sport category. This category limits an airplaneʼs
weight and airspeed , but the CT is still a suitable cross-country plane at 1320 pounds
and a maximum range of 830 miles, cruising at 115 knots on less than five gallons per
hour. It is a brand new two-place, side-by-side, composite aircraft with all sorts of
creature comforts, the most obvious being its roominess, with visibility a close second.
The CT is flown with a stick, has a Rotax 912S 100 horsepower water-cooled engine, a
three-blade composite propeller, and even a BRS parachute system. The brakes are
not on the floor, but are activated by a hand lever between the seats, right next to the
throttle, and most other switches and levers are located there as well, leaving the
angled instrument panel free of clutter.
Now for the fun! Flight instructor Ron Towater showed me all the features while doing a
thorough preflight, inside and out, but it is when you are in place in your seat that the
fun begins. With the master switch on, the panel comes to life, and what a panel it is,
fully loaded with all the latest technology. It is predominately dual Dynon instruments,
plus a Garmin 696 GPS with weather and terrain reporting. If you have not flown a glass
cockpit before, you definitely need some dual with an instructor. Itʼs like watching TV –
very tough to keep your eyes outside the cockpit.
Taxiing becomes a fun experience, too, while you develop a technique for adjusting the
brake lever as well as the throttle with your hand. However, the rudder pedals are easy
to manipulate, both on the ground and in the air, so at least something on the plane is
familiar. The other thing about taxiing is the sight picture over the nose; the propeller
seems to be right in front of you since the cowling is short and drops away beneath the
sloped windshield. Make sure you are comfortable with this picture, because you will
want to be when you come in to land!
Taking off and in the air handling the CT is a dream, like flying a sports car. It is light
and easy on the controls, stalls are almost non-events. The flaps make a real
difference, and take some getting used to, as does that unusual sight picture out the
front, but flying something so light and with such great visibility all around makes for
Towater said Ocala Aviation Services has been operating this aircraft, one of about 300
flying so far, for about two months and is offering instruction to pilots with or without
licenses. The transition for those already flying “traditional” aircraft takes some getting
used to, so time with an instructor is well-spent. For those wishing they had learned to
fly but never did, the Sport Pilot training package is the answer, covering everything
from dual flight instruction, study material, the written test and final check ride. If youʼd
like to see how much fun flying can be, give OAS a call at 861-7484 or see them at
Judie Betz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 821-2828.