I was on the AOPA website last night watching the video the organization has posted about flying their Remos GX LSA to Oshkosh. The filmers assumed the Remos represented every LSA and, while I don’t disagree totally with some of what they said, a lot of what they presented was and is applicable only to the REMOS. Part of their rationale for flying the aircraft to Oshkosh was to establish whether an LSA (again, there they go generalizing!) can be a good cross-country aircraft. I laughed when I saw they only flew a six hundred mile trip; that’s the length of an average cross-country trip in our CTSW. So, for those of you still thinking about LSA, let me give you the perspective of a different LSA owner.
First, the most misleading thing anyone can do is to assume that all LSA’s are the same. Every LSA is different, even within the same manufacturer’s lines, though in some cases the piloting differences may or may not be small. As both a pilot and a prospective owner, you’ve got to do your homework and learn as much as you can about each airplane. Owner’s forums are an excellent place to do so and often are the best places to ask questions or just bone up on techniques or troubleshooting.
To that end and to specifically address some of the points within the AOPA film, baggage space is one thing we are not short of in our CTSW. Even though the baggage compartment is split by a Ballistic Recovery System, it’s as large as the baggage compartment in our ex-Grumman Cheetah. It is one of the reasons why we picked this airplane. I had looked at baggage carriage in both an Evektor SportStar Max and the Remos and, in both aircraft, the baggage areas are small and behind the seats. In the CTSW, the baggage compartment is behind the cockpit and is accessible through pop-out dual doors, one on each side. Admittedly, the door sizes and the fact that most of the space must be packed vertically means we pack our clothes and gear in soft bags, but that’s the only sacrifice we make that’s unique to the airplane. The CTSW, if you can manage to stay within its weight and balance limitations while doing so, can load up 110 lbs of bags, 55 lbs on a side.
According to the film, the Remos they took to Oshkosh cruised at about 100 knots. I typically book keep a 112 knot cruise and often see 115 knots indicated when flying locally at 75% power, and this is not unusual in this series of aircraft. My highest groundspeed so far has been 146 knots; and while most of the excess is tailwind, the fact that the airplane routinely cruises in the 110 knot plus range is part of what contributed to that. That “record” occurred during a single leg, three and a half hour trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Pearland, Texas, just south of Houston Hobby. We routinely travel to Alabama, North Carolina, and northeastern Missouri. Our longest flight so far has been the trip from Columbia, California to Pearland, Texas after we bought the airplane, a distance of 1463 nautical miles. So, when the AOPA guys are talking about how an LSA is more suited for trips around the patch, they may be talking about the Remos but they are NOT talking about the CTSW or probably anything else from Flight Design!
My airplane is equipped with a two-axis autopilot, a Garmin 496 with XM radio and weather, an attitude indicator, turn-and-slip inclinometer, an airspeed indicator, a VSI, a magnetic compass, a Garmin SL40 communications radio, and a Garmin 327X transponder. It also is equipped with lights for night flight, though current light sport rules prevent us from using the aircraft after dark. We also carry an ICOM A-24 handheld with VOR and backup communications capability, a unit that may be replaced in the near future by a Sporty’s SP-400 handheld with VOR and ILS. Combine that with paper sectionals and an iPad carrying sectionals, IFR low altitude charts and approach plates, and backup GPS and weather capability using 3G, and we’ve got quite a capable little package.
Yet, it seems, we see advertising about the Remos all the time and little about the Flight Design line of airplanes. That’s strange considering that, according to FAA records, there are 121 Remos built aircraft versus 317 Flight Design built aircraft flying in the US. There are, in fact, almost twice as many CTSW’s as there are Remos aircraft period (216 vs. 121). So, why all the fuss? Beats me!
I’m sure the Remos is a nice airplane. I saw one up close recently, and there are some things I admire about it. But don’t assume that one LSA is like all the rest. That just ain’t true. Do your homework and find out for yourself what the differences are, and then fly or buy the one that’s best for you.