After four years of talking and one abort, we’re finally doing it. My family is the proud new owner of a two-seat 1971 Grumman American AA-1A Yankee. The annual was completed a few days ago, and everything checked out, including the IFR-rated equipment. It does only have a single nav/comm unit, but my dad also picked up a Lowrance AirMap 2000c portable MFD + GPS unit for enroute navigation (and as a backup for IFR). While the AA-1A only has around 3 hours of endurance with reserves, it is autogas approved. On 5 gallons an hour, it’ll cruise at 105 knots (120 mph, 195 km/h) or better.
Anyway, while it’s not a light-sport category aircraft (the Yankee’s 1,600 pound max gross weight is about 280 pounds heavier), it’s close – particularly its efficiency. Light-sport aircraft are being viewed as the best way to bring new pilots into the aviation community, with low costs, new aircraft, and safe operations. With Cessna and their Sport hopping into a market filled predominantly by European designs, the light-sport arena is about to get a lot more interesting; Cessna hopes to sell 600 Sports per year, matching Cirrus sales in 2005.
In unrelated non-aviation news, the Child’s Play charity has started up again for the 2006 holiday season, bringing games, books, and toys to some very ill kids in hospitals around the world. There are now wishlists for locations in 4 countries, and an additional PayPal donation available for a children’s cancer hospital in Egypt. It’s a really cool charity, one I’ve participated in since it started in 2003, and it’s for a great cause. Just saying!