By TESA CULLI
MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Flying Club is working to create a light sport aircraft training center at Mt. Vernon Outland Airport.
“The Jefferson County Flying Club is taking the lead on this since it’s already in existence,” Airport Manager Chris Collins said. “They have experience in doing this.”
R.D. White, who formed the club five years ago, said the training center is a way to bring youth into aviation and help those who already have a pilot’s license by providing inexpensive options for flying that are made available by new Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for light sport aircraft licenses.
“The new rating the FAA has brought out makes it easier to fly,” White said. “And, as a non-profit organization, we can help keep rates down.”
Collins previously explained that LSA is showing an upward trend in sales and popularity due to the ease of being able to get the certification and flight credentials.
“There are pilots who may not be able to pass the more stringent FAA physical for some aircraft,” Collins said. “They can fly these because of the light sport category.”
Eric Evans, owner of Eric Evans Aviation, which sells Jabiru LSA, said that if you are healthy enough to have a driver’s license, you can obtain an LSA pilot license.
“You can’t have a driver’s license if you have eye problems, are too sick or unhealthy and have a medical issue,” Evans explained. “Those who want to fly an LSA still have to have 25 hours of flight training, 25 hours of ground school, pass a written exam and a flight exam to get the light sport license, but the idea is that if you are healthy enough to drive a car, you are healthy enough to pilot an LSA.”
White, who is a licensed ground school instructor, said the training center will be able to provide free ground school. White said the training center project is in line with the flying club mission to promote aviation, provide inexpensive means of flying and promote safety in aviation. The club already owns a Cessna 150 airplane, and is working on purchasing a Jabiru.
“This will bring young people in and those who have flown before and want to continue to fly,” White said. “We want to make this the busiest airport in Southern Illinois.”
The target date to get the training center operating is prior to October, when the first Light Sport Aircraft Expo will be held at the airport. More than 40 exhibitors are on board for the show, which is expected to be the largest LSA expo in the U.S. Only one other expo that allows people to try out the aircraft is held in Sebring, Fla, and manufacturers and support industries have been searching for a Midwest site for an expo. The event is expected to bring more than 1,000 visitors to the King City.
The Jefferson County Flying Club will hold an information meeting on Aug. 25, and urge anyone who is interested in aviation and furthering work on the training center to attend.
Additional information is available by contacting the airport at 242-7016.
By TESA CULLI
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