Coming along the path a little later than Wilke, Gabbert knew the flight physical drill and decided to sidestep it.
"I know I have some problems," he said.
He received his sport pilot license in September, and in February plunked down a $20,000 deposit toward delivery of a SportCruiser, the bubble-canopy beauty being marketed in Southwest Florida by Lehew's Shell Creek Aviation.
Lehew has been flying his demo aircraft all over the country, catching air shows, and taking orders left and right.
"Once people fly them they can't do without them. They are going almost faster than the manufacturer can keep up."
THE HARLEYS OF THE SKY
Retro-looking replica of classic two-seater last made in 1960. Made in Riverside, Calif., just gearing up for sales.
Basic price $90,000.
Typically equipped: $105,000.
Bubble canopy low-wing plane, made in Czech Republic. Gearing up for U.S. sales
of 300 per year.
Basic price $75,000.
Typically equipped: $80,000.
With latest avionics: $92,000.
FLIGHT DESIGN CT
High-wing plane designed in Germany and made in Ukraine.
Basic price $95,000.
With latest avionics: $115,000.
THE NEW RULES
FAA rules for light sport aircraft
* Maximum gross takeoff weight of 1,320 pounds; 1,430 pounds for seaplanes.
* Maximum speed in level flight 138 mph.
* Single- or two-seat aircraft only.
* Fixed (non-retractable) landing gear.
* Can be manufactured and sold ready-to- fly under new certification category with less government oversight than regular airplanes.
* Can be converted from being experimental or kit-built aircraft, but only for use by the owner.
* Sport pilots generally are limited to flying light sport aircraft or ultralights.
* They are limited to daytime flying and good-visibility weather.
As of March, there were 1,154 certified light-sport aircraft nationwide, up from 233 the previous year, according to the FAA.
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Liberty and Sport Cruiser are scheduled to join the field of aircraft that will be on display.
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