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Sport Pilot Rule Published
July 20, 2004 - The Federal Aviation Administration today published the long-awaited Sport Pilot rule, a set of aviation regulations that will significantly reduce barriers to participation in recreational aviation. FAA Administrator Marion Blakey commended NAFI’s affiliate the Experimental Aircraft Association for its work spanning more than a decade to promote, develop, and usher in a new era in sport aviation.

The new sport-pilot and light-sport-aircraft regulations will make basic sport and recreational aviation a viable pastime for more individuals by lowering the overall investment in training and equipment. Administrator Blakey also designated next week’s EAA AirVenture event, the annual showcase fly-in and convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, as the next major venue for disclosure and discussion of this new category of recreational flying.

“If you’d like to get the full depth and breadth of today’s announcement, what it means to America, visit EAA’s AirVenture next week at Oshkosh,” she told reporters. “If you’re looking for grassroots aviation, the grass is not going to be any greener anywhere than at Oshkosh this year.”

In discussing the appeal of sport aviation, Blakey related an experience she had at EAA AirVenture last year. “I had the pleasure -- and I do mean pleasure -- of flying one of these aircraft out at Oshkosh. It was a FlightDesign CT, and I flew it with another pilot for about 30 minutes. It was like a bird, being out there. As I recall, we were at about 3,000 feet. It was a spectacular view. It tells you why this rule is so important to so many people. It was nothing short of an incredible experience,” she said.

When the new regulations take effect September first, the door to such experiences will swing wider for more aviation enthusiasts than ever. “Getting wings just got considerably less expensive with one stroke of the pen. And on top of that, light-sport aviation just got considerably safer,” Blakey said.

In a private meeting following FAA’s media briefing, EAA President Tom Poberezny met with FAA’s entire sport pilot rulemaking and administrative teams to share congratulations and to express thanks.

“When you’ve been working on something such as this you often wonder how you’re going to feel when it really happens. I can safely say there is nowhere else in the United States or on the planet that I would want to be than here,” Poberezny said of being at FAA Headquarters for the announcement.

With these regulations, FAA has created two new aircraft airworthiness certificates: one for special light-sport aircraft, which may be used for personal use or compensation while conducting flight training, rental, or towing; and another for experimental light-sport aircraft, which may be used only for personal use. The regulations also establish requirements for maintenance, inspections, pilot training, and certification.

The agency expects the return of thousands of pilots who left aviation because of high costs, and a significant influx of new entrants enticed by the dramatically lowered obstacles. It also anticipates that the regulations’ safety requirements should also give this segment of the general aviation community better access to insurance, financing, and airports.

Complete information is available at EAA’s sport pilot web site at www.sportpilot.org.

To join NAFI or gather more information on NAFI, EAA, and their programs, call 1-800-JOIN-EAA (1-800-564-6322) or go to www.nafinet.org.