March 16, 2010

Sanford air show to show off sport planes

NOEL K

— By . GALLAGHER

Staff Writer

Sanford Regional Airport will host the New England Light Sport Aircraft Expo this weekend, giving visitors a close look at -- and rides in -- the lightweight sport planes.

At least 10 aircraft models will be at the event, said airport Manager Evan McDougal. ''We're looking at a pretty good crowd.''

Expo events will begin at 10 a.m. both days. Among the events are take-off and landing contests, seminars and flight instruction, and demonstrations.

The operator at the Sanford airport, Southern Maine Aviation, is a dealer for two types of light sport aircraft, and offers rentals and instruction, said Southern Maine Aviation General Manager Mark Damuth.

''We've had a lot of calls in the last few days,'' Damuth said about the expo.

Light sport aircraft are a relatively new category, with the Federal Aviation Administration creating new airworthiness certificates for the aircraft in 2005. Under FAA regulations, the planes are limited to single engines, two seats, a takeoff weight of 1,320 pounds, and a maximum airspeed of 120 knots, 138.2 mph.

Because of the specifications, the planes burn only about four gallons of fuel an hour, compared with eight to 12 gallons an hour in traditional small planes, McDougal said.

''With the high prices of fuel these days, that's a big difference,'' he said. ''When people are flying for a hobby, and the prices go up like that, they start to question whether that hobby is worth pursuing.''

Among the dealers scheduled to be at the expo are: Gobosh, Legend Cub, Tecnam, Aeropro EuroFox, Jabiru, Flight Design USA CTLS, Highlander, FPNA A-22 Valor, Thorpedo, and X-Air.

Additional expo information is available at www.nelsEXPO.com, or on the airport hotline at 608-4186.

Staff Writer Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 282-8226 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com

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