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Rod Hightower Meets With EAA Ultralight Council


Rod Hightower
EAA President Rod Hightower

The EAA Ultralight Council headed by Carla Larsh had a full day of meetings on October 30 at the EAA Aviation Center, including almost two hours with EAA President Rod Hightower. Each fall, the council reviews EAA programs and activities that pertain to ultralights and light planes such as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, ultralight chapters, publications, and government affairs to name just a few. The council members came away from the meeting with the feeling that Rod wants to help us solve some of our biggest problems.

The morning session began with an unscheduled visit by EAA Founder Paul Poberezny who recalled the earliest days of ultralight flying at the convention. He described the various site changes and looked toward the future noting how the main campground has been expanding into our flight path. Before leaving the group, he left a gentle reminder that he has reached the age of 89 by the simple measure of getting up every day and pushing forward.

EAA government affairs specialist David Oord reported to the council good and bad news about the long awaited and recently released LODA (Letter of Deviation Authority). The good news is that the rule which failed to adequately provide for compensated primary instruction in E-LSA (experimental light-sport aircraft) will probably be modified. The expected changes include the allowance for compensated primary flight training toward a sport pilot certificate in grandfathered E-LSA, especially for fixed wings under 87 knots. The bad news is that it will still be limited, temporary, and restricted to areas where no suitable S-LSA (special light-sport aircraft) trainer is available. For fixed wings under 87 knots, that is about everywhere. It may be limited to those E-LSA trainers that previously held the training allowance. Pilots owning grandfathered trainers are advised to hang on to their aircraft a little longer. You may be able to use it yet. EAA believes what we really need is a LODA that allows for primary flight training in new experimental aircraft.

The highlight of the meetings was the session with EAA President Rod Hightower. Council members and EAA staff including Timm Bogenhagen and Charlie Becker had the chance to explain in detail how ultralights and light-sport aircraft got to the point we are now and where we think we should be going. It was Rod’s first chance to really get an understanding of our needs. An encouraging aspect of his problem-solving approach is that he prefers to identify the most important issues or needs and focus on those even if they’re difficult. He’s interested in the “A-level” big problems where a suitable solution will have a more significant impact. Whether you fly ultralights or light-sport aircraft, there’s reason to be optimistic that under his leadership the future could be more promising. Listen to Rod Hightower talk about ultralights in this podcast of an interview with Paul Plack for ANN (aero news.net).  The discussion begins at the 5:42 minute mark.


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