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Higher Class Aviation Escapes California Wildfires

October 24, 2007 —Robert Gaither, owner of Higher Class Aviation, was slightly out of breath when he called EAA on Tuesday morning to report that his company's facilities on the Ramona (California) Airport had been spared by the California wildfires. Gaither said the fires had surrounded the airport, which was being used as a home base for many of the firebombers that were dropping water and fire-retardant on the fires. Most his staff had been evacuated from their homes, and Roger Chase, test pilot for Higher Class, was fighting to save his home from the rampant wildfires.

Higher Class Aviation produces the Sport Hornet, which was featured in the October issue of EAA Sport Pilot magazine. Gaither was preparing to leave for the Copperstate Regional Fly-In, but said his phone was ringing constantly with Sport Hornet enthusiasts checking on the company.

"I'm calling so you can let folks know our facility is okay, but production is halted until the fire danger passes and everyone can return to work," Gaither said. He's also heard that Nichols Field, an active airpark southeast of San Diego with about 50 ultralights and light planes based there, had been severely damaged by fire. (EAA Ultralight Chapter 114 is headquartered at Nichols Field.)

The Sport Hornet earned S-LSA approval just prior to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2007 and carries a base price of $49,995 with an 80-hp Rotax 912 engine. Higher Class Aviation is also preparing to introduce an ultralight trainer powered with a Rotax 582 engine.

To learn more, visit www.SportHornet.com.

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