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Pilots Aim to Establish Coast-to-Coast LSA Speed Record

Chalkie Stobbart
 Jessica Scharle and Matt Hansen will fly from Jacksonville to San Diego in an LSA.

May 14, 2009 — An Able Flight scholarship recipient and her flight instructor will embark on a coast-to-coast flight next month in hopes of establishing a Guinness world speed record for light-sport aircraft flown within the sport pilot regulations (daylight, VFR flight). Instructor Matt Hansen and sport pilot Jessica Scharle, who earned her certificate in 2008 through an Able Flight scholarship, plan an early morning departure from Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, destined for Gillespie Field in San Diego, California, by nightfall. The record attempt will occur during the window of June 8-11, with the actual date of the flight determined by weather. June 10 has 17 hours, 20 minutes of official daylight from the beginning of civil twilight to the end of civil twilight. Their purpose: to demonstrate that an LSA is a viable mode of transportation for long distance flying.

Projected groundspeed for the 1813.5 nautical mile route is 110 knots in a Peregrine FA-04 special light-sport aircraft. The flight path will avoid all restricted airspace and any area requiring flight above 10,000 ft msl for obstacle clearance. Three refueling stops are planned:  Concordia Parish Airport (0R4), Vidalia, Louisiana; Skywest Inc. Airport (7T7) in Midland, Texas; and Casa Grande Airport (CGZ) in Casa Grande, Arizona. The route has been designed to avoid all restricted airspace and any area that would require flight above 10,000 ft msl for obstacle clearance.

Since the NAA (National Aeronautical Association) does not yet have a category for LSA, the crew is applying to the Guinness World Records for an official record.

Hansen, 23, is a commercial pilot and flight instructor, active in teaching people with disabilities how to fly through Able Flight. Scharle, 24, is one of Hansen’s former students and was the first female Able Flight scholarship recipient to complete training and earn a sport pilot certificate.

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