The First Day Of The New Rules

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What will really change on the morning of Sept. 1, when the new Sport-Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft rules take effect? The one thing we could find, with help from EAA info analyst Charlie Becker in the AirVenture Sport Pilot tent, is this: If you want to fly a standard-category aircraft that qualifies as a light-sport aircraft, such as certain Aeroncas, or Luscombes, or Pipers, or Ercoupes -- EAA has a long list of dozens of airplanes that qualify -- you can burn your current third-class medical or let it lapse, show up at the airport on Sept. 1 with only your valid driver's license, and fly as a Sport Pilot. That means day VFR only. Digging a little deeper, it seems you can also (theoretically) go to the airport on Sept. 1 and start working with a Certified Flight Instructor to build hours toward your Sport Pilot license, but the Practical Test Standards and the knowledge test aren't expected to be published till October, which means you can't be sure that you are spending those hours working on the right tasks. And there probably won't be a flight examiner who can test you until January, anyway. If you want to buy a light-sport aircraft, you will have to wait probably at least till next spring, while the FAA and the industry work out the procedures. As Mark Twain said: "All good things arrive unto them that wait ... and don't die in the meantime."