Sporty’s has come up with a different twist on the affordable training aircraft by looking to the most popular training aircraft of all time. The company, which operates a large flight school near Cincinnati, is buying good used Cessna 172s and, in most cases, taking out a lot of the bells and whistles that their private owners tend to load them up with. The result is the 172LITE, a no-frills basic trainer that can fly the heftiest student and instructor combination and still carry more than an hour’s worth of fuel. And since good 172s are ubiquitous on the used market, Sporty’s says it can refurbish and refit the aircraft and still rent them for $99 an hour.
The aircraft are inspected mechanically and for corrosion and everything that needs to be fixed is fixed. A basic panel with flight and engine instruments and simple com system is installed, providing all the airplane a student needs to get to solo. Each aircraft gets a new coat of paint, plexiglass where required and new interior components. “The result is an aircraft that looks new to the client,” said Sporty’s President Hal Shevers. “With only essential instrumentation the student will learn fundamental airmanship. After mastering those necessary skills the student can then advance to more expensive aircraft to complete their training, but it is simply all the airplane a pilot needs all the way through the Recreational Certificate.” Sporty’s is working on its second 172LITE and also plans to share its experience with other flight schools that might want to try the same program.