LightSportGyroplanes.comSaturday January 16, 2021
Date: February 10, 2016
Shedding Light on
by Ira McComic
There’s some confusion about what is meant by “light-sport” gyroplane, and the confusion is understandable since the FAA makes abundant use of the word “light.” In addition to “light-sport”, the FAA uses terms such as special light-sport, experimental light-sport, ultralight, and even lighter-than air.
Let’s cut through the confusion by looking at how those other terms differ from “light-sport”, and we can start by fairly easily dispensing with any possible confusion between “light-sport” and “lighter-than-air.”
Lighter-than-Air is Not Light-Sport
According to the FAA, a lighter-than-air aircraft means “aircraft that can rise and remain suspended by using contained gas weighing less than the air that is displaced by the gas”; in other words, things like hot-air balloons and blimps. Clearly, there should be no confusion that a gyroplane might be considered a lighter-than-air aircraft; however, some free spirits in Colorado, where pot has been legalized, could perhaps on occasion contemplate a connection.
When the FAA developed the definition of lighter-than-air using the phrase “contained gas”, I’m sure the agency would deny that it derived inspiration for that phrase from its opinion of the congressional figures who authorize the agency’s budget, politicians who habitually wrangle over how much longer to continue funding the agency—for four more years, or for the next three months, or perhaps for the next couple of days—before having to reconvene to debate the matter and in whatever time they can find between their own fund-raising speeches and fact-finding trips to Tahiti to examine the impact of skinny bikinis on the American economy.
Having dispensed with the unlikely confusion between “lighter-than-air” and “light-sport”, let’s move on to a term that has better prospects for confusion: ultralight.
page 1 of 7 pages