Introduction to Ultralight Airplanes

Light Sport Aircraft

In USA there is a category of ultralight airplanes called Light Sport Aircraft. If you are from Europe, Asia or Africa you may never need to deal with that term... unless you want to fly in USA of course.

Wikipedia says:

"The Federal Aviation Administration defines a light-sport aircraft as an aircraft with a maximum gross takeoff weight of less than 600 kilograms (1320 pounds) for aircraft designed to operate from land, 649 kilograms (1,430 pounds) for seaplanes; a maximum airspeed in level flight of 120 knots (222 km/h); a maximum stall speed of 45 knots (83 km/h); either one or two seats; fixed undercarriage and fixed-pitch or ground adjustable propeller; and a single reciprocating engine, which includes diesel engines and Wankel engines."

To operate a Light Sport Aircraft you need a Sport Pilot License, similar to the Ultralight/Microlight license in UK for example.

Light Sport Aircraft

photo by Brad Pennock

Here are Some Examples of Popular Light Sport Aircrafts

If you still wonder how exactly the light sport aircrafts are different to the ultralights, the best is to have a look at some of the most popular models.

Cessna 162 Skycatcher is one of the most popular two-seat light sport aircrafts. Its price is around $100,000. You can find tons of information and other people who like this airplane at 162 Skycatcher Forum.

Eurofox is lovely ultralight, licensed as LSA in USA, provided by Eurofox Corporation. Its price is about $50,000 - 70,000. A very cute and affordable light sport airplane.

Jabiru J250-SP is advertised as one of the of the largest and most comfortable light sport aircrafts in USA. Its base price is around $100,000. The company offers also other models, experimental ultralights and kits.

At this point you probably have gotten the picture - LSA can be considered a sub-category of the ultralight airplanes. There isn't bid difference at the end.

Some Useful Resources About Light Sport Aircraft

Ultralight Flying Magazine hosts an informative small site about LSA. You'll find answers to most of the questions you ever had.

If you are interested in getting a sport pilot license, AOPA Online knows everything about Regulatory and Certification Policy

Looking to buy a good LSA? Find A Plane and have plenty of stuff.

And of course, is always here to answer any other questions you may have about LSA.

Further Reading

Have a look also at these more detailed articles on Ultralight Airplanes:

If you are interested to learn even more about the light sport aircrafts, here are a couple of interesting books:

Sport Pilot Airplane by Carol and Brian Carpenter is one of the best books on the topic, prctical and straight to the point.

Your Pilot's License by Jerry A. Eichenberger is about getting your pilot's license including for light sport aircraft.

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Post Your Comment

User comments:

Steve B. at Mar, 28 '08 08:40
The definition says:
" A maximum takeoff weight... ",

NOT maximum GROSS takeoff weight.

Big difference.
Title 14: Aeronautics and Space
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Bob at Apr, 17 '08 16:06
Thanks for the correction, Steve
Reply to this comment

A Different Steve B at Apr, 24 '08 14:01
Assuming you are refering to :

There are 8 references to 'weight' none of which make a differentiation between MTOW or MGTOW, in fact there appear to be no references to 'Gross' at all. With this in mind could you explain the 'Big Difference'

Reply to this comment

Steve B. at May, 21 '08 05:24
"Maximum Take Off Weight", as it applies to LSA issues is defined in the "Final Rule"....
Federal Register / Vol. 69, No. 143 / Tuesday, July 27, 2004 / Rules and Regulations 44793
Any substitution or addition of "extra" words just complicates the issue.

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