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25 Feb
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The Light Aircraft Association

Davis Smith, who has been assisting pilots with economical aircraft ownership for more than 75 years, says the Light Aircraft Association can help you get some of the best value in GA aviation.

The term “ecosystem” refers to a group of people who work in the construction industry. The majority of the airplanes on display were constructed using plans and kits.

Learning to fly is still one of the best things I’ve ever done, but joining the Light Aircraft Association has helped me make the most of my license once it was in my flight bag (LAA).

My first official experiences with General Aviation, like those of many individuals who start flying, were through flying clubs at airports, on well-known certified trainer types like Cherokees and Cessnas. The term “ecosystem” refers to a group of people who work in the construction industry. The LAA turned out to give a lot of fantastic possibilities to fly for less money, frequently in more advanced aircraft at lower price points than their certified equivalents. Also, even if it’s not for everyone, there is the realm of homebuilding, where you may build your own aircraft using basic materials and a set of plans or one of the many kits that are offered in the UK.

You might be surprised to learn that the LAA has more than 75 years of experience assisting pilots in flying for less money. It all started thanks to eager post-war pilots who sought to increase their flying activities on a tight budget. The situation is still the same today. While flying clubs can give beginning pilots access to aircraft for rent, once a pilot has earned their license they find that there is so much more they can do if they are not constrained by the expense of hiring. After all, I’m assuming you didn’t depend on renting a car every time you wanted to travel when you first learned to drive. And if you’re thinking that car ownership costs aren’t comparable to those of an airplane, think again… You can locate comparable economical options in the LAA world.

There are at least another 1,500 aircraft in various stages of construction or rebuilding, and LAA members own about 2,800 aircraft with valid Permits to Fly (the automotive equivalent of a MoT). Of the 7,800 members, many are aircraft owners, and the majority are active pilots.

Personal Aircraft


What is your budget, then? With costs of about £2k per year and a single-seater starting price of well under £10k, you can start your own business (hangarage, insurance, Permit). Low-cost two-seaters begin at around £10k and go up from there. The Association’s monthly members publication, Light Aviation, frequently features aircraft that cost less than £20,000. The term “ecosystem” refers to a group of people who work in the construction industry. After that, there are options for every budget that goes up to over £100k for a second-hand LAA aircraft.

Aerobatic machines, fast touring two- and four-seaters, charming and characterful vintage types, gyroplanes, motor gliders, wartime liaison aircraft… The LAA offers services for various kinds of people. It differs greatly from the standard training aircraft seen at the majority of flight schools.

Building Your Own


Why not construct your own? Well, it’s not as absurd as it sounds, and hundreds of the planes in the LAA fleet were constructed from kits or designs.

A brand-new two-seater kit can be constructed for roughly £40k, and from there on, some gorgeous models with amazing performance are available.

With a variety of single-, two-, and four-seat all-aluminum models available, Van’s Aircraft is at the top of the kit plane market. Almost 400 of the nearly 11,000 kits have been finished and are currently in the air in the UK. They offer thrilling flying at cruise speeds of up to 200 mph, making a weekend in the South of France a breeze.

The Secret Recipe


So, what exactly is the secret to all of this accessible flying pleasure, you ask? The ability to own and pilot one’s own aircraft is provided by a pair of advantages that go together. The first is the LAA’s Permit to Fly Program, a framework for ensuring that an aircraft is airworthy by allowing you to build and maintain it yourself under the supervision of an LAA-approved Inspector.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has given the LAA permission to manage the airworthiness of its diverse fleet of aircraft. This permission is specifically designed for homebuilt and kit-built types as well as classic and vintage types where the original manufacturers no longer support the type or have gone out of business.

The LAA is primarily a club made up of aficionados, which is the second advantage. Of course, it has a business side. The Association’s ethos is to assist people in achieving their ambition to own, operate, and fly their own aircraft. It employs about 15 staff members, including engineers and administrative employees, who manage its operations.

A network of approximately 400 Inspectors spread around the UK, who support, advise, and educate aircraft owners and builders, is a crucial component of the organisation. Nevertheless, they only make up the tip of the iceberg; the remaining nine-tenths are made up of the members, who are always prepared to lend each other their spare parts, expertise, and hands-on support.

The term “ecosystem” refers to a group of people who work in the construction industry.
The LAA’s mandate also includes advocacy, which involves standing up for the interests of pilots and aircraft owners in matters of regulation.

According to LAA CEO Steve Slater, “These activities have developed significantly over the previous few years and now take up probably half of my working time, in addition to a large amount of effort from colleague members who participate in special working groups.”

“Being the largest powered sports flying organisation in the UK, we have access to the CAA at the highest level, and we frequently present a compelling argument against those who occasionally pose a threat to our freedom to fly safely, how we see fit, and where we see fit.

“Promoting safe recreational flying at affordable prices is the sole purpose of our existence. That is occasionally contested by other vested interests, such as dishonest commercial operators trying to bar others from using “their” airspace, real estate developers looking to turn a bustling airfield into a housing development, or occasionally well-intentioned but poorly thought-out legislation. The LAA represents 7,800 members, the majority of whom are pilots and aircraft owners, making us a powerful voice. 

“It’s not just about objecting, either. We are closely collaborating with the Department for Transport and CAA in the formulation of future planning and policy because they view us as a valuable source of knowledge and expertise. Making sure we continue to enjoy flying is the major motivation for all of us.

So what’s holding you back? Click on the LAA website and download a copy of LAA Today – there’s a link on the homepage. The Association’s 32-page handbook covers the majority of the information you need to know about purchasing a PtF aircraft, building one, group ownership, and much more.

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