It’s hard to stomach the idea of spending more than $100,000 on two seats and 100 knots, so you’ve decided not to exceed that budget. Keeping in mind the price cap and a desire to only buy new factory built, any of the more than 150 LSA manufacturers are in the running. You don’t need range, baggage space, or blistering runway performance because this is a toy, meant only for fun, sunset cruises, and the pleasure of being in the air
The budget: $100,000 cash[email protected]
It’s the most popular LSA you’ve never heard of. The South African BushCat—built by Sky Reach and available from distributor AeroSport in the United States—is a stripped-down, utility machine. Similar to a Kitfox, the BushCat tops out at around 100 miles per hour, but it can take off and land in 500 feet. An aluminum tube-and-fabric covered fuselage make for a light package at only around 700 pounds empty. Available in different panel configurations and as a nose gear, tailwheel, or amphibious version, a basic airplane will only set you back around $85,000.
Pipistrel has enthralled the general aviation world with its cutting-edge designs, forward-thinking strategy, and quality construction. The Pipistrel Alpha Trainer, a carbon, two-seat, high wing design, compares with many of the top modern European designs, but at a much cheaper price point. At less than $90,000, the Alpha Trainer offers good performance from the standard Rotax 912UL engine, a ballistic parachute, basic instruments, and a Garmin radio and ADS-B transponder.
Popular in Europe but relatively unknown in the United States, the Savannah S offers a lot of performance for the money. All-metal construction, removable doors, vortex generators for low-speed handling, and a cruise speed of 110 mph for less than $90,000 make this Italian-built LSA a good value. The full-flap stall speed of 30 miles per hour is a major safety benefit, and it means the airplane can take off and land in fewer than 250 feet. It may not be the prettiest airplane ever built, but LSA prices have climbed substantially in recent years, so good values remain difficult to find.