A fun thing happened this weekend. Such pleasures occur regularly across the USA where we enjoy so much aviation freedom. This time I got in on part of a weekend fly-out. Plus, I want to celebrate a thriving LSA flight school, another one supported by an arrangement called “leaseback.”
First, the successful LSA flight school: First Landings is a central Florida flight school dedicated to LSA. It uses five of them, including two Remos GXs, two SportCruiser/PiperSports, and a Cessna Skycatcher. First Landings is run by young entrepreneur Adam Valencic and he and his cadre of youthful flight instructors are keeping his fleet busy, averaging an admirable 70 hours a month per LSA, he reports. First Landings is based at Orlando/Apopka Airport (X04). Any flight school would be proud to claim such numbers, so great job, Adam!
The mostly young pilots and friends that joined Adam on the breakfast outing enjoyed dining at Spruce Creek’s Downwind Cafe. So, OK, it wasn’t a $50 hamburger flight. Instead it might have been eggs benedict or the Pancake Challenge (which neither of two participants won though they gave a shot at devouring an enormous stack of the sweet treats). Given fuel for an hour’s flying (call it $20) plus breakfast, the tab wasn’t even $50 (except maybe for a couple of less fuel efficient GA planes that accompanied the LSA). Based on the smiles, it was clear everyone enjoyed the experience!
Leaseback pays off: A Remos aircraft that joined the Sunday brunchers is one of two that are leased back to First Landings. LSA investor Eric Strong says this is paying off for him and that he genuinely makes money on the arrangement, in no small part based on Adam’s drive to make his LSA flight school business a success story.
Earlier I wrote about a leaseback investor, Joe D, who supplies three Flight Design CTLSs to flight schools under a similar arrangement. If the flight school is as successful as First Landings or Chesapeake (where one of the CTLS models is at work), the leaseback owner gains financially. The school get a new LSA. Students love the roomy, well-equipped aircraft. The airplane investor profits. Everyone wins! What Light-Sport aviation needs is more such deals.
For more on Sport Pilot and LSA: ByDanJohnson.com