You don’t need to own a vintage airplane to benefit from a type club or aircraft owners group. The owners of Flight Design CTs have one of the most active owners associations in existence — not bad for an airplane that arrived in the United States on the first wave of the Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) rule created in 2004.
The CTs, two-place, high-wing designs powered by Rotax engines, are a European import that quickly gained a foothold in the U.S. LSA market. But that doesn’t mean the CTFlier group is restricted to the United States.
Roger Lee, a Rotax mechanic from Tucson, Ariz., and one of the more active members of the organization notes, “We have people from all over the world — from places I have never even heard of,” he says.
The group was formed in 2006 and the website was created in June 2010, according to Lee. The group now has 928 members “and we get hundreds of posts from all over the world.”
Lee notes that prior to the creation of CTFlier.com, there was another CT owners group website, but it was more restrictive as to what people could post, and eventually it disappeared. Flight Design also has a website for company news.
“The CTFlier page is more geared toward the aircraft owners who have questions or who have stories and images to share,” Lee explains. “It is also open to other LSA owners.”
“About 95% of the posts on CTFlier.com are about the CT and that is what we encourage, although we do get a lot of technical questions about LSA regulations and LSA aircraft other than the CT and, of course, about the Rotax engine,” he continues.
The website also gets a lot of visits from people who are considering becoming CT owners.
One of the most often asked questions is about the roominess and payload capabilities of the aircraft. Light-Sport Aircraft, by definition, are limited to just a pilot and one passenger, and for fixed-gear land airplanes, a gross weight of 1,320 pounds.
Lee chose the Flight Design CT because it fit him — literally. He stands over 6 feet tall and found himself cramped when he tried to get into other LSAs — “especially the low wing designs,” he recalls.
“I would put the canopy down and have to hold my head cocked to one side,” he says. “The CT is wonderful because it’s big enough to put two big people in it and still have room for fuel and baggage, and, of course, it has the built-in parachute, just like the Cirrus.”
The parachute is often what sells the airplane to the pilot’s non-flying spouse, Lee claims.
Tim Greer from Deer Valley, Ariz. is one of those CT owners for whom the built-in parachute was the tipping point.
“When my wife found out about the parachute, it was a done deal,” he says. “Myself, I was smitten by the CT’s specs. I did my training in a Cessna 152, then about 2006 I bought my first CT after taking a few flights in one at the Copperstate Fly-in.”
He was also impressed by the longevity of the Flight Design company, noting that it was well-established in Germany before it came to the United States to be part of the Light-Sport Aircraft movement.
Greer now owns his second CT.
“The first one had steam gauges, the second one has an all glass panel,” he says. “I have about 650 hours total time now, and all but 35 of that are in a CT.”
Although the Internet predates the LSA movement by about 10 years, there aren’t very many webpages dedicated to LSAs. Greer, who makes his living helping people set up and manage websites, is hoping to change that. Recently he set up webpage for the Sport Cruiser — a low-wing design with a bubble canopy.
Like Lee, he’s noticed that there aren’t too many places for LSA owners to go online when they have questions, but adds that all Light-Sport Aircraft owners are welcome at CTFlier.com.
According to Greer, one of the hottest topics on CTFlier.com is Flight Design’s development of the four-place design known as the C4.
Although it cannot be a Light-Sport Aircraft, it already has a following among current CT owners.
“We intend for the website to be home for the C4 when it comes out,” Greer says. “We have quite a few members who have put deposits down and are waiting for it.”
Although the CTFlier is completely independent from Flight Design and Flight Design USA, both branches of the business benefit from the organization, says Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA.
“The main benefit, in my opinion, is the distribution of important information that is not able to be covered by Service Bulletins or aircraft manuals supplied by a manufacturer,” he says. “Despite our best efforts, operating such complex systems as a modern airplane with software, autopilots and the like can leave an owner with a lot of unanswered questions and an owners club can really help.”
Peghiny notes that the creation of the group is also helpful in attracting future customers.
“It means to a potential customer that our company has reached critical mass and that there is tribal knowledge than they can depend on and a group to share their experiences,” he says. “CTFlier has been so successful that owners of other types of LSAs participate in the discussions.”