Flight Design’s CT series is the best-selling Light-Sport Aircraft in the United States and while the importer benefits from several distributors, one stands head and shoulders above all the rest.
Normally, that last phrase is just an expression, but in this case it is also literal. Why?
That’s because the two fellows who run the distributor enterprise define the phrase “big and tall.” At my average height both tower above me. Meet Tom Gutmann, Senior and Junior. In more ways than physical dimensions, they loom large and cast a long shadow.
Their company, Airtime Aviation — found via the easy-to-remember website, FlyCT.com — is significantly responsible for the success of the CT series in America. Operated by the energetic father and son team, Airtime Aviation has delivered more than 220 new and used CT aircraft to customers around the United States and North America.
Since the very beginning of LSA, the Gutmanns have worked closely with Flight Design’s importer, Flight Design USA, run by industry veteran Tom Peghiny. Their long experience has made the Gutmanns as intimately aware of CT’s features, equipment, maintenance, and new developments as anyone.
The pair is quickly getting up-to-speed on Flight Design’s all-new F-series to come in this new year.
“We’re super excited about F2 and its companion models leading to the four-seat F4,” said Tom Jr. “It’s newer, bigger, faster, and better in many ways.”
“F2 has several new safety features we’re really excited about,” Tom Sr. added.
He related seeing video documentation of F2’s stall-proof qualities, reporting the new model is able to resist stall even when at a very steep deck angle and even when aggravated by a full deflection of controls.
Other safety attributes include electronic aids like autopilot — and its “Level” button — plus a robust occupant safety cell, and panel-mounted airbags, the first in the GA industry. Every Flight Design aircraft has been delivered with an airframe parachute as standard equipment.
In The Beginning
In 1991 when Tom Jr. was still a lad, father, son, and friends traveled to visit Rans Aircraft in Hays, Kansas, where they bought three S6 Coyotes.
“We flew them everywhere, all around the West and East, even around the Statue of Liberty,” Tom Sr. reports.
However, they never represented Rans.
As the LSA industry began to take shape following the new FAA regulation, the Gutmanns started their Airtime Aviation business in 2002.
Previously, the family ran two large auto service centers in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area.
“We did everything mechanical on autos and operated the business with two locations for 40 years,” said Tom Sr.
Their 27-bay shop remained busy until a new highway project and eminent domain forced them to close it down. They elected to sell off the inventory and turn their eyes skyward.
Tom Sr. remembers when they saw the original CT2K in the Ultralight area of Oshkosh in 2001, when the model was represented by another man, Rob Rollison three years before the LSA regulation was announced.
“It really caught our attention,” he said. “Then we went to SUN ‘n FUN 2002 with our Rans airplanes and again examined CT2K.”
They were excited that both of them could get into it. (Remember these are a couple of burly fellows).
At the Florida show, Tom Sr. flew a 2001 example of CT2K still identified by its Ukrainian registry (where CT fabrication is done).
“I loved the way it flew,” he said, “so we made a deal and bought it.”
That purchase started an amazing story of success in the LSA industry.
“Everywhere we went with CT2K, people admired it and expressed an interest,” Tom Sr. recalled.
They called the German owner of Flight Design, who told them about Tom Peghiny, the longtime U.S. importer of the line. In no time, Airtime Aviation was born.
“We were strongly into new airplanes for a long time. As the industry matured, we got increasingly active with used airplanes,” he said. “Today, about 80% of Airtime sales involves used airplanes.”
Some are held on consignment, others the business purchases for resale.
The CT Series
CT presents a unique shape featuring a protective “safety cell” cabin. In the automotive world, this is described as “crush zone engineering.” It means forces of an impact are directed around the occupants to protect them.
In addition, every CT-series model comes equipped as standard with a BRS High-Speed 1350 emergency airframe parachute designed to bring down the entire aircraft, occupants and all, in the event of an emergency. Many believe these features provide peace of mind for pilot and passenger.
CT’s smooth exterior allows the model to hit the LSA speed limit of 120 knots. In its current CTLSi configuration, it can also cruise with 75% power at a respectable 112 knots (129 mph) while sipping less than 4 gallons per hour from its large 34 gallon fuel tanks. That translates to a non-stop flight of more than 1,000 statute miles.
CT further boasts a strong glide angle (14:1) and it slows well for landings with full flap stalls at only 39 knots. Takeoff requires a mere 300′ of ground roll and climb reaches 1,000 fpm. Electric flaps range from -6° to +30° and three-axis trim for elevator, ailerons, and rudder.
CT SuperSport and CTLSi aircraft come standard with big beautiful electronic flight info systems (EFIS) and engine monitoring system (EMS) screens that can be used in conjunction with an optional autopilot.
Comfort and Roominess
Occupants have 49″ of width (almost a foot wider than a Cessna 172); space in the cockpit for items needed in flight; and each can carry 55 pounds of luggage, accessed through dual exterior doors, weight and balance permitted, of course.
Air-bulb-adjustable seat backs and cushions aid human comfort, as does cabin heat and plenty of fresh-air ventilation. Visibility is simply enormous and a delight to occupants, further aided by a cantilevered wing that removes side obstructions to your sight line.
If CT SuperSport looks familiar to you, it should. It’s based on the CTSW, but SuperSport is something fresh. It takes a CTSW fuselage and grafts on the CTLS wing; adapts construction from the CTLS gear while still doing it with a single piece, like CTSW; employs tail structure from the newer model; and drafts the Rotax 912iS fuel-injected engine. Even that list doesn’t cover all the upgrades.
Flight Design describes CT SuperSport as “the new high performance version of the Flight Design CT, one of the most popular and innovative light aircraft in the world. The Super comes equipped with a single 10″ Dynon D1000 EFIS/MFD with Synthetic Vision, Dynon comm and transponder, ADS-B Out, and ballistic parachute system.”
CT SuperSport can be delivered with a 710 pound empty weight that puts it well below many LSA and more than 100 pounds lighter than the longer CTLS.
“This weight reduction was accomplished by using simplified avionics and equipment, plus some lighter parts from the European version of the CT,” said Flight Design officials.
CT SuperSport has the same spacious and wide interior of the CT series, but it returns to the “mushroom” instrument panel that does not extend all the way to the cockpit exterior. Seeming to rise out of the floor like a mushroom, the panel produces a feeling of much greater visibility, especially forward.
Re-entering the CTSW cabin reminded me of the helicopter-like view afforded by the cockpit design. This came in handy while I flew in close formation with the Gutmanns.
Despite his beefy frame, Tom Jr. and I fit in CT SuperSport with several inches between us and without pushing up against the door to make that claim.
CT SuperSport is some 13″ shorter than CTLS, Tom Jr. noted, and it does not have the hat rack or aft cabin windows of CTLS.
CT SuperSport also uses an electric trim for pitch only, while CTLS offers pitch, aileron, and rudder trim.
The new, lighter CT model is what I’d call a performance model. It runs close to the top end of the permitted speed range, can fly around 1,000 statute miles, climbs 1,000′ per minute, yet sips fuel at rates of four gallons per hour, even less if you retard the throttle slightly. It is a lively handling aircraft that still exhibits mild stall characteristics proven by our performing a full regimen of approach and departure stalls plus accelerated stalls in each direction.
In 2020, base price for CT SuperSport is $135,000, some $40,000 less than the flagship CTLS.
Options include night flight equipment and autopilot with Level button, added Flight Design officials.
Active and involved since the beginning of LSA, the Gutmanns are arguably the largest non-manufacturer seller of aircraft in light aviation worldwide. Their enterprise has delivered more aircraft than many manufacturers have ever made, yet they remain loyal to Flight Design aircraft.
You cannot go wrong dealing with these magnificent men and their flying machines.
If you never dealt with or spoken to Tom or Tom, you can remedy that by a quick phone call (try 918-630-5927 or 918-625-5442). You’ll find them fully informed about all things Flight Design, CT, and the new F-series. Both are approachable and enjoyable. You’ll immediately sense their passionate enthusiasm.
Warren Bowman says
FlyCT.com is a dead link.
Ben Sclair says
Indeed it is. I’ve placed a call (918-625-5442) to Airtime for status.
Steven Davis says
Dan: I wish you would have reviewed the Cessna 177RG (which you showed in your video of the 177). The RG is a much more capable airplane wit all of the positive attributes of the 177; it flies faster (148 knots standard engine) and climbs faster (much higher ceiling), eliminates the carburetor (ice) concerns, has a much greater range, and is decidedly more attractive in flight. Fuel consumption is almost the same, and range is much greater. Only negatives are slightly higher maintenance cos and slightly reduced baggage space. My 1976 177RG with an STC approved Lycoming IO390 cruises at 152 knots, takes off and climbs much better, and has a service ceiling higher than the standard 17,100’. Same TBO, only negative about 1/2 gallon more fuel per hour. Steve Davis N33272