European ultralight aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel has taken note of the ever increasing prices being quoted for entry-level Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) and has done something about it. Enter the ALPHA Trainer. Its 34-foot 6-inch wingspan, reliable Rotax 4-cylinder, 4-stroke engine and rugged landing gear makes it suitable for flight training, and its 108 knot (200 km/h) cruising speed is right up there with most of the fast boys.
Back to the FutureLSA aircraft have taken the recreational flying industry by storm, having evolved from basic entry level aircraft to more sophisticated "fast glass" with electronic instrument panels, autopilot and GPS, even synthetic vision. Unfortunately this has driven prices skyward, hence this re-focus on the basics.
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The ALPHA's instrumentation returns to traditional "steam gauge" analogues, but retains VHF radio, transponder and even a ballistic parachute - handy when all else fails. In a world where real men fly taildraggers, the ALPHA sensibly uses the tricycle-type undercarriage most suited to beginners.
The main legs are tough composite construction, and the front one is short to provide excellent forward vision when on the ground, yet has the ability to absorb punishment from those not-so-elegant landings.