We take a light sport aircraft for a test drive.
- By Mark Huber
- Air & Space magazine, September 2007
If a Cessna 172 is the family sedan, then a typical light sport aircraft is a Fiat Spider convertible. Sport aircraft, the future of which was Czech Republic and imported by FantasyAir USA.
The Allegro’s fuselage is constructed of composite, its wings and control surfaces made of aluminum (empty, the airplane weighs a feathery 622 pounds). Beneath the cowling, the 80-horsepower Rotax 912 engine has liquid-cooled cylinder heads, air-cooled sleeves, and two carburetors, one on each side. Engine oil is measured in cups, not quarts. An engine-driven fuel pump and another electrically-powered one beneath the cockpit floor send fuel to the Rotax from the 16-gallon belly tank. To increase the Allegro’s range, auxiliary fuel tanks—good for another 12 gallons—can be installed in the wings.
Plexiglas cockpit doors open by swinging up against the bottom of the high wing. The Allegro’s two seats are pitched back like those in an exotic sports car, a Lotus, say, or a Lamborghini. A stick to control pitch and roll is located between the pilot and passenger seats at about the same place you would find the gear-shift stick in a manual transmission automobile. Only the Allegro’s rudder is activated by the traditional pulley and cable system. Pushrods provide crisp and immediate linkages to the ailerons and elevator. The instrument panel holds basic flight instruments as well as a transponder and a combination radio/GPS receiver.
Pilots accustomed to flying heavier airplanes might over-rotate the Allegro on takeoff, leading to tail strikes. Fortunately, manufacturers have installed a heavy skid plate to prevent damage to the airframe.
On takeoff, the Allegro pops joyfully off the runway in as little as 300 feet. The climb rate is brisk, and the Rotax engine hums along at a steady 4,500 rpm. Under most conditions, the Allegro can land in as little as 500 feet.