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home : top news : top news August 20, 2014

7/12/2013 9:27:00 AM
New NEK Attraction: Aviation Vacation
Alex Maclean, assistant to developer Bill Stenger, tries out the pilot chair on Thursday in the Flight Design CTLS, a light sport plane to be manufactured at Newport State Airport in Coventry.
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Alex Maclean, assistant to developer Bill Stenger, tries out the pilot chair on Thursday in the Flight Design CTLS, a light sport plane to be manufactured at Newport State Airport in Coventry.

Robin Smith
Staff Writer

COVENTRY -- Bill Stenger has added another attraction to his list of reasons why people should visit the Northeast Kingdom.

A light-sport plane manufacturing plant and a flight school at the Newport State Airport creates "what I call aviation vacation," Stenger said Thursday.

People will "stay, play and learn how to fly here," he said at the announcement that Flight Design USA will open its plant and flight school next summer.

"It's a new idea, a worldwide market," he said.

He envisions tourists from the Northeast and eastern Canada coming to the NEK to get 20 hours of training it takes to earn a sports pilot license on the Flight Design's light planes. Meanwhile, the fledgling pilot's family will stay and play on the lakes and mountains and the growing resorts in the NEK, he said.

Ari Quiros, president of Burke Mountain Resort and son of Stenger's partner Ariel Quiros, said the NEK provides a beautiful environment for pilots to learn to fly and to see the countryside.

"We have 100 million people in our primary market," Stenger said.


Tourists from the cities will be attracted to this niche plane market of sports planes that are easy to learn on and fun to fly, he said, more fun than the older planes found at traditional flight schools.

Stenger and his partners are immediately marketing Flight Design's school and planes in the Northeast and New York City markets.

Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA, said the aviation industry is very interested in attracting young people. The key to the Flight Design USA plane, model CTLS, is that you only need a sports pilot license to operate it. That's 20 hours of training, compared to 40 hours on a regular pilot's license.

It allows pilots to fly sooner in rural settings, in and out of small airports like the state airports in Vermont and elsewhere in New England.

The sports pilot license only allows pilots to fly during daytime hours and not in what Peghiny calls "sophisticated airspace" around busy airports like Burlington International.

Newcomers to aviation could plan a one- or two-week vacation, learn to fly and walk away with their sports pilot license.

The CTLS has excellent visibility with a helicopter-type cabin and sophisticated equipment, said Ari Quiros and Peghiny.

"The way to get young people involved with aviation is to feed their interest with modern equipment and make it affordable for them to participate,"' Peghiny said.

"This aircraft will give so many people the opportunity to fly," Ari Quiros said.

The $160,000 plane is more expensive than some but can be purchased through fractional ownerships, he said.

Peghiny said he will have a cockpit-like flight simulator at the school.

The ability to get a sports pilot license will allow a young pilot to practice on rental planes while saving up to buy a plane, Quiros said.

Quiros researched the type of plane that should be assembled and flown out of Newport State Airport, settling on the special light sport aircraft.

Then he looked at 15 to 20 models at Florida air shows before settling on the Flight Design CTLS. The Quiros family approached Peghiny about a plant and school at Newport State Airport in January, Peghiny said.

Ariel Quiros first revealed his plan to bring a plane manufacturing plant to the airport in April.

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