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Rainbow’s 120-Hour Repairman Course Wraps Up in Oshkosh

Light-Sport Repairman Maintenance training program
Students at the Rainbow Aviation Services 120-hour Light-Sport Repairman Maintenance training program reposition an aircraft during one of the hands-on portions of the course.

September 25, 2008 — Rainbow Aviation Service of Corning, California, conducts the only FAA-accepted 120-hour Light-Sport Repairman Maintenance training program, which provides the Repairman Maintenance rating for special light-sport aircraft (S-LSA). In the spring and the late fall, Rainbow holds these courses at its Corning facilities, but for the past three weeks 18 students have been immersed in the course here in Oshkosh at the EAA Aviation Center.

In the 30 months since the course was first held, it has produced 133 certificated LSA repairmen from 33 states, said Rainbow Aviation’s Carol Carpenter, who teaches the course along with her husband, Brian. Provided the current students all pass the final exam Friday, that number will grow to more than 150.

The idea behind hosting the course once a year in Oshkosh came as a result of a conversation between EAA’s Charlie Becker and Carol Carpenter. Becker suggested that having the course available somewhere east of the Rockies would create more potential repairmen, thus providing the needed infrastructure for the light-sport movement to grow more rapidly. EAA also helped Rainbow get FAA approval to conduct the traveling course.

“EAA has been fundamentally supportive,” she said.

The course includes classroom sessions and hands-on training in the workshop. It’s an accelerated curriculum, described by one of the students as like “drinking water from a fire hose.”

Those who take the course generally come from one of four areas: those wanting to provide the maintenance on their own LSA; certificated flight instructors getting into sport pilot training who can perform the scheduled maintenance on their training aircraft; entrepreneurs who are starting light-sport flight- training and maintenance facilities; and manufacturers aiming to establish in-house maintenance departments.

Paul Plumley of Dexter, Michigan, enrolled in the course not to go into business, but to be able to perform maintenance on an LSA in the future. “There are limits as to where to go to get the maintenance done,” he said.

Having the course available in Oshkosh was the deciding factor for Plumley to attend, he said. “Because of being 400 miles from home, it was driveable,” he said, noting that he returned to Michigan on the weekends. Also he said he and other classmates have enjoyed being able to see the EAA facilities such as the B-17, Pioneer Airport, and the AirVenture Museum.

Mike Nichols, of Northwood, North Dakota, is a Tech Sergeant with the U.S. Air Force stationed at Grand Forks AFB. “My goal is to start out my own training and maintenance business for LSA and LSA-eligible production aircraft like the Cub and Ercoupe C model,” he said. About eight years ago, Nichols purchased his Ercoupe. When the Sport Pilot Rule became effective in 2004, he was pleasantly surprised to learn that his airplane could be flown by sport pilots.

Having the course available in Oshkosh made it a lot more convenient for him to attend. Nichols plans to locate his business in Northern Wisconsin.

Ron Waechter, of Daleville, Indiana, recently purchased a 2008 Jabiru J-250 and with the LSA maintenance rating will self-maintain it. He also has plans to establish an LSA flight training operation and provide maintenance for LSA and other pilots in his area – Reese Airport (7I2), which is about 45 minutes northeast of Indianapolis.

“If we turn out some flight students and they get an LSA this will be the place to get their maintenance,” he said. “We have the potential of having customers come from all over, as there is no other options available in this vicinity.”

To learn more about Rainbow Aviation Services’ Light-Sport Repairman Maintenance training program, visit www.rainbowaviation.com.

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