"Thousands of people can't be wrong!"
"One of North America's most popular ultralights."
These were the words on Pilot Report, a segment of the television program Sky High, an exciting and dynamic show broadcast across Canada on TSN. The Challenger joined such illustrious and diverse company as the Pitts Special and the Goodyear Blimp which were featured in earlier episodes.
The host of Pilot Report is Ménès Pierre-Pierre, an accomplished pilot who flew with the world famous Snowbirds and was co-founder of the popular Northern Lights aerobatic team. In addition to numerous fixed wing aircraft he flew military helicopters before transitioning to the CT-114 jet used by the Snowbirds.
Pierre-Pierre traveled to Barrie, Ontario to fly with Bryan Quickmire, author of the columns "A Hundred Things" in Canadian Flight and "Room To Manoeuvre" in Aviation Quarterly. Quickmire's Challenger, C-FXSL, is fitted with amphibious Puddlejumper floats which provided an opportunity to evaluate the aircraft on both land and water as well as in the air.
Pierre-Pierre and Quickmire did circuits on the runway and then proceeded to a nearby lake for some water work. Perceptive viewers of the program noticed the trees waving in the background and the windsock flapping straight out, at ninety degrees to the runway. Pierre-Pierre observed during the filming that the water was as rough as any he had been in and that he was highly impressed with the crosswind capabilities of the Challenger.
The air-to-air footage in the show was shot in the magnificent Thirty Thousand Islands area of Georgian Bay. Rick Scott of Penetanguishene flew the camera plane as XSL meandered past the attractive cottages set in the natural beauty of the water, granite and trees. The in-cockpit footage shows the fantastic visibility from the cabin of the Challenger and the wonderful sightseeing possible in low and slow flight.
Quickmire flies his Challenger twelve months a year, using amphibious floats, skis and wheels. He enjoys soaring the airplane with the engine shut down and flying to the various events held by the Challenger Owners Association. Quickmire commented that his last airplane, a general aviation machine, had been highly expensive to fly and maintain, with one bill alone of US$10,000. The Challenger, he explained, was incapable of costing even a fraction that much. With an operating cost of around ten dollars an hour he was able to afford as much flying as he wished.
Pierre-Pierre pointed out that new Challengers are superficially similar to the first model introduced in 1983 but actually incorporate numerous significant changes and improvements. He said that the airplane can be acquired as a kit, which is a snap to build, or purchased from a dealer already assembled and ready to fly.
Pierre-Pierre summed up the Challenger as comfortable and easy to fly and finished by calling it an affordable, versatile recreational flying machine.
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