With the creation of the Sport Pilot rule and the Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) category, dreams of becoming a licensed pilot became more feasible for the general public. The author, having seen photos of Tecnam LSAs, decided to become more acquainted with one of the manufacturer’s products by flying an example. Obligingly, Orlando Gateway Sport Pilot Training Center’s Craig Robida, who is a certified flight instructor, provided an exploratory flight in a Tecnam P2004 Bravo.
Tecnam, an Italian firm, has been building aircraft since 1948. The Tecnam P2004 Bravo is an attractive tricycle model that features a tapered cantilever wing with electrically operated flaps. The P2004 Bravo has a stabilator, and its standard empty weight is 620 pounds. Wingspan is 27.55 feet from wingtip to wingtip, and the length from nose to tail measures 21.56 feet.
From a distance the external lines of the P2004 Bravo slightly resemble a Cessna 150 or 152, without wing struts, but in reality it is bird of a quite different feather. Jonathan Johns, another of Orlando Gateway Sport Pilot Training Center’s certified flight instructors, stated, “The P2004 Bravo is better than a 150. The overall performance is superior.”
Inside the cockpit, the instrument panel is uncluttered and contains both standard instruments and an electronic alternative in order to satisfy nearly every pilot’s personal preferences. The comfortable interior has sufficient room for two adult occupants, and the seats feature leather upholstery.
A review of the manual revealed the following limitations. Maximum speed in level flight at maximum continuous power is 120 knots, and the never exceed speed is 138 knots. Additionally, the model’s service ceiling is 13,110 feet.
Pilot visibility is very good, and taxiing the P2004 Bravo was easy. After applying full throttle, the aircraft gained speed rapidly. While speeding down the runway, some torque was noticeable. A slight amount of opposite rudder was sufficient to compensate. The Tecnam eagerly lifted off after a slight rearward movement of the control yoke.
Leaving the airport astern, the best climbing rate was at 68 knots of Indicated Air Speed, and cruising speed ranged from 100-113 knots. The P2004 Bravo was sprightly and stable while airborne, and the aeroplane was very responsive to the controls.
Craig and the author flew over the area north of Winter Haven and passed, at altitude, over Fantasy of Flight, twice. The famous complex was unmistakable with its grass airstrip, hangers and buildings. A Lockheed Constellation sat, as usual, off the north end of the runaway, and a Consolidated PBY Catalina rested on the tarmac.
After nearly an hour in the air, the author banked the plane onto a course back to the airport. Entering the downwind leg of the pattern, the P2004 Bravo responded well to flap deployment and was again responsive on final approach. Landing the type was a breeze.
Orlando Gateway Sport Pilot Training Center’s home base is at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport. Notably, the company, in association with HOVA Flight Services, just opened a “South” campus inside the new terminal building at Winter Haven Municipal Airport. Aircraft are available for flight instruction and renting, and both facilities possess a state-of-the-art Tecnam flight simulator.Readers may obtain additional information about the Orlando Gateway Sport Pilot Training Center by phoning (407) 518-1529. To contact HOVA’s Winter Haven location, one should telephone (863) 956-3300.
The author (John Stemple) provided all the photos for this article. He is grateful for the cooperation of Orlando Gateway Sport Pilot Training Center and HOVA Flight Services.