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HALIFAX — It was a pretty spectacular day for LSA America Inc.

Wednesday when Halifax Community College and Halifax County

Economic Development representatives came together at the

Halifax-Northampton Regional Airport to witness the test run of one

of the first Allegro Light Sport Aircraft produced in the LSA

America plant in Littleton.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">Test

pilot Ross Kennedy said he loves Allegros.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">“It’s

like driving a Maserati,” he said. “If you know how to drive it,

you can make it scream.” 

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">Of

course, he also commented on how safe and dependable the machines

are.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">After

familiarizing himself with the cockpit on the new model and doing

pre-flight diagnostics, Kennedy walked around the plane, with a

camera attached to his head, recording video and audio of how the

plane looked and sounded. He looked for anything that might

indicate they need to make changes.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">With

all the pre-flight tests out of the way, he got on-board and taxied

down the runway, then took off for the sky. While in the air, he

performed other tests to insure the plane’s compliance and

safety.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">LSA

is leasing the former Littleton Industrial building while preparing

to move production operations to the Halifax Northampton Regional

Airport in 2012. When the company’s plans were announced in April,

they called for 34 new jobs and an investment of $400,000 during

the next three years.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">LSA

America manufactures and markets Allegro® Light Sport Aircraft,

which are sold primarily to recreational users and flight training

schools.

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According to LSA President Doug Hempstead, watching the Allegro

take flight this week was a reason for celebration. He said this

aircraft was the result of a partnership formed to bring jobs into

the area.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">He

said he was disappointed in other sites he’d looked at, but after

meeting Cathy Scott, director of Halifax County Economic

Development, he knew he was on the right track. 

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">“She

went out of her way to make it happen,” Hempstead said, adding

Halifax County officials were most concerned with how many jobs

would be created and what they could do to bring them to Halifax

County. “It was a whole team effort.”

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">As

part of that team, HCC President Dr. Ervin Griffin Sr. said he took

a tour of LSA’s facility earlier in the week and was proud to see

his students working on a plane.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">He

said when Hempstead needed welders with specific skills working

with a metal — chromoly steel — the college’s Business and Industry

Coordinator Larry Crisafulli went to work getting grant money,

procuring an instructor from NASCAR to teach students how to work

with the metal and setting up instruction in the LSA facility.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">He

said two students were hired immediately after the course and now

work for LSA.

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Hempstead added, “The two men went from good to outstanding.”

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Hempstead pointed to the plane taxiing down the runway

Wednesday.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">“The

proof is in the pudding,” he said. “The community college hasn’t

been just an area to get help from, it’s been a true partner and

asset to us.”

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">A

compact, single-engine plane, the Allegro seats two.

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Standard equipment includes emergency locator transmitter, electric

fuel pump, carpet and upholstery in the cockpit and many other

perks.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">“I’m

delighted with Allegro,” Hempstead said.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">“It

out performs the Cessna 172 in operating and maintenance and costs

a fraction.”

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Hempstead said his company works on a tight margin to insure

customers receive a real value.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px 'Minion Pro';">“It’s

not cheap,” Hempstead said. “Cheap will catch up with you after a

while, but it’s a real value.”