Heavy Hauler


People want to know just how much you can carry in a Sportsman. I tell them it will carry anything that will fit unless its all your gold bars. What I mean by that is when loading the stuff people normally carry on a trip, baggage, camping gear, etc. you will fill up the back before you overload it by weight, unless its  some other unusually heavy material. 

Typical empty weight, depending on gear configuration, engine, prop, avionics, etc. is about 1450 lb. Gross weight for a Sportsman with a fiberglass fuselage is 2350 lb and 2500 for one with a carbon fiber fuselage. 


If you have two identically equipped Sportsman and one is fiberglass and one is  carbon fiber, the carbon fiber aircraft is only going to be about 30 lb lighter in empty weight. That is because while there is a decrease in weight from the different composite structure, there is an increase in weight from the metal on a carbon version. The wing skins are heavier duty, the lift struts are larger and so is the tubing diameter of the cage structure.

The increase in gross weight of the carbon version, comes from increased strength and instead of lighter weight.

Here is the story behind these photos. They were all taken at the annual Glastar-Sportsman fly in at Smiley Creek, ID in late June of 2012. Smiley Creek is in the Sawtooth Mountain Valley between Stanley which is about 20 miles to the North and Sun Valley about 30 miles south. The fly in officially starts on Thursday and ends on Sunday but a lot of members how up on Tuesday or Wednesday. So, we were packing enough gear and food for several days. There is a restaurant within walking distance of the airstrip and there are number of group dinners that do occur, but we like to be self-sufficient. As you can see in the photos, the gear we carry is not your very lightweight backpacking type gear. It is typical car camping gear that is heavy and bulky but if it fits in the Sportsman (it barely does), it will carry it safely.

Left side of the first photo (from left to right) is a Coleman ice Chest that has ice packs and some food. Stacked on top of the ice chest is a plastic utility drawer full of cooking and eating utensils. Then the blue bag on top of that contains a full size, two burner Coleman propane camp stove. And at the very top of that stack is a blue gym bag that contains airplane stuff; oil, tie-down anchors and tie down lines, cleaning supplies and some small hand tools.

There is black duffel bag on the ground that contains cooking pots and pans, etc. There is also a plastic storage container that contains dry goods and canned soups, etc. You see back packs, clothing bags, sleeping bags and pads, folding stadium chairs and even a Mr. Heater Portable Buddy, propane catalytic heater. And then there is the tent that is still erected and more.

Departing in N2CQ for Breakfast at Sulphur Creek

I don’t recall the exact weight was of all that stuff, but I can assure you it all came and left in my Sportsman.

The field elevation at Smiley Creek (U87) is 7206 MSL. There is a density altitude chart posted on a kiosk and we determined that the DA was close to 10,000 when we departed.

As you can also see the airplane lifted off without any difficulty. We had two people and about 40 gallons of fuel and all that stuff.

N2CQ Loading: Aircraft empty weight: 1450 lb. Pilot and Passenger: 320 lb. Fuel on departure from U87: 240 lb. Total weight: 2010 lb. Gross weight: 2350. Total allowable weight in baggage area: 300 lb.

When we departed Arlington, WA, KAWO initially (142 MSL) we had full fuel onboard (300 lb). We also stopped at Cascade, ID U70 to top off back to full fuel (4748 MSL). I estimate our load in the baggage area to have been 150-200 lb. We were well within safe weight and balance limitations.

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Alan Negrin
Alan is a full-time flight instructor and airplane broker and operates the Glasair Training Company out of Kirkland, Washington, but can be seen all around the USA and Canada as he helps new owners with transition training or first flights. He was formerly a demonstration pilot at Glasair Aviation.