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Flying the Bristell by Louis Mancuso

Jan 2. 2012

After reading about many of the great attributes of the BRM AERO Bristell S-LSA, I was looking forward to experiencing my first flight the Bristell. We operate a large flight school and we have tried seven different LSA’s in our school during our search for the best LSA trainer. At the top of my list of attributes for the best trainer are strength and useful load.  I was excited to learn the Bristell is a strong plane that is also light enough to accommodate a large CFI, student and plenty of fuel. The Bristell I was about to fly is well-equipped and has an empty weight of 756 pounds. My passenger and I had a combined weight of 378 pounds. We could carry 31 gallons or over 6 hours fuBOGDAN-End.aiel and stay under the gross weight of 1320 pounds. 

Milan designed the wing to attach outboard of the step area. Stepping on the spar is much more desirable than stepping on the wing when getting in a low wing plane.  The wing attaches to the main spar with giant attach bolts.

The wing attach bolts are massive.

During the preflight I noticed many features that would result in great benefits. First, I noticed the coolant bottle was a Rotax approved square durable bottle and placed where the pilot can easily see it when the oil door is opened. I also noticed the engine was placed away from the firewall making the strong looking muffler and exhaust springs easily visible. I observed the firewall was made of stainless steel and the cowling had

Phillips head stainless fittings, two nice features.

The engine has a thermostat so there was no need to add tape on the oil cooler for cold weather operations. The nose gear leg looked very durable and has a shock absorber half way down the leg.

This nose gear looks like it was built to withstand the forces from hard student landings.

As I continued the walk around I was pleased to see heavy duty Goodyear tires and tubes and American disc brakes.  The Fiti three blade propeller is one of the nicest looking ground adjustable props I have seen. The Bristell has an external power plug. 

The ground clearance is 14 inches, which is great for a trainer.

Each wing has LED landing lights. These very bright lights are also used as in flight recognition lights, which enhance flight safety.

The fuel system uses metal fuel vent lines that are more dependable than the plastic lines used on some other LSAs.  The aileron and elevator trim servos are located internally (out of the weather).

The wing lockers have water tight inserts to prevent water from getting into the wing.

It was time to climb aboard. The first thing I observed was the spacious cabin.

The cockpit is 51 inches wide and very comfortable.
I adjusted the rudder pedals forward 6 inches  and placed a cushion behind the seat back. I was very comfortable.

The canopy has a carbon fiber design that shields the sun and provides a degree of I roll over protection.


It was nice not having a curtain that sometimes gets in the way of the headsets. The canopy closes by latching into slots on each side. This design keeps the cabin quiet and warm and does not obstruct the luggage area. The microphone jacks were located between the seats and placed vertically to assure trouble free use for years to come.

Microphone jacks are smartly located aft of the canopy release switch.

I flipped on the electronic start pack switches, pushed the start button and the Rotax came to life immediately.  The visibility during taxiing is terrific and short and tall pilots will be comfortable. The nose wheel steering is definitely a plus for new students and the toe brakes will be appreciated by all pilots. The parking brake sets with a slight twist for a positive set.

The avionics were, TruTrak EFIS with Autopilot and Garmin 696 GPS, SL40, GTX327, PM3000 intercom, and an IPAD on the co-pilots side. This panel was chosen by Barry Pruit and John Calla as they wanted avionics that would be absolutely reliable…a great choice.

I performed the run up and we were ready for departure. The flaps can be set at 10, 20 or 30 degrees. We used 10 degrees for takeoff. The push to talk switch is on the top of the joystick where it will not be activated accidently. The elevator trim is on the console next to the throttle where it also cannot be activated accidently.

The Rotax engine was turning 5000 RPM after applying full throttle and takeoff was straight forward. The Rotax felt smooth and powerful and we were in the air quickly. At 65 knots the Bristell was climbing at 1000 feet per minute.

I flew the Bristell in various configurations and the plane performed flawlessly.

Upon return to KLNS we were told the wind was gusting to 18 knots out of 310 degrees.   We asked for a landing on 26 so we could see how the Bristell handled a 50 degree 18 knot crosswind. I landed very gently on the back of the upwind tire and had plenty of rudder left to keep the wheels tracking straight down the centerline. I was smiling as the Bristell had exceeded all of my expectations.

The BRM AERO Bristell S-LSA is a great plane and it will make a great trainer, but this is not the best part of this story. The best part is that this fine aircraft is brought to you by the “Dream Team.”


The first part of this team is Milan Bristella.

Milan is the designer of many aircraft and the Bristell has many features of his best designs.  When I met Milan in Harford, CT. at the AOPA convention, I quickly liked and respected the man. He is a family man with a strong desire to serve the aviation community. This is common for all of the members of the “Dream Team.” Milan was quiet at the dinner table until someone asked a question about a Bristell feature. His eyes opened wide and he spoke with enthusiasm. He is passionate about his design and has a burning desire to make it the best possible trainer and personal aircraft. He explained how each aspect of his design was with durability in mind. He explained how he had the wings attach outboard of the wing step area so there would not be wing stress issues in the future. The attach bolts were much larger than necessary as the strength of this part of the plane was critically important. The aluminum was 6061, made in the USA and all cnc pre-drilled before it arrives at the factory. This high grade light weight metal contributes to the light empty weight. Milan consistently designed strength were necessary and light weight components everywhere else.

The second part of the “Dream Team” is the co-Importer, Barry Pruit.

Barry is a well-educated, Blackhawk helicopter pilot and highly experienced A&P mechanic. Barry may be the most knowledgeable Rotax and light sport aircraft mechanic in the world.  Barry is committed to make the Bristell first class.

Barry’s partner John Calla is a retired shop teacher and CFI who has been operating a flight school with LSA aircraft for many years. John works to very high standards and along with Barry will assure every Bristell is supported strongly by the importer.

Captain John Rathmell was T38 Jet Talon and C130 jet pilot as well as an airline Captain. We are honored to have John as part of the “Dream Team”.  John sells and delivers LSA aircraft all over the USA and is very enthusiastic about the Bristell.

Lou Mancuso is a 6000 hour CFI with hundreds of LSA hours and brings his 40 years FBO experience to the “Dream Team”. Lou’s daughter Sue is president of “The Mancuso Group” and will provide in house financing for qualified flight schools.

The “Dream Team” is ready to support the Bristell. Lou has ordered five Bristells and $5000 of parts to be included in the container that will arrive with the first two Bristells in February of 2012.  John and Barry have a Bristell in Lancaster that they will use as a demonstrator and to support their customers. Lou will have two Bristells in his flight school at Brookhaven Airport in Shirley, Long Island, NY  by the summer and will use one as a loaner plane to support his customers. Lou operates Mid Island Flying School that does contract training for Dowling College. The college students will enjoy flying the Bristell and the low rental rate thanks to the 4 gallon per hour fuel burn.


Happy Flying,