GLENDALE, Arizona -- In the cockpit of a rented two-seater plane on the tarmac of Glendale Municipal Airport, Johnathan Smith set his flight coordinates, checked the right and left magnetos, and confirmed that his readings were in the green. Speaking into the microphone attached to his headset, he addressed the control tower with an unmistakable Brooklyn accent: "This is light sport November eight eight, ready for takeoff on runway one."

With flight permission granted, Smith taxied onto the northbound runway and pushed the throttle. Light sport plane N88 lifted smoothly into the sky, banked over the University of Phoenix stadium and headed east toward the rising sun.