5 Ways You Too Can Fly An Ultralight Aircraft!

Unfortunately, not everyone can manage to spend so much when it is only for hobbies and leisure. But this isn’t a reason to forfeit your dream of flying an ultralight airplane. There are other options for you to experience this awesome activity even without owning an ultralight airplane.

Ultra Light Enthusiast Money Saving Options

1. Purchasing a Share

This is a really popular option for pilots of light planes and light-sport aircraft. Usually, 3, 4, or 6 people purchase one airplane and share the purchase price and the continuing costs. This option can drastically lower the costs of having an ultralight aircraft. You won’t have it all, but you still will have the ability to fly regularly and enjoy it.

Few things to think about:

  • You want reliable partners. It would help if you found pilots who will care about the plane as well as you’d care for it. They need to be serious people and keep the agreement concerning flying and the ongoing expenses.
  • You will want to find people around you. If you need to travel a few thousand miles every time you wish to get your ultralight, you would not save any expenses and lose time. In this sense, if you’re from the UK or the USA, you have far better opportunities to find good mates since these countries have customs in sharing planes.
  • It is tough to agree on a specific airplane. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find other individuals who wish to purchase precisely the ultralight or microlight you would like to buy. Some will need a Challenger, and others will search for Colb Ultralight, etc.

2. Become A Member Of A Club

There are various flying clubs in which aviation fans talk about, make fly, and compete. The clubs allow you to share planes with others, to attend more economical training. In most clubs, the members may also trade or rent planes to one another or by the club.

While speaking about renting, let us see another choice:

3. Renting An Ultralight Airplane

What do people do if they can not afford to buy a house? They rent one! You can do the same with an airplane. But with the ultralights, it is not that simple. Several owners would be pretty concerned about your pilot skills and the possible damages you could bring to their plane and your wellbeing.

The most reliable way to find an ultralight airplane for leasing is to contact training companies and clubs and question them. Some might refuse you, but a few won’t mind. Typically the flying colleges will allow you to rent a plane for $75 – $125 per hour. It is pretty expensive indeed!

If you plan to fly more frequently, you can consider membership in some club or business. For instance, Ultralight Adventures will allow you to use their plane for just $35 per hour if you pay a $100 monthly fee.

4. Paying For a Piloted Flight

This choice is good if you do not even have a pilot license. Many firms offer piloted ultralight flights for beginners. The flights are usually short, 20-30 minutes or so, and start from $70 – $80. That is not cheap, but it provides you the opportunity to experience your dream for less than $100 – even if only once.

If you’re not from the UK or the USA, it could be more difficult to find such companies, but lately, they began popping up in much smaller countries with fewer aviation customs. (For instance, here in Bulgaria, you may buy a 15 minutes ultralight flight as a gift to someone)

5. Attending Pilot’s Education

This is a way to combine pleasure with practical use. If you dream of owning an ultralight plane, why not begin with education? The pilot education isn’t cheap but will provide you enough hours of guided and even solo-flights.

Particularly if you truly plan to get an airplane earlier or later, it is far better, to begin with, pilot training instead of spending money on paid flights. Of course, this option isn’t helpful for folks that already can fly.

We would think it best to purchase a share from all of the choices above if you’re already an aviator. Renting is too costly and is okay only if you would like to fly rarely. Joining a club or company which gives their planes for lower cost and a fixed monthly fee is a great choice too, but you should very well compute the expenses based on how frequently you intend to fly.

Whichever option you select, you see it is possible to fly in an ultralight airplane even when you don’t have a lot of money. There are hardly any dreams which may be achieved for less than $100, and ultralight flying is one of these – even if done only for thirty minutes.

How Can I Get Training To Operate An Ultralight Vehicle?

Irregularly, things happen throughout the regulatory procedure, which, with time, leaves us scratching our heads. One such subject involves ultralight vehicles and, more especially, the conundrum of how a person may receive training to operate an ultralight, provided that, as described in CFR 14 Part 103, they are single-seat vehicles.

Many of us here in AOPA got our flying beginning in ultralights back in the heady days of building them and flew them. You may remember the flurry of activity in the ultralight community as new means of becoming airborne were devised, and even more layouts and designs became available. From the early 1980s, the movement grew and developed 2-seat vehicles, like the old Quicksilver MX II, which was used for buddy-flying in addition to training for graduation into the equally venerable single chair MX I. The weight-shift movement followed a similar development, from unpowered hang gliders to experimentation with motor types and configurations to the magnificent tandem trikes we know now.

To include the rapidly rising number of those vehicles to its regulatory framework and attain acceptable security levels in the airspace system, in 1982, the FAA issued CFR 14 Part 103, Ultralight Vehicles. In return for having the ability to fly without a medical certificate, pilot aircraft, or license registration, the component imposed some conditions: individual occupant, weight no more than 254lbs (when powered, 155lbs in not), a maximum calibrated airspeed of 55 knots, fuel capacity of fewer than 5 gallons, a stall speed of no more than 24 knots and several operational constraints. Moreover, the FAA granted an exemption to permit the use of two-place carriers to prepare pilots to operate single-place ultralights.

It makes perfect sense, but the development in 2-place vehicles running under the privilege quickly discarded the number of authentic Part 103 ultralights. Pilots discovered the pleasure of flying the 2-seaters for recreation and game, not only for training. This expansion created the requirement for innovation in comfort, power, speed, and range, all of which increased the burden (and hence energy) of the”coaches,” which once more raised a question of security.

In 2004, the FAA issued the rules for Light-Sport Aircraft to address this query and the related demand for control and regulation, the definition of which is available at CFR 14 1.1. With the new category of aircraft, the FAA discerned that aircraft conforming to the LSA specifications might be safely flown with unique levels of knowledge, instruction, and aeronautical experience compared to the Private Pilot Certificate, thus that the Sport Pilot certificate was created.

So, on the one hand, if you fly a real ultralight under Part 103, you do not need a pilot or medical certification. On the other side, you can fly an LSA as a Sport Pilot, with a valid driver’s license instead of a medical certificate. Nice!

The LSA rule also removed the exemption for 2-place vehicles. Many of these “fat ultralights” (the 2-seaters flying under the original exemption) have been given a time limit to be enrolled as LSA (really, E-LSA — see later), and a lot more aircraft have been designed and enrolled as LSA since that time. By way of instance, the sophisticated tandem trikes (not fixed-wing aircraft, weight shift control aircraft) with Rotax motors and heated seats now function as LSA, so pilots need at least a Sport Pilot certification to fly them. Training can be accommodated by having two chairs. Instead, and depending on the successful record of LSA, the FAA is currently considering expanding the specifications (such as weight) for LSA. More on this at a later edition of Club Connector!

When the LSA category has been introduced, the laws about experimental aircraft were also modified. The idea of an E-LSA was included in the Experimental group to accommodate kit-built aircraft adapting to LSA specifications and criteria, but with this law came the prohibition of using such experimental aircraft for flight training for compensation or hire after January 31st, 2010. It seems that the FAA predicted that existing fat ultralights will be enrolled as an E-LSA and wished to prohibit such”experimental” aircraft from the training fleet depending on the dissimilar requirements for inspections and maintenance. The thinking appears that S-LSA (held to certain design criteria ) would become the default option for flight schools, teachers –and hence students–to use.

The problem is the development in S-LSA products has not kept pace with expectations (neither possess the cost points), so we’re facing the question of the month–how can someone get training to fly a real ultralight? Given that there isn’t any such thing as a 2-place ultralight, how do we best prepare pilots to fly single chair, lightweight, low energy ultralight vehicles?

The Current Answer

The current answer is to have training in an S-LSA that most closely follows the ultralight you finally need to fly and utilize an FAA Certified Flight Instructor’s services. Note that there’s no longer such a thing as an Ultralight Instructor, so a CFI must give all education. There are quite a few S-LSAs that fit this version –for instance, the Quicksilver family. You could get training in the 2-place Sport 2SE S-LSA and next fly the only chair MX Sports Ultralight.

A “student” can get training from a CFI in a factory-built (non-experimental) aircraft and then proceed to their ultralight of selection. The students do not have to acquire a Sport Pilot or other flying certificates to graduate into an ultralight, as no”permit” is needed for the latter.

One reason that low-mass, high-drag, or “ultralight-looking” S-LSAs are rather costly and hence rare is the cost of fulfilling the ASTM criteria and quality management procedures needed for the S-LSA moniker. These prices are naturally passed through to the consumer, such as flight schools and independent CFIs. This has led to a shortage of such training aircraft, which obviously has safety ramifications and gets us back to the initial query. There’s away, but you have to work hard to find a school/instructor with this kind of aircraft, which leads people to leap in their ultralight with minimum formal training.

The Future

The FAA now accepts the expected growth and access to S-LSA to be used in the practice of ultralight (and game ) pilots hasn’t materialized. Additionally, E-LSA significantly simplifies S-LSA, but of course, flight instruction for hire or compensation can’t currently be supplied with E-LSA.

In a Notice Of Proposed Rule Making dated 24/10/2018, “elimination of this Date Restriction for Flight Training in Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft,” the FAA proposed to allow E-LSA back in the training fleet. The proposal comprises two keys points which will amend CFR 91.319(e)(2). Primarily, the date limitation on using E-LSA specifically for coaching will be eliminated. Second, as for all experimental class aircraft, a Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) will need to be issued by the FAA to allow training for compensation or hire an E-LSA.

The main reason for using the LODA process would be to apply the E-LSA method for flight training. What’s more, the LODA will be issued to a person (owner, operator, or training provider) and won’t be a blanket approval for make and model. If you’re interested, the LODA procedure will be managed via the FAA’s Web-based Operations Safety System (WebOPSS). More Details based on the issuance of a LODA can be seen at the NPRM.

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