aircraft can trace their origins back to the late 1970’s when
hang glider pilots took the seemingly logical step of fitting
small engines to their craft. Taking aviation into uncharted
areas meant that knowledge and skill could only be learned “hands
on” in the air. This meant that powered hang glider flying
was certainly exciting and sometimes downright dangerous!
No design controls or licensing regulations whatsoever meant that
the most unlikely craft became airborne. With the pioneering
days now over, today’s microlight aircraft are faster, safer,
more comfortable and certainly easier to fly than ever before.
you would like to find out how microlighting got its name, then
read the article below written for the Microlight Flying magazine
by Gerry to commemorate the Centenary of flight in 2003.
Early Years - Part 1 - By Gerry Breen
Years - Part 2 - By Gerry Breen
flying the UK's first successful powered hang-glider in 1978.
Costs range from as little as £2,500 for a ‘first generation’
used aircraft to over £40,000 for a new, fast, sophisticated model.
They can be flown from any suitable large open field with of course,
the owners’ permission and within any existing planning constraints,
or from one of the many club sites or general aviation airfields.
CAA Aircraft Permits, Instructor Ratings and a well-established
pilot licensing system, microlighting has now come of age, yet
it still remains one of the most fun and exhilarating ways to
fly.There is a myth that microlights are ‘toys’ and therefore
easier to fly than conventional aircraft. To the contrary,
microlights can be more difficult to fly as they are more easily
affected by weather and certainly more sensitive to control inputs.
Most three-axis microlights require careful coordinated use of
the ailerons and rudder. Weightshift aircraft generally require
more physical strength and the pilot must anticipate further ahead
when manoeuvring. Microlight pilots therefore find conversion
to conventional aircraft relatively easy and straightforward.
they have been used for crop spraying, photography and by the armed
forces, microlights are principally designed for pleasure flying.
Being relatively inexpensive to purchase they have allowed
people from all walks of life to operate their own aircraft at a
much lower cost than may be associated with normal aeroplanes.
Microlights have flown around the world and climbed to over 25,000
feet. Even back in 1984, Gerry
and Manuela Breen flew for
over 12 hours to claim the world non-stop two-seater duration and
distance record of 550 miles! Today’s high-performance microlights
fly regular cross-country flights of over 200 miles in less than
2 hours on 25 litres of unleaded petrol.
Gerry & Manuela prepare for their world record flight
Microlight Aircraft Definition
microlight is allowed:
to carry a maximum of two people
take off weight not exceeding 450kg
wing loading not exceeding 25kg/sq m, or a stalling speed not
more than 35kt / 65Kph / 41Mph
unrestricted fuel capacity - within the constraints of maximum
weight and balance
a wing structure based on the hang glider design they have a tricycle
undercarriage with seats, engine and propeller suspended below the
wing. There is a braced triangular control bar that the pilot
uses to pivot the wing around the ‘hang point’ assembly thereby
achieving control in roll and pitch. They used to be considered
low performance aircraft, but the latest models can cruise at speeds
of over 100 mph!
Axis Controlled Microlights
aircraft look much like conventional aeroplanes with fixed wings,
tail plane and fin. In most cases they have a fully enclosed
cockpit. They are controlled in all three axes (roll, pitch
and yaw) by the use of ailerons, elevator and rudder. Some
of the latest designs are very sophisticated and can cruise at speeds
of over 130 mph comfortably!
axis microlights are able to operate in windier conditions but they
are structurally more complicated and are, generally, not as portable
as weightshift aircraft.At first view microlights may look fragile
compared with conventional light aircraft, but appearances are deceptive
because the combination of careful design and construction using
modern light materials enable them to withstand stresses far greater
than many sport aircraft.
British Microlight Aircraft Association
Oxon OX15 0TT
Tel.+44 (0) 1869 338888