Ultralight: If you are new to the world of Ultralights, let me give you a brief summary. Ultralight aircraft are regulated by part 103 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. To greatly summarize it, the aircraft must meet certain criteria to be considered a legal ultralight.
First, it must weigh 254 lbs. or less empty, it must not fly faster than 55 knots (about 60 mph), it must have a power off stall speed of 24 knots, and be a single seat. If your aircraft meets these criteria, and a couple other details, it may be flown as a legal ultralight. There are no legal requirements regarding training to fly an ultralight. You can legally climb in one and take off if you want. However, most people are not successful in doing that, so the FAA had granted a training exemption to the ultralight community to allow a person holding an ultralight training endorsement from the EAA USUA, or other organizations to fly a two seat ultralight for the purpose of teaching people to fly. I am was registered ultralight flight instructor with the EAA. However this training exemption expired in January, 31 2008 as the Sport Pilot rule took effect.
Ultralights provide a wonderful way to experience the wonders of flying. They have a much lower cost, and a lot less regulation, than general aviation aircraft. There are a few regulations that we must follow. The basic intent of the regulations are to protect people on the ground, and other air traffic. The basic rules are as follows: You must only operate an ultralight during daylight hours. You must not fly over densely populated areas or crowds. You must not fly into class B, C, or D airspace unless you have prior permission. You must stay under 10,000 feet MSL. There are other rules, but that cover the basics. Other than that, you can fly, and land almost anywhere. There are a lot of private air fields like Heavenbound that you are welcome to land, as well as most county airports, or your house, or hayfield or what ever! There are many ultralight fly-ins and events every year to go to, and lots of other ultralight pilots to fly with.
Pilot registration is optional for Ultralights, but it is encouraged. To register as an ultralight pilot, you will need 8 hours of dual instruction, 2 hours solo flight, take a short written test, and a check ride with the same instructor. Once you have done that, you can register with EAA, USUA, or other ultralight organizations, and be recognized as a pilot. I prefer to instruct toward this as much as possible. A properly trained pilot is an asset to the whole flying community. A poorly trained pilot, will likely give the ultralight community a bad reputation.
There are many good ultralight aircraft out there, and each has niche. I believe that the Challenger is one of the safest, most versatile, high performance and cost effective, one out there. It can easily makes the required weight if it is built carefully, and powered by the Hirth F33. It is capable of floats or skis, is open or enclosed and heated. It is suited for the coldest climate, or the warmest. It has been flying for over 25 years with more than four thousand produced. It has a very good safety record, and flies like an airplane with standard three axis controls, so it is easy to transition into heavier aircraft later if you decide to.
To see if the Challenger is right for you, I would like to invite you to take an introductory ride in my Challenger for $35. This will put you in the front seat, we will climb to a safe altitude and you will take the controls. If you have never flown an airplane before, this will give you a whole new understanding of flying. It will make sense of a lot of the stuff you probably have already read. If you wish to fly a legal ultralight and not pursue a pilot's license of any kind, I would like to help you learn to fly. Due to the sport pilot rule I can no longer provide true instruction that can be logged in your logbook as dual instruction. However as a private pilot I can fly with you and teach you to the point where you can safely fly an ultralight. I will continue to provide trianing to people wishing to become ultralight pilots until such time as the FAA determines they would rather have ultralight pilots kill themselves flying without training, and stops me. If a Sport Pilot license is the direction you would like to go, please contact me and I will recommend an instructor that can help you get there.
Safety is a primary concern. As you have probably read, I have a wife and two young daughters, so I have no plans of leaving this world in a smoking hole in the ground! I maintain my airplane meticulously. We will be training at a safe altitude over flat wide open farm fields. That being said, please realize that with everything in life, there is an element of risk. Aviation is not inherently dangerous, but it is very unforgiving of mistakes, and poor decisions. You must be willing to accept this risk, and of course sign a liability waiver. (Question: What do you have when you have a lawyer up to his neck in sand? Answer: Not enough sand!) Please email me to schedule an introductory ride!