Here is a selection of the questions most frequently asked by people first entering the sport. Further information can be found on the website of the British Microlight Aircraft Association.
What Is a Microlight?
A light Aircraft weight not exceeding 450kgs. including pilots and fuel. There are three types - flex wing (weight shift). which is two axis, fixed wing which is three axis and a variety of 'hybrid' machines.
National Private Pilots Licence (NPPL) There is also a restricted version (see below).
Now long will It take to Learn?
It is a weather dependant sport and the recommended minimum time is 25 hours - 10 hours dual instruction and 15 hours solo. For the restricted version the recommended time is 15 hours - 8 hours dual instruction and 7 hours solo.
a) Air Law. b) Human Performance and Limitations c) Navigation d)Meteorology e) Aeroplanes Part 1 (written) and Aeroplanes Part 2 (oral) which forms part of the General Flying Test(GFT) at the end of the course.
A Declaration of fitness needs to be signed by your GP before you fly solo. You do not need a full CAA medical. Click here to download a .pdf copy of the form from the Civil Aviation Authority website.
Solo flights can be made from the age of 17. Flights can be taken by a person under 17 but only by a qualified pilot with 10 hours as a pilot in command. For air experience flights under the age of 17 you will need a letter of consent from a parent or gardian.
Where can microlights be flown?
Anywhere outside of controlled airspace and subject to the 'Rules of the Air' and provided you have the landowner's permission. If you did have permission to fly in controlled airspace you must be in radio contact.
Generally flying takes place below 3000' although a microlight is capable of flying much higher - the world record is over 20,000'. Civil law forbids flying closer than 500' to any person or structure, unless taking off or landing.
How long does the field/runway need to be?
Take-off and landing requirements as defined by the CAA are nearly 200 metres, but an aircraft will get airborne in as little as 20 metres or as much as 120 metres depending on conditions. In reality a flying site needs to be 400 metres and clear of obstructions on the approach and on the exit. Flight tests on the Pegasus 'Quantum 582' flexwing in nil wind conditions are as follows:
Take-off roll, max weight ISA. = 85m approx
Landing on dry level grass, max weight, ISA , nil wind = 200m approx.
In the right conditions a range of up to 300 miles can be expected from the 'Quantum'. Some aircraft can travel much further.
Take-off and landings are always done into the wind. Ideal conditions are 5-10 mph. As a general guide for newly qualified pilots up to 15mph headwind, 5mph crosswind and a minimum visibility of 5km and with a cloud base of at least 1000' above ground level is required.
Type of Fuel
A petrol (unleaded) and oil mix with a ratio of 50·1 is most common - similar to a 2 stroke motorcycle. However most of the latest microlights have four stroke engines using ordinary mogas. The 'Quantum' has a 10 gallon tank and most aircraft use approximately 2-3 gallons per hour at cruising speed.
You do not have to have one but a lot of large airfields require them. A radio licence is required, is not difficult to obtain and costs approx £60. The costs of radios varies from about £300.
NPPL Licence - If you are under 39 a medical every 5 years, age 40 - 49 a medical every 2 years, 50 - 69 a medical annually and age 70 or over every six months. 5 hours flying to be signed and stamped by an authorised examiner every 13 months.
Aircraft Permit Renewal Rather like an M.0.T. takes about 7-10 days and is thoroughly checked over by an authorised body. The costs vary - for a factory permit renewal £165 for the 'XL' and £185 for the 'Q'. Both of these prices include V.A.T and BMAA costs or a BMAA inspector can issue a permit renewal at a much reduced price.
Consult CAP 53 but CAA FCL4 will always summarise. A pilot with a PPL (A) needs about 6 hour conversion. A Hang Glider P2 pilot needs 15 hours instruction, 6 hours minimum must be solo, plus a General Flying Test.
Prices Second hand about £4500, a new aircraft from about £9975 for a 'Quantum Lite' and for a top of the range 'Quantum executive' £25,000 (both prices depend on instrument fit.)
A nautical mile is slightly more than a mile (1 1/7), and knots are slightly more than miles per hour.
Legal Instruments Altimeter and air speed indicator are the minimum legally required instruments.
Club Membership is required, costs vary. Third party insurance is required when you fly solo and costs £130. The NPPL licence fee is £113. BMAA membership costs £42 per year.
Other Items of Equipment needed
Trailer - Helmet - Flying suit - Gloves - Warm footwear.