are held all over the world. Those run by the British
Microlight Association are typical.
compete for many different reasons. For some, it is the
thrill of competing as a solo or team entry against
some of the World's best pilots and machines. For
others, it is a great excuse to tour around the
country, extending flying boundaries, and having a
great time meeting like-minded people. Whatever your
motivation, there is no better way to improve your
flying skills and learn the capabilities of your
aircraft than to compete in it.
What exactly is the
The BMAA run a series of competitions throughout the
year, held at different airfields throughout the
country. Held in accordance with the Federation
Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) rules, the results of
each competition are recognised throughout the world.
The results from each individual round are calculated
to give a League result at the end of the year, with
trophies going to the top placed teams. The BMAA
currently run separate championships for the classic
classes (solo & dual, fixed and flexwing), and the
foot-launched classes (powered paragliders etc.)
What goes on at a
is run by a competition director, who decides a series
of tasks to be flown by the competitors. The tasks are
designed to test each team's performance in the fields
of Navigation, Speed, Economy and Precision flying.
Usually flown over the course of a weekend, points are
awarded for performance on each task, resulting in
final positions at the end of the competition round.
Trophies are usually awarded to the top 3 solo and dual
teams, as well as a traditional Best Newcomer prize.
What are the tasks like?
tasks often involve flying around a track, sometimes at
a pre-declared groundspeed. Pre-flight planning is
essential, as sometimes time or fuel predictions must
be adhered to. The varied landscapes that competitions
take place in will challenge your navigation skills,
and GPS systems are banned from microlight
competitions, forcing you to rely on chart & compass.
Speed tasks are usually flat-out timed races over a
given distance, whereas Economy tasks test your team's
fuel efficiency. Duration often depends on the pilot's
soaring ability, with good opportunities for thermal
and ridge soaring to make the all-important difference.
Finally, Precision tasks often involve spot landing in
a scored box, sometimes at a pre-described time. Other
Precision tasks include take-off or landing over a
1metre high tape, with points awarded for short
distance from the tape.
Isn't competition flying
all. The UK Nationals usually run with a number of
safety aids to encourage novice pilots into the sport.
Usually, fuel limited tasks are run to a 5litre
reserve, allowing a pilot to return to the field if
their fuel calculations are wrong. Also, on spot
landing tasks, the pilot is allowed to leave the engine
idling (as opposed to switching off), so the option of
going-round is always available. If bad weather is
forecast, the competition director will usually cancel
or postpone a competition, and of course, the final
decision to fly always remains with the pilot.
Will I get a friendly
reception as a novice?
Absolutely. Many of the regular competitors have been
competing for years, and are always happy to share tips
and help newcomers. We have a number of current and
former European and World Champions on the British
team, many of which are full-time microlighting
instructors. There is a very good social side to the
competitions, with the Saturday night party a big draw
Don't I need to have the
latest hot-ship to compete?
Competitions are open to anyone with a legal microlight
to fly in, and at least 50hrs as Pilot In Command. Many
of the latest aircraft lose points on short take-off
and landing, and the variety of tasks mean that even
vintage microlights can perform well. Also, many of the
tasks are biased towards fuel and time prediction,
allowing an inefficient aircraft to score just as many
points as the latest machine. Even if you don't fly
yourself, you can compete as a navigator in a dual
class, or come along and help as a marshal.
Is competition flying
fee (usually in the region of £15-30) is charged per
team, to cover costs of marshalling, landing fees etc.
Other than that, the only cost will be the fuel that
you burn. A good competition weekend can see you in the
air for up to 10 hours, and many people fly to and from
the airfield. Camping is usually provided free of
charge, although hotels are often within driving
distance if you don't want to rough it!
Can I compete
selects an international team annually, based on
current league standings and past performance. In order
to qualify for BMAA subsidy to enter the international
competitions, you must have demonstrated a good
performance on the National league. Alternatively, if
there is space on the British team, you can privately
fund your entry. You will need an FAI Sporting Licence,
which is available from the BMAA.
How do I get started?
register for the competition you want to enrol in on
this website. It is also worth contacting the
competition director directly. If you have any
competition flyers at your local club, talk to them.
Then just turn up and Have FUN!