The term 'Sport
Pilot' is an essentially American one. The license entitles the pilot to fly 'Light
Sport Aircraft' The license permits the pilot to operate a large
number of aircraft, from powered parachutes to selected standard category
Click here for the list. This website also includes a more generic
definition of the sport or sporting pilot and includes sections for those
who may elect to fly gliders, do aerobatics or even air racing.
Ultralights, microlights and ULMs
and ULMs are defined differently in different countries. Essentially, they are very
light airplanes, either single-seat or dual seat, and the licensing
regulations for both pilots and aircraft are less stringent than for
conventional light aircraft. The low stall speeds and weights mean that,
while crashes may be more frequent, they are usually less painful! The
aircraft are also a lot cheaper, and you fly slowly enough to appreciate
the scenery. There are two main types: 3-axis - which have conventional
controls, and weight shift, or trikes, which use a similar control system
to hang gliders. The new category of ULM requires the same skills of
flying as conventional aircraft and frankly, some of the newer models
out-perform some conventional aircraft.
The world of Microlighting
has advanced so much over the last 15-20 years that it has become the most
affordable and safest form of motorised flight in the UK.
advancement of four stroke dedicated aviation engines now make the
aircraft more reliable than before, faster, as well as sleeker looking.
There are two types of Microlight aircraft, one is derived from
hang-glider technology and the basic principle to operating the
weight-shift, as it is called, is by moving the wing in the airflow to
manoeuvre the aircraft in the air, usually you are open to the elements in
this type of aircraft.
The other type of Microlight aircraft is
the simple stick and rudder control, very similar to normal aircraft,
being in an enclosed cockpit, these have surfaces on the wings and
tail-plane which can be moved in the airflow, to manoeuvre the aircraft in
the air, they are better known as 3-Axis types.
this Xair is typical of 3 axis
The weight-shift aircraft
are able to carry two people and fuel up to 4 hours duration in the air.
Pilot and passenger sit in tandem like a motorbike; they have been likened
to 3D motor biking. The 3-Axis types usually have side by side seating
arrangements like the normal cockpit of a small aircraft.
your trial lesson, you will, depending on the length of the lesson have an
opportunity to have a go at flying the aircraft yourself, in the 3-Axis
type this is a simple matter of passing control, from the Qualified
Instructor to yourself with the instructor overseeing your every move. In
the weight-shift, passing control, because of the tandem seating
arrangement can be a little difficult, so initially you have a choice. If
you want to have a go at flying the aircraft your instructor will
generally ask you to sit in the P1 seat at the front, donít worry all
instructors on these types prefer to sit in the rear seat anyway, itís the
norm for them. Its then a simple matter of the instructor showing you what
to do, how much, and when, and he can oversee you all the time in the air.
The weather plays a very important part in all forms of flying,
but Microlights are a little more susceptible to the elements than other
forms, so bear that in mind. Contrary to popular belief, the wintertime is
the best time to fly in the UK, ok its cold, but we can wrap up against
that. The difference is the stability of the air, cold crisp winter days
are the best, saying that though, last thing on a summers evening can be
just as enjoyable.
the new generation of 3 axis microlights are
virtually indistinguishable from conventional aircraft, such as this
In the UK the
definition of a microlight is under review with a view to more
standardisation across Europe. You need to obtain a NPPL (microlight) to
fly one. You will also have to sit written examinations. Your licence will
allow you to fly weightshift microlights (trike) or three-axis
microlights. If you want to change from one to the other it is advisable
to take a conversion course. One thing to bear in mind when selecting a
school is that some do not allow you to fly the school aircraft once you
have flown your first solo, which means you have to then purchase your own
In the US an
ultralight is a single-place airplane under a certain maximum weight and
with a maximum attainable speed, with additional definitions involving
stall speed and fuel capacity. They are flown under the FAR Part 103
regulations, which do not require any form of pilot licence or
certification provided they are flown within certain operating rules.
However, teaching yourself to fly an ultralight is not recommended, and
the single-seat requirement is waived for approved training
establishments, who will teach you on a two-seat ultralight. A new
category has been approved in the USA, the sport class, which allows many
light conventional aircraft.