AirVenture 2022: Where have all the Ultralights gone?

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BBerson

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About 5 years ago a guy flew his Hummer into the ultralight runway from his farm somewhere near. It doesnt have ailerons. Good to see Briggs conversions. Maybe some will fly? Thanks for the video
 
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I guess the LSA form factor is more popular than the ultralight form factor these days. At least for the show. I see only a few that exude the “ultralight” feel. I also suspect that since the typical UL has limited range, unless you’re trailering an aircraft (vehicle) here or live reasonably close, it’s not going to be a majority.

Good number of UL vendors here, though.
 

Bigshu

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I guess the LSA form factor is more popular than the ultralight form factor these days. At least for the show. I see only a few that exude the “ultralight” feel. I also suspect that since the typical UL has limited range, unless you’re trailering an aircraft (vehicle) here or live reasonably close, it’s not going to be a majority.

Good number of UL vendors here, though.
I agree with that. Also, I think people are waiting to see what they can fly with a drivers license. If MOSAIC opens up more legacy aircraft, like all models of Ercoupe, etc. as LSA, I can see a ton of interest in Sport pilot coming.
 
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DanH

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The Red Barn area was hopping, so it's a start.

Truth is, there was never any serious interest in single seat legal ultralights. Back in the Good Old Days, sales were 9 to 1, two-seat "ultralight trainers" vs single seat.
 

Back40

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Surprised there is an ultralight area, FAA doesn't considered them aircraft, although they certainly are.
 

TFF

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The UL area is usually pretty hopping. Flying there probably takes a little more guts, because you got a crowd. Usually the fliers are the same dozen or two planes, but it’s always weather at their window. Usually mornings and evenings. Mid day is usually helicopters and STOL because they can handle wind. 7AM and 7PM is usually when they are up.
 

KeithO

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The more or less impossibility of getting any training in a remotely similar aircraft today means that there are very few willing to risk their lives trying to make a go of it with NO training. Also remember 90% of the engines are gone now, and have you taken a look at kit prices any time recently ?

Titan Tornado 1 Kit price $16k (part 103) (cheapest engine Jabiru 2200 $15 335) Total price (less avionics, paint etc) $31k
Titan Tornado 2 Kit price $19 735 (LSA) (cheapest engine Jabiru 2200 $15 335) Total price (less avionics, paint etc) $35k

As one can see, the differential between what one pays and what one gets in part 103 (5 gal fuel and 55kt) vs go anywhere at 120kt is surely not going to encourage anyone to go part 103. How many can afford those prices today - in cash, since no-one is financing, less insuring anything along those lines...
 

Lucky Dog

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@KeithO hit the nail on the head. Without access to training in a similar aircraft, it's a hard sell to pilots who want transitional training or aspiring fliers who would love to fly a recreational aircraft that costs less than a Luxury SUV. Another, equally large hurdle for ULs and entry level aviation is cultural. Potential customers (40 years and younger) are unwilling (some, unable) to deal with the mechanical and technical nuances that old school aviators take for granted. They want the flying app - they demand turn-key convenience, play when you have the time capability and a fast track to the necessary skillsets required. Light sport delivers that in exchange for lots of money. 103 has yet to realize this. A pre-built, trailerable aircraft with a four-stroke engine or electric powerplant for 35K with a six-inch touch screen GPS/EIS would solve the aircraft issue. Airframe components and powerplants must be in stock and easily replaced. The manufacturer would need a two-place trainer to attract fresh customers, but that could be offered as a factory support program, or trainers could be leased to instructors on each coast. Presently UL 103 is limited to existing pilots who can built and support their own aircraft... hence the silver hair and diminishing numbers.
 

Bigshu

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There's a nice kitplanes write up on the Heron small turbine engine I mentioned in an earlier post. Very exciting development and the guys in the booth were very nice and very enthusiastic.
 

pylon500

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There's a nice kitplanes write up on the Heron small turbine engine I mentioned in an earlier post. Very exciting development and the guys in the booth were very nice and very enthusiastic.
So 'Flying Legends' and 'Squadron Leader Aircraft' are in Italy, Heron Turbines are in Crete, I wonder when we'll see turbines in their products;
Turbo_trainers.png
Oh wait...
image-6.png
 

reo12

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I feel a big part of the problem is financial. I have watched as the cost of living has gone up and honestly - UL's are a cheap means of flying. Many of the folks who fly or flew them were not financially wealthy. I certainly was and am not. I have a cottage on a lake and my folks own a home on a lake that they've had for 50 years. Everyone on the lakes noticed the dramatic decline of how many folks use the lakes for any type of power boating. I remember when it was easy to burn up 4 to 5 gallons of fuel in an evening. A decent day of pulling water skiers and tubes - 15 to 20 gallons of fuel. The general consensus is that folks simply don't have extra spending money to put fuel in the tanks.

The loss of the training exemption for 2 seat planes and the requirements for instructor training and aircraft certification has brought "sport pilot" training to a cost similar or more than what a private pilot license cost 20 years ago. Then factor in what I see in my area - VERY - limited numbers of instructors and aircraft. I do not have an instructor based less than 1 1/2 hours of drive from home. Given the weather dependency of a UL type aircraft - this can be a very significant factor - as it has by me. The instructor and student make plans on training on a certain day - possibly the student drives to the instructor only to find the winds don't co-operate.

Then - the cost of ownership. The plane, hangers. A newer plane is going to cost as much or more than a new car for the family. Tough choices have to be made.

I still believe we can recover some activity with club owned UL's like my club has. Shared costs will help some folks. We're trying to get folks into the joy of flying that we shared decades ago. It is a challenge.
 

KeithO

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So 'Flying Legends' and 'Squadron Leader Aircraft' are in Italy, Heron Turbines are in Crete, I wonder when we'll see turbines in their products;
View attachment 128327
Oh wait...
View attachment 128328
Not those kind of ultralights, what is being referred to is the Part 103. Max empty weight 254lb, top speed 55mph, stall speed 27mph. No pilots license.
 
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