AirVenture 2022: Where have all the Ultralights gone?

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I already said the FAA preamble to the Light Sport rule did not mention what is being said about flaunting violations. It said “The FAA does not rule by exemption”. They wanted to end the exemption process and they did. The problem is no trainers exist now and that issue is not being addressed.

Post 53 said it is “obviously” ok to shut down a segment.
I don’t agree.
“The FAA does not rule by exemption”, but they rule "Letter of Deviation Authority"?
 

poormansairforce

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You do understand the difference between flying and falling, right? Good to know if you mess around with aircraft....
Yep, it was a joke but apparently not for everyone 🙄
Yes, pt103 (the rule) is alive and well. No, the 'numbers' didn't change.
Yes, almost everyone was either self-taught (!) or were instructed via radio, before the '2 seat exemption'.
Yes, once the 2 seaters became common, few wanted to fly legal single seaters.
Yes, once the 2 seat training exemption went away, all those guys who had quit flying legal single seaters for 2 seaters quit flying.
Yes, training in nothing but a 172 is terrible prep for any low mass high drag a/c (like ultralites).
Yes, a Cub would be a lot closer but still not ideal, if starting from zero experience in a/c.
And 'carrying power into landing' *should* apply to airliners and other jets, at most. (I know people who think you have to do that in a C182...)
Carrying power into the landing in a low mass high drag a/c is perfect prep for getting dead when (not if) that 2 stroke quits.

[insert obligatory ;-) here]
I did exactly that, took 8 hours in a Cub to get ready for my Minimax and it worked perfectly. And interestingly enough, that same Minimax got dead sticked three different times by another pilot(pilot error all three times) resulting in off runway landings in various crop fields with the last one resulting in a flip over and yet no one died or was even injured. Imagine that!

Sorry, I just get tired of the crap. If someone really wants to fly an ultra light there are avenues to do this. I finished my Minimax in the mid-90s and I did not seek out a two-seater for instruction, I simply found a grass strip airport where there was a Cub and got 8 hours of tail wheel time in my log book. I told the instructor exactly what I was wanting and he tailored the lessons to get me to that point. The only thing I would have done different is had him take me to a hard surface a couple of times. After the Cub, landing the Minimax was a piece of cake.
 
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Had the cert requirements been more relaxed the fat ultralight segment might have been more viable.
I hear this a lot too. The fact that you have to pay for the ASTM LSA standards means that few have actually read them.

I really can't imagine a more 'relaxed' set of standards for a plane that is intended to be sold to the general public than the ASTM ones. The standards for engines is only 4 pages - and the manufacturer gets to pick his TBO* number. Testing time amounts to small fraction of that number. "Fleet leader' time can be used to increase the TBO after the engine is in service. The only 'high dollar' part of the standards is the crankshaft vibration survey ....... and the standard leaves what that covers rather vague.
The air-frame and flight standards are equally 'relaxed', so much so that many/most of the current crop of name brand homebuilts would qualify with little more than completing the paperwork.

The fact that there are no ASTM certified ultralights is significantly due to he fact that no one has bothered to certify an engine in the appropriate power range.
That most of the LSAs' all migrated to the high dollar range is just economics.

*
"After completing the Endurance Test, each engine
must be completely disassembled and each component must
conform to the new or overhaul limits established by the
designer/manufacturer.

6.4 Engine Overhaul Interval—"

Translation = "it is still running so whatever we find is the service limit"
 

TFF

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Locally there were two UL airports for a long time. I think both owners themselves got to old to keep up with them. I never saw a 103 UL at a regular airport; at lest one that was not just being stored in a corner. Some country dirt or grass strips, but not flying in a close to town airport. Most ULs groups need this patron to be an anchor.

People use to go out of their way to do a lot more things than they do today. Convenient or not going to do it. ULs are not convenient. They are fragile, limited, and require great weather. Much more of a pain to deal with.

The point above about finding something close to get some instruction in is all it takes. No you should not seek out a Bonanza to fly a UL. Someone with a Champ or Cub, yes. I would say it’s much better place to start than some of the two seat ULs. While a portion of people learned to fly ULs in ULs. Most of the people I talk to sold their Cubs and Champs for a “new” airplane that wasn’t certified. They were already pilots.

Two friends took some lessons in fat ULs, pre N number. They were not impressed with the performance. I remember being at a fly in/ car show and there was a fat UL giving rides. It was scary. 3000 ft grass strip and it was using lots of it. Barely able to climb. I’m surprised it didn’t tumble on takeoff or landing. A single seat UL is usually a little sportier than an at gross two seater. I have seen T-Bird 2 s with Rotax 912s pre N number; they were sold that way, but come on. I imagine there were lots of hot rods playing 103 trainer.
 

rv7charlie

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I did exactly that, took 8 hours in a Cub to get ready for my Minimax and it worked perfectly. And interestingly enough, that same Minimax got dead sticked three different times by another pilot(pilot error all three times) resulting in off runway landings in various crop fields with the last one resulting in a flip over and yet no one died or was even injured. Imagine that!

Sorry, I just get tired of the crap.
Not sure whether you're agreeing with me or disputing what I wrote. ;-)

I'll bet that previous owner wasn't in the habit of 'carrying power into the landing', was he? If you're used to landing power-off, an engine failure in a UL should be a non-event, but in ULs and in bigger, heavier a/c, not being accustomed to it can result in damage or worse. Several years ago in my area, a guy had an engine failure in a Bonanza up around 8k feet AGL, almost on top of an airport. Got himself nicely set up on final, extended the gear, and landed well short of the runway. Fortunately no one was hurt in that one.

It may well be that licensed pilots have a tougher time transitioning to ULs than non-pilots, because of the energy management issue. A lot of guys coming from heavier a/c to Kolbs talk about 'Kolb Quit' (stalling above the runway), but the guys with a lot of experience in them just say 'Whaat??'
 

poormansairforce

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I'll bet that previous owner wasn't in the habit of 'carrying power into the landing', was he? If you're used to landing power-off, an engine failure in a UL should be a non-event
He was a partner with me in the mini Max. All three events were engine outs due to either running out of fuel or running low in oil and seizing the engine. So there was no power to carry into the landing and he did a great job gliding it in. He only flipped it the last time because he landed in a mature bean field 15 ft short of the runway after running out of gas. The axle on the Minimax caught the beans, otherwise he'd have made it down without event.

One of the tricks is to practice power off landings with the engine at idle. We did this quite often. Also, I flew a tighter pattern than normal and learned where I could reach the runway from anywhere in the pattern if the engine were to quit. But it's not a natural thing to do so you have to force yourself to do it. The attitude needed to maintain airspeed is eye opening until you've done it a bunch. Once you're comfortable with it then it becomes a reflex.

These are not death traps if flown properly, even power off. In that,I agree with you, but the part I really get tired of hearing is about the lack of options for instruction. They are out there.

P.S. I'm not going to discuss the pilot errors here.
 

rv7charlie

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One of the tricks is to practice power off landings with the engine at idle. We did this quite often. Also, I flew a tighter pattern than normal and learned where I could reach the runway from anywhere in the pattern if the engine were to quit. But it's not a natural thing to do so you have to force yourself to do it. The attitude needed to maintain airspeed is eye opening until you've done it a bunch. Once you're comfortable with it then it becomes a reflex.
I see it as SOP; not practice, since my instructor in the Luscombe that taught me to fly made me go to idle abeam the numbers on downwind, on every landing. That was around 1990, and I still berate myself any time I have to add power before reaching the runway. I'd bet that what you & your partner were practicing is likely the primary reason he never seriously damaged the a/c (or himself).

Back to the original question of where have the ULs gone, I wonder if they haven't gone anywhere. Most UL operators are much more grass-roots than the typical OSH or SNF attendee (the *vast* majority of whom are likely coming to see the show; not the a/c & tech). It wouldn't surprise me if the reason you're not seeing as many ULs at the two big events is the same reason a lot of us on this forum no longer attend: the smaller flyins have more to offer, of the things that actually interest us. The only things at OSH that I *know* I wanted to see this year were Barnaby Wainfan's presentations on his low aspect ratio stuff. Just not worth the $1,000+ investment, even if I didn't need to avoid Covid superspreader events. I stopped looking up at the airshow stuff around 1997, and the last time I went to OSH on my dime was when the guy at Homebuilt HQ had to yell over the screech of the jet truck to tell me that EAA could no longer afford to hand out our 'I flew my homebuilt to OSH' name tags.
 

Dana

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I see it as SOP; not practice, since my instructor in the Luscombe that taught me to fly made me go to idle abeam the numbers on downwind, on every landing. That was around 1990, and I still berate myself any time I have to add power before reaching the runway.
Thatone

That's how I learned in a C-150 in 1976 and how I've flown ever since.
 

Bigshu

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So all this discussion has brought a few questions to my mind (maybe others are afraid to ask?) I've been out of the flying loop for about 25 years now. Everything aviation I've been involved with for many years now has been involving wreckhunting.
Is part 103 still in effect (I think so?). That's what? 254lbs empty (some extra weight allowed for BRS? Radios?) What is it 65MPH top speed / 25mph stall? 5 gallons of fuel?
Theoretically, if someone wanted to fly, they could go buy a turn key UL and away they go? (realistically, get SOME kind of instruction)
I guess there still plans available for some or many ultralights available. I know I have seen projects or kits come up from time to time (there is currently a CA-2 project on my local craigslist for under 3K - though I'm not interested at this time). I imagine someone could pick up one of the many that need "sails" and go that route. Is this still feasible?
While the "airport" option may be less inviting, I'm guessing for someone living in "the country" the road in front of their house or even acreage might work.
Lastly, someone mentioned instruction in a Cub (or something similar). IIRC, a guy I used to know who had a Bobcat I believe said you have to carry a lot of power into the landing. Can someone with experience elaborate on this?
Dennis
AFAIK, you can buy turnkey UL and fly away. You see complete ones for sale all the time. I know a couple of builders who have sold completed ULs when they get the itch for something new to build. It seems like Terry Hallet, who used to have Hummel, will build Ultra Cruisers for customers, but I could be wrong. Carrying some power on landing is a good idea, these vehicles are draggy and light, so they don't carry a lot of momentum when power is removed. Not sure how to quantify " a lot", but that's something you get a feel for. There's a bunch of you tube videos of ding dongs just taking ULs up with no prior instruction. Not recommended, but they don't need extensive instruction to fly either. Flying off a field you own sounds like the ideal situation to me. Check a chart to see what airspace you're under. A radio is good to have but should be a portable so it doesn't count against your empty weight.
 

poormansairforce

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I'd bet that what you & your partner were practicing is likely the primary reason he never seriously damaged the a/c (or himself).
Obviously that's the case but that is the part that I find attractive about UL is the fact that it's just me and the plane. I have no one else to blame, I either learn to fly it correctly or else....

As far as ULs at Oshkosh I think that gas prices have everything to do with this. We went boating at a local lake and it's usually so busy on weekends it's not even fun but for the last two weekends there's been no one there on a Saturday. That and with all the liquidity out there the last few years everyone has moved up...for now. Let's revisit the situation in about 3 years.
 

erkki67

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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.

The range issue could be solved by using the upcoming 4 Stroke engine of EOS Engines, the Quattro, or the a bit more known Helvenco1000. Both engines are sized between 240 and 250cc I believe. If run normally you’ll get up to 3-5h of running time on 5 Gal of Fuel. The Helvenco engine is to be considered pricy and not purpose built, but it’s installed in various flying systems. The EOS Quattro is built be be used in Paramotor applications, so it would be a match for ultralights too. Both engines claim 30hp for the Quattro and 35-38hp for the Helvenco. In terms of weight, the EOS Quattro is the winner, less that 40lbs ready to run without prop.
 

reo12

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A couple did... you can buy a new 2-seat M-Squared Breese (Quicksilver clone) for somewhere north of $40K. At that price, plus the cost of insuring it, nobody can make a profit instructing.

The original goal of LSA, to legalize all the fat ultralights, got hijacked by people wanting to sell slick plastic light planes in the Euro mold, think Flight Design, Pipistrel, and yes... the Cessna Skycatcher.

It is possible, theoretically, to get a LODA to give primary or transition training in a ELSA. One catch is that you have to submit a complete syllabus, which is an effort beyond what most independent instructors are willing and/or capable of making. But therein lies the solution, and a huge missed opportunity. That syllabus shouldn't need to be much different from what USUA, ASC, and [at one time] EAA provided with the BFI program. It wouldn't be a big deal to dust it off, update it, and sell it / license it to independent SP-CFIs.
My club - Michigan Ultralight Flying Club - owns an M-squared Breese that is used as a trainer. I don't attend enough meetings to keep informed of the status of our finances but do recall that the results of a couple years or so of ownership is that we are making money using it for training. Rick Hayes - Hayes Aero - or Rob Edmonds would have more specific account of the finances.
Our problem has been lack of instructors. From my limited knowledge and vision it appears that we should have no less than 3 to 4 instructors in the pool to provide students with an instructor who can be available when the student's schedule, weather cooperates, and the plane is not being used by another student/instructor.
 

pylon500

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I see it as SOP; not practice, since my instructor in the Luscombe that taught me to fly made me go to idle abeam the numbers on downwind, on every landing. That was around 1990, and I still berate myself any time I have to add power before reaching the runway. I'd bet that what you & your partner were practicing is likely the primary reason he never seriously damaged the a/c (or himself).
All my powered learning (I learnt in gliders) was done in two strokes, so as mentioned SOP was, every landing was a glide landing.
I watch GA drivers drag themselves to the threshold under power, and always think to myself, 'one little cough, and you're in the previous paddock.
Once we start going electric, glide landings will become the norm again, saves battery power.
 

PTAirco

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IMO, the only legit criticism of the FAA related to the 2 seat trainer issue is that they *could* have given the owners LODAs, like we had and have again for warbirds, etc. Then legit training operations could have continued with existing a/c.
The LODA still exists as far as I know. You can take a 2 seat "high drag/low mass" machine with an empty weight of 500lbs or less and a top speed of less than 87kn ( I forgot what other restrictions there were) and use it legally to give paid instruction. Only requirement was the instructor had to be at least a Sport Pilot CFI. It can be a factory built, homebuilt, whatever. I was seriously interested in going that route. Design a neat, simple little Part 103 UL. Design and build a two seat version of that as a trainer. Sell them a Part 103UL and train the buyer at the same time. I think what made it a non-starter was that the previous generation of UL instructors bristled at the notion of actually having to get a certificate. Understandable.

I don't think more than a dozen or so of those LODAs were ever issued.
 

KeithO

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The LODA still exists as far as I know. You can take a 2 seat "high drag/low mass" machine with an empty weight of 500lbs or less and a top speed of less than 87kn ( I forgot what other restrictions there were) and use it legally to give paid instruction. Only requirement was the instructor had to be at least a Sport Pilot CFI. It can be a factory built, homebuilt, whatever. I was seriously interested in going that route. Design a neat, simple little Part 103 UL. Design and build a two seat version of that as a trainer. Sell them a Part 103UL and train the buyer at the same time. I think what made it a non-starter was that the previous generation of UL instructors bristled at the notion of actually having to get a certificate. Understandable.

I don't think more than a dozen or so of those LODAs were ever issued.
If you want a LODA so that YOU can receive training in your own experimental, that is one thing. You can now get that in about 24hr but only after it went to trial and the FAA changed their policy on it. But if you expect to be compensated for training with a 3rd party in your experimental, I dont believe the FAA has budged on that policy which is why so few were ever issued, mainly for warbirds and the like for transition training only.

July 2021 re-interpretation of the rule by the FAA FAA Releases Policy on Training in Experimental, Primary, and Limited Category Aircraft
 
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KeithO

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Better check whether that info is valid after last years re-interpretation of the rules.

Under the new LODA system, applicants can send an email to [email protected] with their name, address, email address, pilot certificate number, flight instructor number (if applying as a CFI), aircraft registration number (if applying as an owner), aircraft make and model, and aircraft home base (if applying as an owner). The request will then flow to the local FSDO, who will issue the LODA. For aircraft owned by flying clubs, ownership groups, and other shared ownership models, the entity owning the aircraft may hold the LODA rather than each individual member. Either the owner/operator of the aircraft or the instructor can have the LODA, as long as one person in the cockpit has one. LODAs issued under this system will not allow rental of the aircraft to the general public. Those LODAs, issued for transition training and other targeted operations, will continue to be issued per the guidance in FAA Order 8900.1.
 
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