Newb dreaming of ultralights

HomeBuiltAirplanes.com

Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

DaveyG

New Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2021
Messages
3
Hi all thanks for having me! Ever since I was a small boy, about 3 decades ago, I’ve had aviation on my mind, either in the forefront (told ppl I wanted to be an aerospace engineer at age 8) or on the back burner, in some form or another. I’m a machinist by profession and a hobbyist gunsmith, engine builder, welder, fabricator. Anyway, more recently I’ve been learning more about the laws and regulations regarding airplanes, and more importantly the lesser regulations concerning ultralight craft, has me thinking that perhaps designing and building my own ultralight might be the way I get my dreams off the ground... which brought me here. I’ve been a big fan of snowmobiling as well ever since I was a child, mom and pop had snowmobiles before I was born so I kinda was destined for that as a hobby, which in turn, is actually what led me here, looking for tips and tricks for 2-stroke Rotax snowmobile engines... I think I’ve got that under control now, for the moment, but the idea of building an ultralight is still pulling at my heart. Anyway, I look forward to lurking and learning a bit before I jump into a new project with both feet.
 

Dana

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 3, 2007
Messages
9,762
Location
CT, USA
Welcome, Davey! I would suggest starting with an existing design and learning to fly that first... you don't want to be a student pilot and test pilot at the same time. Once you have a little experience, you'll have a better idea of what you want to design.
 

DaveyG

New Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2021
Messages
3
Welcome, Davey! I would suggest starting with an existing design and learning to fly that first... you don't want to be a student pilot and test pilot at the same time. Once you have a little experience, you'll have a better idea of what you want to design.
Not a bad idea at all, I was considering starting with an existing basic (and low budget) ultralight design and merely improving upon it using my skill set and expertise to possibly use higher quality and lighter weight materials that I’m already rather familiar with. I’ve made an honest living making various parts from titanium and composites such as carbon fiber, both of which are readily available if you know where to look. Might you suggest a simple design I could start with? I like the idea of a single, forward mounted, air cooled two stroke twin cylinder powerplant, and I already happen to have a spare, Rotax 500cc unit available, could certainly use a rebuild, as I have no idea how many hours are currently on it, but the labor of rebuilding it is nothing new to me, but possible supporting mods that would be airworthy specific are new to me, such as, I’m very familiar with mikuni carburetors, but I recall they are less than ideal for aircraft use...
 

Dana

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 3, 2007
Messages
9,762
Location
CT, USA
Nothing wrong with Mikunis, I had one on the Cuyuna engine on my Kolb, and many people feel they're better than the Bings more commonly used... but Mikuni won't support them for aircraft use.

As for designs, it depends on what you want to work with, i.e. wood, steel, aluminum. The TEAM Minimax and the various Fisher models are popular wood designs. The Kolbs (the Firefly and Ultrastar are their ultralight models) are a mix of welded steel tubing and aluminum. The Quicksilver type ultralights are bolted aluminum tubing, others use gusseted and riveted aluminum tubing, and a few are riveted aluminum sheet. Then there are the powered parachutes, paramotors, and weightshift trikes...

Substituting materials isn't as simple as it may seem; change the strength and stiffness in one area and you may weaken another, it's not always obvious.

A used ultralight is often (usually) the most cost effective. Buy it used, flying or not, fix it up to the original design, and fly it for awhile before you start considering any design changes. Aircraft design is about optimization, and the tradeoffs aren't always obvious.
 

DaveyG

New Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2021
Messages
3
I like the idea of riveted aluminum, or welded... I’m no great carpenter when it comes to wood, but I can build just about anything metal with some blueprints to work from. I’ve found quite a few technical drawing pdf files on Plans for Everything - Aircraft Plans
And there’s a couple there I like, specifically the Russian Argo, and the Chilton Monoplane, but I’m not sure if either could be built to fit within ‘ultralight’ regulations, but perhaps.
 

jedi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Messages
2,402
Location
Sahuarita Arizona, Renton Washington, USA
Ultralight flight training is always an issue for new pilots. Although it is not required by regulation it is required by common sense and good operating practice. Also, legal airplane type ultralights are few and far between. You might also consider a ultralight like light sport for your first plane. A two seater will allow training in your plane if you can locate a suitable flight instructor.

Lots of choices to make. Is the goal learning to fly or flying an UL? Two different issues. I am for UL flying but find many think of ULs as a less expensive form of flight. That is not a given.
 

TFF

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
14,397
Location
Memphis, TN
Ultralight unluckily has different meanings in different countries. USA is unregulated and the rules are in pt 103 of the FARs. The rest of the world calls Ultralights something that is related to the USA LSA type of plane. How the name came to mean different classes, I don’t know.
103 is very restrictive in design because of weight and speed. You have to be very careful if that is what you are trying to do, as many good ideas kicks it out of that category.
 

Daleandee

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2015
Messages
1,298
Location
SC
Ultralight flight training is always an issue for new pilots. Although it is not required by regulation it is required by common sense ...
I've seen cases that prove you right every time! How was it said, "A man that teaches himself to fly has an idiot for an instructor, and a dummy for a student!"
 

wsimpso1

Super Moderator
Staff member
Log Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2003
Messages
7,796
Location
Saline Michigan
Become a pilot first - get some training and then some experience in a used UL. Maybe restore one. Then you have a basis for choosing an existing design to either build or restore.

Next is building or restoring will require working in a range of materials and you had better love working in most of them. Ideally, you should be capable of high quality workmanship in all of them.

Have fun!

Billski
 
Top