What is an affordable ultralight?

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mullacharjak

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I don't see where plans or parts for the Chinook single place are available. Do you have a source?
I had a single place once.A very nice aircraft indeed.Dont have dwgs or plans.I copied everything in a register but cant seem to locate it at this time.I have the rib profile though which I had drawn around one of the wing ribs.If I tell you its one of the simplest and cheapest ultralights to build It wont be wrong.
 

Bille Floyd

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...
My impression is that paragliders are the cheapest and also the most prevalent, even though they are unpowered and have very restrictive weather and operating requirements. Next is paramotors, then trikes and finally the ultralights that are airplane like, each successive group being more expensive, more capable flyers and fewer in the numbers of them in operation.

...
Yea -- this is coming from a guy who bin flying Hang gliders , since 1977
and Paragliders since 1989 ... ...

Stay the Hell Away, from those Paragliders ; that air inflated frame
could collapses , and go away, (at) , "Any" moment in time , during
your flight !!!

Go ahead ; ask me how i know .

Bille
 

Daleandee

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Stay the Hell Away, from those Paragliders ; that air inflated frame
could collapses , and go away, (at) , "Any" moment in time , during
your flight !!!

Go ahead ; ask me how i know .

Bille
Bille,

How do you know? o_O

Not trying to be funny as a friend is thinking about teaching himself to fly a paramotor. I told him teaching yourself to fly means you have a moron for an instructor and an idiot for a student. I guess because they look easy people think they are.

I believe I've convinced him to go get some instruction before he hurts himself.
 

rdj

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What do others deem "ground breaking in one form or another" to be?


BJC
Easy, cheap, unregulated fun without a lot of hassle. That was ground-breaking, and that's why 'fat ultralights' took off (in every sense) a few decades ago.

(Given the $5K-$15K price point, I presume we're talking U.S. Ultralights, not the LSA-type found elsewhere in the world.)

Within reasonable bounds, the initial cost of an ultralight isn't all that important in the overall scheme of things. The hassle, expense and utility of it AFTER you've bought it determines whether or not it makes sense to even purchase it. Back in the "bad 'old days' of the 2-seat fat ultralight Wild West, it was easy to find inexpensive instruction, it was easy to get a group together to find a field and a place to store the things, and you could take a friend along. All without any interaction with the Men In Black with the federal badges.

What BJC wants (...looks and flys like a traditional airplane, has reasonable performance, a four stroke engine, solid on-going technical support, electric start, and fits me, at 6’ 2” and 215 pounds...) is exactly where the fat ultralight market was going, like gangbusters, until the Law got involved and the Wild West came to a close.

Now, a $5K ultralight means Part 103. It won't be easy finding instruction for it. You likely don't want to pay to tie it down at the FBO, and the FBO likely doesn't want to see it blowing around on the ramp anyway. You'll have to transport it, assemble it, and fly it all by yourself, wherever you can, wherever 5 gallons of gas will take you. If you already own a nice field to fly from, or have a nice hanger to store one in, the odds are you're not the target audience for a $5K ultralight anyway. In this new civilized and law-abiding world, a plane like BJC wants means LSA and FAA and way more than $5K for reasons discussed in other threads.

IMHO the problem isn't that the world is waiting for a "ground-breaking" advance in ultralight aircraft design. What it needs is a ground-breaking advance in government de-regulation. Good luck with that.
 

BJC

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IMHO the problem isn't that the world is waiting for a "ground-breaking" advance in ultralight aircraft design. What it needs is a ground-breaking advance in government de-regulation. Good luck with that.
We agree that further de-regulation akin to Part 103 is unlikely.

Any thoughts as to why that is so?


BJC
 

jedi

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We agree that further de-regulation akin to Part 103 is unlikely.

Any thoughts as to why that is so?


BJC
Answer: The government is in the business of controlling the population and has nearly unlimited ability to raise taxes in order to expand their business.

Show me one regulation that tells me what I can (not shall or must) do and I will show you 10,000 regulations that tell you what you can't do or must do.

Sorry, that is the politics 101 answer to a 103 question.

Answer 103: We are are own worst enemy. If you want to change 103 build your 103 like vehicle then ask for approval to fly it. It can be done! If you do not ask you will not get it. Reference Icon and Terrafuga with LSA. There are provisions for safety equipment and exemptions from 254 pounds. These are not spelled out in 103 and do not require a revision to 103 to make a reasonable revision to weights and other exceptions. That is how we got the two seat training exemption.

The training exemption became so popular it was converted to LSA. We can see where that went. It is time to revive 103 if anyone really wants that type of vehicle. What do you want?
 
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cluttonfred

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jedi, I have spent time in a few countries in which there was effectively no functioning government and it is not liberating, it is disheartening and sometimes terrifying. At the opposite end, there are many developed countries so choked by regulations that it's hard to understand why anyone there runs a small business or builds an airplane. Spend some time in either of those types of countries and you will kiss the ground when you get home and laugh at those that find the minimal regulation in the USA to be overly restrictive.

FAA Part 103 is pretty much the least restrictive aviation regulation anywhere in the world. Follow a few basic rules on weight and speeds and fuel capacity, using rule-of-thumb criteria provided if you choose, and you can fly whatever you want without inspection, registration, or licensing. Look at what Mike Sandlin has done over the years with both powered and unpowered ultralights, look at Roger Mann's Part 103 designs, look at the late Mark Stull's experimentation and innovation (which sadly also led to his death). How much freer could it get?
 

TFF

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Right now we do not have the population safety police on our side. Or at least they notice us when we were invisible before. I don’t think there is a way to advance 103 in this day and age without giving up some of its freedom. If you are not protecting what there is now, whining about changes before one plays just lets the non aviation win. Make it a big industry, people will listen. It was pretty big at one time. There was a small opportunity forty years ago that created 103. That is not around today.
 

Victor Bravo

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We have lighter engines, lighter structural materials, lighter covering, and lighter avionics than they did in the Quicksilver days. We also have much more knowledge and experience, and we have some advances in computer technology that probably make it a little easier to design a safe structure at a given weight. The only one thing in the equation that's not lighter is the plump, sugar-snorting, Diabetic Myocardial pilot... and he isn't counted in ANY of the restrictions of 103.

And even with the limitations of the traditional older materials, there are still a fair number of airplanes that are shown to meet the 103 rules and deliver a safe, fun experience (Kolb Firefly, MiniMax, Airbike, CGS Hawk, etc. etc.) On top of that, there is the hang gliding, paramotor, and paragliding world, which thrives to some degree within the physical/technical limitations of those aircraft.

In America we are fortunate enough to have probably the least restrictive environment for UL flying. I have never once heard of the FAA showing up at a UL strip with a set of scales and a radar gun to measure the aircraft's speed. If it ever did happen once previously, I'll bet that it will never happen again, unless there is a rash of UL crashes into the proverbial schoolyard. The US regulations basically allow almost anything as long as you aren't doing it over a highly populated area.

So the ingredients for a thriving market, a decent size industry, and increased safety are already there on a great big silver platter in front of us.

After that horrendous rant, my point is that (IMHO) it is in fact a lot more "do-able" to create a safe/affordable/legal Part 103 ultralight than it has ever been. The flying part is about as free as you can get with any common sense. But the public relations, advertising, marketing, and media aspects of it are the components not being addressed well enough.

We need the US equivalent of a Red Bull - American Ninja - Motocross type sporting event for UL's, where they have to go around a winding course, land in a short distance, take off over an obstacle, turn between pylons, stay airborne at the slowest peed between two markers, then climb up in a tight turn and land on a platform or something. "Aero-Cross" or some other clever thing. The airplane has to weigh 254 pounds empty, have five gallons of fuel, and has some enforceable engine power limitations. You could make the "blue collar" class into a "claiming race" where the loser can buy the winner's airplane for $20K after the race, and then the "pro" class where there are sponsorships and dollars being spent.

If you had some sort of a competition like that, with TV coverage, you'd have thousands of general public people interested in ultralights overnight. THEN you'd also see people like BoKu get his brain into really high gear on something for this sport, and many of the other creative folks on HBA would get busy creating.
 
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Bille Floyd

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Bille,

How do you know? o_O

Not trying to be funny as a friend is thinking about teaching himself to fly a paramotor. I told him teaching yourself to fly means you have a moron for an instructor and an idiot for a student. I guess because they look easy people think they are.

I believe I've convinced him to go get some instruction before he hurts himself.
That was Good advise , you gave your friend ; and gravity has a way
of dealing with arrogant know-it all's !!

How do i know , you ask ?
A morning flight, (9:30-am) and the thermals are usually quite calm
at that time ; but i encountered one strong enough to fold my
PG into a ball, and i was too low to toss a reserve. The PG
re-inflated about 10' before i hit the ground. That has happened
on more than one occasion ; if it happens to your friend with
no training , (he won't have a Clue, about the proper procedure)
to get the PG flying again.

Tell your friend , he should take up Kite-boarding for his fun ; he
doesn't have the right attitude, for flying and he's probably gonna
Die.

Bille
 

Bille Floyd

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We have lighter engines, lighter structural materials, lighter covering, and lighter avionics than they did in the Quicksilver days. We also have much more knowledge and experience, ...
...

We need the US equivalent of a Red Bull - American Ninja - Motocross type sporting event for UL's, where they have to go around a winding course, land in a short distance, take off over an obstacle, turn between pylons, stay airborne at the slowest peed between two markers, then climb up in a tight turn and land on a platform or something. "Aero-Cross" or some other clever thing. The airplane has to weigh 254 pounds empty, have five gallons of fuel, and has some enforceable engine power limitations. You could make the "blue collar" class into a "claiming race" where the loser can buy the winner's airplane for $20K after the race, and then the "pro" class where there are sponsorships and dollars being spent.

...
That is a Great idea , and a 10-min pylon race, would probably
need a minimum of gas ; in a 10 to 15 min race, maybe E-power
might work ?
A closed course would be perfect ; spectators could see all
the intensity of the race , as it un-folded in front of them , and
it would be easy to film !!

Bille

Ps :
Maybe you could , start a new Thread , on that one ?
 

Hot Wings

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We have lighter engines, lighter structural materials, lighter covering, and lighter avionics than they did in the Quicksilver days.
<< >>
Diabetic Myocardial pilot... and he isn't counted in ANY of the restrictions of 103.
<< >>
After that horrendous rant, my point is that (IMHO) it is in fact a lot more "do-able" to create a safe/affordable/legal Part 103 ultralight than it has ever been.
In general I agree with the rant ...... but:
I don't agree with the assessment that a part 103 is "a lot more do-able" today. The first 2 parameters have pretty well managed to keep the balance the same since the Quicksilver days because the pilot does have to be considered as part of the equation from a physics perspective.

I think a legal part 103 that looks like an airplane and will fly a 220# 6' 2" human is easier to design today, but it is still just as much of a problem as it was to design and build one to fly a 170# 5' 10" pilot 40 years ago.
 

BBerson

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The problem is the step from FAR103 up to LSA is too big.
No middle ground with common sense.
 
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jedi

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Referring way back to post #87

cluttonfred, Thanks for your reply. I do appreciate and agree with your reply.

I also believe that FAR 103 is likely the best FAA work of the last half century.

Quote from Post #86 "We are are own worst enemy. " I say that because reliable sources say that we could have had 500 to 600 pounds if we had asked for it when 103 was being written. Industry leaders were not willing to ask for it and lobbied to set the limit just above the weight of their current product. One farsighted leader pushed for a higher weight limit but the industry committee refused to ask for it.

What is an affordable Ultralight? Google says - Referring to:

"A paraglider is the cheapest, simplest aircraft in the world. Prices for a complete set of gear range from $3,000-$6,000, and training for a basic license (USHPA's P2, which qualifies a student to fly on their own, without a tandem pilot) costs around $1,000"

Paragliders are popular because they are easy to store and transport and have good performance IF there is access to a good flying site.

Powered paragliders easily double the price and storrage/transportation problems but are not as demanding on flying sites. The popularity is limited by these restrictions as well as the additional effort required to launch and exposure to costly repairs resulting from poor airmanship.

Hang gliders are one step up the ladder in regards to cost, sight restrictions, expensive repairs, storrage, etc. and are less popular as a result in spite of a general performance and perceived safety advantage.

Adding a motor to a foot launched hang glider is much more restrictive than adding the motor for a powered paraglider and therefore is much less popular in spite of a similar cost penalty. Add wheels to the powered hang glider and make it a trike and the expense goes up but so does the ease of operation and suddenly a much largeer segment of the population finds it affordable in spite of additional restrictions on flying sites as well as increased storage and transportation issues.

In a similar manner adding wheels to a powered paraglider expands the market (affordability) of the aircraft. However, the expanded market is limited by the elimination of the Ultralight 103 freedoms as the FAA now classes the aircraft as a Light Sport regardless of weight and speed qualifications. A position that is debated among users and officials.

Similar market forces act on the fixed wing market. Initial cost is weighed against transportation, storage, performance, ease of use, risk of damage, available flying sites, etc. Solving or reducing any of those issues will make the fixed wing Ultralight more affordable. Dollars are a definite deterrent right along side the FAA imposed weight limits but like all things (in aviation) there is a compromise to consider that is the basis to finding the "right" answer.
 

REVAN

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Easy, cheap, unregulated fun without a lot of hassle. That was ground-breaking, and that's why 'fat ultralights' took off (in every sense) a few decades ago.

(Given the $5K-$15K price point, I presume we're talking U.S. Ultralights, not the LSA-type found elsewhere in the world.)

Within reasonable bounds, the initial cost of an ultralight isn't all that important in the overall scheme of things. The hassle, expense and utility of it AFTER you've bought it determines whether or not it makes sense to even purchase it. Back in the "bad 'old days' of the 2-seat fat ultralight Wild West, it was easy to find inexpensive instruction, it was easy to get a group together to find a field and a place to store the things, and you could take a friend along. All without any interaction with the Men In Black with the federal badges.

What BJC wants (...looks and flys like a traditional airplane, has reasonable performance, a four stroke engine, solid on-going technical support, electric start, and fits me, at 6’ 2” and 215 pounds...) is exactly where the fat ultralight market was going, like gangbusters, until the Law got involved and the Wild West came to a close.

Now, a $5K ultralight means Part 103. It won't be easy finding instruction for it. You likely don't want to pay to tie it down at the FBO, and the FBO likely doesn't want to see it blowing around on the ramp anyway. You'll have to transport it, assemble it, and fly it all by yourself, wherever you can, wherever 5 gallons of gas will take you. If you already own a nice field to fly from, or have a nice hanger to store one in, the odds are you're not the target audience for a $5K ultralight anyway. In this new civilized and law-abiding world, a plane like BJC wants means LSA and FAA and way more than $5K for reasons discussed in other threads.

IMHO the problem isn't that the world is waiting for a "ground-breaking" advance in ultralight aircraft design. What it needs is a ground-breaking advance in government de-regulation. Good luck with that.
With the exception of paramotors, today's ultralights are all intended to be used at an airport. Through selective editing, Paramotors can be great on Youtube, where the weather is always great and the launches always successful. In the real world, they leave a lot to be desired from the flying and performance perspective. By metrics of storage cost and ability to operate off airport (in the right conditions), they excel.

Once you anchor yourself to operating from an airport, an aircraft type ultralight is hard to justify. It generally costs as much to hangar a CGS Hawk as a Cessna or Cirrus. Where a Cessna can be parked outside, the Hawk wouldn't survive long without shelter from the weather.

What attributes are needed for storage, deployment, acceptable flying conditions (wind and turbulence), repair-ability, and cost?

(1) If it costs $40K it won't sell well, because it is too expensive. If it costs $10K to repair after a minor mishap, it won't sell well for the same reason. If takes 2 hours to get it ready to deploy from storage, it will be kept at an airport in a ready to fly state. Then, hangar expenses will justify moving up to a more expensive and capable aircraft. The ultralight won't sell well, because your customers are going to by another product (probably an LSA).

(2) If I offered a legal part 103 aircraft that was priced like a paramotor, folded as compact as a paramotor, folded or deployed in about a minute, handled crosswinds and turbulence as well as a CGS Hawk, and could usually be repaired for less than $100 when the crosswind got the better of it, it would likely sell faster than they could be made.

Number 1 won't sell, and no one knows how to make Number 2. Is there a middle ground that would still be acceptable that perhaps could be built?

Hypothesize a $10K to $15K ultralight that can deploy from a standard cargo trailer in less than 5 minutes (I'm thinking of the standard 16'x8.5' enclosed car haulers that racers use). It could have a structured wing to handle turbulence and 3-axis controls for crosswinds; the structure made from aluminum tubes for quick and inexpensive repairs. It could be foot launched like the paramotor, to divorce its operations from airports and eliminate hassles with hangars and airport authority. Would something like this be considered "ground breaking" if it could be achieved? I'm inclined to think so. If not, what would it take in your opinion?
 
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cluttonfred

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REVAN, I disagree that an fixed-wing ultralight needs to be based at an airport. In fact, a farmer’s field and a temporary or DIY hangar is just about perfect and quite a few can be trailered.
 
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radfordc

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In a similar manner adding wheels to a powered paraglider expands the market (affordability) of the aircraft. However, the expanded market is limited by the elimination of the Ultralight 103 freedoms as the FAA now classes the aircraft as a Light Sport regardless of weight and speed qualifications. A position that is debated among users and officials.
Can you explain this further? What is the debate among users and officials? My reading of Part 103 doesn't lead me to think that a powered paraglider with wheels is excluded. I don't fly a powered paraglider, but I pay attention to them in the media (videos and USUA magazine).

Here is what the USPPA has to say, "Single-place powered paragliders do not fall under SP. As long as the unit qualifies as an ultralight, which any solo PPG does easily, it’s FAR 103 legal. Same with solo wheeled units as long as they meet Part 103 requirements. Sport Pilots & Powered Paragliding - The United States Powered Paragliding Association
 

REVAN

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REVAN, I disagree that an fixed-wing ultralight needs to be based at an airport. In fact, a farmer’s field and a temporary or DIY hangar is just about perfect and quite a few can be trailered.
IMO: A farmer's field that is flat and mowed is indistinguishable from a private airport. If you have your own airport, it is easy to have an ultralight. It also makes it pretty easy to keep a $200K Carbon Cub if you can afford it on top of your $1M+ farm.

As for trailer-able ultralights, the flex-wing trikes are about as good as they get for something more robust flying than a paramotor. While the trikes fold up pretty well, most people with trikes keep them at airports and in hangars. The proof is in the results. As good as they are, it is apparently not good enough.

I think most trikes are in the 45 minute range for setup time. Some, like the REV do better, maybe cutting that time in half. However, the last time I saw a new REV for sale, the asking price was $36K. That's quite close to the $40K ultralight I thought would not sell very well simply because it is too expensive.
 
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jedi

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Can you explain this further? What is the debate among users and officials? My reading of Part 103 doesn't lead me to think that a powered paraglider with wheels is excluded. I don't fly a powered paraglider, but I pay attention to them in the media (videos and USUA magazine).

Here is what the USPPA has to say, "Single-place powered paragliders do not fall under SP. As long as the unit qualifies as an ultralight, which any solo PPG does easily, it’s FAR 103 legal. Same with solo wheeled units as long as they meet Part 103 requirements. Sport Pilots & Powered Paragliding - The United States Powered Paragliding Association
Interesting! Jeff Goin President of USPPA is the one that stirred the pot resulting in a FAA letter stating that any Powered Paraglider with wheels had a fuselage and therefore was considered a Powered Parachute LSA. Aero Sports Connection (ASC) has been fighting that decision for years (and have been secussful. See update below.)

I do not have a copy of the letter handy but I am certain that ASC can discuss that with you and will support the 103 PPG position you reference. I notice that USPPA talks about powered paragliders without mentioning any wheeled carts.

I have not researched this recently so there may have been an official FAA change. If you like I will look into the issue in more detail.

Further speculation on how we got here should done by private message. I will post other comments on the current situation here as facts become known.

Update: I just got off the phone with Jim Stephenson ASC. Both ASC and Ed Pitman have exemptions for two place training in powered paragliders that meet all other FAR 103 requirements. The foot launched restrictions have been removed. Both single seat and two seat powered paragliders meeting the weight, speed and fuel limitations of FAR 103 can be flown under FAR 103 rules. There are no limitations on wheels. Two place vehicles must have a current exemption.

As noted earlier, ask and you will receive.
 
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