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Introduction

The origins of modern Microlight aircraft can be traced back to the late 1970’s when hang-glider pilots took the logical step of adding an engine to their glider.Aircraft soon evolved with a Trike unit being suspended under the wing, known as a weightshift or Flex-wing aircraft.

early microlight

3-axis Microlights, based on conventional controls, started to become popular around this time also. However, with no regulation or instruction available, Microlighting soon became regarded as a dangerous sport.

A quarter of a century on, Microlight aircraft are very different from the early designs. Modern materials and construction methods have made the microlight one of the safest types of aircraft available.

The relatively low flying speed characteristics of microlights ensures that they can approach and land much slower than other aircraft, and in much shorter distances than larger, heavier machines.

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Engines in the early days, in most cases, were nothing more than lawnmower engines. Today, purpose built two-stroke and four-stroke engines are powerful, efficient and reliable.

Pilots are not expected to ‘pick it up as you go along’, as they were in the early days. The training of microlight pilots has been properly organized in many countries, based on progressive training courses. In the United Kingdom, Civil Aviation Authority approved flying instructors train pilots according to an approved syllabus.

In the United Kingdom, the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) looks after pilots interests. BMAA approved inspectors are available to check the airworthiness of aircraft. The association also represents its membership in discussions with the CAA (and other organisations) concerning matters such as licensing issues, and future aviation legislation. A bi-monthly magazine is distributed to all members and informs members of recent developments in the world of microlighting. Although they have been used for crop spraying, aero-towing, aerial photography and by the armed forces, microlights are principally designed for pleasure flying.

steve hunt

desertt flying picture

Being relatively inexpensive to purchase, they have allowed people from all walks of life to operate and maintain their own aircraft at a much lower cost than may be associated with larger aeroplanes.

Low cost however, doesn't mean microlights are second-rate aircraft. Microlights have flown from London to Sydney, around the world and most recently over Mount Everest.

Before microlights came on the scene, many people longed to fly but were put off by the cost, or by the elitist atmosphere in most flying clubs.

Safe, simple, cheap, easy and fun-to-fly, Microlight aircraft provide an affordable and simple way of flying for fun.

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