Q. Do I need training to fly an ultralight airplane?
A. Ultralight airplanes are regulated under FAR 103 which means no license, medical certificate, training, or registration is required. It is however recommended, that proper training be sought out to successfully and safely enjoy this sport. Along with learning the physical skills required to fly, your training course should set the foundation for understanding weather, regulations, airspace, gear knowledge, etc.
Q. How much does it cost?
A. If you are buying a new engine, instruments, ect. you can expect to spend $8,000-10,000 for your Affordaplane. Used items can be found cheaper, but require careful research to ensure it is reliable and safe. Depending on your ability to scrounge, you could complete the project for as little as 6,000.
Q. What gear would you recommend for me?
A. There is no best answer to this, each piece of gear generally excels in one category or another, for example, hydraulic brakes are a nice option and ensure synchronized braking if using a single brake lever, how ever they can be more pricy than their cable counter parts. Once you are fully invested into your build, you will have a better idea of what characteristics you value and what you are willing to invest. FYI, I started on a shoe string budget and still decided to save and invest a little more for what I wanted
Q. How fast do they fly?
A. Most ultralights fly between 30 and 55mph. Part 103 states max speeds to 55 knots (63mph). Speed is entirely dependent on how much drag the airplane produces, more drag equals less speed, more power allows you to climb faster.
Q. How high do they fly?
A. According to the US regulations the limit to our maximum altitude below 18,000 ft. Most of our flying is done between 500 to 2,000 feet, however higher attitudes can be achieved.
Q. What weather can an ultralight in?
A. Ultralights generally require pretty nice weather to have an enjoyable, safe flight. Most pilots stick to sunrise and sunset to avoid the mid-day bumpy air and in winds less than 10 mph. With more experience, you are able to push these boundaries safely, but glassy smooth sunrise and sunset flights are the best.
Q. What if the motor dies?
A. Stay calm, your ultralight will glide even when the engine quits. As long as you are flying with a potential landing site within reach (you should always be looking), just pick the best option and land there. On most flights away from my airport, I climb up high just as an extra margin of safety.