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Certified, Homebuilt or Ultralight? (merged)

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Please keep the discussion informative and factual, rather than repeatedly posting the same personal views (or obviously impossible performance numbers)

Rwy20 wrote:

And don’t think that those that chose a PPL over a microlight license weren’t capable intellectually to evaluate the differences between the two in order to figure out which one better suits their needs

Needs? You need food, air, a bed. You dont need a private airplane. Relax, flying is supposed to be fun. Microlights are dirt cheap compared with PPL, end of story. Needs, mission profile, dispatch rate. OK, if flying is about mission profiles, needs, dispatch rates going fram A to B then yes, get a PPL (and a turbine powered, pressurized hot rod with de izing).



The rest can remain as I wrote it.

And no, if you want to fly, you need a plane.

Let’s try not to pick on words and focus the discussion around the issue being discussed.

Last Edited by Rwy20 at 21 Aug 19:38

Oh come on. You don’t need to be creative to hit the limits of microlights. And for many people, like the OP as stated in his profile, travel is one of them. And the moment you are normal sized and want to travel with your spouse and a tent, the microlight is too small. Same goes for the Family with small kids, the guy with wife and Dog or that chap with a friend and two parafoils. Face it, there is more to flying than just the extremes of flying business on an hour-based schedule and drilling holes into the sky just for the sake of being in the air. That does not mean that you should not do the local relax-flight in a microlight, but it is by far not the be-all and end-all that you claim it to be.

IME you want “both worlds”, the microlight (or some other puddle jumper) for the local buzz and the plane for travelling. And that is easier via the PPL route for now. And if you really want to experience flying in it’s purest and most beautiful manner, you need to put away the engine anyway and go gliding.

Last Edited by mh at 21 Aug 19:52
Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

You are right, but if you look at the vast majority of pilots – many of them fly alone. And a 2-3 hour trip with your girlfriend and two small backpacks is possible in Microlights many times.

It clearly depends on your preferred mission, but i bet that an affordable UL will keep many pilots in the air for more years than an airplane that’s too expensive.

The seven hour marathon flights are not for everybody either. I for one rarely fly longer legs than three hours – because i don’t enjoy it much.

Many pilots, thousands actually, are completely happy with their decision to go UL, and isn’t the success of this airplane class enough proof?

mh wrote:

Funny. You seem to be the only one trying to dictate what people want to do. I.e. flying solo on 100€-burger runs within one hour of the homebase. I really don’t know why you want to push every new pilot / prospective owner here into a corner from where they only get out with considerable effort without knowing if they like it there. You are not very inclusive on that matter, but very divisive.

No mh. What I am saying is an alternative to do this, or do that . You have to read what am saying. What I am saying is:
look at the value. Investigate what you really would like to do, and how to optimize the value. Also, I am saying don’t listen too hard to people who hasn’t actually tried anything but straight certified PPL aircraft. I have tried many things, I’ve got several licenses and ratings. That gives me a much broader range of things to do, different airplanes to fly, a whole new range of “missions”. You have to widen your horizon a bit. I did not start with PPL, and the very reason I did not, is also the main reason I still have the PPL (started with gliding). This is a hobby, it’s not a career move or a marriage.

On a more down to earth approach, chances are larger that someone will find the whole thing boring, and will quit sooner or later, than continue flying. Been there, done that – boring in the long run, is what most people ends up with regarding flying. This is only natural, the “dream” didn’t turn out as spectacular in real life, or the real incentive to start flying was in fact to prove to yourself and others that you could do it. Especially in skydiving this is the case. This is also deep down just a question of value.

As I have said before, microlights are dead honest. What you see is what you get. Restrictions on MTOW, restrictions on operation and so on are all there, wide open for everybody to read and see (this doesn’t stop people from flying all over the place). A PPL has this potential for all sorts of flying activity, yet the vast majority of PPL’ers ends up renting a 40 year old C-172 a couple of times each year, or stop all together. It’s not much consistency between what you can do, and what is actually done, not statistically speaking with a PPL.


Trying to get back on topic, allow me to repeat some remarks that were not yet commented upon.

We seem to have a consensus that the LAPL is not a good option for T/S, because unripe. He still has to decide – or to find out, rather – what flying he really likes, if indeed he likes flying at all instead of merely liking the idea of flying. And perhaps he will like it but his partner won’t so he’ll still not go on. Pending that decision he can either start easy and cheap (ultralight) and scale up (to the PPL) eventually; or he can start “right from the beginning” then eventually scale down. Depending on budget I would recommend the first approach, others obviously prefer the second.

  • a flimsy ultralight might bring even less confidence to a partner who perhaps isn’t really convinced to begin with
  • beginning on ultralights would limit the losses if flying (of any kind) is found completely unsatisfactory
  • the PPL ground class syllabus and exams are quite a bit of work, equally wasted if the idea of becoming a pilot is dropped. Which happens often enough.
  • seeing T/S is a rather young person, or at least seems so, beginning on ultralights would spread his learning, and the associated cost, over a longer period. That might be considered an advantage.

Come to think of it, many people use their car for the local bimbles but take an airliner for travel – why should they use their planes differently? 90% of all private flying consists of circling the village spire, or 100€ hamburger runs – in any kind of aeroplane. It has more to do with the pilot than with the plane.

As a further illustration, here is a nice write-up of another Germany-Morocco trip in an ultralight – two POB. It can be done and it is done more frequently than some believe.

Last Edited by at 22 Aug 06:37
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Very well put Jan. Regarding LAPL, it seems to be tailor made for microlighters to do an easy upgrade to fly larger planes (LSA, VLA or ELA1). I don’t know a single person who has done it yet, which is a bit strange remembering all the “restrictions” on microlights. Obviously there is something very compelling with microlights that is not part of any traditional “mission”, “dispatch rate” etc. In lack of a better word that something is called Freedom. Freedom from authorities constantly looking over your shoulders, and freedom from maintenance organisations and organized training.


Freedom to get yourself killed because noone looked the engineer over the shoulder … I get it.

Of course doing all over again is not very appealing to microlighters so they live with the restrictions or stop flying. OTOH I know plenty pilots using best of both worlds, every plan efor what it is capable of.

Sorry, @Peter. Perhaps we should move this to another thread as it is of no value to the OP. [done]

Last Edited by mh at 22 Aug 13:22
Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

Do you have any statistics regarding the accident rate of Microlights/ULs compared to certified airplanes?
With that argument you could immediately shut down the complete Experimental Aircraft scene, and also ground airplanes like the Evolution.
Fact is: Many (most?) ULs/Microlights are designed by aeronautical engineers. And many are weight restricted versions of certified planes.

mh wrote:

Freedom to get yourself killed because noone looked the engineer over the shoulder … I get it.

Oh I do too, very much so. That’s just another way of saying freedom to manage the risk and reward in your life, and benefit from doing do. There are two sides to every coin and I want to see both of them. Managing risk is life, as far as I’m concerned.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 22 Aug 14:00
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