I have flown the WT9 Dynamic and the Atec Zephyr a lot. They are both what could be “defined” as low wing, fast, expensive. The WT9 is used for glider towing, and as such is surprisingly robust. It’s fixed gear, ground adjustable prop. The WT9 can also have retract and CS prop, and as such is probably one of the most expensive microlight you can buy, 150k+. Those aircraft looks very similar (for the untrained eye), but behave very different in the air. The WT9 behaves more in line of an “ordinary” aircraft, similar in a way to a AA5 (in comparison to some Piper or Cessna), only much more lively. The Atec (Zephyr or Faeta) takes a bit getting used to, but actually performs “better”, it doesn’t stall, no wing flick, has a gliding ratio of almost 20:1, which in itself takes some time getting used to, especially on short fields. The WT9 on idle with full flaps go down like a brick (Actually lower glide ratio than a glider on full air brake. Very useful when towing gliders, and for short field, but I guess the prop optimized for glider towing also has a say in this?) They are two very different aircraft though, but with similar cruise speed, range etc.
They are both good aircraft, and both will do the same job. But then again, an RV-4,6,7,8,9 would do also the same job, but with substantially better performance and payload, and a Super Cub would also (same performance, but with more payload). The best way to think of these low wing, fast microlights are as a sort of “RV light” IMO (can land almost everywhere, but with better cruise and climb performance than most certified “spam cans”)
But, don’t judge by looks. Similar looks means nothing. The difference between the Atec and the WT9 is larger than the difference between any certified aircraft I have flown. You have to try them, but that is not very easy either. Some of them may feel “strange”, if you are used certified only, but that “strangeness” doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than you being used to “certified behavior”.
Also, the microlight market is much more liquid than certified GA. By a factor 100 by the looks of it. If you buy something, then find out that you really wanted something else, then that’s no big deal. You can also easily modify things. A 912 with and without EFI are two different things. A 912 ULS is OK with the two Bings, but remove them and mount EFI, then it truly shines. It’s more like the 912 is a very good engine, despite the Bings, than because of the Bings. The 912 iS is therefore the way to go (or just mount EFI yourself).
I gladly second the suggestion for the Pipistrel, wish I had thought of it myself. But at the fields I frequent (600 m grass, typically) they are rare, being relatively expensive. As an extra bonus Pipistrel have a motor-glider available – this might perhaps appeal to you, perhaps not.
Not a coincidence, I think, that both the Pipistrel and the CT I suggested are cantilever high-wingers.
do you think your overwater flying with be as enjoyable with an uncertified single engine microlight as it is with your twin DA42?
You also have to check if the local regulations allow it. They may have a max 50 NM out in the open sea or something (you would need raft and stuff of which there is no room or weight for). Hence an amphibious aircraft may do the trick. There are several very nice amphibious microlights.
May I suggest going the other way? Maybe you need something pressurized and much faster, so you can get more utility? So the SR-SS stuff gets less important? How about a first generation Meridian or Jetprop?
Why am I not surprised, that you’d come up with such a suggestion?
Which pressurised turboprop is good for local sightseeing, Adam?
So here’s where ULM’s come in.. I started flying them 2 yrs ago and I must say it grew on me. Not just the machines themselves but the whole notion of freedom. Just drive up to a hangar, open a door, pull a plane out and go fly. No flight plans, no reflective vests, no email to the police who my pax is, no nothing. Like getting on a motorbike.
I’m not interested in flying without those attributes regardless of the category of aircraft, so that makes a lot of sense to me. If ULMs provide that and what you had didn’t, that’s stepping up in my mind.
I might put my Rallye on the market in the next few months if I go in the other direction—upgrade to an IFR retractable, possibly a TB20. My Rallye is used to being over water! Would feel at home on an island & is in no way frightened of grass.
Sounds fine indeed, @WP – but there is no way a Rallye can be made into an ultralight and such is the idea.
If I may be allowed to offer unsollicited advice: a shabby old Rallye from my homefield, surely in much poorer condition than yours, recently found a new home in Ukraine.
Thanks for the insights, guys, keep them coming.
Achim, your point on overwater flying is a valid one. After all, that was a major factor in my original decision to buy a DA42.
However, I have great confidence in the reliability of a well maintained Rotax, certified or not. And I think a parachute ditching, especially in a low-wing aircraft, has a good probability of a good initial outcome. And, with a vest and a small raft, my chances of survival seem OK in relatively calm and warm waters with quite some ships in the area usually. Psychologically I feel OK, having crossed many times in single-engine fixed-wing and rotary-wing craft during the past years.
Jan, Bosco: yes, I’m also looking at high-wing craft. The Skylane deserves a closer look, and looks similar to the TL-Sirius. Another one would be the FK-9, and I like the taildragger. I sat in various Pipistrel aircraft at Aero 2017, but I don’t fit comfortably! A shame, because I like their products and the company’s innovative spirit. I’m tall, and the aircraft which shines in terms of room is the Bristell. Plenty of headroom, and the width of the cabin is some 125 cm, wider than a Cirrus?