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Thread: Non-pilot getting started in ultralights

  1. #1

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    Non-pilot getting started in ultralights

    I've been fighting the urge to write this, hoping that I could "wing it" on my own, but apparently the time has come to man up and ask for help from the masses.

    After weeks of research on the new-to-me subject of part 103 ultralights, I have narrowed my choices down to a Quicksilver Sport or Spirit. I sent an email to Ultralight of Iowa requesting information on said aircraft, but have yet to hear back (hopefully they're staying busy.)

    Really hoping someone here can help me out with a "this is what ya gotta do"... From ordering an aircraft, and getting it home, to finding general flight instructions (no UL flyers that I know of in the area).

    The whole ordeal has become slightly overwhelming (to the point of hardly knowing what questions to ask), and I really don't want that to deter me from my goal of flight.

    Any help you knowledgeable folks could offer up would be greatly appreciated.



    Bryan
    Last edited by arrowheadHD; 03-16-2013 at 05:50 AM.

  2. #2
    Dana's Avatar
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    Note that nothing Quicksilver makes today is 103 compliant.

    I suggest contacting Mark Smith at Tri-State Kites. He's no longer a Quicksilver dealer but he knows more about them than anybody left at the factory. The quicksilverultralightowners yahoo group is also a good source of information for all things Quicksilver.

  3. #3

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    Got a bad vibe from that post. Makes me think what little info I have found is all outdated and obsolete...

    May have to look at a different manufacture, if there are any other reputable companies still in business.
    Last edited by arrowheadHD; 03-14-2013 at 07:18 PM.

  4. #4
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arrowheadHD View Post
    Got a bad vibe from that post. Makes me think what little info I have found is all outdated and obsolete...

    May have to look at a different manufacture, if there are any other reputable companies still in business.
    You might check out Belite:

    http://www.beliteaircraft.com

    This is not an endorsement, just a suggestion for further research.
    Sam Buchanan
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  5. #5

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    The sport is a single surface wing,no alerions.

    The sprint is a double surface wing with alerions. I believe they refer to this as the MXL Sprint. You can buy these used, they are everywhere. Get one with a rotax.

    Try and find someone with a dual seater whom will take you up and show you how to fly it. You might have to spend some hrs with this person to get use to this aircraft. They fly so very easy, even the MXL with alerions.

    As others say you have other options as to Par 103 rule. The legal eagle is a very nice airplane and will cost you half what a Belite will cost. They build these using a 1/2vw power plant. People build this using other power plants but I would stick with the VW, its a better engine then anything else being put on these airplanes. I purchased a Brand new legal Eagle for under 4500 bucks. You could call it used since I purchased from the builder, but it was new with 1 hr on AF and Engine. It was taxied and crow hopped. I fly her for the first time.

    The quickslivers are trikes, the Belite and Legal Eagle are tail draggers. I can not speak for the belite but the Legal eagle is such a docile machine or handles so nice you will be flying the taildragger in no time.

    Good luck with your Par 103 ultralight and remember, stick with either a rotax or go with the VW. Those are your best options for reliable power.

    Fly Smart
    Last edited by 1600vw; 03-15-2013 at 05:00 AM.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Buchanan View Post
    You might check out Belite:

    http://www.beliteaircraft.com

    This is not an endorsement, just a suggestion for further research.
    Funny, it was stumbling across the Belite webite that peaked my interest in 103 craft, and made me realize that there was an affordable method of flying... Unfortunately, as an almost-broke college student, the Belite will remain a pipe dream. A bit too steep for the ol' pocket book.


    While sitting down with my coffee this morning, I found a company called Free Bird Innovations, based here in Minnesota. (http://flyfbi.com) Has anyone heard of, or have any experience with this company? It looks like they have (or had?) a 103 in development that appears to follow the K.I.S.S. philosophy to a T.
    Promising, if not too good to be true. Finding a semi-local company to deal with would definitely alleviate some of the stress involved with this.

  7. #7
    zaitcev's Avatar
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    I gave this question some thought and the ouside research is not quite what oldtimers suggest. Of course my tastes are different, too. For example, I do not like Mini-Max, Aerodrome, and such. Also, I do not want to assemble a kit (ok, I know, a strange demand for a member of EAA, but I live in a rental etc. etc.)

    The most important thing to decide is really if you want to buy used or new and how much older do you want to go. In particular, are you ok with flying a 2-axis airplane.

    If you buy "used", you can buy lots of excellent airplanes, especially those registered E-AB. That means Legal Eagle that Mr. 1600 suggested previously. Another great used option is a small Kolb.

    Buying used has other advantages. First, E-ABs often have 4-stroke engines and you can ferry them, within reason. Failing that, trailer them with just wings removed. New ultralights always come in a crate, even "ready to fly" ones. You must have a hangar beforehand to deal with unboxing and assembly.

    If you want to buy new, then about all new ultralghts that fit my tastes cost the same: a shade above $20,000 with inflation. Amazing, isn't it? So, here's my list for those with $22k burning a hole in their pocket and wanting the freedom of an ultralight.

    Belite is the leader, no doubt about it. By adding options you can buy up a really capable machine for $50k, but Jim can sell you a stripper taildragger for $20k+ with a chute. Check his price list carefuly. Of course you get one of those awful 28hp Hirth engines for the price, but hey, it's cheap. Jim is reliable and trustworthy but the lead time is a few months, be ready not to get a buyer's remorse.

    Vally Eng. BYF is an extremely intriguing design that homebuilders hate, hate, hate. I love that thing. Gene is close to retirement, so buy yours now. The big advantage of BYF is that it comes with a 4-stroke engine. Ask them to keep it de-rated and it will serve you as long as 1/2 WV in Legal Eagle. The disadvantage is that you need a long trailer, which is half as expensive as airplane! But the airplane is cheap. It's under $20k with chute.

    Aerolite 103 is kind of like much improved Quick Sprint, but actually it is an independent design that was in production at various factories for a while. Last year U-Fly-It bought full rights. This is about the only problem, since the company is new, we need to know if they do a good job.

    Following the leaders are:

    * Earthstar Gull: that thing is EXPENSIVE and I'm not kidding. It's an ultralight with a real wing that is fully cross-country capable.

    * Challenger: iconic design that outgrew ultralitght roots. Quad City is trying to bring it back to Part 103. I'm pretty sure they had dealer assembly option for that.

    * CGS Hawk Ultra: the company that just won't give up and an excellent ultralight design. They survived the transition away from Denny (not privy to details here though). Like Kolb and Challenger they have a bit of a weight problem that they are addressing.

    * M-Squared Breeze XL

    I also hear periodically about dealer assembly options for Kolb and Qucksilver Sprint, which would be awesome if it pan out, but never get reliable and durable leads.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaitcev View Post
    The most important thing to decide is really if you want to buy used or new and how much older do you want to go. In particular, are you ok with flying a 2-axis airplane.
    At this point I would have absolutely no issue with buying used, so long as I knew I could trust it with my life. Unfortunately at the moment that would be like flipping a coin, and praying it lands in my favor.

    As far as design, 3-axis would be preferred, followed closely by weight-shift, with 2-axis bringing up the rear. ...Though I think just about any 103 legal UL that has been well taken care of would fit the bill if the price was right, and I could find training for it.
    Last edited by arrowheadHD; 03-15-2013 at 01:10 PM.

  9. #9

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    How to Get Into Ultralight Flying

    Quote Originally Posted by arrowheadHD View Post
    As far as design, 3-axis would be preferred, followed closely by weight-shift, with 2-axis bringing up the rear. ...Though I think just about any 103 legal UL that has been well taken care of would fit the bill if the price was right, and I could find training for it.
    arrowheadHD-I think we need to back up a bit and find more out about your current situation. That'll help us provide you useful information. Here are some questions I have:

    1. Why is it you want to get into flying ultralights as opposed to anything else that can get you in the air [from a hang glider to a Cessna]? What is it about ultralight flying that attracts you? [This could range from "I like the open cockpit feel", "I see a group flying at my local airport a lot", "I like to work on things", etc. etc. etc.]
    2. What is your flying experience. Ever taken a GA lesson, for instance?
    3. What is your budget? How much can you generally spend on an ultralight?
    4. Do you have a place to keep it and fly it already? [In many areas of the country that is the tougher thing to solve than figuring out how to get enough training to be able to get yourself into flying your own ultralight or determining which ultralight to buy.]

    My experience is that there are other elements about owning an ultralight [e.g. one's budget, where to keep it, where to fly it] that will determine which ultralight will be best for a particular pilot.

    But I really think rather than "Quicksilver 101", you may want to change the title of your original post to "A Non-Pilot Getting Started in Ultralights".

    As others have said, "Ultralights" can be anything from the solid Quicksilver MX I bought recently for $2K to stuff that will cost you north of $20K. All of them will get you off the ground.

    My final thought is to think about approaching this in stages. An ultralight suitable for a "newbie" now. You'll own and fly that for a while and then sell it at some point when you want something less "entry level". Or when you have a better feel for what kind of flying you do.

    -Buzz
    Last edited by Buzz; 03-18-2013 at 04:52 AM.

  10. #10

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    Finding A Place To Fly Your Ultralight

    My experience is that this can be a very BIG barrier for anyone wanting to fly a fixed wing ultralight.

    And it is even mores for a non-pilot wanting to get into ultralight flying that is also new to his/her local aviation community.

    What kind of tips do people have on solving this particular challenge for someone wanting to to start flying ulralights?

    -Buzz

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