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Thread: Sorta-Newbie Has UL Questions

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    4

    Sorta-Newbie Has UL Questions

    I guess I should start by saying that about 7 or 8 years ago, I got hooked on aviation and starting taking lessons for my private pilot. I got up to about 25 hours and got married, moved away, bought a house, and life went on without me completing my license although I never lost the love. Now that I'm older and married, I don't think I could afford to get my license back, buy a used 172, pay hangar fees, and annuals each year.

    I've been kicking around the idea of ULs as a way to get back up in the air without as much cost. What's worse is that a friend bought a GT500 and keeps it at his house. He uses his gravel road as an airstrip and it's incredibly handy. This has spurred my interest in ULs.

    I have a 6 acre piece of property with about a 150 yard flat and wide strip that I believe would be great for a UL. I have a large shop that I could use as my own hangar. I live outside of any city limits and there is no regulated airspace near me. I think I might be in a good position to buy a UL. My doubts are that I'll wish I had more range than a 5gal fuel tank can provide. I'm not a speed demon, but cruising at 55 to 60 into a headwind may get old quick. And my buddy says I'll want an engine bigger, at least 40hp.

    The LSA route sounds even better, but might be prohibited based on my possible "short field" grass strip and more expensive due to needing a sport license and having to do annuals on the plane. Not to mention the LSAs are a lot higher than the ULs. I'm looking at a total budget of absolutely no more than $13k total. So that's either $13k for a UL or $13k for a sport license and whatever is left for a LSA.

    I really need some advice from some seasoned vets. Is this a viable option or is it still a pipedream?
    Last edited by Olympus; 11-25-2013 at 01:52 PM.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Sacramento, California, United States
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    Olympus,
    Here is part of the Part 103 regulations and explanations.
    http://www.eaa.org/ultralights/ac103-7.pdf
    and spending time on the eaa.org/ultralights section is time well spent. Understanding the limits/privileges is important. And the more or less reason that Light sport aircraft and the sport pilot certificate came into existence.
    The GT-500 is not an Ultralight under part 103 but might have been transitioned to an ELSA under light sport's early days. If it doesn't have an N number on the tail it is being operated outside the category. (too many seats, too heavy,... etc) The -500 falls in the LSA and needs to be operated by a SP.
    SP training is well defined - http://www.sportpilot.org/ and in the real world will cost around $2500 to $3500 depending on your speed of assimilation the older the longer it takes. add another $500 for books and check ride.
    The true UL and light(er) LSA type aircraft requires dedication to energy management - WAY beyond an average certificated aircraft and it is recommended to get some training time in something similar to what you may be purchasing.
    BTW- 450 feet is a very small strip. no margin for errors there.

  3. #3

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    Nov 2013
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    I'm familiar with the regulations regarding UL and LSA. I was not considering a GT500. Just saying that my friend had one and it has gotten me interested. He has offered to let me use it for training if necessary.

    I was just mainly curious if I have enough space to land and take off. Worst case scenario, I have a longer stretch of blacktop road that is probably 300 yards that I could use also. It parallels my grass strip.

    Also curious to know if I should stick with looking at ULs of if I should just move up to the LSA and sport license.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    780
    Move to Alaska. Those folks do not believe in regulations they fly what they want when they won't. Crazy thing, the FAA knows it and lets it happen. But live down here in the Lower 48 and you better play by the rules.

    Just say-in....

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    I'm not talking about breaking any rules.

    Option 1 is strictly legal 103 ultralight if it's possible to use my current location for a strip and if it can be done in under $13K.

    Option 2 is strictly legal LSA aircraft and get my sport license. Again, if it's possible to use my current location for a strip and if both can be done for under $13k.

    If there's no way to make my current location work for a strip, then I think I'll have to keep dreaming because I can't afford the plane, plus hangar rental, plus time and fuel driving to and from the nearest airport.

  6. #6

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    Nov 2013
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    Redding, CA
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    You're going to need a pretty serious STOL airplane to get in and out of a 450 foot strip safely. I don't think there are many 2-place LSA aircraft that could do it. The Carbon Cub comes to mind, but that is about 10x your stated budget.

    There are a few ultralights that you might consider. A B1-RD with a 30+ hp engine of some sort would be a good choice for a short strip. It's long out of production but there are still used ones avaiable from time to time. It's one of the better STOL ultralights ever made, but like most STOL aircraft, the cruise speed is limited.

    A Kolb Firefly with a 447 would probably get the job done also, but you would need to learn to fly it well before you brought it back to a strip that short. The Kolb is a lot faster than the B1-RD, but it can fall out from under you if you let it get too slow on landing. Getting it into a short strip takes some finesse. But the wings fold very easily and you could keep it in a trailer or shipping container and avoid the cost of a hangar.

    The single surface Quicksilver Sport might also be a good choice.

    But flying out of a 450 foot strip is going to raise the pucker factor considerably in almost any airplane. It's doable with an experienced pilot in the right airplane, but you have very little margin for error or equipment failure. Are there any obstacles at the ends? Is it alighned with the prevailing wind?

  7. #7

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    Nov 2013
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    After looking closer and measuring, I don't think my grass strip will work. But I have a nice flat section of blacktop that parallels the grass and it's about 1000ft with no obstacles or obstructions. It runs 36/18 so that's close to our local winds.

  8. #8

    Olympus

    Ultralight is the way to go for you. I just sold my 2005 Quicksilver Sprint for $5,000; it would operate nicely out of your place. The main obstacle is learning how to fly it; check with Rainbow Aviation in Corning.

  9. #9

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    Nov 2013
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    Redding, CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by billmaxmcw View Post
    Ultralight is the way to go for you. I just sold my 2005 Quicksilver Sprint for $5,000; it would operate nicely out of your place. The main obstacle is learning how to fly it; check with Rainbow Aviation in Corning.
    That's right, it's the Sprint that has the single surface and the low stall speed, not the Sport like I said in my previous post. A Sprint with a 447 can get in and out of some pretty tight places.

    I fly out of Corning and unfortunately Rainbow Aviation no longer has their 2-place Quicksilver available for training. After the FAA killed the 2-place ultralight training exemption, the trainer had to be classified as an ELSA and could only be used for training under a special approval called a Letter of Deviation. Brain Carpenter said it was taking months to get the Letter of Deviation approved every year. It's very difficult now to find anyone providing training in anything that flies like an ultralight. FAA needs to come up some more reasonable way to allow ultralight type ELSA airplanes to be used for training. The current system requires the LODA be renewed each year and I understand it can take up to 6 months to process a renewal. So how can anyone make a living (or even break even) doing training with their aircraft grounded up to half the year? It's unworkable and it's driving people back to the bad old days of ground based instruction and people basically teaching themselves to fly in the air.

    If the asphalt you are referring to is a county road, you may be heading for trouble there. You can't operate airplanes or ultralights legally on public roads.

    Martin B.

  10. #10

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    Aug 2011
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    Did you tell us what state you're in, Olympus? If so, sorry, I missed it. Because the answer to operating aircraft on roads varies by state. I am NO ultralight guru, but have operated from roads a bunch - yes, legally, not running drugs or anything. Conversely, it can be tough to operate from some public airports. Do not rely on forum answers exclusively. Check state and county laws and ordinances.

    Sounds like fun!

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