This article details what exactly a microlight is, its unique set of benefits, as well as who this type of aircraft is best-suited to.
There is so much more to aviation than just your standard light aircraft aeroplane! Pilots have the option to choose aircraft from a variety of options including light aircraft, helicopters, gliders, and microlights.
While each type of aircraft requires unique licencing and has different training procedures, a pilot is not limited to a certain type of aircraft and can easily fly multiple types, so long as they have the required certification.
For many hobbyists who are not interested in longer flights, are looking to fly locally only, and are searching for aircraft that do not require training as rigorous as that needed in order to operate standard aeroplanes, microlights are a wonderful option.
Microlights are smaller aeroplanes that are much lighter than the standard light aircraft and also have less seating capacity in comparison. There are also different types of sub-categories within microlights, with the aircraft coming in both fixed-wing as well as glider varieties.
This article details what exactly a microlight is, its unique set of benefits, as well as who this type of aircraft is best-suited to. There is also a section included on the benefits of light aircraft so that you can make an informed decision when it comes to picking an aircraft to train on.
WHAT IS A MICROLIGHT?
A microlight is smaller than a standard light aircraft, naturally making it lower in weight. The microlight has a seating capacity limited to only two people at most, and it is generally slower than a standard light aircraft such as the Piper PA-28 or the Cessna Skyhawk.
While a light aircraft weighs a maximum of 5670 kg, a microlight’s weight cannot exceed 450 kg or 472.5 kg if it is equipped with a full parachute system. The lighter weight makes it much easier to fly, making microlights the aircraft of choice for several hobbyists.
Microlights are a fun, safe and relatively affordable way to experience the thrill of aviation. There are two different types of microlights, powered and manual. Out of the powered variety, the three-axis is the most popular sort. The three-axis is a fixed-wing aircraft and is the closest to the traditional light aircraft out of all the other types of microlights.
There are many different types of microlights available in the United Kingdom. Not all microlights are fixed-wing aircraft. Some, such as the parakite and flex-wing, have more in common with gliders than they do with aeroplanes.
Microlights such as the three-axis are part of the fixed-wing variety. These aircraft are fast and sturdy and provide a flying experience close to that of a light aircraft. The EuroFox, a new 560 kg microlight, is very popular with microlight flyers in the UK. It provides a safe and affordable flying experience with a design that is both modern and fun.
MICROLIGHTS VS LIGHT AIRCRAFT
The light aircraft has been established as the aircraft of choice for trainee pilots as well as hobbyists who enjoy flying for fun. However, these aeroplanes require a significant amount of training and have stricter medical requirements, due to the relative complexity of controls.
Therefore, for those who are looking to get into the skies quickly without spending too much time and money on training, microlights are a perfectly safe, fun, and affordable option. Microlights can be flown by most people, so long as they have the necessary certification. Choosing between light aircraft and microlights is a matter of preference and the resources that you may have at your disposal.
You must keep in mind though that microlights are not the aircraft of choice for pilots who are looking to fly in a professional capacity. They are better suited to recreational pilots who do not wish to make a career out of flying.
HOW EXPENSIVE IS IT TO FLY A MICROLIGHT?
Compared to light aircraft, microlights are much cheaper to fly and maintain. Due to their relative simplicity of controls, microlights are easier to fly. This makes training a lot easier, with microlight lessons comprising fewer flight hours. The lesser amount of time means a lighter price tag.
The aeroplanes are small and do not fly as fast as traditional light aircraft, which means they do not suffer as much wear and tear. This makes them far easier to maintain as well. Since the licence requirements are more relaxed, you save money in the certification department as well. The smaller microlights also consume less fuel, so the cost of fuel is also slashed.
If you are someone who wants to fly an aeroplane but does not have the funds or does not wish to invest too high of an amount into flight training and aircraft upkeep, a microlight may be the right aircraft for you!
ARE MICROLIGHTS EASIER TO FLY?
Since microlights are smaller and slower, they do not come with the same level of risk as traditional light aircraft or, even more so, the helicopter. Microlights are very safe to fly, given that you operate them in ideal conditions.
Microlights are meant for hobby flying and should not be used for long-distance flights. These aircraft are also not meant to be flown in bad weather since they can easily be tossed around by the wing due to their weight.
Additionally, microlights are not meant to be flown at night since they are not fitted with the kind of instrumentation required to pilot an aircraft in conditions of impaired visibility. You will risk crashing if you fly a microlight at night since you will probably not be able to see where you are going. Not only is it unsafe to fly an aircraft at night that is not meant to be flown after dark, but it is also illegal and can result in your licence being revoked or even possible prosecution.
WHO ARE MICROLIGHTS BEST SUITED TO?
Microlights are wonderful aircraft, so long as they are operated by their intended users. These aeroplanes are not for everyone, and if you are someone who enjoys flying fast over longer distances, it would make far more sense to opt for a light aircraft instead.
Microlights are meant to be enjoyable and offer a safe and fun experience to the pilot. These aeroplanes are not meant for long-distance travel and definitely not for carrying large cargo.
If you exceed the weight limit on the aircraft, you risk crashing. If you want to carry larger cargo with you, you may want to opt for a dual or multi-engine aeroplane. These are larger than light aircraft, with the extra engine giving them the ability to carry more weight and also fly at faster speeds.
Microlights are best suited to:
If you know a young pilot who wants to try their hand at aviation but they aren’t sure whether they are willing to make the commitment long-term, a microlight can serve as the perfect gateway aircraft. Flying a microlight is relatively easy and can provide the young pilot with the experience of flying without having to undergo the additional training required to fly a traditional light aircraft.
If they find that they enjoy flying, they can easily graduate to a larger aeroplane when they wish.
As already mentioned, the microlight is not the best aeroplane if you want a practical aircraft that can help you travel and carry weight. Microlights are mainly meant for pleasure, which is why they are perfectly suited to hobbyists wanting to fly for fun.
They are a safe and efficient way to fly over beautiful scenery. They are slower, which makes them perfect for taking in the views without flying right past them. They are meant for people to enjoy, and if you are looking for utility, you may want to opt for another aircraft.
Pilots wanting to fly locally
Microlights are not meant to be flown over long distances. These aeroplanes will quickly run out of fuel over a long-distance flight, and their lightweight nature makes them more vulnerable to weather changes such as strong winds or storms.
The microlight is perfect for short distances, and if you want to fly further, you should go for a light aircraft instead. The licence required for microlights is also a national licence, and you will need to upgrade to a Private Pilot Licence and then Part-FCL in order to be able to fly in European Union territory.
Pilots with medical limitations
Due to the fact that the microlight can only be flown short distances during the daytime, it does not come with as many medical restrictions. Usually, pilots with certain medical conditions that keep them from operating regular aircraft can find that they are qualified to fly microlights.
This makes microlights accessible to a wider range of people, from younger people to older adults.
BENEFITS OF FLYING MICROLIGHTS
There are so many benefits of flying microlights, and if you fall into any of the groups mentioned above, you will find that they are much better suited to your needs as opposed to traditional light aircraft.
Easier on the pocket
The first and most obvious advantage of flying microlights is that they are far more affordable to fly and maintain.
As already explained, when flying a microlight, you save on fuel and training fees. Not only that, but due to the smaller size and less complicated controls, the aircraft itself comes with a lower price tag as compared to the standard light aircraft.
The licensing fee for this type of aeroplane is also lower and the fewer medical restrictions mean you do not have to pay as much for the medical certificate.
The fact that microlights fly at a lower speed means that they allow you to fully absorb and enjoy the scenery around you. Microlights are meant for casual flying with the sole aim of pleasure. If there is somewhere you need to get in a hurry, the microlight is not the right aircraft for you.
Easier to maintain
The less complicated controls and the smaller size of the aeroplane mean that microlights are much easier to maintain. Since a microlight is not meant to be flown into bad weather or at night, it is only ever flown in ideal conditions which guarantees the most fun flight. This means it is not subject to as much wear and tear, making it much cheaper to maintain.
Fewer hours of training
If you are looking to quickly get into the air, then a microlight may be a good option. Standard pilot training generally takes much longer, with the PPL requiring a total of 45 hours of flight time. Microlights do not require a large investment of your time, and you can easily get into the cockpit of your microlight after a few hours of training.
WHY YOU MAY CHOOSE TO FLY LIGHT AIRCRAFT INSTEAD
While microlights may be the ideal option for certain people, for others, light aircraft are better suited. Here are all the reasons you may choose to fly light aircraft instead:
Due to the fact that these are industry standards, light aircraft are far more accessible. They are widely available in several different makes and models.
You also have the option to buy a used or new aircraft, opt for private ownership, or buy shares of an aircraft instead. Microlights, on the other hand, have a specific target audience which means they are not as easily available as standard light aircraft.
Microlights can only be flown locally, so if you want to fly outside of the borders of the United Kingdom, you will have to opt for an EASA-approved aircraft instead. All you have to do is to add a Part-FCL rating to your existing pilot licence so that you can fly across the border into EU territory.
Easier to graduate to more complex aircraft
If your ultimate goal is to fly larger, more complex aircraft, then it would make more sense to start with light aircraft instead. This is because the transition from the light aircraft to a larger, multi-engine aeroplane is smoother than that from the microlight.
WHY CHOOSE SHERBURN AERO CLUB?
Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.
With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand-new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.
If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licenses, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.
In addition to this, the club also offers simulators for various training needs and to help new pilots gain confidence before the real deal. Breeze Aviation, our microlight training facility, is based at Sherburn in Elmet and has a unique training environment based at a licenced airfield. It integrates seamlessly with large-scale GA training and hires, helicopter training and charter, commercial and advanced flight training, and classic tiger moth experiences.
With an extremely special aircraft fleet that consists of brand-new, high-performance microlights such as the latest factory-built Eurofox 3K, Breeze Aviation is one of only two microlight flight schools in the UK to offer training on the amazing Eurofox.
Call us on 01977 682 674, email us at email@example.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on differences between light aircraft and microlights, as well as licensing requirements and training options for microlights.