Q: Where can I get
reliable information on ultralight aircraft?
A: In Canada it is very difficult for pilots to get good reliable
information on ultralight aircraft! Canada's ultralight community
consists of roughly 4,000 ultralights, 3,000 pilots, and about a dozen
ultralight kit plane manufacturers. This base cannot support any kind of
a magazine dedicated to ultralight aviation. Thus most of the
information comes from our pilot's associations.
Unfortunately none of these associations have anyone on staff that
covers our sport "live." Most of the material you read comes
from manufacturers, dealers, or other associations. To get reliable
information you must turn to U. S. publications. Publications that
supply reliable information on ultralights include:
PO Box 6009
Chattanooga TN 37401
This magazine is published 12 times a year. Subscription rate is $30.00
U. S. per year. It's Buyers guide issue is usually the first issue each
year. I would rate it a 10. This magazine is strictly ultralights, and
has a great classified section. You will not find many stories on
general aviation, gyros, etc.
PO BOX 487
MT. MORRIS IL
Kitplanes is another light recreational aviation magazine that covers
segments of our sport. In Canada aircraft like the L'il Hustler, Coyote,
Kitfox etc can be built as ultralights! These aircraft are classified as
Experimental in the US, and are reported on by Kitplanes. One of the
interesting segments has been their reports by actual builders building
The Ultralight Flyer
Covering the World of Ultralight Aviation
This is a web video magazine that covers the sport of ultralight
aviation. It includes buyers guide videos, engine rebuilding videos, and
over a hundred hours of web video interviews with designers, builders,
A yearly subscription is $
aircraft do you recommend for first time buyers?
A:It is very difficult to say what aircraft you should buy first. What
are you going to do with the craft? Will it be on water? How much do you
weigh? How much can you spend? Are you going to be doing much cross
If I was just getting into the sport and only had about $3,000 to spend
I would probably pick up an old Quicksilver MX, powered by a Rotax 377.
This makes a great little early morning late evening or weekend flying
machine. The MX can handle pilots from 150 lbs to 250 lbs. It takes off
in as little as 50 feet and has a climb rate of between 600 and 700 feet
If I had another $3,000 I'd purchase the "Quickfix"
conversion. This conversion makes the MX into a strut braced, double
service craft with ailerons, and gives it a cruise speed of about 50
mph. This makes a great little inexpensive cross country cruiser, and an
ideal float plane.
The MX's strengths are in its well proven design, with thousands flying
world wide. Parts are still available from the original manufacturer as
well as many other suppliers. It is also a very forgiving aircraft, with
a very low stalling speed. Its slow flying speeds allow pilots to make
mistakes and live to tell about them. Its weaknesses are that its wing
and tail surface covering fabric deteriorates quickly if left
unprotected, and the engine crankshaft bearings usually only lasted
about 150 hours. Another problem is its lack of cross wind handling
capability. It is also a very awkward aircraft to hangar as its highest
point is nearly 11 ft.
The "Quickfix" conversion gives its cross country capability
with a 50/55 mph cruise and ailerons for cross wind landings. This
conversion also shortens the wind and lowers the height to about 6 feet.
The problem with the conversion kit is that it was only available for
about 2 years and I don't know how many hours were flown on it. (This
was available from the same people that now manufacture the Genesis)
had $6,000 to $10,000 and was looking at a two place craft I would
probably look to pick up a used RX 550 Beaver powered by a 503 Rotax
engine. Parts and pieces are available for the RX 550 from ASAP in
Vernon BC. Many thousands of hours have been flown on the Beaver, with
over 2,000 of them sold world wide. It was also used as a two place
trainer by many ultralight schools in Canada.
Its weaknesses are in its landing gear, and elevator control cables, and
in the cross bracing in the wing wires. The elevator control cable and
wing wires are TWO SERIOUS problems and have to be fixed prior to me
giving this craft an "A" rating!
If I had
$10,000 to spend and was looking to buy a single place plane I would
probably go with a new Firestar, Mini Max, Sparrowette, Fisher 404,
Sport Parasol, Supercat or Hipps Reliant. On the minus side of these
kits are the building times. The prices are low because you will be
doing much of the fabricating. Building times for the above aircraft are
in the 300 to 400 hour range.
Click below to:
Check out The Builder's corner for more information on building one
of these kits!
Other aircraft to consider in a single place version between $10/$15,000
are the Coyote, Airaile, MX Sprint, and Flightstar. These have been out
for many years now, and the manufactures have a reputation for the
quality of their kits. These kits while priced higher have building
times of 100 to 150 hours. The disadvantage is that they all use dacron
fabric that will need a UV barrier.
had between $10,000 and $15,000 to spend, and was looking for a
two place craft I would probably buy a NEW Chinook Plus 11,
Tundra, or L'il Buzzard. These aircraft sell for less than $15,000
in kit form minus engine and can be built in about 200 hours, with
the L'il Buzzard coming already built..
The Chinook Plus 11, has been in production for several years now.
It features aluminum tube bolt and rivet together construction ,
covered in conventional aircraft coverings. Several years ago it
was completely redesigned. Changes include a new longer and
stronger fuselage, new wing construction, new landing gear, and
control system. These changes make for a neat little aeroplane,
quite capable of flying with two people on a 503 Rotax engine. The
company while small (a family run operation) has a reputation for
honesty and integrity.
The Tundra has also been around for about four years now, and has
also undergone some very extensive design changes. Originally a
small family operated company, with the craft now being produced
by Loran Aviation the U.S. The Tundra prototype was used for over
a year in a training environment and proved itself a rugged
The construction features a welded steel fuselage front section,
with an aluminum boom running to the tail. It has a welded steel
suspension system using bungee cords. It comes with a front nose
cone section that can be completely enclosed. I have not had an
opportunity to fly the Tundra on a 503, but when powered by an old
532 Rotax with a two blade prop climb rate was over 1200 feet per
minute with a cruise speed of 65 mph at 5000 RPM.
On the down side, while the craft has been in production for about
a year and a half now I have no idea how many are flying or how
many hours they have flown. Note: The prototype which is still
flying has over 250 hours on it as of this writing.
NOTE: Loran Aviation has gone out of business, reports on the
quality of the kits they delivered are questionable, I advise
caution if you are considering buying a kit that was built by
Buzzard, is produced by L'il Hustler
Ultralight Aviation has been available since 1990 and has proven to
be a rugged little aircraft with decent performance. It features a 4130
welded steel fuselage, with aluminum "D" cell construction in
the wing. It has a wide 41inch cabin, with adjustable seats, dual
controls, and in cabin trim. Power is can be supplied by the Rotax 582
on up to the Rotax 914.
in this price range in a two place include: The Fisher Classic, and
Super Koala these all wood aircraft require about 500 hours to build.
These are both beautiful little planes. Their main problems are that
they need the 582 Rotax engine for power and have what has been reported
as very weak landing gear. They are also not planes that I feel would
survive the very abusive day to day training environment. As a one
owner, one pilot craft, I would highly recommend them. The factory is
one of the best in the business!
Mark 111, uses a welded steel fuselage front section, connected to the
tail with an aluminum boom. Pilots report building times in the 500 to
600 hour range. The factory while small has a reputation for quality.
The craft will fly comfortably on the 503 Rotax engine with two people,
and has folding wings for ease of storage. Its main reported problems
are in lack of speed, cruise is only 60/65 mph, and slow delivery from
group of aircraft are priced from $20,000 to $30,000. Several aircraft
that I would rate highly include: The Merlin-This craft has to be one of
the toughest little aircraft on the market today. It was designed by
John Burch a commercial ultralight instructor. Its standard engine for
the ultralight category is the 582 Rotax with the 618 and 912 now
Construction is a welded steel fuselage. Aluminum D cell construction is
used in the wing and the craft is covered in standard aircraft covering
materials. Building times are a reasonable 400 hours. On the plus side
the Merlin has one of largest pilot enclosures in the industry, good
visibility, and very strong landing gear.
The downside of the Merlin is that its performance in climb is only
about 500 feet a minute with pilot and student on board. This figure is
nearly halved when the craft is float equipped.
Note as of this writing the Merlin factory has gone out of business
Maverick-Manufactured by Murphy Aircraft in British Columbia Canada this
aircraft looks to be a winner. Construction mates a metal fuselage with
a combination metal and conventional aviation covering materials. Cabin
areas are respectable. Performance is good with climb rates appearing to
be in the 800 feet per minute at gross. Cruise speeds are a respectable
The downside is that the aircraft has a high building time, reported to
be in the 1,000 hour range.
The Coyote S6ES-This aircraft is my choice for a land based plane. It
features a welded steel front fuselage section, mated to an aluminum
rivet together tail section covered in dacron saicloth. Wing
construction features aluminum tube bolt together construction covered
in dacron sail cloth.
Building times are 150/200 hours. My recommendation for power would be
the 582, or 912 Rotax. Climb rates are 900 feet per minute at gross
and it cruises around 80 mph.
Its biggest draw backs are the trim system, and vibration from the motor
mount. Another negative is visibility over the nose for shorter pilots.
cheaper for me to build a plane from plans?
A: I have had several customers build aircraft from plans. In most cases
it has proven to be more expensive than buying a kit. The reason for
this is that when a manufacture is building his kits he is buying in
bulk, making his prices cheaper. He is also able to use shorter pieces
of material that are left over from one kit to complete another. Other
savings the manufacture would have over an individual are sourceing
Once a craft is in production the manufacturer knows where to
get his parts and pieces from. An individual can spend a great deal of
time and money traveling and phoning around for this part or that.
Some builders who already have a familiarity with wood, or are in the
welding industry have reported savings. These come from already having a
source of supply and knowing how to build in the material they will be
are some of the aircraft that can be built from plans?
aircraft that can be built from plans include: Green Sky Adventures
Zippy Sport, The Hipps Kitten and Sportster, The Howland H-3 Pegasus and
H-2 Honey- Bee, Light Miniatures LM-1, LM-1 A-W, LM1-2X2P-W, and various
other replicas, The Murphy Renegade 11 and Renegade Spirit, Norman
Aviation's Nordic 11, Nancy Peris JN-1, Preceptor Aircraft's N-3 Pup and
Ultrapup, Raceairs Skylite and Micro Mong, Ragwing Aeroplanes RW-1
Ultra-Piet, Replica Plans SE%A Replica, TEAM aircrafts Max 103, Mini
Max, and HiMax, Wicks Aircraft Supplies Supercat, Zenair 's CH 601 and
Q: Are Rotax two
stroke engines reliable?
A: Most of
my flying is in a training environment. I fly on Rotax 503 and 582
engines, equipped with dual CDI ignition. Experience has shown that
these engines can be operated safely and with very little maintenance
other than spark plugs, fuel filters, gas and vacuum lines, rubber
intake manifolds, and needle jets, for about 300 hours. At 300 hours the
engines are completely disassembled and all worn parts replaced. Once
this work is done they can again run for another 300 hours. Of the two
engines the 503 Rotax is the most trouble free. The 582 while proven to
be a good reliable engine has had problems with crankshaft connecting
rod failure! According to Rotax these failures represent less than 1% of
the engines sold.
Q: If you were going to
support a pilot's association which would it be?
A:If I could afford to I would belong to all the associations that
represent my interests! In Canada, these include UPAC, which has been
responsible for many of the changes currently taking place in the
ultralight aviation in Canada. UPAC is also the only association
supplying insurance for ultralight schools in Canada.
The RAAC which is responsible for Amateur built inspections on Amateur
COPA, Canada's largest pilots' association which represents all segments
In the U. S. I would belong to EAA which puts on Sun N Fun at Lakeland
Florida and Oshkosh, in Oshkosh Wisconsin.
These are the largest
aviation shows in the world, and feature separate sections just for
Another association I would belong to is the United States Ultralight
Association which is the voice of ultralight pilots in the U. S. and is
sanctioned to do flight training in two place ultralights.