Choosing the best ultralight aircraft

Rotax 447 ultralight aircraft engine.

5. Engine:

  1. Rotax engine gets you 10 points.
  2. Hirth 10 points
  3. Kawasaki 8
  4. Any engine that is still in production or you can get parts and service for 8 points,
  5. Cuyuna 4 points. 

I give Rotax a 10 because they had engines from 28 to 65 horsepower which can be bought as a complete package, including carb, exhaust, and cooling systems. Have a worldwide service network, which is factory trained. Rotax itself is not a small company and produces nearly 80 per cent of the engines used in light recreational aircraft.

Hirth engines fall short in some of the areas mentioned above but still should receive an (10).

Kawasaki was another engine that was widely used. Parts and pieces are still available as are complete package engine packages (8)

Cuyuna was one of the mainstays in the industry, parts are available. The only problem with the Cuyuna  was that it was either a good reliable engine, or it made a great boat anchor. (5)

Quicksilver Two Place Trainer


6. Two place trainer: If the company produces a two place trainer then the plane gets a 10. It is great to be able to buy a plane when you can be trained in the same model in a two place.

While some of the climb rates and speeds may be different between he single and two place, the basic flying of the two craft is very similar. Having flown/and taught students to fly in the Challenger, Kolb, Buccaneer, Rans Coyote, Airaile, Quicksilver MX and MXL, Carrera in both the single and two place versions I can vouch for the fact that these craft fly very similar.

If the company does not produce a two place trainer, but your local dealer, or instructor has flown the craft and indicates that its flight characteristics are similar to the craft you are training in give it a 10.

If no information on the flight characteristics are readily available, from a knowledgeable source, then I would first grade the aircraft minus this category (90 points instead of 100), and then if it passes the other categories give it the per centage that it passed by e.g. 60 % = 6 points, and then recalculate.

10 point system for rating ultralight aircraft

7. Cross country capabilities: If the plane has good cross country capabilities 50 to 55 mph cruise then you get another 10 points. Once again if the craft has been purchased for the sole purpose of flying "around the patch" at 25 to 35 mph you can still give it a 10.

​However if it is three axis control and capable of 50 to 55 mph in cruise it means that more use can be made of the craft flying to flyins and other pilots fields. It also is less bothersome to neighbors, since you are not buzzing away in their ears for extended periods of time.
2 Points off for ever 5 MPH cruise below 55.

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