Ultralights (ULM)

"Ultralights" might confuse you. In the USA ultralight doesn't mean the same as in Europe. Ultralights in USA are refered as FAR 103. There is a specific page about FAR103. In this page here, we talk about how most Europeans know ultralights. Sometimes they are referred to as ULM. Ultra Light Motorised.

What in USA is called FAR103 and LSA together, is called in Europe ULM. In ULM you need a pilot license. Here is a overview on Wikipedia about the differences between ULM rules in different countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultralight_aviation

Many might think that ultralights are boring as they don't have enough speed. The next video proofs you are wroooooong!

A very wide variety of ULMs

This is a very very wide group. It starts with those ULMs that just can take off, fly a few times around the local church tower and land again. It ends with ULMs that fly 300 km/h (186 mph) and have a range of over 1000 km (620 miles). I give you a quick overview of several variants. More can be seen at the page Some ULMs.

Explaining the graph

Speed

ULM are in so many styles, in some many variants, you can hardly just place a single speed range to it. ULMs go from noisy "flying grass-mowers" to speedy, sleek airplanes. It all depends on what you choose to fly.

Low Cost

Depending which model you choose, you will get costs from affordable for the man of the street to something as expensive as a house of bricks. If you would compare it with cars ...from a Mini to a Ferrari. Reducing price can be done by building it yourself. It is possible! Some kits are rather easy to assemble. If you start from raw materials, you need more skills to finish the project.

Range

Again depending on what model you choose. It goes from enough range to fly only locally to a tool that makes trips possible.

Open air

Again depending on what model you choose. It goes from totally open air to very closed. 


Left is open air in warm weather. Right is enclosed cockpit in a bit colder weather.
Both pictures taken during worldwide WUFI 2015 event.

Flying in rain

I hope to hear from more experienced persons how ULMs behave in rain soon.

Are you a toy of the wind?

Pilots know there is a thing called turbulences. It is when the wind does things you would not expect in a steady wind. Suddenly you are thrown upwards or pulled downward. Or you get diverted to left or right. And ...you cannot predict it.

Some air-vehicles have not much trouble with those small turbulences. Reason: they are really heavy. They are harder to push around.

Now these ULMs are still ultralight. If you go for the very basic one, you might find it impossible to fly when there is just a breeze of wind. Some really need wind less conditions to fly. Which reduces flying to only at dawn or dusk or totally not. The more speedy ULMs can handle better some headwind, but ...they might still be sensitive to crosswind. And that reduces the possible days to fly when the wind is too much from the side of the airstrip.

Trailer

Yes, you need one. I have seen no ULMs that fit on a roof rack at this moment.

Hangar

Depends on the type of ultralight sailplane you have. You might dismount the glider and store it in your trailer. But ...mounting each time the wings can be time consuming. 

Group or solo

ULMs are normally very suitable to be used as a single person. Just push it to the take off position, start your engine, take off. If you have a ULM with a central landing gear and wingtip wheels, you might like to have a wingtip runner. But ...those types of ULMs are very rare. Many of those can even take off without wingtip runner. But that demands a bit more skill of the pilot.

Picture is Skypup during worldwide WUFI 2015 event.

Not only new ULMs, but also oooold ones

Buying a new ULM might not be in your budget. There is a good second hand market for ULMs. But ...you might buy a disaster or a very good one. I heard of some crooks even trying to sell a ULM that was inside a hangar when the roof fell on it due to storm. My word of advise: let the old owner fly it when you see it and you will see if he trusts it himself.

Training needed

In the USA they have FAR103, which allows you to fly without a license. But in most countries there is a need to have a license to fly a ULM.

SOME ULM's

SCHOOLS FOR ULM's IN THE WORLD