Microlighting - a beginners guide to getting in the air.
What's a Microlight?
Microlights range from the most basic bugs-in-your-teeth flying machines to high tech/high performance machines that make your average Cessna look like an underpowered brick. The common factor is that they are light and can fly slowly.
Microlights are about simpler, cheaper, personal recreational flying. The planes cost less- you can build one from a plans or kit or buy factory built. Licensing is simpler and easier- most people can expect to get one. You can maintain your own aircraft and engine. Training and flying activities are based around clubs, so everyone can share and learn. And any paddock is a potential landing field.
Microlights include weight-shift controlled 'trikes', conventional 3-axis stick and rudder airplanes, gyrocopters, helicopters, powered parachutes and powered paragliders. And within each of these categories there is a huge variety of types, shapes and sizes.
There are single place and two place machines. Single place machine requirements are minimal- if you hold a license and the thing will fly, off you go. Two place machines have more stringent requirements on construction and pilot experience to ensure passenger safety.
Can I fly one?
Of course! - Anyone can go for a trial flight. And if you like it, the next step is to get into training. The only requirements before taking off are that you are 16 or more, and have passed a basic medical examination.
It's that easy- JUST DO IT!
How do I get a trial flight?
All you need is a friendly microlight pilot with a passenger rating and a two-place machine, and a few bucks in your pocket to help with the expenses.
Your local RAANZ Microlight Club is geared up to introduce newcomers to the sport. They will be glad to arrange a trial flight for you.
What's involved in getting a license?
So you have had your trial flight and are all stoked up... First find an Instructor. Your trial flight was probably with an instructor. If not, the pilot should be able to point you in the right direction.
Your instructor will help you get ready for your Novice License. Off to your local doctor for a medical, an application form and a few dollars to RAANZ and the local microlight club, a log book and training manual to buy, and back comes a smart little gold card that says you're ready to aviate! About $150 all up.
Expect to spend 10-20 hours ($1000-$2000) dual instruction before you are ready to solo. Remember that most instructors are instructing in their spare time and have to hold down a real job to feed their habit, so things may not happen as quickly as you would like. But it's worth it! And you can learn a lot hanging round talking and listening to fellow flyers at the local club.
After the exhilarating and scary first solo, you will do more consolidation with your instructor. You will spend more time on solo flights, but always under the care of your instructor, as you hone your skills and start venturing further afield. Club trips and fly-ins are a good way to extend your experience, and its much more fun than flying alone!
Once you have 25 hours flying time and are up to an acceptable standard (your instructor will tell you), a written examination and a flight test, and you will move on to your Intermediate License. This lets you do local flying, but no passengers, and cross country flights must be approved by your instructor.
After completing a series of cross country flights of increasing distance and duration, you will qualify for your Advanced License. And if you show the necessary airmanship and responsibility, your club may nominate you for a Passenger Rating.
Hard work? Yes. There will be times when you wish you were anywhere but in the air. Those are the character and skill building parts of the process.
Fun? Absolutely! You will wish you had got off your butt and started sooner.