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GA to Flexwing microlight

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GA to Flexwing microlight

Old 6th Jan 2010, 16:23
  #1 (permalink)  

Spicy Meatball
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Liverpool UK
Age: 38
Posts: 1,115
GA to Flexwing microlight

After renewing my PPL and realising yet again, that the costs/currency are difficult to keep up with, plus the lack of victims to take, I've decided to get into flex-wing flying!

I live a few miles from Ince Blundell and will be giving them a call soon, but thought I would consult you lot first, as I havenít done so for quite some time.

I believe I can fly a microlight on my current PPL(a) with some differences training (Iím current at the moment) so thatís the first port of call. The ultimate goal is to buy my own microlight (supposed I have to like the idea of flying one first). I suppose the main attraction, apart from the lower costs is the Ďair in your faceí flying and the ability to get in and out of small fields etc Ė more laid back approach to flying and slower stall speed etc. Iíve looked at some performance figures and they are astonishing. Iíd also relish the opportunity to own and maintain my own aircraft, with more flexibility as to where and when I can fly it.

My main questions to you are:

1) Best place to buy a flex-wing microlight, and a good model for a not so small person (havenít decided on a 1 or 2 seater yet)
2) What kind of costs I can expect
3) Any good stories/experiences youíd like to share!

Think thatís it for now Ė Iíll probably visit IB on the weekend if this white stuff clears up!

Cheers

Maz
mazzy1026 is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 16:28
  #2 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: London nr EGKB
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Not a very helpful reply (sorry)

I would be interested to see what comes of this though I am currently training for my PPL (a) but am also wanting to fly Flexwing. I understood it that you could not use hours that you fly (Microlight) can not count towards to your PPL currency hours?

Tom
tomtom_91 is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 16:39
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Norfolk UK
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Hi Mazzy,happy new year!

I think flexwing/microlight do not count toward a ppl although you may be able to transfer some hours.
Mazzy is asking the opposite,he has a ppl but wants to fly flexwing.
Lister
edited to add,I think there are courses to convert ppl to nppl(m)
Lister Noble is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 17:47
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Ireland
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Ince is a great place to Learn, Say Hi to Karl for me.
Great Club, very friendly and a lovely grass airfield with 3 runways, I call in when I do some of the trips across the UK from Ireland.

RE: Type of Flex to buy; all depends on your circumstances, what you want to do, how much you want to spend... They range from £2500 up to £45000 and everywhere in between. Best thing to do is to take a trip with the fellas at Ince and ask questions of all the lads flying there. There is now Rotax 912 powered aircraft for 10K upwards. see Aircraft for sale for some of the planes for sale.

The instructors at Ince can give you the low down on what you have to do regarding licensing... talk to them about it.

Good experiences....... Sure there is, you will have one hell of a grin when you fly a flex, a motorbike of the skies !

Asking questions on www.MicrolightForum.com will probably result in more knowledgeable responses as it is a dedicated microlight forum... actually quite a few of the Ince Pilots on that particular forum.

Good luck with it and let us know how you get on.

Jon
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Old 6th Jan 2010, 17:56
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
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Originally Posted by mazzy1026 View Post
After renewing my PPL and realising yet again, that the costs/currency are difficult to keep up with, plus the lack of victims to take, I've decided to get into flex-wing flying!

I live a few miles from Ince Blundell and will be giving them a call soon, but thought I would consult you lot first, as I havenít done so for quite some time.

I believe I can fly a microlight on my current PPL(a) with some differences training (Iím current at the moment)
That's correct; but reckon on 6-10 hours of training, you'll have habits to unlearn!

so thatís the first port of call. The ultimate goal is to buy my own microlight (supposed I have to like the idea of flying one first). I suppose the main attraction, apart from the lower costs is the Ďair in your faceí flying and the ability to get in and out of small fields etc Ė more laid back approach to flying and slower stall speed etc.
All true, although a good warm flying suit and full face helmet are still good things.

Iíve looked at some performance figures and they are astonishing. Iíd also relish the opportunity to own and maintain my own aircraft, with more flexibility as to where and when I can fly it.
Again all true, you really get to know your aeroplane well when you do all the maintenance, and rig and de-rig it regularly.


My main questions to you are:

1) Best place to buy a flex-wing microlight, and a good model for a not so small person (havenít decided on a 1 or 2 seater yet)
Don't bother with single seaters, they're few and far between and tend only to be flown by people who either are into microlight competitions, deregulated aircraft, or like something obscure and historical. The vast majority of the market is 2-seaters, and there's a huge range to choose from.

Join the BMAA now - you'll need to, and for a start the back of Microlight Flying magazine is an excellent source of second hand aeroplanes. The other good source of second hand aeroplanes is AFORS, the well known website

There are few poor aeroplanes in the UK market, but in general if you go for anything with a current permit, built by Pegasus, Mainair, P&M Aviation, or Medway Microlights (and not fitted with a flash 2 or flash 2 alpha wing), and using a Rotax engine, you're unlikely to regret it. For performance, seat limits, typical empty weight and MTOW - go to the BMAA website and download the TADS for any type, which are under "tech talk". Also this book acts as a reasonable buyers guide.

4-stroke engines are more reliable and economical than older 2-stroke engines, but also heavier and more work to maintain yourself. I'd steer clear of the 532 and 508 engines which are a bit long in the tooth now, or the 447 if you'll be carrying passengers. The 503-2V is a good small 2-stroke, the 582 a good larger 2-stroke (if a little more complex due to the liquid cooling), and the 912 a stunningly good 4-stroke.

Inevitably, the newer more sophisticated aeroplanes will cost more, but you can still get a good 2-seater for £3k+ and a very good one for £10k.

2) What kind of costs I can expect
Purchase obviously. Around £400pa for maintenance and permit revalidation, around £400pa for insurance, fuel (MOGAS) and oil (about 13 litres/hr for a 503, 15 litres for a 912, 18 litres for a 582), 2-stroke engines will need 1/50th of the fuel quantity in oil, at about £10/litre. Set aside about 50% over the fuel cost for other running costs, spares, etc. and you won't be too far out.

Hangerage is whatever you end up paying; I pay £25/month plus £50pa club membership on a farmstrip, but that's on the low end, most places you'll be paying 2-3 times that.


3) Any good stories/experiences youíd like to share!
Over a beer sometime, or again join the BMAA and read Microlight Flying which is full of such stories, most of them even true!

Very best of luck, and you won't regret it.

Do get a BMAA inspector to go over any aeroplane before you buy it. The odds are that your instructor can do that for you.

G
Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 18:41
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Join Date: Jan 2007
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I have only flown in(on!) a flexwing once, and it was a genuinely fantastic experience. The visibility is superb, and the feeling of being directly connected to the aeroplane and the air supporting it was unique. But 50 years of ingrained flying instinct cannot be instantly changed. The controls of a flexwing are completely opposite to a conventional aeroplane, and I found it nearly impossible to maintain control for more than a minute or two. It felt like trying to ride a bicycle with legs and arms crossed.
I really don't want to seem like a spoil sport, but please be aware of what can happen in an emergency when ingrained instinct kicks in.
There are a number of fatal accidents that have occured, when following an otherwise survivable incident the pilot moved the controls in exactly the wrong way, thus causing a dive into the ground or a steep turn and spin.
Admittedly these occured when a flexwing trained pilot converted to a conventional spam-can. But presumably the same scenario is possible going the other way. Like I say am not trying to spoil the fun, but please be aware of instinctive reactions that could kill you.
vee-tail-1 is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 18:58
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The controls of a flexwing are completely opposite to a conventional aeroplane, and I found it nearly impossible to maintain control for more than a minute or two. It felt like trying to ride a bicycle with legs and arms crossed.
Could we be careful with wording please..

As I understand it... A weightshift microlight (Big flying kite with a pod underneath and open to the elements!) will be opposite control movement to spam can flying. i.e. push the bar forwards for take off.

I believe that the term "flex wing" microlight refers to the newer microlights i.e. C42. Two seater lightweight baby aeroplane but closed cockpit and cabin HEATERS.

I'm willing to be educated if someone else understands where these terms come from and i have it wrong?


PS - My partner fly's a weightshift microlight, and I've had a trial lesson in one once. The only problem I had was taxying on the ground. Everything else felt "right" for the type of aircraft.
I've also had a go in a C42 - central stick between the two seats, throttle between your legs () - but all controls were in the correct sense for this spam can flier.
Mad Girl is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 19:12
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Ireland
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"Flex-Wing" in general lay man's terms refer to Weightshift microlights, or as you refer to them "A Kite"... so IMHO the original poster is correct.... A C42 is not a Flex Wing... it is a conventional 3 axis aircraft, just like a "Spam can"....the fact it has a cabin heater is irreverent !
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Old 6th Jan 2010, 19:22
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Join Date: Dec 2009
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Im pretty sure a cabin heater is a critical item at present.
seymour beaver is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 19:45
  #10 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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and a cup holder for thermos of hot cocoa !!
jonkil is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 19:45
  #11 (permalink)  
 
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I'm with Madgirl, I've close on 1000hrs of 'conventional' flying and actually found weightshiffts fairly straight forward to fly.

The 'trick' is much like left and right hand, stick and yoke - get the right mental picture and it just slots in. But on the ground I did have to think!

So I do not believe it is that difficult to 'convert'. The trick is to find the right mental picture, in my case to 'fly the wing', knowing that it is about angle of attack and roll not about stick or yoke movements.

And it is great fun - although turbulence is hard work!
gasax is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 20:00
  #12 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
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A solution to the winter flexwing / weightshift problem is to go and spend some money in a motorcycle shop, who usually sell electrically heated clothing that can fairly readily be matched up to the aircraft's 12V power supply.

G
Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2010, 21:19
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Join Date: Dec 2001
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Hi Maz, I fly a flex from Ince its an older Mainair F2a powered by a Rotax 503 duel ignition 2 stroke, slow compared to the modern flex that can top 100mph, my cruise speed is 55mph burning 10lts of unleaded solo 15lts 2 up, I keep it at home in the garage on its trailer and obviously have to rig it each time I fly which can be restricting as it take over an hour to assemble but its not something that bothers me but it does most owners who like to leave them part rigged at the airfield,

I did have some GA experience also from Liverpool like you but would not swap my flexwing for the world, I just love the type of flying and the very friendly club environment which is so important and thriving at Ince a cracking bunch of guys,

I do all my own maintenance and almost enjoy that as much as the flying,

I have a very amateurish video on youtube if you care to take a look filmed at Ince with a very basic camera,

YouTube - Mainair F2a flexwing microlight flight to the Pier Head.

They have 2 very modern flexwings at Ince to train on and hire as well if you would prefer, the Mainair GT 450 912,

Give me a shout if I can help any.

Nick.

Last edited by magpienja; 6th Jan 2010 at 21:34.
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Old 10th Jan 2010, 10:51
  #14 (permalink)  

Spicy Meatball
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Thanks for the great replies....

I have to admit (with regarding the difficulty in converting from fixed wing) that I have thought about exactly the same issue - it doesn't worry me, but I am well aware of it. The good thing is that Ince have a flight simulator, rigged up to conventional flexwing controls - so a few hours on this should help (alongside airtime)! If I'm honest, it excites me having to learn something new.

Here's a bit of a perhaps arrogant question - do you think there is a relationship between cost and safety? I don't want to buy an all singing and dancing aircraft - three wheels and and a seat would do me - to increase the feeling of being at one with the aircraft. If I could buy one for anything up to 5k, I'd be made up, but just want your opinion on this ...

Next stage for me is to get in touch with Ince and take I from there - and for those that know my regular style of posting, I will be sure to let you know how I get on

Thanks again

Maz
mazzy1026 is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2010, 12:04
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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Is there anywhere in the London/Kent area that do microlight hire?


Tom
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Old 10th Jan 2010, 18:29
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Mazzy

Licensing wise for what it's worth I believe that you can now have a NPPL with SSEA and M ratings (and SLMG if you so desire) and all time counts for all types for renewal - you just have to get an hour minimum on type.

Might help you keep your options open.
J.A.F.O. is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2010, 19:28
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Join Date: May 1999
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.....go and spend some money in a motorcycle shop.....
Genghis, I now have a somewhat revised mental image of the average Microlight pilot:



"It's fun to fly with the Bee Emm Ay Ay.....!!"

Seriously though:

1. You may fly a Microlight on a JAR-FCL PPL SEP Class Rating after having received 'differences training' from a Microlight instructor, but you do not need any new Class Rating. Hours flown on a Microlight will NOT count towards any JAR-FCL revalidation.

2. An NPPL can indeed include Microlight, SLMG and SSEA Class Ratings. Hours flown on any Class will count towards revalidation of all Class Ratings included in an NPPL, although there is a minimum time requirement for each Class. See AIC 30/2008 for full details.

3. If you intend to fly a Microlight in the UK, join the BMAA.
BEagle is offline  
Old 10th Jan 2010, 21:45
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Originally Posted by tomtom_91 View Post
Is there anywhere in the London/Kent area that do microlight hire?


Tom
Hire is still quite rare sadly, but you could try visiting Medway Microlights

G

(N.B. BEagle - not sure if you're suggesting that's any kind of problem? Seems fine to me?)
Genghis the Engineer is offline  
Old 11th Jan 2010, 18:06
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Spicy Meatball
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Beagle - excellent!

From what I gather so far, it looks like I'll be maintaining an NPPL and 'downgrading' my JAR? Quite happy to do that and give up flying Traumahwaks out of Liverpool.

I'm hopefully visiting IB on Sunday (they do hire ) so I'll be able to get a better picture then.

I've been looking at the classified section on the BMAA website - some nice looking aircraft going there quite cheap (I'm using the word 'cheap' as I've only ever really dribbled over fixed wing ad's) - I'll have to get some knowledge on the aircraft and their maintenance before I go in head first, obviously. I'm interested to know more about permit rules, how easily they are obtained and aircraft maintenance etc.

Sunday should be a very enlightening day

Mag - excellent video, some very recognisable scenery for me there - I've done most of my flying in those areas...
mazzy1026 is offline  
Old 11th Jan 2010, 23:47
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Here's a bit of a perhaps arrogant question - do you think there is a relationship between cost and safety? I don't want to buy an all singing and dancing aircraft - three wheels and and a seat would do me - to increase the feeling of being at one with the aircraft. If I could buy one for anything up to 5k, I'd be made up, but just want your opinion on this ...
I don't believe there is any significant link between cost and safety for a flexwing microlight. I think the Flash 2a (which are generally pretty cheap) had a bit of a poor reputation, and a couple of accidents in the late 90s. Pegasus XL, Q, Quasar, Quantums, and the Blades can all be found for <5k, and have good safety records though. You won't find a 4-stroke plane for that money, and the 2-strokes are less reliable, but a flexwing is very easy to put down in a field. No forced landing is completely safe, but I'm only aware of one fatal accident from an engine out in the last 15 years, and although on a 2-stroke it occurred from fuel mismanagement rather than an engine problem.

Single seaters are a bit different as they have (nearly) all been deregulated (SSDR) in the last couple of years. The new SSDR are probably all fine (eg. P&Ms [email protected], or Flylight's Dragonfly). There is no official permit system though, and it is up to you to decide whether you are happy it is safe. Second hand older single seaters (eg. the Chaser) may be great, or could be an unmaintained pile of junk that someone has decided they can sell now it doesn't need a permit! Worth taking someone who knows the type along to have a look with you.

You asked about permits and maintenance. The deregulated single seaters do not need a permit at all. Provided you have a valid licence/medical/insurance and you can get it off the ground you can fly it. 2-seaters and single seaters which don't meet the criteria for SSDR need a permit. Once a year the plane + logbook needs inspecting by a BMAA inspector and test flying (cost between you and the inspector - maybe 100GBP), and the paperwork sending off to the BMAA for about another 100GBP to get the permit. You'll also need to be a BMAA member for this (about 60/year, including the monthly magazine). You can normally do all maintenance yourself, with the exception of a factory wing strip every few hundred hours.
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