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Luton Minor

Old 15th May 2017, 11:32
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Luton Minor


Does anyone have experience owning and flying a Luton Minor? Anyone have any idea about running costs? I am looking for a little single seater open cockpit tailwheel for the summer and saw an advert for one - G-AZHU. I was actually looking for a druine turbulent - but open to ideas!

Thank You!
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Old 15th May 2017, 19:26
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Have you looked at this site?? Home of the Luton Minor Aeroplane

The other thing to do is to take yourself along to the PFA, oh whoops, think they now call themselves the LAA.....! There might still be a few members around old enough to remember the Luton Minor...!!!

Last edited by Planemike; 15th May 2017 at 22:41.
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Old 15th May 2017, 20:25
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Plenty around, simple and cheap single seater. Not fast, long legged nor something to fly in breezy weather. Most are long in the tooth and need to be inspected very thoroughly before purchase as glue gets old, too. Easier to buy than sell but vintage charm in abundance. A nice place to be on a calm summer's evening if you've nowhere particular to go.
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Old 15th May 2017, 20:50
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For single seater open cockpit fun at around 10 per hour, I recommend a Jodel D9. I've got around 30 hours in one and loved every minute. Expect to pay 1-1500 for a share which you won't have a problem reselling.
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Old 15th May 2017, 21:12
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I remember meeting a lady touring north of Inverness​ in a Luton Minor, based in East Anglia. A Fred would be an alternative. One has been flow to Orkney, and south to the LAA Fly-In.
Neither would suit me.
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Old 16th May 2017, 09:05
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Originally Posted by Maoraigh1
I remember meeting a lady touring north of Inverness​ in a Luton Minor, based in East Anglia...
Barbara Schlussler. She came to one of our Fly-ins at Knockbain Farm many years ago, non-radio all the way. Admirable.
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Old 16th May 2017, 09:27
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Forget FRED, not even in the same league. Luton Minor has some merit - read the books by Ord-Hume for some great stories of the early days of homebuilt flying in a Minor. You could probably pick one up for very low thousands, but being old-tech it will cast more to fly than something less draggy - the more hours you do, the more fuel costs become a factor, so for 10 hours a year the Luton is great, but for 100 hours a year it's probably worth shelling out more for a Jodel or Turb. Another thing to watch is MAUW - they are quite heavy and if you are bigger than a teenage marathon runner you probably can't legally carry full fuel
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Old 16th May 2017, 09:54
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Sorry, I see you're looking for operating costs, so I'll do my best:

Insurance is now compulsory and is split into third-party liability and hull loss. Together you should be able to pay about 600 a year.

LAA membership will be compulsory and about 80 a year. LAA engineering fees about 120 plus annual inspection from a tame inspector ~100.

Hangarage (it MUST be hangared!) would range from free barn in a local farmer's field to 3000+ at a popular airfield.

Airfield/flying club membership up to 500.

So you could be paying 400 a month before you have even flown an hour! By flying in a group you can reduce some of these fixed costs though.

Variable (hourly) costs would be a bit more friendly:

1800cc VW is well suited to the LA4A to give it a suitable climb performance, but it is a bit thirsty - I think 12 litres per hour, so 24 per hour AVGAS although you could probably get approval to use unleaded from a garage forecourt which is better for the VW, but more prone to vapour-lock.

Every 50 hours you'll need an oil change - say 20.
The engine should last 1-2 thousand hours, so factor that in to your costing, but you never know without hindsight which you have.

The more it flies, the lower the hourly cost, but be realistic - when you own the aircraft you can't turn-up and fly, there is always maintenance to be done and you should probably factor 2 hours on the ground for every hour flown, so if you have to work for a living you are unlikely to fly 100 hours a year.

Do not buy it if you can't afford to lo the price of the aircraft. It is also much easier to buy than sell aircraft like this. Even with insurance there is risk and there is no such thing as cheep flying, but if you do you will learn all sorts and have great life experiences!
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Old 16th May 2017, 18:57
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Thank you to everyone! I really appreciate your inputs.

I am after something that is tailwheel & open cockpit for a bit of fun. Nothing serious, no "real go to places" mission, just a bit of fun on sunny days. For going places, or any other mission, I have access to a PA32 and a share in a PA28RT which I do fly regularly. Being newly introduced to tailwheel, I have found so much joy which makes me really keen to fly a lot more tailwheel just for fun. Do more farm strips, see more of the UK from a different angle. It isn't just a cost factor, which although helps me get further on my budget is secondary to the fun aspect!

In my ideal world, it would be a mogas/avgas run single or twin seater open cockpit, tailwheel aeroplane which would have enough room for a Brompton folded up bike & small rucksack ready for some adventuring. But I know that this is probably impossible, so the closest I've come was the druine turbulent, but when I saw the Luton Minor - I thought it had a little thing about it that I really liked!


Planemike, I have looked at the website, I did read a wealth of information. It was interesting! Thank you - I'll have a look at the PFA (i mean.... LAA)

M.Berger, thank you very much for your input. I am short (5'7" ish), and weigh less than 70Kg, so definitely can fit in!! (if I don't... then I think it must be an RC version!) that is exactly what I am after - a little bit of flying fun in a tailwheel

RustySparrow, I haven't come across the D9! Nice! Seems very similar to the Druine Turbulent which I first had my eyes on. (they look like SO much fun!) It is a little harder finding shares in a

Dan Dare, thank you for some running costs, I've received an insurance quote which was a lot less than you quoted (350), and hangarage varies so widely as you say! Do you know other than the annual, the usual bits that need replacing, and likely costs during the annual inspection? I am pretty hands-on, although I have never built anything as complicated as an aeroplane, but have extensive experience repairing boats (fibreglass, and wood). So I am happy to do a lot of repair work as required. My original plan was to buy, and then to look at whether or not people wanted to join me flying and form a group around it - but I would want to get a lot of fun in it before doing that!

Thank you again for all your replied - I really appreciate it!
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Old 16th May 2017, 19:23
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At my home airfield, well to the north of you, there is a Taylor Monoplane. It needs a bit of work on the ignition, but it is hangared and covered so the airframe is good. PM me if you're interested. It belongs to one of our club members who I believe could be looking to sell it.
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Old 16th May 2017, 20:09
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Good to hear someone interested in a delightful vintage ultralight.
I was a member of a group operating one at Fenland.
Barbara (mentioned above) was also in the group at that time and flew the bottom off the aeroplane, as did several other members.
One trip I remember was Fenland to Lands End (one member in the Luton, me in my Wot), there in a day, back the next. Bloody good fun and at minimum cost.

One way of finding such an aeroplane is to look through G-INFO.
Look for Luton Minors with expired permits, then write to the owners asking if they had considered selling.
With increasing hangarage costs (the largest cost now), there are a number of such aeroplanes gathering dust and costing the owner nearly it`s value every year.
Alternatively put an ad in the LAA comic (you need to join anyway).

The Luton I flew - don`t remember any weight problem but not much room for baggage (small locker behind your head).
Cruise was about 65kts, stall I think was about 28kts. Fuel 2.5-3gph.
Maintenance cost will depend on how much you are prepared to do yourself, taking advise from your friendly local PFA (LAA) inspector.
As they are homebuilt (drawings still available), there is nothing that you cannot do.
More likely you will have engine work to do but it is a VW, get a Haynes manual and off you go.

I hope you find one and have FUN.
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Old 16th May 2017, 20:17
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Alternatively you could try for a Motor Tutor conversion of the Slingsby T31 glider.
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Old 16th May 2017, 21:25
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Alex - don't know if the share has gone yet (advert was July 2016) but there's a very nice looking Jodel D9 at Hinton on the Hedges
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Old 17th May 2017, 00:29
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I have a Turbulent and would buy one again. Perhaps not the same one, but having spent a fair amount of time and money on fixing bits and pieces I'm growing very fond of it. That's not to say a Luton Minor would be a bad idea or that a Jodel wouldn't be a better one. But on paper at least the Turbulent is a bit more versatile and the luggage compartment has enough room to be useful. You can get to fly-before-you-buy through the Tiger club. They come up reasonably frequently so I imagine if you wait long enough you'll find one. There was one a month or two back for 6500.

My main issue with aircraft ownership has been the need to get a lathe and mill... There are always little bits and pieces that need fixing - for me the biggest one has been a tailwheel assembly as I found that a tailskid on tarmac was not a good idea. For a thoroughly sorted aircraft you might not need to do anything for a long time. But I'm generally quite busy and it can take a while to get things done. Even quite simple problems can result in a fair bit of down-time.

What took me a bit by surprise was the interest that a 'classic' aircraft seems to generate. All I wanted initially was something cheap to learn tailwheel techniques and keep current in. In a way that's still all I want, and the Turbulent fills the role nicely. But wherever I go the plane-spotters get excited and start snapping away. It's nice that it makes them so happy; I also often find myself wondering about the chap who spent most of the 1960s building it - I'm glad it's in the air again.
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Old 17th May 2017, 13:03
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It sounds as though you already have all the skills required to keep a small taildragger flying. Other than hangar-rash events there is very little woodwork/fabric repair work and most maintenance is likely to be the engine.

The VW is very simple and has very readily available parts. If you get one with magnetos you may need to to tweak them more often than the oil change and some aircraft will require the engine to be moved to get in to adjust them! Leburg electronic ignition is magic and saves all of this, but if you get electronic issues they're much harder to trouble-shoot. Parts replaced on condition and I would guess at: new plugs every couple of years 20; Exhausts about five years unless you get stainless steel; gaskets come as an economical set, where some get changed regularly and some almost never, but still worth buying the set; valve gaps should probably be done a couple of times a year and very easy without removing the engine; I suppose valves and head studs may last five years and come to a small number of hundreds.

LAA inspector is invaluable! You should get a good relationship with them as even when you are quite hands-on they can be a sanity check against your "good" idea. Payment is an individual thing and in my time it ranged from regular shout of brandy/soda at the bar to "mates-rates" professional hourly fees. If you get the wrong sort of inspector it could get more "BMW main dealer" sort of fees and tied-up in their pet minutiae. Luckily I never experience that, but knew someone with a Luton Minor that was effectively grounded by this.

Finally, if you are not particularly tied to one VW single seater (most have pros and cons) look at their safety record too. The Luton is not the most exciting performer of them, but when it goes wrong it does so very slowly so I don't think they have ever killed anyone. The others don't have that sort of record.
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Old 17th May 2017, 13:34
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I've owned a VP-1 and currently own a D.9. I had tons of fun in the Veep, but do prefer the Bebe.
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Old 17th May 2017, 22:34
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One thing to remember is that these single seaters are light, low inertia aircraft. If/when the engine fails, get the nose down immediately to get flying speed.
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Old 18th May 2017, 21:01
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Getting some dual in something like a Thruster - a classic high drag low inertia training microlight, might be a good investment, for exactly the reasons Rusty says.

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Old 19th May 2017, 13:03
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I was about to join the group forming around this aircraft before it was put up for sale. Never did get to fly it in the end.

Definitely, definitely do some dual on a Thruster. I recommend Bertie Grotrian at Wing Farm near Warminster, although he's only available until the end of May.

The difference in inertia between a microlight (which a Luton essentially is) and a light aeroplane will be a great surprise to you even if you expect it. I came from a Condor (a two-seat Turbulent, basically) and was caught out quite a bit so a PA-28RT is likely to be an even bigger step.

But good luck! I'm so jealous. I miss my Condor and farm strip flying SO MUCH. You're gonna have so much fun.
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Old 24th May 2017, 17:13
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I've actually flown that particular Luton when it belonged to my friend. It's had 3 owners in 2 years so that may tell you something............

1. It's good fun - the wind in your hair and all that. The climb rate is not the best though so marginal strips in difficult wind conditions make it 'interesting', and in a crosswind it can be 'very interesting'. I think it is much happier on grass than it was on the tarmac...........

2. It's cheap to run for sure. And easy to hangar (must be hangared)

3. It's easy to handle on your own on the ground.

4. This particular Luton was a Barsteward to start, hot or cold, as it's a hand swing/Armstrong starter it can be difficult. Despite it being checked over by me (an LAA inspector), by our local VW specialist and LAA inspector (Roger Burrows) and several other people we never got to the bottom of it. Sometimes you could be there for 90 minutes and never get it to start. Fuel and spark were present but no joy. The carb was replaced with a new item, the plugs were new and the Mag overhauled. Timing was correct but no luck quite often. Several good days were lost due to Propswinger exhaustion.............

Other days you could sneak up on it and a couple of blades away it went............. IMHO it needs a new ignition system rather than the one it has. If this was resolved then probably OK.

5. It doesn't go anywhere fast. But great fun when it's working. If you want a cheap potter about, and are not in a hurry then I am sure they are great fun.

6. Visibility is very limited above and ahead of you (think Slingsby T31 rear cockpit), down and to the sides is OK though.

If you are OK with all this then I can think of far worse ways to get your bum off the ground !! - I enjoyed my trips............

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