Microlight School FAQs
Fisherwick Airfield, Fisherwick Road,
Fisherwick Nr Lichfield Staffs WS13 8PS
Here are the answers to some commonly-asked questions; hopefully your question will be among them - but if it isn't, please call us or drop in and have a chat with one of our friendly instructors.
What is a Microlight?
A microlight is an aeroplane which can carry up to two people, with a maximum fuel capacity of 50 litres and a total weight of 450kg, including fuel and passengers.
That's what the book says... A better definition would be a small aircraft that is great fun to fly. Also known as ULTRALIGHTS around the world, these little aircraft have developed in the last 20 years to an amazing level of sophistication. Single or two seat, conventional 'stick and rudder' or 'flexwing' controls, high performance racer or sedate Sunday tourer, today's microlights are hi-tech, well engineered and beautifully built machines.
How Do I Get a Pilot's License?
A minimum of 25 hours flying time, of which at least 10 hours must be solo. Most people take a little longer,. During your solo time you will be set two navigation tasks over a course of at least 40 nautical miles.
There are five multiple choice ground-based exams to pass, and at the end of your training you will need to pass a General Flying Test with a CAA approved examiner. You will also need a 'Declaration of Fitness' signed by your own Doctor.
Who Flies Microlights?
Microlighting is a participant sport. It is for people who enjoy adventures.
Learning the art of flying demands patience and perseverance. You need self-confidence and commitment, but the rewards are enormous. It is not necessary to have prior knowledge of aviation. You don't have to be a fearless 'gung-ho' type. Contrary to some media portrayal, microlighting is not a sport for reckless fools hell-bent on short-lived thrills. Sensible, responsible people between the ages of 17 and 80 fly microlights.
Children can receive instruction at any age but cannot record flights in a logbook until they are 14 or more years old. They cannot fly solo until they are 16 years old, although many young pilots have achieved their first solo flight on their 16th birthday.
How Much Does it Cost?
Gaining a Private Pilot's License (NPPL) will cost between £2,500 and £4,000. Lessons can be spread over any period of time; some people have an intensive series of lessons in close succession, whereas others spread the cost over one to two years. Lessons are cheaper in your own plane.
Purchase and running cost of an aircraft is about the same as a second family car. A good quality used aircraft and all the necessary equipment (flying suit, helmet etc) will cost between £3,000 and £9,000; a brand new aircraft around £25,000+. Syndicates of fellow students/club members are common to share the costs.
How Fast Are They?
Most have an imposed speed limit of less than 100mph. Average speeds are about 60mph.
How Safe Are They?
A modern microlight is an extremely robust aircraft, despite its somewhat insubstantial appearance. It's also a very obedient aircraft with few vices. During its manufacture it is subject to stringent quality controls by the Civil Aviation Authority. So providing you fly it in a reasonably intelligent manner it will not hurt you or anyone else. A microlight, like most aircraft, is not designed for aerobatics!
Where Can I Fly From?
You can fly from any farm field provided you have the owner's permission, although nowadays most pilots fly from one of the 140 microlight fields around the country. A microlight requires an unrestricted 400 metre strip for safe operation.
How Far Can They Fly?
Microlights have been flown to Australia and South Africa and even circumnavigated the world.
What and How Much Fuel Do They Use?
Standard Unleaded petrol, usually pre-mixed with two stroke oil. Any petrol station with a reasonably sized landing field near to it can become your fuel bowser. A British microlight is limited to 50 litres of fuel capacity, so at an average consumption of around 10 litres/hour, it can stay in the air for over 4 hours.
At 60mph in still air this would give a range in excess of 240 miles. Remember this is a straight line distance from A to B. It would be much further (and take longer) in a car.
Can I Fly to Work?
Yes! Providing you have an airstrip at either end of your journey. However, microlights - like any other aircraft - are limited by high winds and poor visibility and are not allowed to fly at night. A microlight is a recreational aeroplane - not really a commuting machine, although a few fortunate pilots manage to use one as such.
Can I Take it Abroad?
Yes! Flying across the channel has become quite a regular event. Trailering is also an option. Obviously complying with with foreign regulations is essential.
Are There Microlighting Competitions?
Yes! The British Microlight Team has dominated European competitions for the last 10 years. There are many inter-club competitions and the British National Championships, which are flown over 6 or 7 rounds throughout the year. Competition tasks are based on precision navigation, fuel economy and other piloting skills but do not include aerobatics. To qualify for entry you must have held your Pilot's License for at least 12 months, have 100 hours airtime, at least 25 of which are on the aircraft type you intend to enter. Anyone can have a go, as long as they satisfy the entry requirements. You will be competing against very skilled pilots, but talented newcomers frequently do very well.
Does Other Flying Experience Count?
Yes! There are training concessions for Gliding and Hang Gliding experience. Pilots holding a current PPL for light aircraft are entitled to fly microlights, but conversion to type training is strongly advised by the CAA.
Do Fixed Wing and Flexwing Microlights Have a Different Licence?
No, not at this time. A microlight is a microlight is the view of the CAA. Obviously a flexwing microlight has a very different control system to a fixed wing and any pilot who is familiar with one should not attempt to fly the other with out going through a type familiarisation course of around 10 hours.
Can I Do My Own Maintenance?
Yes - provided you are competent. However, there are inspection procedures in place to ensure that microlights are airworthy, including an annual inspection and check flight by an approved check pilot/inspector.
How Long Will My Microlight Last?
All your life if you take care of it well. Aircraft are manufactured to such high standards and subjected to low stress that they will not wear out easily. Some components are subject to a controlled number of flight hours and have to be replaced at specific intervals.
How High Can They Go?
The record is over 30,000ft, but this is not usual. Any modern microlight can achieve at least 14,000ft without any engine modifications. However, above 10,000ft you run into stricter regulations which include requirements for flight plans, a transponder and an oxygen system. Typically, pleasure flights are in the region of 1,500ft to 3,000ft, without much requirement to go any higher.
It's simple! Ring us now and arrange a trial lesson, or to ensure that an instructor is free for a chat. We're open Tuesday through Sunday all year round and we are always happy to welcome visitors.
Microlighting is among the most affordable forms of aviation and has made the pleasures of flying available to a huge number of people. Our school can make the pleasures of microlighting available to you.
Come and see what's on offer - you won't regret it!