Ultralight Aircraft and Flight Training Featuring Beaver UL Rotax Engine

you you everybody thanks for joining me get on my series been crowing chronicles I just wanted to set up this episode a little bit west coast ultralight it was actually one of the first serious documentaries i did back in the 80s 1985 i eventually sold it through the cbc in PBS but back in 85 i shot this with a free tube panasonic industrial video camera with this gigantic three quarter inch deck i had the three quarter inch deck at my feet when I was flying around the ultra lights and the cameras suspended from bungee cords from the frame it was it was a lot of fun in 1990 when I got my first betacam my tube betacam camera I went and I updated some of the images and you’ll see quite a difference from the beta cam footage and the original panasonic footage some of the Panasonic footage is actually Creed I see the other thing I wanted to talk about was about the safety factor I spent a lot of time flying around in the front seat of an ultralight and I felt pretty safe the machines I r in the beaver ultra lights were actually small smaller airplanes of tubular construction full three access control they were really just a small airplane so I felt pretty safe and and these machines had a 12 to 1 glide ratio and we were always over farmland almost all the time so if something happened if we had a power failure we could easily land it so i was pretty comfortable and I was always flying with instructors or even the owners of the company that design and built up the beaver ultralights and that brings me to my other point about the ultralight sport the sport of ultralight flying and the industry when we did this back in the 80s people were pretty excited they thought this sport was really going to take off because they were building these things fairly inexpensive you could buy a kit a good ultralight kid for like five thousand dollars and and the training was a lot cheaper and they thought i was going to really take off and i think what they forgot what they forgot to factor in was the fear factor not everybody’s cut out to be a pilot and especially flying around one of these ultra lights you can see they’re wide open and you know they’re pretty funky so I think they forgot that not everybody’s actually cut out for for the kind of this kind of adventure anyway it was a lot of fun i had a lot of fun making it and i think you’ll enjoy watching it so Cheers watching an ultra-light airplane at of a field Arkans back to the early days of flight when every takeoff and landing advanced the cause of aviation the fascination they engendered stop cart and horse lyst carriage alike nowadays of course jets flying overhead bring hardly a glance but an ultralight take it off will bring traffic to its knees ultra lights really are returned to the simple days of flying but they incorporate the accumulated knowledge of the past 90 years from technology to materials ultralights take advantage of the unique qualities of chromoly tubing and wood to aluminum tubing Dacron foam and composite materials lumbering out of a backyard airfield like a giant prehistoric bird ultralights have always seemed an anomaly they defy categorization and regulators have had a hard time pigeonholing them in the early days as long as ultra lights stayed away from and under general aviation traffic the authorities were satisfied logically ultralight parks grew up in rural areas away from airport traffic where they gained at local notoriety the ultralight park operator depends in a large way on the thrill seeker who is looking for the ultimate I will ride but the bread and butter comes from the people who have had a long time love affair with flying and they sign up for less

in the late 60s time space and technology joined in a cosmic union of sorts to create a remarkable flying machine hang gliders fabricated of aluminum tubing and Dacron fabric bridged the gap between man and his dreams they embody the essence of flying riding the breeze catching thermals using subtle shifts of the body to control the wind man’s dream of soaring with the birds was finally realized but there was a downside the pilot winds gusty adrenaline is pumping give it a second steady steady air steady all right now now and away we go turbulence lots of turbulence but the winds give it picking me up I’m going up high gotta turn gotta turn to the right bring her around got a little tight bringing her around bringing her around Oh going too far gotta bring her around more bring her out losing height losing height picking me up picking me up oh here come the trees ah oh nothing broken I don’t think but what a landing it was inevitable that someone would eventually strap a motor and a propeller to his hang glider once word got out the creative process was unleashed new designs appeared almost daily powered hang gliders quickly gave way to weight shift planes with single surface wings and landing gear these ships were capable of only short duration flights some which ended prematurely the problem was that each plane was a new design and every pilots for his flight was a solo the planes were so light they were susceptible to the vagaries of the winds which could and did fool inexperienced pilots the breakthrough in flight training occurred when the first to seat ultra lights were built the benefits of having a trained instructor in the same plane as a student are of course self-evident and so ultra light training gained legitimacy the term ultralight refers to a powered airplane light enough to avoid the regulations of general aviation by 1983 it was determined that regulations for ultra lights were needed weight and design restrictions for single-seat planes and two-seat trainers were introduced by regulation ultra lights were required to be slow speed and user-friendly but definitely fair weather flyers ground school and minimum in flight training with an instructor for licensing was required obviously some people needed more training than others despite this bad landing because of the light weight and they slow speed of the machine there is little risk of injury to the occupants or damage to the airframe by 1983 the ultralight movement was firmly established there were close to 300 ultralight manufacturers in North America each vying for a relatively small market part of the appeal of the ultralight industry to manufacturers was the lack of regulation the field was wide open to anyone who thought he had a better idea sometimes that didn’t include proper design or flight testing the consequences of which could be disastrous but the industry was gaining credibility nonetheless the accident statistics were remarkably low and engineering advances in this small field of aviation were being made Nostalgia plays a large role in the

aviation world every pilot fantasized as a child about flying the airplanes of bygone days whether it be an early war plane or a Piper Cub these would be Barnstormers form a vital niche in the ultralight market copycat ultralights pay homage to the flying machines of yesterday the sophistication and strength of these new machines allows them to perform maneuvers unheard of in earlier models but full aerobatic are still prohibited assembling an ultra light kit is as much a part of the experience as the flying whether the assembly time is as little as a couple of weekends or hundreds of hours of exacting labor the experience creates an intimacy between the pilot which will reap its benefits in the air part of the allure is that ultra lights can be serviced and maintained by the pilot himself thus eliminating the cost of hiring a licensed mechanic but there is the danger of an inexperienced mechanic making a mistake when I became involved with ultra lights I was flying 747s at the time I went from one extreme to the other 710,000 airplane to 142 pound airplane a lot of people ask me why do I fly an ultralight as opposed to conventional airplane it’s more convenient I can fly right out of my backyard which I couldn’t do in the conventional airplane it’s not the cost so much and I could afford either one but i find the ultralight more convenient and more fun to fly then 32 years of flying I’ve probably learned as much about flying flying ultra lights as I have any other airplane because they are a real airplane and it requires a certain amount of piloting skill and a little bit of forethought which some of the other machines seem to have done for you it’s to computerized and to mechanized ultra lights are very safe to fly but they do have limitations and weather is probably the major limitation that’s about the only hazard that I can see people having problems with it’s not recognizing the fact that ultra lights get flying the things on whether that the conventional airplane again especially with us windy but also if there’s reduced visibility and that sort of thing people can run into problems it’s it’s a fair weather sport conventional flight training is an expensive proposition those who have dreamed of flying ultralight training offers an inexpensive opportunity to get into the air Brown school begins with a familiarization session preflighting an airplane thoroughly is the one most important lesson a student they ever learn the last place a pilot wants to discover he has a screw loose is in the air follow along the leading edge back inside the inspection portal and here you’re looking for volks may be coming in loose I’m done you’re checking for the compression stand up securely no breaks or cracks no instruction much the same as conventional ground school classroom time covers rules of the road meteorology aerodynamics and navigation

ever since I was a kid I wanted to learn how to fly a few model airplanes looked at all the books and the first time I saw an ultra-light some guy was building it in his in his backyard he was gonna send it over to Africa to be used with his Bible group the first time I saw him ultralight flying was when I was skiing up a Whistler fascinated me somehow and I knew that it was going to have to learn how to fly so I checked out the ultralight schools and and I took a fan flight the first one was kind of scary the airplane looked pretty flimsy but I think it was more the apprehension of just finding a small plane anyway I signed up for for flight lessons the first couple of lessons we practice takeoffs climbing turns straight and level flying and approach to landing where we’d set up the glide angle and Paul would take over the controls just before we landed the first time I landed on my own Paul just didn’t bother to take over the controls and after we landed he said they’re done you just did your first landing I really felt that that was a milestone in my training and after that we really started practicing circuit tidings but emphasized landing I was hanging around the field one babe just watching flyers when I saw the student approaching for a landing he was a little short and panic pulling back on the stick and steady and empowered he almost stalled the airplane but he did make a remarkable recovery for the first time made me realize how one little error could have disastrous consequences the reality is that every time I take an airplane up here is the possibility or something will go wrong and as a pilot it’s up to me to make sure that nothing does as my training progressed I started learning emergency recoveries one of the more advanced maneuvers we learned was the spiral dive you pull back on the stick add Foley around and router the inside wing loses lift and suddenly your head snaps and you’re pulling about 2 g’s scared the hell out of me the first time we did it but after a couple of times it got to be kind of fun ed who was operating the camera and the other plane later told me he got his head caught up in his camera gear and got really panic he is they went vertical to follow us around was the only time during the whole shoot that he got scared the important thing about a spiral dive for a spin is not how to get into him but how to get out you can see that I pulled out of the spiral so hard I’m installed the plane about a good recovery at all it seems like in flight training the instructor likes to spring things on you before you have a chance to think about them we were joining the downwind leg for landing when Paul said have you ever done a dead-stick landing before before I had a chance to answer you’d cut the power and we were gliding of course this is designed to prepare a student for an emergency landing but it’s still thrilled to fly an ultralight with the power off with the engine off only the wind whistling through the wings can be heard you suddenly become part of the surroundings instead of just pushing through the air okay done I think it’s about time for you to go for your first solo how do you feel about that well that’s what we’ve been working on so I’m ready okay if you feel all right things like you go it’s a nice day the weather is good have you free flight an aircraft yet yeah I did that a couple minutes ago okay now when you go up there what I’d like you to do is fly around for a bit just get used to the control co the aircraft operates with it my way on work when you think you’re ready I like you to come in around the circuit pattern you’d be the normal circuit the landing approaching I felt nervous to Atlantic even though I’d done all my training and it was ready so I did all the pre-flight things as I always did them and by the time I pulled

the starter cord I was calm again so clear prop so this is it so long time I gunned it then speed down the field and took off once I was in the air the first thing I realized was that there wasn’t an instructor behind it felt like a big mental void as I realized I really was on my own xhilaration took over and I had a great time flying around just doing the things I learned only alone it was a perfect morning for a solo the wind was calm and the air hadn’t started to develop in the thermals yet by the time I touch down I had a grin from ear to ear that just wouldn’t go away so what I’m how is that that was great congratulations thanks really terrific oh that felt good cross-country tripping is the ultimate ultralight adventure what better way can there be to spend a day or a weekend than flying into a lake to fish soaked up the sun or just plain get away from it all float equipped ultra lights have added this dimension to the sport in fact because of their short takeoff and landing capabilities ultra lights can get in and out of tight places conventional planes might not you the ultra light industry has paralleled the early days of flight in many ways simple carefree dangerous days of early flight gave rise to tremendous stroke and technical sophistication more power and speed and greater range the loss of innocence occurred when government realized that they have to step in to control licensing and regulation the evolution of the ultralight was fueled by customer demands as well as manufacturers needs to capture a large piece of a small market the sophisticated machines which have resulted and forced further regulation as well as escalating prices in the early 50s Popular Mechanics magazine envisioned a personal airplane in every suburban home the advent of the ultralight revitalized the dream the fascination with flying remains as can be attested by the huge crowds at every airshow but there is something within the human psyche which tends to keep band firmly attached to the planet only a few hardy souls dare to defy some primal fear buried under the layers of civilization but more pragmatically the realities of economic survival have made owning and piloting an airplane impossible for most many conventional sport pilots have started to explore ultralight parks in search of a

lower-cost alternative to the more costly conventional sport flying as ultralight aircraft have evolved they have advanced to the point where they meet the expectations of many conventional pilots there is a sense of freedom of release from the cares of the earthbound that comes as a bonus to fly despite regulations and economic downturns despite urban sprawl and airspace overcrowding the ultralight industry survives whether in a 30 mile an hour single surface relic or 100 mile an hour sport machine ultra lights offer a safe exciting way to explore the soul liberating effects of flying you