begins with controversy expressed through the letters page of Microlight Flying
with regard to the two major flights of the previous year: the London to Le
Bourget flight, and Flight for Life to Jordan. Some members felt that the
publicity these flights brought to the world of microlighting meant that the
public were presented with a negative view of the sport, where pilots broke the
rules and flew in dangerous conditions. Those who had taken part, and their
supporters, claimed that such flights emphasised both the serious nature of
microlight flying, the spirit of adventure inherent in the pilots, and the fun
element of the sport.
To the relief
of the owners of old (pre 1984) aircraft, the requirement for a six-monthly
inspection of type-accepted machines was dropped.
appreciation of powered paragliders was demonstrated when David Young reported
to Council that a meeting of 100 instructors had been in favour of taking on
PPG training, probably in partnership with the BHPA. Meanwhile, David Simpson
reported on progress of the joint BMAA/PFA proposal to the CAA for microlights
with a maximum all-up weight of 450 kg. Definition of 'minimum flying speed'
was a problem however.
year, the CAA favour the total deregulation of PPGs and PHGs, going against the
BMAA/BPHA's self regulatory proposals. This news is greeted with caution, since
should the lack of regulation lead to an increasing number of accidents and
incidents, the regulations which might then result would be likely to be more
draconian than the scheme proposed.
It is also
announced this year that all microlights must be weighed when put in for their
next Permit to Fly. The CAA insists on this in order to make sure that all
permitted aircraft are within weight. Inspectors face some interesting
challenges devising means by which this instruction can be accurately carried
An issue which
had haunted microlight flying since its early days was back with a vengeance
this year. Brian Cosgrove, now the BMAA's Consultant with a special interest in
planning matters, wrote on the perilous state of planning permission at many
flying sites. He stressed that the microlight community needed to combat the
pressure groups by promoting guidance to both operators and local authorities.
He pointed out that some objectors could stoop to some appalling tricks - one
appellant had his aircraft and club-house wrecked. Brian asked members to
complete a planning survey form to provide information for his forthcoming
guidance books for planners and operators.
PHOTO 1: Bob Perkins examines £5000 worth of
damage, including a sawn off propeller, which resulted from his battle to run a
flying site. Bob had also been threatened with physical violence by those
against his strip.
aircraft had been the subject of a weight problem. While a modification had
been designed to overcome this problem and get the aircraft airborne again,
this had not been implemented yet and the CAA, who were now classifying the
T300 as a single-seater until the excess weight issue was properly addressed.
flight tested the Sluka. This was the first Czech microlight to become
available in the UK. Its main limitation was seen to be the fact that the craft
was a single-seater, but that had the attraction of keeping the price down as
well as giving the model a performance advantage. Paul found the Sluka
wonderful fun to fly and a definite way forward for the pilot who enjoys flying
PHOTO 2: The Sluka, a single-seat, high-wing
monoplane with conventional 3-axis control. Said to be the closest you could
come to an aerobatic microlight when tested in 1995.
who has provided the vast majority of materials for this history, stood down as
Editor of Microlight Flying for the September - October edition of the
magazine. Norman had been editor for almost the whole of the 15 year run of the
magazine. It was thought that such a run must be almost unique for a specialist
magazine. Norman is renowned for his almost encyclopaedic knowledge of
microlighting. The book he co-wrote with Berger in the early 1980s is still
keenly sought after, despite being out of print now for many years. Norman is
still actively involved in producing Microlight Flying, through his company
Pagefast and as Consulting Editor. Dave Bremner took over as Editor of the
magazine, and remains with it to this day. Norman was awarded the Ashley
Doutbfire Trophy for outstanding contribution to microlight aviation for his work
as Editor at this year's AGM.
PHOTO 3: Norman Burr, Editor of Flight Line and
Microlight Flying for 15 years, provided most of the materials found in this
challenging regulations, Hugh Lorimer, a BMAA and PFA member, decides to design
and build the microlight of his dreams. He began by devising a list of the
features he most wanted the craft to include, and from this designed his
Iolaire (Gaelic for Eagle). This two-seat composite canard was originally to be
powered by a Rotax 503, though a BMW engine was later fitted.
One of the
biggest flying events of the year was the London to Madrid Great Adventure.
Devised by Richard Meredith-Hardy, who had realised that in completing the
Round Britain rally, many pilots were capable of flying at least 1000 miles,
Richard looked to come up with a journey which involved a straight line rather
than ending up where you started. The rules were kept to a minimum. No-one is
sure just how many microlights set out, but 15 finished the route. Some went
for speed and made the journey as fast as possible, while others became aerial
gypsies, enjoying other parts of Europe as well. All agreed that it was a Great
Adventure, with some remarkable achievements.
aircraft were reviewed this year in Microlight Flying: Air Creation's Fun 18S
GTBis and Mainair's Blade.
Creation Fun was flown with two engines: the Rotax 503 and 447. Both were
enjoyed, with the only negative comments saved for the appearance of the
machine, which was said to be rather primitive. The trike unit was not fitted
with a pod, and the wing had exposed cross-tubes. However, this latter point
gave the advantage of easier pre-flight checking. The Fun felt akin to an XL, a
gentle, stable machine. The appearance of the machine grew on the tester, Keith
Wingate, who wrote positively of a simple, rugged microlight with gentle flight
PHOTO 4: The Air Creation Fun - a two-seat tandem
flexwing aircraft with weight-shift control.
introduction of the Mainair Blade was seen as a major event since new flexwing
designs had been thin on the ground for some time in the UK. It represented
Mainair's first all new design since the original Flash back in 1984. The Blade
felt good in the air, capable of utilising the 64 hp which would have been thought
downright dangerous just a few years previously. Mainair was said to have
produced a machine which looked good and flew well. The improvement on the
Alpha wing having been worth the wait. The only criticisms concerned the trike
unit, which could have been better designed to cater for the needs of solo
flight. However, the machine was sure to appeal, with its Rotax 582 engine it
was a sporty microlight with a nice turn of speed yet one which would not
PHOTO 5: The Mainair Blade - a tandem, two-seat
flexwing microlight with weight-shift control.
of Mainair said that the company had built a blade fitted with a Rotax 912 for
an Italian customer. Roger had long wanted to try this, and loved the results.
However, he thought that the cost of such a machine would be prohibitive. He
finished his Microlight Flying article by stating that a fully equipped
production aircraft would cost around £18 000, and would anybody be interested?
team had appealed against the scoring system used at the World Championships
which took place in Poland the previous year. In summer news came through that
the appeal had been upheld. The Team was awarded the Gold medal, in place of
the Bronze, and were World Champions again.
Championships took place this year at Little Rissington. Money is a problem,
since there is a long standing lack of commercial sponsorship for the event.
However, the Sports Council contributed generously to enable the competiton to
go ahead. The Championships, organised by BMAA Chairman Dave Cole, were said to
present the toughest challenge yet. The atmosphere was more competitive than
ever, and this year the British team came close to losing their unbroken record
of achievement. However, the Team Gold was maintained - just, with the
Hungarians coming a close second.
Gliders made their first appearance at the competition, but took part in their
own events. The British team gained valuable experience in this event against
their more experienced rivals.
At the AGM this
year, BMAA membership stood at 3 783. The Association's finances were in a good
position, with the Treasurer, Peter Blyth, informing the meeting that a healthy
reserve had built up. 2734 aircraft were on the database, the vast majority
being flexwings. Of these, 1668 had current Permits. The hoped for 450 kg
weight limit was anticipated, though this would not help the situation with
some of the older aircraft since it was not planned to apply retrospectively.
On the safety front, the number of accidents reported continued to be low,
though there had been 3 fatalities this year. However, the sport had a safety
record which was second to none in aviation.
At the Show,
both the Mainair Blade and the Pegasus Quantum were presented with Rotax 912
power plants. Both models attracted considerable attention. Quoted performance
figures were spectacular, though the price of these craft was much higher than
the flexwing world was used to. At the other end of the price scale, the Air
Creation Fun GT 447 also attracted positive comment.
Iolaire, the tandem canard homebuilt machine mentioned above, was also
exhibited. While not complete at this time, Hugh's work was much admired.