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At the start of the year, Dave Bremner, Microlight Flying Editor, voiced the fear that the European standardisation of the microlight definition would result in more expensive, sophisticated aircraft needing more instruction. However, he balanced this with optimism for these changes to boost British aircraft manufacturers exports.

CFM, manufacturers of the Shadow, one of the most successful early designs of 3-axis machines which had been used for many of the early long-distance journeys, went into liquidation. However, later in the year, the Shadow was reborn, being manufactured by the new CFM Aircraft Ltd.

The BMAA moved across the road in Deddington to new, larger premises. Questions centered on what to do with the large, empty cellar...

Brian Cosgrove, the BMAA's Planning Consultant, was able to record three successful Department of the Environment planning appeals: Packington (Leics) Hadzor (Worcs) and Haywood Lodge Farm (Worcs). These would provide very useful precedents for future appeals.

Despite much discussion and anticipation, there was no news yet of the promised European 450 kg all-up weight for microlights.

Flight tester Keith Wingate was much impressed with the specification of the New Zealand Bantam, and Paul Dewhurst revisited the Thruster, with and without nosewheel. Paul found the new version Thrusters impressive, enjoying the tail-dragger the most. The new models were said to represent excellent value for money and were great fun to fly, performing exactly as advertised.

PHOTO 1: New Zealand's Bantam, a side by side two-seat high wing monoplane with conventional 3-axis control. In test it was found to be of excellent build quality with a handy turn of speed. A model which could suit a lot of people.

In Summer 1996, Guy Gratton became the BMAA's new Chief Technical Officer, continuing in the post today.

Three British pilots finished a 10 000 mile circumnavigation of Australia in their Pegasus Quantums. Keith Ingham was asked for his justification for taking three weeks off work and replied 'I've never heard of anyone on their death-bed who said I wish I'd spent more time in the office'.

PHOTO 2: Flying over the south coast of Victoria between Lakes Entrance and Mallacoota.

The long-distance test flight theme, begun the previous year, continued when an AX2000 was flown from Wallingford to Bassano. The testers obviously enjoyed the journey as while they were supposed to trailer the aircraft back, once they were the right side of the Alps they re-rigged the machine and flew it home.

PHOTO 3: The AX2000 - a side-by-side two-seat high-wing monoplane.

Visitors to the Popham fair this year were able to get a first glimpse of the new Jabiru ST four-stroke. At the time, the Jabiru was being imported as a PFA Group 'A' kit, but it was seen as having all the ingredients to be classed as a microlight once the 450 kg limit was accepted.

PHOTO 4: The Jabiru ST

At the PFA rally, an AX2000 was presented complete with a Japanese HKS four-stroke engine. At the same show, a Shadow was seen fitted with the Jabiru power unit.

The first World Air Games were held in Turkey, and the British team proved themselves again, gaining the Team Gold, along with 5 other Golds, 3 Silvers and 4 Bronze. The Royal Aero Society's Chairman commented '...this is a very, very good performance of which all the UK air sport associations can be proud...'

Colin Bodill left England in his Mainair Blade 912 on a solo flight to Australia.

Pegasus supported the successful Thrust SCC World Land Speed record attempt, coming back with some stunning photographs.

Microlight Flying noted that the AGM was somewhat under-attended this year. While 5000 people had walked through the doors for the trade show, only around 100 bothered to go to the meeting. Concern was expressed at the meeting with regard to the low public profile of the sport, despite its involvement in otherwise high profile events such as the World Land Speed Record attempt. Another concern was the Sports Council's lack of support for microlighting, which affected both grant aid and lottery funds. Membership stood at 4183, and 2965 aircraft were registered on the database.

At the Trade Show, four-stroke engines dominated. Thruster, Pegasus, Mainair and Jabiru all had them on display. In fact Pegasus didn't exhibit any two-stroke aircraft at all. At the other end of the spectrum, Andy Buchan of Light Flight was delighted to have sold 28 Mosquito PHG harnesses.

PHOTO 5: The Mosquito  

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