announced a new challenge for this year - a northern circumnavigation, which
included racing a Robinson R44 helicopter. Colin planned to undertake this
event in his Mainair Blade 912. He thought that he might need warmer underwear
than he did last time...
members were looking forward to the new possibilities to result from the 450 kg
MAUW, others were concerned that the sport was fast moving away from its roots
in low-speed, low-cost flying. Dave Simpson suggested that there should be a
new category of 'Experimental Microlight', with eased regulation, for those not
looking for the power and sophistication of some of the new designs. This
generated a response from David Wheeler, who said that the only rule should be
that the designer and builder of any aircraft were to be pilot and passenger
for the first ten hours of test flying, ensuring that "repeated failed
designers will never occur".
The new heavier
and faster microlights proposed also generated fears that there would be
greater pilot medical regulation from the CAA. The BMAA Council sent a document
to the CAA demonstrating why no such changes were needed.
homebuilding were of keen interest earlier in the year, with attentions focused
on the quick build promise of the X Air, which was nearing Section S approval.
Flight testing had started on a BMW motorcycle engined Huntwing Flexwing.
tested a Rans 6 ES version which will comply with the new 450 kg limit. He
found it a distinct improvement on the old ESD.
Greenshields, famous amongst the microlighting fraternity for landing
(intentionally) on other vehicles, lands a Thruster on his mini. While he had
achieved the same kind of landing with a flexwing in 1994, he said of this new
experience 'I think we'll make the platform a little longer'.
PHOTO 1: Jim Greenshields' Thruster lands on his
By late spring,
Mainair were back in production following the fire, having moved to new
announced the launch of his Doodlebug - a supine PHG with the inaptly named
Radne Racket engine (Swedish for Rocket).
Eclipse R was flight tested by Keith Wingate, who warned that the opposition
should look out as this was a serious contender. The test machine was fitted
with a Jabiru engine, and the trike unit in particular was said to be an
improvement over its predecessor.
PHOTO 2: Medway proprietor Chris Draper (left)
briefs Keith Wingate before test-flying the Eclipse R.
inspired by one of the long-distance flight tests of the previous year, Kevin
Bates decided to tackle Lands' End to John O'Groats with his PPG. Some members,
reading his report, were reminded of the early days of microlighting when the
best laid intentions became unstuck in practice. Kevin ended his flight at
Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast, but had a great time getting there.
After so many
years where Rotax provided the only viable power units for most microlights,
Medway announced another new contender, having become European agents for the
American two-stroke International range. They took advantage of the annual
trade show at Popham to demonstrate a 648 cc 3 cylinder liquid cooled 70 hp
unit. Also at Popham was the Ban Bi; still too small a wing to be a microlight,
but it is claimed that the 26' wing version will meet the new regulations and
fly at 150 mph. The Thruster, with its long Popham association was present
again, and like so many others, diversifying a little from Rotax. While one
model was fitted with a Rotax 912, another had a Hirth 2706.
Popham did not
find favour with everyone. Carl Booth, a German correspondent, was disappointed
at the demise of the traditional show. He was unimpressed by rows of Kompress
CH-7 mini-helicopters and four-stroke PPGs and missed the aerojumble stalls. He
found the sole Mosquito the only really appealing device.
Jim Bell, Chief
Executive Officer of the BMAA, retired during the summer, to be replaced by
PHOTO 3: To mark Jim Bell's retirement, Microlight
Flying published this photograph of three BMAA CEO's Brian Cosgrove, who
remains Planning Consultant for the Association, Jim Bell who was about to
retire, and, on the left, Chris Finnigan, the new incumbent.
Yet again there
are planning issues to tackle. This time the Little Gransden appeal is
successful. This is a serious set back to South Cambridgeshire District
Council's plans to reduce or even stop evening, Sunday and bank holiday flying.
The Planning Consultant who pulled off this magnificent victory is Peter
Kember, of Boship Farm fame. This time, he deserves all our thanks.
was much envied in his task of flight testing the HKS powered X Air. However,
he was underwhelmed by the engines performance, though greatly impressed by the
airframe's value for money, perhaps matched with a Rotax 582.
PHOTO 4: This X Air had been exhibited at Telford
at the last Exhibition.
and Mike Blyth were undertaking a trip from Peru to Australia. While in
California, they learnt that permission to cross Japanese airspace had been
refused. After a rethink, the pair set off to circumnavigate the Atlantic,
unsponsored, in their 912 powered weight-shift microlights. As of 11th August
they had completed the cold bit of the journey, arriving at Barton aerodrome.
Their longest flight had been Baffin Island to Greenland which took over eight
hours. The journey has now (November 1999) been renamed The Millennium
Microlight Adventure, and the pair are in Namibia, aiming to reach South Africa
in time to welcome in the new year.
Championships took place in Malkopuszta, Hungary and suffered atrocious
weather, five aircraft were destroyed in one night during a storm. The British
team were awarded the Bronze prize.
PHOTO 5: The British Team at the World
flight tested the Jabiru UL and was very impressed with its exceptional
performance. He points out in his review that pilots will need to be careful
with such an aircraft though, as unsafe flying could lead to increased
manufacturers of the Shadow, won a contract to supply 24 aircraft to the Indian
of Douglas on the Isle of Man, was presented with a shield from the Aviation
for Paraplegics and Tetraplegics Trust for his achievements during 1996. He had
gained his PPL (M) at Old Sarum and now flies a specially modified Shadow from
microlight records were claimed by German pilots flying an MCR Ban-Bi. They
broke the speed record with 265 kph (165 mph) and the distance without landing
record, covering 1033.15 km (645 miles). This equates to flying from London to
the Shetlands in under 4 hours.