Fun, sociable, uncomplicated and inexpensive flying? Time to check out the microlight!
28 June 2023
With a full Private Pilot’s Licence for an Aeroplane (PPL(A)) now costing the best part of £15,000 and most flying clubs charging around £200 per hour for solo hire of even the most basic PA28 or C172, the fact that there is a viable alternative costing just over half that price is very welcome.
I’m talking about a Microlight PPL, of course, and elsewhere on the FLYER website and in the pdf compilation, there’s an excellent article by Yayeri van Baarsen breaking down the costs of a Microlight PPL – in much the same way as she has already done for the PPL(A) and also the PPL(H). To come in this series of four, by the way, is the Gyrocopter PPL, but we’re still in the fact-checking process with that article.
For many pilots flying by themselves or with one friend or relative, microlight aircraft make a lot of sense. Not only do they epitomise flying for fun, they’re fairly easy to fly and, of course, cost a lot less to operate. They’re also capable of operating from shorter strips as well, so there’s another set of benefits there.
The full PPL(A) still has its place, of course. For anyone wanting to fly professionally, the PPL is the first step towards the eventual Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) or the Air Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL).
And if you’re likely to fly outside the UK on a regular basis or carry more than one passenger, then it’s probably easier with the full PPL(A) although for some the Light Aircraft Pilot’s Licence (LAPL) will suit.
And yes, the licensing system is a bit of a complicated mess with PPL, LAPL and NPPL (the Microlight PPL is an NPPL), so when the CAA finally gets around to sorting that out… hooray!
Microlights come in all types, with plenty of choice and a wide price variation. Plus there are two distinct types of airframe. There’s the flexwing (also known as weight shift) where a Rogallo triangular wing is mounted on a pivot and is pushed around by a bar in front of the pilot.
Plus there are also fixed-wing (also known as three axis) microlights, which are similar in outline to the well-known Cessnas and Pipers but are lighter and with some performance limitations.
And now we have a whole new generation of Light Sport Microlights in the burgeoning 600kg weight limit category. Some very exciting aircraft there that are perfectly capable across a wide range of uses – at much lower operating costs.
Now is a great time to learn to fly, or return to flying after a break, and microlights could well be in your future.