Introduction to Ultralight Aviation

Database Of Ultralight, Homebuilt, and Experimental Aircraft

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American Aerolights Eagle

American Aerolights Eagle is a kit airplane for amateur / homebuilt construction. It's a single-seat aircraft.

  • With standard empty weight of only 170 lb (77 kg) - 225 lb (102 kg) it satisfies the Part 103 requirements
  • Its maximum speed is only 50 mph and its cruise speed is 35 mph.
  • It's a fixed with aircraft.

A two-seat variation is also available - it's called American Aerolights Double Eagle

This aircraft is produced by American Aerolights - a company that doesn't have a website, or at least I didn't find one. The best place to learn more about this airplane is probably this site.

Belite Aircraft

Belite Aircraft is one of the really active ultralight manufacturing companies out there.

The aircraft flies under Part 103 and is offered in ready to fly and kit form, and several modifications.

Kit prices start at just about $8,000 while ready to fly airplanes are between $16k and $30k. The weight of the different configurations is between 230lbs and 280lbs. Maximum speed of all modes is 80mph.

Unlike many others, this airplane can be bought directly from the official company website.

I suggest you also to visit James Wiebe's Belite Aircraft Blog

Belite Skydock

The Belite Skydock is one of the most affordable and easiest to build modern ultralights. It's offered as airframe kit but if you are a real enthusiast you can try to build from scratch and buy only the blueprints.

  • Qualifies as ultralight, Part 103.
  • The cruise speed is 50 to 62mph depending on engine.
  • The price is about $4,000 to $6,000.
  • The altitude range is 10,000 feet

You can find the full specs at the Belite official Skydock page. Belite is one of the few companies that produce modern and affordable kits and it's well worth to have a look at their site.

Birdman Chinook

Birdman Chinook is relatively modern high-wing ultralight produced by Birdman Enterprises. Production started in 1983 and continues today.

Some important things to say about this airplane:

  • The plane is available as single seater and two-seater.
  • Chinook 1S is Part 103 compatible ultralight with empty weight of 250 lbs.
  • Its cruise speed is 50 mph and maximum speed is 60 mph

Oddly enough, even in 2016 there are companies without a website. So the best place to look for semi-official information remains Wikipedia.

CGS Hawk

The CGS Hawk is a family of ultralight and experimental aircraft produced by CGS Aviation. The assets of the company were sold to Short Aircraft Services in 2016 so we have to see whether production continues. CGS Hawk is available in several modifications:

  • Single Seat Classic with empty weight of 310 lbs and 55-75 mph cruise speed.
  • Hawk Arrow Single Seat with empty weight of 330 lbs and 55-75 mph cruise speed.
  • Hawk Arrow II which is a two-seater with empty weight of 550 lbs.
  • Hawk Plus Single Seat with empty weight of 350 lbs and 60-80 mph cruise speed.
  • Hawk Sport Single Seat with empty weight of 310 lbs and 55-75 mph cruise speed.
  • CGS Hawk Ultra which is a legal Part 103 ultralight aircraft with cruise speed of 50-60 mph.

You can find full details of all CGS Hawk aricraft at the official site of CGS Aviation. There you will also find the contact details of the new owners.

Eipper Quicksilver

The Eipper Quicksilver by Quicksilver Manufacturing are several ultralight aircraft models. Its development started in 1970s and the airplanes gained a lot of popularity because of the light and affordable construction.

  • Its empty weight is 250 lb (113 kg).
  • The maximum speed is 54 mph (87 km/h; 47 kn) and the cruise speed is 50 mph.
  • This is a single engine aircraft.

There are multuple variations of the Quicksilver: Quicksilver C, Quicksilver E, MX Sprint, MX Sport, and more. The airplane is offered as ready to fly and as a kit. The best place to learn more about it is its official site: http://www.quicksilveraircraft.com/

FreeBird 103

FreeBird 103 is a single-sear aircraft that falls under Part 103 (i.e. no license required). The aircraft is built by Freebird Aviation Australia.

Most important characteristics:

  • 3 axis control
  • Only 254 lbs weight
  • Black Max hydraulic brake system
  • 60 mph cruise speed

The average build time is 125 hours if you use a kit and 250 hours if you build by plans.

FreeBird 103 is a variation of a family aircraft including itself, Freebird I, Sportlite 103, and LiteSport Ultra. More info at Wikipedia.

More good pictures and info about this airplane can be found at this page.

Howland H-3 Pegasus

Howland H-3 Pegasus is an open-cockpit monoplane. It's currently offered as kits and plans for homebuilt enthusiasts (cost of plans is about $250).

  • H-3 Pegasus has weight of 345 lbs which makes it not qualify for Part 103.
  • There are modifications with Rotax 277 engine which make it possible to fit the Part 103 maximum weight
  • This is a single seat fixed wing airplane.
  • Its cruise speed is 55 mph.

If you are looking to fly a legally ultralight airplane by the US standards H-3 Pegasus might not be the best choice. Home builders report it being hard to fit in the 254 lb limit.

Learn more about H-3 Pegasus on this site and on Wikipedia.

J-3 Kitten

Hipp's Superbirds J-3 Kitten is an ultralight Part 103 compatible fixed wing aircraft. The Hipp's Superbirds family also includes some heavier models which fall into experimental / homebuilt category. But we'll focus on J-3 here, because it's ultralight:

  • Its empty weight is 250 lb (113 kg).
  • The maximum speed is 63 mph (101 km/h; 55 kn).
  • Its cruise speed is 60 mph (52 kn; 97 km/h)
  • Available as kits or plans for enthusiast builders.

Unfortunately the company does not seem to have any active website. You'll have to seek for information on sites like Wikipedia or in various discussion groups. This page has some more detailed information about the plane. The plane can be found for sale at about $10,000 or even as low as $2,500 without engine.

Kolb Ultralight

Kolb Aircraft is a company founded by Horner Kolb in USA. The history of the company is really inreresting so you may want to have a look at it here.

You can't talk about Kolb as about a single aircraft. It's a family of several interesting models:

  • Kolb FireFly is their Part 103 ultralight airplane. The basic kits cost only a bit more than five thousand dollars.
  • Kolb FireStar is loved by many experimental pilots because of its great visibility and high performance. It doesn't fit Part 103 though. It has a side-by-side modification called FireStart II SS.
  • Kolb SlighShot is a two-seater with cruise speed of 85mph - 100mph depending on the Rotax engine used.
  • Kolb Kolbra is two seater tandem aircraft often used for Part 103 training courses. Technically it's experimental airplane and you'll need Sport Pilot License to fly it.
  • Mark III Classic is a STOL aircraft. It's experimental LSA and you'll need LSA license to fly it. Cruise speed between 69 mph and 80 mph.

Besides the official site you can check many aviation classifieds site for used Kolbs. You can find offers for fully equiped ultralights at $7 - $8 thousands.

Lockwood Aircam

Lockwood Aircam is unique and modern amphibian aircraft produced by the company with the same name. Note that it's not a valid ultralight - it's much heavier as you'll see from the specs.

Here are the most important characteristics:

  • Cruise speed is 50 to 100 mph depending on the air.
  • Its empty weight is 1080 lbs normally and 1400 lbs with amphibious floats.
  • The price of an airframe kit is about $60,000.

You can find more information and pictures at the Lockwood Aircam website. The company is also producing Lockwood Drifter but there is no information about it at the website.

Quad City Challenger

Challenger Ultralight is one of the most beloved simplest in construction Part 103 compatible homebuilt airplanes. Developed first in 1983 it's still our personal favorite.

  • Available in several modifications - as Part 103 compatible ultralight and as Light Sport Aircraft ("E" Series and "X" Series).
  • Still in active development and available for sale.
  • For comparison between the different series and modifications click here.
  • Available also as amphibian aircraft.

Instead of listing the characteristics of the different models here, we suggest you to visit the official site which is well maintained and full of up to date information. Check also the 10 best reasons to buy Challenger.

Rotary Air Force RAF 2000

Rotary Air Force RAF 2000 is an autogyro first produced in Canada, then in 2007 sold to Mocke Family in South Africa. It's sold in kit form and building the kit and flying the autogyro requires mandatory flight training.

General characteristics:

  • It's a two-seater so obviously does not classify as ultralight.
  • Its empty weight is 790 lbs.
  • Its cruise speed is 80 mph and maximum speed is 120 mph

The official site of RAF is excellent source of more detailed information. The current price of the RAF 2000 standard kit is approximately $45,000 (ZAR 600,000).

Snedden M7

Snedden M7 is a new Part 103 compatible ultralight. It's fixed wing and qualifies as homebuilt. Often criticized for its odd design. The price is not yet determined but it looks like affordable airplane.

  • Its empty weight is 277 pounds but that includes 24 lbs parachute allowance (so without that it's legal).
  • The maximum speed is 63 mph (101 km/h; 55 kn).
  • Its cruise speed is about 35 mph

It's unclear whether this airplane can be currently purchased. If you are interested in it, we suggest that you contact directly the creator through his official site.

Spitfire Ultralight

Worldwide Ultralite Spitfire, also known as Spitfire Ultralight, is amateur / homebuilt experimental aircraft that is sold as kit. Main characteristics:

  • Spitfire is a single-seat aircraft while Spitfire II allows a pilot and a passenger.
  • Uses Rotax 447 or Rotax 582 engines.
  • Fuel consumption is 3 gallons per hour for Spitfire and 4.5 gal / hr for Spitfire II.
  • Standard empty weight is 254 Lbs. for Spitfire and 477 Lbs. for Spitfire II.

There are full characteristics on this page. The kit prices shown there are $6,050 Spitfire / $7,500 Spitfire 2 for kit and $11,500 / $16,000 for complete aircraft.

T Bird Tierra

T Bird Tierra is one of the easiest ultralight aircraft for home builders and takes only about 100 hours to build from a kit.

The most important characteristics:

  • Rotax engine airctaft
  • 70 mph / 113 kph cruise speed
  • 259 kg / 572 lbs empty weight

Such planes can be found second hand (sometimes unfinished kits) for less than $20,000 or even less than $10,000. I saw an ad for T Bird I selling for $6,000. It's lovely affordable experimental airplane.

T Bird is produced by Indy Aircaft Ltd. Check their official site for current product info and if you want to purchase a new kit. Price information is not available.

The Fisher Fleet

This company sells a lot of excellent ultralight aircraft. Here is what they offer at this time:

  • Two seat monoplanes: Dakota Hawk, Super Koala, Horizon 1 and Horizon 2.
  • Biplanes: R-80 Tiger Moth, Celebrity, Classic, FP-404, Youngster.
  • Single seat monoplanes: Avenger, FP-202 Koala, FP-303, FP-505 Skeeter, FP-606 Sky Baby.

See the full list with pictures.

The airplanes are offered in quick kit form which is said to reduce the building time with about 200 hours. But there are more options too: airframe kits, wing kits, fuselage kits, hardware kits, or even just plans.

The prices for the plans are between $300 and $400. The complete aircraft package is $8,500 for FP 303 and goes to $14,100 for the Sky Baby.

These airplanes seem quite affordable and good. Here is the official company site: http://www.fisherflying.com/

The Weedhopper

The Weedhopper is a single-seat ultralight that was very popular in the 1970s and 1980s because of its really low cost. Kits were costing only about $2,000 when they were available. Unfortunately kits are no longer on sale.

  • Its empty weight is 250 lb (113 kg) and the gross weight is 550 lb (249 kg).
  • The cruise speed is 55 mph.
  • The price is about $8,500 (actual to 2011).

This excelent ultralight airplane is still one of the most affordable option for ultralight enthusiasts. Unfortunately the official site is no longer available but construction plans can be found on several sites online for about $30 - $40. The most comprehensive information about this airplane is currently available here.