Introduction to Ultralight Aviation

Database Of Ultralight, Homebuilt, and Experimental Aircraft

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Affordaplane

Affordaplane is one of the simplest in construction ultralight Part 103 airplanes. It's a fixed0wing aircraft weigting 254 pounds.

Presumingly this is the official site where you can buy complete building plans for only $4.95.

A couple of facts to note:

  • It's known also as A-Plane so when you see it on a forum or website, have in mind they talk about the same thing.
  • Due to the simple construction is't easy to build even from first-time builders.

Estimated cost for building this airplane without engine and tools is only $2,000! (more info here) So it well deserves its name.

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.

Aviad MG-12 Zigolo

Aviad MG-12 Zigolo is a typical ultralight airplanes - with that real ultralight design we like so much. Officialy it's marketed as SSDR motor glider. Zigolo is built in Italy.

General characteristics:

  • Offered as quick-build kit for roughly $12,000 or $20,000 if with electric engines.
  • Its empty weight is 102 kg / 225 lbs
  • The cruise speed is 68 km/h / 42 mph
  • Its maximum speed is 95 km/h / 58 mph
  • Its fuel consumption is 6 ltr / 1.6 gallons per hour

This is a very economical and contemporary motor glider. More information at the official site.

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.

Brock KB-3

Brock KB-3 is ultralight single-seat autogyro created and built in the USA by Ken Brock (the creator of KB-2). It's sold as kit and classified as experimental homebuilt aircraft.

The most important characteristics:

  • Cruise speed of 64 mph / 103 km/h
  • Its empty weight is 250 lbs / 113 kg which qualifies it for Part 103
  • The maximum speed is a bit low - 63 mph / 101 km/h
  • It's fuel capacity is 5 gallons

Unfortunately, accordingly to this news, Ken Brock Manufacturing is closed. So your best bet to own KB-3 is to buy it used from the aircraft classifieds sites. Unless of course you want to build your own using consturction plans.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sadler Vampire

The Sadler Vampire is a family of several USA-developed ultralight and light sport aircraft:

  • Sadler SV-1 Vampire is the first ultralight single-seater made in early 1980s
  • The Vampire
  • SV-1, SV-2, SV-2A, SV-3 which all qualify under Part 103
  • Vampire-2 which is a two-seat light sport aircraft

The ultralight Vampire has maximum speed of 63 mph, empty weight of 250 lb and 300 miles range.

Vampire-2 comes with cruise speed of 125 mph and fuel consumption 4 - 5 gph. Its max speed is 138 mph.

The official site is not very informative but at least you can obtain contact information.

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.