Introduction to Ultralight Aviation

Database Of Ultralight, Homebuilt, and Experimental Aircraft

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AirScooter II

The Airscooter is an amphibian helicopter with pontones which allow you to land in water.

Airscooter II is a single-seat Part 103 compatible ultralight aircraft.

This model unfortunately is not yet on the market. The expected price is around $50,000 if the product ever hits the market.

The project has been featured on many popular tech sites including Engadged.

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 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.

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.

Gee Bee

The Gee Bee is best known for its Model R and Model Z variations. One of the most loved racing aircraft of all the time. Replicas of this airplane have been made in the recent years. Model R is probably the more popular one. Most important characteristics:

  • Empty weight of 1840 lbs (834 kg) for Model R. Not, it's definitely not an ultralight!
  • Single-seat racing aircraft.
  • Cruise speed of 260 mph (418.4 km/h) for Model R.

One of the sites that had most information about all Gee Bee models is unfortunately too old and most content is lost due to Geocities shut-down. You can have a look at the homepage here. Now the most valuable resource about Gee Bee remains Wikipedia.

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.

Icarus

The Icarus is a hang glider built by the Californian enthusiast Taras Kiceniuk, Jr. There are several modifications: Icarus I, Icarus II, and Icarus V (III and IV were abandoned). We don't normally include hang gliders here, but this one is really popular. Some characteristics:

  • Icarus is unpowered hang glider. Icarus I and Icarus II used a biplane wing, while Icarus V uses a monoplane wing.
  • The maximum speed is Over 40 mph.
  • The empty weight is only 65 lb (29 kg)

A good video showing some photos of Icarus V built by a fan in 1978 is available here. Icarus does not have an official site but if you are looking for more detailed information, Wikipedia has it here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

UFM Easy Riser

The UFM Easy Riser is a biplane hang-glider powered in USA in 1975. This makes it the first ultralight aircraft. The Easy Riser is not currently produced as aircraft but only as unpowered hang glider.

The most important specifications of the powered version are:

  • Cruise speed of 22mph
  • Maximum speed of 40 mph
  • Empty weight of 120lb
  • Single-seater (pilot only)

The Easy Riser kit can currently be purchased from Pioneer Flyer here. Note the "How to Order" and "Order Form" links at right. The price is $3,600 and shipping costs add to this. Note this is the unpowered hang-glider kit, not an ultralight aircraft.

An interesting story with this hang glider is available on this site.