Introduction to Ultralight Aviation

Flying Alone: Single Seat Ultralight Aircraft

For me the point of recreational flying is to share the joy with someone. I can't imagine fully enjoying it without being able to share the views and experience with my girl or someone else. On the other hand some people enjoy flying more than others. Your friend or spouse may not be interested in flying as often as you. Or you might be flying for practical purposes like agriculture, aerial photography and so on.

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In any of these cases flying in a single-seat aircraft might be a good option. And apparently this is not the only reason. Let's see what other reasons are there to prefer a single-seater:

What Is It And Why Would You Want It?

But first, let me make something clear. Single-seat and ultralight aircraft is not the same. The main characteristic of the single-seat aircraft is obvious - it can have only 1 seat. Weight, speed, and other performance metrics are not specific characteristics of the single-seat airplane in general. Thus, there are single-seaters that are not ultralights: they may fall into light sport aircraft category or even be categorized as light aircraft.

On the other hand, not all ultralights are single-seat. As long as an ultralight meets the weight/speed requirements, it can have more than 1 seat. And many actually have so.

OK, once we clarified what it is, let's see what are the possible advantages. Why would you want to fly an airplane with only one seat?

  • Part 103. Many of the single-seat aircraft fall under Part 103 which in short means no pilot license is required (more info about pilot licensing here). And in fact having only one seat is a requirement of Part 103, so in order to fly without license you can fly only a one-main aircraft. Now it's getting clear why would you one such, isn't it! Indeed this is one of the top reasons. There are more to come.
  • Aesthetics. Because these aircraft are very light and thin, aesthetics is usually better. Some would say that the best looking aircraft out there are single-seat ones.
  • Economic reasons. This is the second most important reason to buy such kind of airplane, if not the most important one. One-man aircraft are cheaper, much cheaper than these with two or more seats. Often they are twice cheaper. And not only this. They consume much less fuel and occupy less space in the hangar. Their taxes and insurance fees are lower. So the economy effect kind of quadruples.
  • Performance. Being lighter, many of these airplanes and helicopters perform better and are excellent for aerobatics etc.

Any other advantages you can think of? Please comment!

Several Good Models

There are really a lot of single-seat aircraft models that worth having a look at. Let me share some of the most famous ones:

  • Freebird 103 Ultralight - as the name suggests this is a Part 103 ultralight airplane. It has exceptionally light construction with open-air cockpit and 3-axis control.
  • T Bird Ultralight is produced by Indy Aircraft. Its single-seat version is called T-Bird I.
  • Rans Coyote (S4 and S5) is one of the greatest and most famous single-seat monoplanes. Rans Coyote exceeds the Part 103 weight and fuel requirements so you'll need Sport Pilot License to fly it.
  • M 19 Flying Squirrel is experimental single-seat LSA. It's a high-wing airplane with a bit of military outlook.
  • H3 Pegasus Ultralight developed by Howland H-2 Honey Bee is available for home building. Plans are sold for $250. It's Part 103 compatible.
  • Quicksilver GT 400 - slightly exceeds the weight for Part 103 so it's experimental homebuilt aicraft that you'll need license to fly.
  • Challenger Ultralight (the last on the linked page) is sold in kit form and has variation that qualifies for Part 103 and also as LSA. Quick-build kits start from just ~$9,000 without engine.
  • Affordaplane is homebuilt aircraft. Plans cost only $7 (electronic - PDF download). The aircraft has open cockpit and can be flown without license.
  • The Indian Ultralight Helicopter is famous for the claimed low cost of building - under $8,000 (at least the ad says so!). The plans are sold for $29.
  • The Gyrobee is an amazing autogyro sold in different kit forms. The Total Bee kit is currently priced at only about $15,000.
  • American Sportscopter - nice looking Part 103 compatible single-seat helicopter. There is also a light sport version called Sportcopter 331.
  • The Bensen B-8M Gyrocopter a really old gyro from more than 50 years ago.
  • Morgan Aerworks Super Diamond is a modern single-seater available in several variations.

Are there any other great single-seaters you can think about?



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User comments:

Mike Schweim at Mar, 07 '13 02:38
Where did you get your information? You posted "On the other hand, not all ultralights are single-seat. As long as an ultralight meets the weight/speed requirements, it can have more than 1 seat. And many actually have so." Then you post as written in part 103 that single seat is a requirement.
If an aircraft has more than 1 seat, it is NOT an ultralight, no matter what the emtpy weight, fuel capacity, or speed. There used to be an exemption for 2 seat ultralight training aircraft, but the exemption went away when Sport Pilot came out.
Reply to this comment

Bob at Mar, 07 '13 10:18
Hi Mike. Ultralight = Part 103 only in the USA. Other countries categorize ultralights as much larger category. That's why we differentiate between ultralights in general and ultralights according to Part 103.
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jane at May, 06 '15 22:08
You posted "On the other hand, not all ultralights are single-seat. As long as an ultralight meets the weight/speed requirements, it can have more than 1 seat. And many actually have so." Hemorrhoids No More Review
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Orasa at Dec, 17 '15 15:12
True the power lines are not beautiful but it we got rid of them we would have to live with out eicitrlecty so I will live with them for now. Maybe some day we will all have solar power and power line will be a thing of the past
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Gloria at Sep, 25 '16 16:05
Hello everyone,
We are an ultralight aircraft manufacturer, based in Bulgaria.

Please visit www.aeroplanesdar.com

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask :)
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