FEB 2015

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

Issue link: https://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/457474

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 33

EAA Experimenter 29 range of weather conditions and don't mind the additional hours required to train, then the powered parachute might not be for you. WOULD YOU PREFER TO FLY A SIMPLE, SINGLE-SEAT AIRCRAF T, OR DO YOU ENVISION CARRYING PASSENGERS? Answering this question is not as easy as it seems. Nearly all prospective powered parachute pilots that I meet are convinced that they need a two-seat aircraft because they will certainly be flying their spouses, children, and friends. And nearly all powered parachute pilots learn that not ev- eryone is quite as enthusiastic as they are to launch into the atmosphere and indeed spend 90 percent of their flight time alone in their two-seaters. The real decision here has more to do with costs and train- ing. If you purchase what is termed a true FAR 103 ultralight powered parachute, you avoid a good deal of the complications. FAR 103 refers to the federal aviation regulation (FAR) that de- fi nes an ultralight powered parachute as a vehicle weighing no more than 254 pounds without pilot, having only one seat and having no more than 5 gallons of gas capacity. If the powered parachute you purchase meets these criteria, then the FAA says that there are no age requirements, no training requirements, and no medical, and the operating rules and regulations are quite simple. We'll talk more later in this article about training. Nonetheless the ultralight is cheaper to purchase, cheaper to learn to fl y, and cheaper to maintain. If you decide to purchase a two-seat powered parachute, then you need to learn the legal requirements for aircraft certification with the FAA (not required with ultralights) and the training certification requirements for earning a sport pilot certificate. WHAT IS INVOLVED IN LEARNING TO FLY? As previously reported, legally there is no training require- ment whatsoever if you purchase a legal FAR 103 ultralight powered parachute. And you will fi nd manufacturers and individuals who will sell you one without being a bit more truthful. While there are many who have taught themselves and lived to talk about it, these are often the folks who indeed end up crashing early and often. If you connect with a repu- table, experienced powered parachute fl ight instructor, you will always learn that you should enroll in at least an abbrevi- ated training course. The Western Sport Pilot Association, as an example, of ers a seven-lesson ultralight-pilot course at a reasonable cost. This course is often covered over a three-day period, and at the end of the course, you will be competent and feel profi cient—and be able to fl y safely for a lifetime! If you have headed down the path to a two-seat powered parachute, then you may start with the solo course that leads to a student pilot certificate. That will allow you to fly your two-seater legally until you complete the require- ments for the sport pilot certificate. That certificate re- quires a minimum of 12 hours of flying, two solo flights, and 10 hours dual flight instruction (in the air with the instruc- tor in a powered parachute equipped with fully functioning dual controls). All of this training must be accomplished by an FAA certificated flight instructor who is rated in pow- ered parachutes. Once you complete the fl ight time requirements, you will be required to take an FAA written examination, followed by an FAA Practical Test that consists of oral questioning and an in-fl ight examination conducted by an FAA designated pilot examiner. This may sound daunting, but if you connect with the right organization and instructors, you will fi nd the experience more painless than it initially sounds and totally satisfying in the end with the earning of an FAA sport pilot certifi cate. Cost needs to be a part of your decision here, too. Solo training courses in an ultralight usually range from $750 to nearly $2,000, depending on many factors, including whose aircraft you train in, the speed of training, and the method of ground school. Achieving a sport pilot certifi cate is an invest- ment ranging from $1,500 to over $4,000, again dependent on many factors. Some manufacturers package sales of their aircraft with sizable discounts on the training program that goes with it. DO YOU WANT TO PURCHASE A NEW AIRCRAF T OR A USED AIRCRAF T? The fi rst step in this decision is to make sure that you are pur- chasing a legal aircraft! There are some manufacturers and a lot of individuals who will sell you an aircraft without explaining the legal requirements. One set of requirements is the previ- ously mentioned specifi cations to meet FAR 103's defi nition of an ultralight. It is not dif cult to fi nd what appear to be some great deals on single-seat powered parachutes that, in fact, do not meet the specifi cations and are therefore not legal unless issued an airworthiness certifi cate and registered with an N- number issued by the FAA. And these single-seat aircraft would then require the pilot to have an FAA or sport pilot certifi cate to operate them legally. The next step of legal requirements relates to two-seaters. These are considered light-sport aircraft, must be issued an N-number by the FAA, and must have a valid airworthiness certifi cate in addition to a few other registration and paperwork requirements. Again, if you are searching the Internet or, sadly, even talking with some manufacturers, you may never hear a discussion about these certifi cation requirements. Once you have focused on acquisition of a legal powered parachute, then the new or used question can be considered. There are a lot of very good deals on the used market for legal single- and two-seat aircraft. We would always recommend that you purchase a used aircraft only when you are dealing with a reputable organization or seller, when the history of the air- craft is known, and when the maintenance and condition of the aircraft can be proven. Even with all of these issues satisfi ed, you know that you will be investing in an aircraft that likely has no warranty remaining. The other issue is to consider whether the original manufacturer of the aircraft is still in business and there-

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