Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: SW Devil's Triangle
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I actually planned to start a little side business doing low level aerial photography of coastal properties using a FIB (Flying Inflatable Boat). I was looking at the Polaris model at the time. Already having a private pilots license and several hundred hours experience, I figured I could pick it up probably pretty fast. Simple machines, simple aerodynamics, etc. So, being land-locked where I lived at the time ( in NJ you cannot just land on a lake)
I bought a two place ultralight with wheels to learn on. I acquired 27 hours of flying in these, my own and several other models.
I gave it up. Not only was the idea of the FIB becoming more and more expenisve, but I personally was uncomfortable with the transition from a conventional three-axis aircraft mentality to a weight-shift aircraft mentality.
More simply put...when I am landing a Cessna, Piper, etc. my natural instinct without any thought whatsoever is to slowly pull back on the yoke (elevators) to flare for a landing. If I am flying a radio controlled airplane, I pull back on the joystick. If I am playing a computer flight combat game, I do whatever keyboard equivalent "pulls" the nose up. When I want to flare, when I want to suddenly trade airspeed for altitude, Its a natural reaction to me.
Ah...but here's the rub. With a weight-shift aircraft...if you pull the bar back...you dive. You push the bar away from you to climb, or flare. And this is all logical, and easily learned by a lot of people. I learned it easy enough. If you want to turn right, you push the control bar to the left, etc.
And it all makes sense. And then I find myself making a landing in a rough crosswind, and just as I get into ground turbulance, if I need to make a correction to soften the touchdown...I want to pull back on the stick.
This is not good in an ultralight aircraft. It's known as having a "Cessna moment". I did not like having to mentally remind myself not to do what was instinctual at a very critical moment....doing 40-50 mph in a flying lawn chair three feet above a landing strip. Put the nose down hard on a tricycle landing gear.....well....you get the picture.
The ultralights are also only as safe to fly as the quality of the maintenance level. If you are the kind of guy who likes to walk around with a torque wrench from time to time, who likes to inspect a lot of little fittings and cables, collect tools for twisting aviation wire to safety nuts and bolts with holes drilled through them, keep a close eye on engine mounts, prop balance, and that sort of thing...it's not a bad aircraft.
But at $ 40K for a used one? They were around 25K new when I learned to fly one....and that felt like too much money then.
Two Americans move to the TCI.
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