The Fork in the Road – Hangar Flying | Aviation


In the April issue, Rick Larsen did an excellent job of expressing the joy of ultralight flight (“Fundamentally Fun,” Ultralight World). His statement about it being the “essence of flying,” “cleansing,” and “like sitting on the porch, a few hundred feet in the air” really struck a chord with me.

It reminded me of my early flights in my Hurricane ultralight: just low-slow cruising, and all the worries melting away for a while.

But Rick also mentioned an issue many of us run into eventually — the itch to share flight with others. In the United States, this means earning a pilot certificate at the sport level at a minimum. To some, even experienced ultralight pilots, this seems to be an insurmountable task. To other aspiring pilots, the sport privileges seem too limiting. Are they? Should you consider a private pilot certificate instead?

First, let’s look at what it takes to become sport pilot. (This will be along the lines of fixed- wing airplanes, as that’s my background. But much of the same can be said for other aircraft types.)

Let’s go ahead and get one thing said. Reading the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR or, as most of us know them, the FARs) is about as much fun as a root canal. But at least the sport regulations were written a little more in line with common language. The simplest way to access the sport regulations is to simply Google search “CFR sport pilot” (or “14 CFR Part 61 Subpart J” if you prefer). Still, it’s not a fun read.

So, instead of a point-by-point discussion, let’s discuss the common misconceptions and concerns some students have, but bent toward someone who’s already an ultralight pilot.

Most people go straight to the minimum logged hour requirement first. In my opinion, that’s a mistake. True, part of the original idea of sport was to simplify the certification process. When you compare what it takes these days to obtain a private certificate, you almost…

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