Do I need a licence?
You don't need a Private Pilots Licence of the sort required to fly a conventional aircraft. You must however possess a Pilot Certificate issued by one of the governing bodies of the sport in Australia (RA-Aus or HGFA). You must also be a current member of one of these organisations and your trike must be registered with the same organisation.
There are no minimum hours to fly each year to keep your pilot certificate current but you do have to do a flight check with an instructor every 2 years
How long to learn?
Unfortunately this is a bit like the proverbial question about the length of a piece of string ! The legal minimum is for 20 hours flight training (including 5 hours of solo flight) and it is certainly possible to accomplish this.
Most people take a little bit longer to reach the necessary standard though so its best to allow for this. You will have a better idea once you have done a few flights but its worth remembering that the number of hours it takes to get your pilot certificate has no relevance to the qualified pilots competence.
Can I fly where I want?
Recreational pilots are generally not currently allowed into the airspace close to major commercial airports or military bases and there are other places from which they are restricted at certain times (such as bombing ranges !).
Apart from these, it is possible to fly almost everywhere in Australia subject to the "rules of the air" applicable to all the other pilots and aircraft which we share the skies with.
Am I too poor, old or ill?
There is no escaping the fact that flying is going to cost money in just the same way as boating or 4x4 driving does. It's not as expensive as you might suspect though - a recreational pilot certificate could cost as little as $5000 and you can buy a perfectly servicable aircraft from $10,000 or less. Recreational aircraft are close to being the cheapest form of powered flight with running costs similar to those of a small car.
There is no minimum age to start training although you cannot fly solo until you are at least 15. There is no maximum age provided you meet the medical standard which is simply that you meet the health requirements for driving a car in Australia. In most cases, this no need to even visit your GP to confirm this. So if you can safely drive to the airfield, you should be able to learn to fly.
You certainly don't need to be a rocket scientist to fly recreational aircraft - you only need to meet a few qualified pilots to realise this ! Although it is necessary to pass a number of multiple-choice exams to obtain your pilot certificate, with the help of your instructors and some study of your own this is not as difficult as it sounds.
Can I fly when I want?
Recreational aircraft are not like airliners and they cannot be flown at night or in poor visibility such as fog. As they are amongst the lightest of all flying machines, there are also limits to the wind strength in which it is sensible to fly. Contrary to popular opinion, these limits are little different to most other conventional small aircraft although that doesn't necessarily mean it would be wise for an inexperienced pilot to fly in them.
Are they safe?
Let's be honest - if you are thinking about microlights or ultralights, then this question will have occurred to you. And it will also occur to your family, friends and colleagues who will doubtless take every opportunity to question your sanity for undertaking such a "hazardous" pastime. It's true that, back in the 1970's when ultralighting was in its infancy, there were a number of casualties. It was no different to the early 1900's when man first started flying. Experimentation naturally involves a degree of risk.
Things have come a very long way since then but, unfortunately, its a lot easier to keep a bad reputation than to acquire a good one - regardless of the actual facts. Media reporting is of course a factor - "No fatal ultralight crashes in 2008" isn't the sort of coverage which attracts attention. It's so much easier to label any light aircraft as an ultralight and then sensationalise the circumstances surrounding an accident thus pandering to pre-conceived misconceptions.
Ultralights in general (trikes in particular) are not dangerous. The trikes we fly are tested and certified by CASA and built in CASA approved facility in Australia. Like any machine, they have limits which must be respected. And, like any machine, they require certain maintenance checks which must be done according to the prescribed schedule.If you don't get the steering on your car fixed or you drive too fast round a bend there's a good chance you'll have an accident. Does that mean that cars are dangerous ? No, it was an operator error and that's exactly what the vast majority (90%) of ultralight accidents are.
Of course, any sort of flying is not absolutely risk free. If you are after a 100% guaranteed safe pastime then I would suggest selling the car and staying home watching other people having a life on TV. However if, like us, you welcome taking personal responsibility for the consequences of your actions and want a rewarding, enjoyable challenge, microlights might be just what you are looking for !
Why Caboolture Microlights ?
- We care about our students - not about building hours for our next job at their expense
- You learn with a highly experienced professional pilot examiner
- We love what we do (teaching people to fly)
- Free electronic briefings and exams
- We operate 7 days / week
- The most diverse fleet of recreational aircraft in Queensland (if not Australia)
- Flying area contains beaches, islands mountains and valleys not flat dry paddocks as far as you can see.
- The best coffee on the airfield !
- We don't take ourselves too seriously