|By: Bobby Handzhiev|
Can you afford flying when the gas and oil prices are raising like crazy? Hardly. But the fuel has never been free and not all people who like flying are rich. That's one of the reasons why engineers and enthusiasts invented the ultralight aviation. The ultralight flying machines may not be the most comfortable or luxury, but they are affordable, cute and simple. Besides that the ultralight aircraft lets the pilot feel much better "in the air" than the ordinary aircraft.
There are different kinds of ultralight flying machines you can use to fly. Here are the five most important of them:
Fixed wing ultralight airplane
The most popular ultralight aircraft looks just like a standard airplane. The fixed wing ultralight is usually a two seat or single seat aircraft, can fly quite fast (up to 150 - 200kmh cruise speed) and is very stable.
The disadvantages of the fixed wing ultralight airplanes are its cost and the need of large hanger space. Since you can't remove the wings, you need space which is both wide and long. Just like a normal airplane, the fixed wings ultralight needs a runaway to start flying.
Flex wing ultralight airplane (ultralight trike)
The flex wing ultralight aircraft is an easier and more affordable option for pilots who don't require to fly on a "real airplane". The flex wings are also smaller and lighter and their wing is flexible, just like the name of this aircraft suggests.
This wing gives you one big advantage - the ultralight trike takes much less place so it can be hangared in a barn or garage. The wing can be completely taken off if needed so the aircraft may need even less space.
The flex wing airplanes can also take off from a normal road, of course if there are no cars on it.
Float (ultralight flying boats)
One of the greatest things about the ultralight airplanes is that they are ultra-light. This allows them "land" on water if they have the required appliances. Many fixed wing or flex wing aircraft have water devices - such are often called amphibians or seaplanes.
One flying boat (float) on the other hand looks like a mix between a boat and an ultralight trike. Instead of the standard corpse, the float uses its fuselage as a floating hull. The float is the cheapest and easiest for maintenance seaplane, that's why it is preferred by most enthusiasts.
If all you want is to be able to fly, you could do it with a simple paraglider. But the standard paraglider needs good wind condition and a high place for taking off. For this reason the aviation people created the powered paraglider - probably the simplest and most affordable ultralight flying machine.
The powered paraglider is not very different than his standard "brothers" besides the fact it has a powered propeller staying on the back of the pilot. If you want to take off, all you need to do is to run for few meters. You don't need a mountain or a hill - with a powered paraglider you can take off from a smooth place.
After the simplest, let me introduce you the most complex ultralight flying machine - the ultralight helicopter. But regardless of its structural complexity - which is typical for any rotorcraft - the ultralight helicopter is much simpler than the real helicopters we can see at the airport.
Very often the ultralight helicopter has no cockpit or fuselage at all - or there is very light and simple version of them. That's why the ultralight helicopters are not more expensive than the other aircraft - except of course the powered paraglider which beats them all. But if we talk about control complexity, the helicopter is definitely the hardest to control machine. This aircraft is not appropriate for beginner pilots.