Freedom School

Microlighting is the fastest-growing aviation sport in South Africa. It offers the aspiring pilot freedom of flight and a versatility that cannot be experienced in a light aircraft

Grade

Epic

Disabled Friendly

No

Accommodation

No

Team Building Facilities

Yes

Family Friendly

Yes

  • Category
  • Location
  • Grade
  • Disabled Friendly
    No
  • Accommodation
    No
  • Team Building Facilities
    Yes
  • Family Friendly
    Yes

Freedom Flight School has been in operation since the late 1990’s and are an approved Civil Aviation Flight School.

The Chief Flight Instructor, Larry Eschner, is a Protea Pilot (finishing in the top 10 in two World Championships) and an A-grade instructor. Based in Bapsfontein, flight training is conducted on a 1000 x 30 meter grass runway and our general flight training area is situated within 2 minutes flight time of the airfield.

All instructors are rated on 3 axis and weight shift aircraft.  Flight training is conducted on various aircraft, including the locally manufactured Windlass Aquilla microlight and Sling Light Sport Aircraft. Tail dragger training is conducted on an Avid Flyer.  Training can also be done on owners aircraft providing the aircraft complies with the Civil Aviation regulations.

Freedom Flight School is open Monday to Fridays from 5:30am and Saturdays from 5:00am till 12 noon.

We offer introductory flights, full NPL on weight shift and light sport aircraft, license renewals, conversions and advanced training, aircraft sales and services as well as annual inspections. Training Information for Weight Shiftcontrolled Aircraft (National Pilots License) NPL

Minimum requirements as per civil aviation regulations part 62 subpart 5 for a weight shift controlled aircraft are:

•        Minimum age of 16 years.

•        Flight medical certificate

Minimum 35 hour of flight training comprising of the following:

•        Minimum 15 hours solo

•        One dual cross country flight – minimum 90 minutes

•        One dual cross country flight – into a controlled airport

•        One solo cross country test flight – minimum 90 minutes

•        Radio telephony theory course and license

Theory courses and exams covering:

•        Principles of flight

•        Engines and airframes

•        Meteorology

•        Civil Aviation regulations

•        Navigation

•        Human performance limitations

Training Information for Weight Shift controlled Aircraft (National Pilots License) NPL

Minimum requirements as per civil aviation regulations part 62 subpart 5 for a weight shift controlled aircraft are:

•        Minimum age of 16 years.

•        Flight medical certificate

Minimum 25 hour of flight training comprising of the following:

•        Minimum 10 hours solo

•        One dual cross country flight – minimum 90 minutes

•        One dual cross country flight – minimum 90 minutes

•        One dual cross country test flight – minimum 90 minutes

•        Radio telephony theory course and license

Theory courses and exams covering:

•        Principles of flight

•        Engines and airframes

•        Meteorology

•        Civil Aviation regulations

•        Navigation

•        Human performance limitations

Microlighting

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, many people sought to be able to fly affordably. As a result, many aviation authorities set up definitions of lightweight, slow-flying aeroplanes that could be subject to minimum regulation. The resulting aeroplanes are commonly called “ultralight” or “microlights”, although the weight and speed limits are rarely the same between any two countries.

There is also an allowance of another 10% on Maximum Take off Weight for seaplanes and amphibians, and some countries (such as Germany and France) also allow another 5% for installation of a ballistic parachute.

The safety regulations used to approve microlights vary between countries, the strictest being the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany, while they are almost non-existent in France and the United States. The disparity between regulations is a major barrier to international trade and over flight, as is the fact that these regulations are invariably sub-ICAO, which means that they are not internationally recognised.

In most affluent countries, microlights now account for about 20% of the civil aircraft fleet.

A word on Microlighting:

You know you’re flying a microlight when you have a bird strike from behind. – Anon

Equipment:

While microlight flights date back to the early 1900s (such as the Santos-Dumont Demoiselle), there have been three generations of modern, fixed-wing microlight aircraft designs, which are generally classed by the type of structure.

The first generation of modern microlights were actually hang gliders with small engines added to them, for self-launching. The wings on these were braced by wires, and steered by shifting the pilot’s weight under the wing.

The second generation of Microlighting began to arrive in the mid-1970s. These were designed as powered aircraft, but still used wire bracing and usually single-surface wings. Most of these have “2-Axis” control systems, operated by stick or yoke, which control the elevators (pitch) and the rudder (yaw) — there are no ailerons, so may be no direct control of banking (roll). A few 2-Axis designs use spoilers on the top of the wings, and pedals for rudder control. Examples of 2-Axis microlights are the “Pterodactyl” and the “Quicksilver MX” (as seen in the photograph to the right).

The third generation of microlight flights, arriving in the early 1980s, have strut-braced wings and airframe structure. Nearly all use 3-Axis control systems, as used on standard airplanes, and these are the most popular. Third generation designs include the “T-Bird,” “Kolb” and “Challenger” families.

There are several types of aircraft which qualify as ultralights, but which don’t have fixed-wing designs. These include: Weight Shift – while the first-generation ultralights were also controlled by weight shift, most of the current weight shift ultralights use a hang glider-style wing, below which is suspended a three-wheeled pod which carries the engine and aviators. These aircraft are controlled by pushing against a horizontal bar in roughly the same way as hang glider pilot flies. Trikes generally have impressive climb rates and are ideal for rough field operation, but are slower than other types of fixed-wing ultralights.

Powered parachutes – cart mounted engines or motor scooters with parafoil wing, similar to parachutes used in skydiving.

Powered paragliding – backpack engines with parafoil wing, which are foot-launched.

Gyroplane – rotary wing with cart mounted engine (see autogyro), a gyrocopter is different from a helicopter in that the rotating wing is not powered, the engine provides forward thrust and the airflow through the rotary blades causes them to autorotate or “spin up” to create lift. Most of these use a design based on the Bensen Gyrocopter.

Helicopter – there are a number of single-seat and two-place helicopters which fall under the microlight categories in countries such as New Zealand. However, few helicopter designs fall within the USA’s more restrictive ultralight category. One of these is “Mosquito.”

Hot Air Balloon – there are numerous ultralight hot air balloons in the US, and several more have been built and flown in France and Australia in recent years. Some ultralight hot air balloons are hopper balloons, while others are regular hot air balloons that carry passengers in a basket.

Safety:

Microlighting used to have a poor safety reputation. Most of the early designs were fragile or unstable, and this resulted in a number of accidents. However, the reputation came largely from rumour and distrust of the new type of aircraft.

As designs matured, pilot error was shown to be the cause of the vast majority of incidents involving microlight flights. As a result, most countries now require a Microlight Pilot’s license/certificate, often regulated by one or more officially-delegated pilots’ organizations. The United States does not have any such requirement, but pilots advise training for anyone interested in flying microlights. For this purpose, the FAA permits instruction to be given in two-place versions of microlights.

The build quality and airworthiness of microlight aircraft (and home built light-sport aircraft in the USA) now equals that of certified light aircraft. Some types satisfy both sets of requirements and are available for registration to either Microlight or Certified status. When registered as a microlight (or experimental), the pilot is permitted to do more of the simple maintenance tasks, resulting in a lower cost of operation, although this comes at the cost of restrictions such as avoiding densely populated urban areas, bad weather, or night. Many older pilots are willing to trade these operational restrictions for a lower drain on their retirement incomes, and as a result many Ultralights are now flown by experienced General Aviation (GA) pilots or ex-commercial pilots. One other reason for this increase in acceptance is that any pilot is “only one Medical away from being an Ultra light pilot” — a reference to the requirement that most other pilots must pass periodic physical examinations, but not to fly microlights. These effects mean that the experience level of the average microlight pilot has risen and now probably equals, and may even exceed, that of the average GA pilot.

Interesting Facts:

•        The Altitude Record currently stands at 9144m and was set in 1989 in Australia

•        The Record for the longest distance flown in a straight line is currently 1369km and was set in 1988 in France.

History:

The history of modern microlights started on March 15th, 1975. On that day an American pioneer did something no human had ever done before, he achieved foot-launched flight from a level surface. John Moody picked up his Icarus II biplane hang glider, started the 8 hp engine, opened the throttle and ran until he lifted from the frozen surface of a lake in Wisconsin. Modern microlights were born.

Foot launching these craft didn’t last long as wheels provided a lot more safety for take-off and landing. The early microlights increased in weight and complexity quickly in the early 1980s. The US rules for microlights, FAR Part 103 froze the US microlights as very small and light aircraft, but Canadian ultralight rules have changed with time.

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