Thanks Grant for addressing this most important issue that is especially meaningful for the future of the ultralight community and industry. The loss of ultralight flight instruction has been discussed across the country and in other websites and forums including a few places here in Oshkosh 365 such as in “Modernizing the Ultralight Definition”. I would encourage those who expressed their concerns and ideas there and in other places, to copy and consolidate their comments here where they will collectively have more meaning and impact. I know that the ultralight community has been discouraged by having our voices ignored. We need to say something now for those many people who want ultralight specific flight training that can no longer be found across the majority of the country and within any reasonable commute. Furthermore, it should be evident that Part 103 may eventually face some unfavorable changes if we do not speak louder. We must create a consolidated history and defensive record of the issues. We must share thoughts and discuss actions to remedy the problems and restore growth to gain strength in numbers. The boundaries of freedom always need to be defended to prevent it from becoming an ever shrinking corral. Ultralight aviation has a rich history. The richest part of it may be yet to come as traditional aviation fades and new generations recognize ultralight aviation as more fun, practical and accessible. Those of us who enjoy it today have a responsibility to ensure that this rich past and its great rewards are preserved and improved for future generations to participate in. Oshkosh 365 is perhaps the most visible place for us to make certain people acknowledge this great setback in grass roots personal recreational aviation. This is an important first step that could lead to solutions. Do not be afraid to talk about the issues, the more information and detail the better.
I am typically not involved in light sport aircraft or in sport pilot training issues. Therefore my experience and concerns here are more related to the more greatly affected ultralight community and the two seat counterpart ultralight flight training for the many new ultralight students who can no longer find ultralight flight instruction. The situation for ultralight flight instruction and the ultralight community is profoundly crippled and doomed for most of the country than that for LSA which is certainly having some related problems too as Grant and others have pointed out. Additionally, I see profound differences between those two different categories of flying machines. Ultralight vehicles are much lighter, slower, more varied in their designs, control systems, flight characteristics and remote flying environments. Ultralights also have extremely varied optimum training criteria and need ultralight type specific specialist ultralight flight instructors and two seat type counterpart ultralight training vehicles. Whereas average LSA type aircraft are more often like a airplane with more common characteristics and are more often limited to the airport environment. The differences between ultralights and light sport aircraft airplanes are too numerous to list here. Therefore, I would find it impossible or too confusing to characterize the two different categories together with regard to flight training issues, even though there are some similarities. Grant points out that there are common problems and common solutions to the two different categories. I think that fully addressing the larger problem with regard to the ultralight category will tend to nullify those problems identified in the SP/LSA/CFI category which seem more concerned now with just the loss of proportionately fewer remaining training aircraft and a resulting loss of some remaining SP/CFI in that smaller but very important segment. We must not lose track of the fact that it was in the creation of the SP/LSA/CFI category that these issues were artificially, unnecessarily and directly created for apparently illicit purposes as will be discussed. These issues and huge losses are of great magnitudes that deserve emergency remedy appropriately to be addressed at the source. Band-aiding the finger of a severed arm is not the proper solution as would be done if only the SP/LSA/CFI/LODA issue is remedied.
To better understand the ultralight training issues and discuss possible solutions, we need to examine the ultralight training situation with regard to the FAA elimination of all ultralight specific flight instructors and two seat counterpart training aircraft and the resulting negative impact. Do not perceive any parts of this posting as complaining, but as a rather essential amount of information needed for understanding and “recording” why and who had their hands in your cookie jar. If I merely attached a link to a website containing this information, then it would loose some of the desired visibility and effects.
In discussing the SP/LSA rule making process with a number of people from different states and people more attuned to what happened, it became clear that certain LSA interests have a great desire to phase out ultralights and assimilate its people in order to monopolize and create customers for the newly defined SP/LSA business bubble. For example, I was told that a certain foreign four cylinder engine manufacturer enjoyed considerable influence over the US rule making process in eliminating the use of smaller lower profit engines and forcing a captive US market for their larger higher profit engines. Some participating LSA industry leaders made more profits from selling these larger foreign made engines and the larger airplane type LSA because they could establish new monopoly price scales on top of larger prices for large aircraft which are now more often foreign made. By far the number one selling LSA in the United States is actually made in Germany. That’s some sales profit for the US distributor and the sales team. However, that is not good for our country. Furthermore, the LSA looks just like an airplane and looks absolutely nothing like an ultralight or real ultralight two seat counterpart trainers. No Juror could ever disagree. I would never land or fly it from my home or many of the places that I can take an ultralight or their two seat counterparts. It is totally useless for the more exciting ultralight environment. It is way too expensive to afford or to chance breaking it. In my ultralight, I can climb at a classified angle after only three seconds of ground roll with no head wind and circle and land probably before the LSA got much off the runway. It’s like comparing a motocross racing motorcycle to a car. I can easily fly the LSA but the LSA pilot would be completely unable to fly my ultralight without type specific ultralight flight instruction which is now pretty much impossible thanks to the FAA’s ending of the necessary exemptions. There is no other choice. From most perspectives it is wrong and not of much point in substituting drivers education classes to learn how to motocross as opposed to taking on track lessons from experienced motocross racers.
SP/LSA creating a new niche in and for general aviation was OK and not really relevant to ultralight aviation as evidenced above and later. However this combined with eliminating the ultralight industry and community (the better alternatives) and attempting to force its participants into a different game that lacked appeal, common sense and affordability was most unacceptable. This caused tremendous harms and damage.
The easiest way to most rapidly and permanently eliminate the more enjoyable, versatile and less expensive competing ultralight industry and community was to eliminate the ultralight flight instructors and the two seat counterpart training vehicles. This was done by announcing to all ultralight flight instructors that their jobs will be terminated while simultaneously announcing that their fleet of two seat trainers will eventually become illegal. The double elimination is in effect what actually resulted since most ultralight instructors found this an impossible scenario to survive. The numbers more than prove this accurate. It was always the only possible interpretation, regardless of the (proven unreasonable) ill conceived alternatives that the ultralight instructors were given.
To the ultralight community and industry and those wanting safe ultralight flight instruction, this was nuclear bomb winter, and biological warfare combined. This did much more than merely stopping the slow growth of ultralight aviation and its industry in a time of increasing interest and advances. The two combined acts (elimination of the ultralight specific specialist flight instructors and two seat counterpart training vehicles) effectively eliminated the entire long established twenty something year old safety training system and thus the reproductive capabilities of the ultralight community and industry. It began when the doomsday time table was announced. UFO lessons are easier found across many states than real ultralight lessons, contrary to the disinformation presented by the FAA and those behind the job terminations and vehicle destructions.
It would have been quite bad enough to have just done only one takeaway rather than both in the same time period. As further evidence of hostile intent, a ten year time period between both unnecessary takeaways apparently was not considered. What really hurt was the fact that very few replacement sport pilot certified flight instructors were provided to replace the much greater number of ultralight specific flight instructors that were killed off. This caused very large voids of ultralight flight instruction across the country and a very obvious tremendous loss of ultralight flight safety training resources. These voids continue and perhaps may be worsening as those few CFI who thought there were opportunities, are learning otherwise as most everybody else already knew.
The lesser or moot issue, given the fact that ultralight instructors were eliminated, involved the simultaneous destruction of the two seat counterpart trainers. This is again before a new replacement fleet of two seat counterparts was provided, or provided within the “discretionary” spending limits afforded to ultralight instructors. It seems that stimulus money should be provided here, LOL.
How often does the foreign automobile industry get to participate in a corporate government expanding, concocted cookie jar process that gets to tell you when all of your Geo Metros and all other cars must be replaced with brand new “approved” sport utility vehicles?
How often does a medical team (FAA/EAA/SP/LSA team) get to conduct an absolutely unnecessary heart and lung transplant surgery on a young and healthy patient with many dependants (the ultralight community and industry), when no working replacement heart (instructors) and lungs (vehicles) is provided? That’s no problem because the medical team proposed a new and different imaginary replacement heart and lungs for the patient. So, having taken care of that little concern, it just happens that old Millionaire Joe who happens to be on the next operating table in the same room, could use those same items that were just removed from the healthy patient, even though Joe only wants elective SP/LSA implant surgery to make a new product line in the image of his old one. Oh well it just seemed like a better idea to put these already removed parts in Millionaire Joe’s chest (hidden right under his old ones) since it so conveniently happened to be opened up at the same time, and after all, the donor was more like common folk. Never mind that these parts are of a different culture, don’t fit and can’t pump Joe’s thick rich blood. We just need to breathe some new life into old Joe. Besides, the donor was providing a competing, more practical product for a vast population to enjoy, that could compete with Millionaire Joe’s dwindling old fashioned business that was tailored for us fewer elite. That would just not be in our good friend, Joe’s, best interest. We will just repeat to the patient’s (donor’s) family and community that Millionaire Joe has solved the energy crisis, national economic crises and global warming. We will also tell them that the patient (donor who is now dead) is in good shape and free to go home and enjoy a rich future as provided by Joe according to Joe’s culture, rules, new price scales and in the friendly spirit of the aviation community. Lets all be nice about it now, LOL. Disinformation, secrecy and censorship are keys to corruption and tyranny.
Many thousands of common folk who have considered or even kept the dream of flight in the back of their mind, would be upset at what happened to any chance of reasonable access to personal recreational aviation. They and those who have tried to find ultralight flight instruction are without vocal resources and must count on the ultralight community to express their concerns. With each passing day, any such dreams of flight are becoming more limited to the part 103 ultralight option which ideally has become the most rewarding option. Ultralight aviation may be considered by some in traditional aviation to be a minority interest. I prefer to think of it as representing the majority of the new American population who harbors any dreams of flight. That is a very large number indeed compared to those actually practicing general aviation interests which rounds off to a dwindling zero percent of the population. The voice of the ultralight community and even parts of the larger aviation community may be subject to censorship, but it is a great voice indeed and we should not feel outnumbered or remain silent like a lamb.
I was told that an association of traditional airplane flight instructors wanted to gain control of ultralight flight instruction, get more business for their instructors, increase membership and force more expensive traditional airplane teaching ideology that can be contrary to safe ultralight operation. Too much of the airplane training imbedded in the SP/LSA/CFI training curriculum is unrelated to ultralights, their environments and ultralight specific flight instruction. This wastes people’s time, money, patience and more importantly detracts from the real important ultralight safety things that get lost in the obvious assimilation process.
If I understood correctly, there was one individual who most pushed and voiced for the assimilation or elimination of the ultralight instructors? Could anyone out there identify this individual or individuals who most pushed and voiced for this? I’m not concerned so much about those who followed their lead or in any attempts to describe and legitimize the foreign, corporate, government growth influenced process. They are invited to post their comments here. In fact I insist. There are a lot of people who want to hear from that person or persons especially with regard to the ideology and the devastating outcome experienced and witnessed across most of the country. How can they justify it? People often ask about why they cannot find ultralight instruction and I too would like to know the complete story from all perspectives particularity and specifically relating to the simultaneous double fatal blow to the people’s choice in personal recreational aviation. Certainly thousands of people will never be able to realize that great dream of flight, owning their own machine and flying from accessible remote places, etc… How can this be justified? The new SP/LSA/CFI lack of service, numbers and costs certainly disallow any reasonable access. How can this be justified? We all want to understand why such a crippling roll back was necessary and during declines in aviation and economy. If there are no replies, then let these posts stand as accurate and charge the FAA to undo the clear and present danger and harm. Does this mean that certain people in the FAA must be fired? Absolutely. It is my goal to help bring some repair of a great damage. It is not my goal to cause conflict or to hurt any aviation cultures or communities or to create bad feelings. This was already done as a result of the FAA SP/LSA termination of the unrelated ultralight exemptions (that had no proper relationship to the SP/LSA cookie jar process) without an actual working replacement in place.
It took some time for Germany to realize and acknowledge that some of its elements had committed a cultural genocide within its community that could eventually be measured with numbers. Likewise it might take some time for the aviation community and the SSFAA to realize and acknowledge that certain elements have committed a similar cultural genocide within its/our community, not just eventually measured with numbers, but currently proven with numbers.
It is my/our/your intention to break the censorship and force admission that a great wrong was done and to promote a real solution. The preferably easiest, best and the already proven solution is to simply reinstate the exemptions. This request for acknowledgement and suggestions for repairing the situation is in accordance to the spirit of Oshkosh 365. If this makes me a bad guy to the LSA bubble industry or its mouth pieces, then so be it. If you have been reading some of the LSA sponsored articles in a few of the LSA magazines, you probably have noted that a few of these mouth pieces have already cried fowl on behalf of their employer LSA industry when some relaxation of the SP/LSA training aircraft rules was recently granted that allowed the return of a few trainer vehicles that were slated for replacement. This tended to favor the people while slightly reducing the LSA industry concocted monopoly that is discussed next. Unfortunately, the LODA deal does very little to resolve the tremendous damage already done. This would be a very small band aid (that serves very few remaining SP/CFI instructors) that some might claim fixed all the world’s problems in an effort to support the ongoing cover-up.
The two combined acts (elimination of the ultralight specific specialist flight instructors and two seat counterpart training vehicles) effectively eliminated the reproductive capabilities of the ultralight community and industry. As a result, the new self created SP/LSA monopoly encouraged some LSA companies to increase their prices and introduce even larger and yet more expensive (SUV) models, many of which are not American manufactured or have a more expensive foreign component engine, both resulting in more wealth sent abroad. The illicitly created monopoly has lead to SP/LSA prices jumping well beyond what was expected. The greatest source of complaint from all branches of the aviation communities is about the unaffordable SP/LSA program and how or if it has any benefit over a traditional airplane and pilots license with very similar high costs. Many have said why not just go a little step farther than SP and get a regular airplane license and get a real airplane at a lower price than an airplane wannabe LSA? This is just one means of comparison that tends to imply that the SP/LSA program was a bait and switch aimed at forcing the ultralight community to be assimilated into the significantly different, less enjoyable and unaffordable airplane aviation community. It also serves to show that the SP/LSA business is much more identical to the airplane business and profoundly different than ultralights. The definition of part 103 ultralights has very little to do with the more identical LSA and airplane definitions. This is a huge departure from ultralight aviation, clearly seen by all. Airplanes are airplanes and sometimes called aircraft too. Ultralights are typically profoundly more different than airplanes and are by law denied this airplane or aircraft terminology and thus are referred to as vehicles for some very good reasons. For best results, ultralight flight training requires highly specialized instructors specifically dedicated, proficient and sharp in their chosen ultralight vehicle type and training needs. This is most important for good emergency training. Ultralight aviation and flight training is of a different culture, requirements and skill sets that the FAA chooses to ignore, to great detriments.
Granted SP/LSA created certain new aviation niches in order to breathe new life into general aviation and to extend (Joe’s) life some more. For example; the new Sport Pilot regulations allow existing airplane pilots to fly with questionable medical status and with an uninformed passenger, too. These unnecessary joy rides are far less important and far less professional than the legitimate ultralight flight instruction lessons that “were” provided by specialist type specific ultralight flight instructors.
To exemplify the lack of FAA safety concerns, full aircraft recovery rapid deployment parachute systems are not required on LSA as commonly used on the large fleet of various two seat counterpart trainers rendered destroyed by the FAA.
Furthermore, the FAA SP/LSA department supported a campaign of disinformation and censorship with regard to the harm it has caused to the ultralight community and industry. This disinformation and censorship activity partly consists of claims that ultralight flight instruction is still widely available when it was clearly removed. Inaccurate and misleading CFI instructor lists were posted and false evasive interpretations were provided to avoid admitting that ultralight type specific flight instruction in most areas can no longer be found. It also involved certain ultralight publications where they will not discuss anything to the contrary. They will not discuss the plight of the many people who can no longer access ultralight flight instruction, as totally devastating and contrary to safety as it was and is.
As a result of the FAA ending of ultralight pilot training that was provided by the ultralight community and organization trained and approved ultralight flight instructors, known injuries and deaths that have occurred. These injuries and deaths can also be cited as the clear and obvious result of the SP/CFI/LSA cover-up for money over safety, jobs, economy and freedom, where disclosing such conditions should have resulted in a proper remedy long ago.
Several pages in every aviation magazine issue should be dedicated to this ongoing serious problem. Instead there is profit pressure to cover up the ultralight community and industry and to promote and take advantage of the new SP/LSA business “bubble” monopoly rather than reporting on the undisputable number one and number two issues harming and wrecking the ultralight community and the true ultralight industry. There are some very interesting stories that they will never print that exemplify the failures of the SP/CFI program. These are stories that would contribute to the real solution and reduce the effectiveness of the illicit monopoly that is contrary to the people’s dream of flight. To many people, the denial of reasonable and safer access to the dream of flight is by far most important. It put a huge no trespassing sign in the empty sky for many people. The loss of instructor jobs and ultralight manufacturing jobs is secondary and is just another example of how our government with foreign and corporate influence facilitates the deindustrializing and crippling of our country.
SP/LSA could have been done just as it was, and the many years old ultralight flight instruction exemptions granted by the FAA could have and should have continued. There was no logical point to connect SP/LSA to the successful ultralight flight instruction programs except to devour ultralight aviation for the purposes stated. If the exemption program was left alone, then safety would be better served, more people would be working and a lot more people would be flying now in flying machines with more appeal to the broader population. Too much special conflict of interest was involved in the rulemaking process and its results are very obvious. Therefore the results of that process should be declared null and void.
Ultralight personal recreational vehicles have the highest appeal to more people. The wide open bird like ultralight flight characteristics and environments are more rewarding and consistent with the human dreams of flight. They add special colors to the sky and to peoples imaginations that inspire them to jump up and down and cheer and feel connected when they see an ultralight flying by. Their affordability and many other advantages make ultralights more properly designed and more appropriately less regulated for our changing times than any other flying machine types. Below is some supplemental information that I was requested to provide for an upcoming magazine article that will be coming out in March.
Ultralight vehicles which are officially not airplanes or aircraft
have long been regulated by FAR Part 103 and A/C 103-7. They are far
different and more varied than airplanes. They are much lighter, have
very broad low mass distribution of extremely negligible concern to
any people or property on the ground, very low wing loading and very low
speeds. They have a small five gallon fuel capacity that tends to
limit a pilots flying range to areas that they are familiar with. Some
fixed wing ultralights tend to fly like hang gliders or even parachutes.
Some ultralights are actually engine powered parachutes of
several considerably different styles. Some fixed wing ultralights
which include the M7 can maneuver as tightly as a buzzard and at the
same speeds too. Some ultralights are pilot body weight shift designs.
There are a number of different ultralight control systems that
require more numerous specialized ultralight type specific flight
instructors and type specific two seat counterpart training vehicles
that only those special instructors could legally use only for training purposes,
according to long established permissions or exemptions that were
recently canceled by the FAA as discussed later.
Ultralights can operate from an almost infinite
number of remote and varied locations compared to airplanes which are
usually confined to airports. They can land and takeoff from unusual,
rough, sloped, confined places where they must clear over trees and
other obstacles and encounter sharp air turbulence from the close
proximity to these obstacles. They can get stuck in mud, deep grass,
ditches and occasionally crash, often with little damage and no
injury. They typically fly at lower altitudes well away from any other
air traffic which is dwindling and thus of little and diminishing
Part 103 dictates that ultralights operate away from over congested
population areas and never at night, in clouds, not in certain air
traffic areas more common to airports or under other obvious
conditions. Furthermore ultralights can never have more than one seat
or carry more than the pilot which means that the pilot is responsible
for his or her own safety. This greatly reduces any perceived need to provide
regulations to protect the general public from inadvertently becoming
an uninformed passenger in a flying machine that has no airworthiness
standards. Most ultralights and the (recently rendered illegal) fleet
of two seat trainers are equipped with rocket propelled rapid
deployment full aircraft recovery emergency parachutes. These vehicles
are self maintained and are not required to meet any airworthiness
standards. It was required that student pilots are made aware of this
during their dual seat pilot training which is overwhelmingly more
crucial to pilot safety. Ultralight pilot training or licensing is not
required. Ultralight pilot training and testing programs are highly recommended
and were commonly acquired until the FAA erroneously ended those training programs.
Ultralight vehicle regulation is minimal, unchanging and contributes to the
attractiveness of ultralight aviation. This and many other things such
as the less obstructed panoramic view, the ability to skim the grass
over rolling terrain and around the trees and many other things makes
ultralights potentially the worlds best kept secret in personal recreational
aviation and motor sports. I think that this sport has the potential to be
the greatest locally enjoyed motor sport of all time.
There are many things that set ultralight aviation far from general airplane aviation and more than justify lesser regulation. This also helps show other reasons why the ultralight community is more experienced and qualified to provide its own flight instruction program.
The safety destroying measures committed by the FAA and the SP/LSA cookie jar process and traditional airplane instructors, provide overwhelming evidence why they are not experienced or qualified to regulate or administer (destroy) ultralight flight instruction or destroy the training vehicle fleet.
The decision to end type specific ultralight flight training was partly based on an ideology assumption that it would be replaced by new sport pilot certified flight instructors in new approved LSA industry two seat sport pilot training machines. This ideology was clearly flawed as evidenced by the outcome. Sufficient time has passed to determine that this plan failed with about a 10 % grade, where something like 70 % should be required to get outside of a failed rating. The ultralight community would assign a grade of less than zero.
When is the FAA going to admit that eliminating ultralight flight instruction was bad for safety, industry and economy and pencil the exemptions back in? The numbers indicate that very few of the many terminated ultralight flight instructors became sport pilot certified flight instructors, a small fraction of what was expected. There is demonstrated need to restore the exemptions because the plan for replacing them did not work. Clearly exemption reinstatement is the easiest and most correct solution for the ultralight flight training issues until a working replacement is provided. Even if the exemptions are reinstated, it might take several years to replace just a fair portion of the ultralight instructors that were eliminated due to the extreme depth of damage caused by the FAA. Still, reinstating the exemptions would be the prudent thing to do in light of the growing national political and economic conflicts that may erupt. I have been contacted by those interested in a petition and other options such as a lawsuit as suggested by a few other instructors. If it is the intent of the FAA to improve aviation safety by eliminating all flight, then they and other government forces are well on the way to accomplishing that in the most successful and expedient way. The sky is becoming a very empty place. Share your thoughts here.
There was some talk that one of the three ultralight organizations (perhaps ASC) was issuing out too many ultralight flight instructor certificates and the privilege was being abused. I would like to see some evidence, record or report of such abuse because I saw nor heard any evidence of it in Ohio. If such abuses did occur somewhere, then they could have been addressed directly. Addressing that organization directly could have been done if there was cause to. I would like to see records of any such communications that addressed any issues with any of the ultralight training or instructor programs. Destroying the entire ultralight flight instruction working system definitely was not any kind of a solution except for satisfying the special interest of the SP/LSA industry. Instances where an ultralight pilot might fly a two seat trainer without an ultralight flight instructor rating are irrelevant and not related to ending ultralight flight instruction. An ultralight pilot flying a heavy ultralight is not a relevant factor in ending ultralight flight instruction either. If those things were problems, then they never got solved. Only ultralight flight instruction was ended. And that causes big problems.
Power group ideologies, pride, sense of importance, combined with increasing financial interest often leads to the lack of appreciation of and an intolerance of the freedoms of others that they were mistakenly given control of. When special financial interest opportunities are self created directly within the mix, then the result is toxic.
The thinker and followers behind the plan, given the new power to control, placed their interests and the resulting skewed ideologies above all others as often happens when a group of people are given the authority to get creative and exert control over others. They will typically and forever believe that what act they have done was good. Power irresistibly corrupts almost always and results in unjustified control and takeaways that harm freedom, economy and the future.
It is a travesty when special interest and their want for profit, work
in collusion with government organizations and their power crazed
desire to control and expand in the name of safety. But in this case
the desires of both parties were so calloused, that overall safety was
trashed to more effectively achieve the LSA monopoly objectives.
As government expansion, regulations and its special interest
controllers and their censorship further ship out our wealth and jobs
and "safety fear" manipulate us into irreversible debt and confinement
to the television, we should sooner rather than later become more
vigilant and demand corrective actions.
The best precautionary move is to eliminate cookie jar rule making processes and let the boundaries of freedom be defined by the suppressed judicial process where there must be a real injured party to proceed with compensation for the injured party. Not profits for the government and creating new government bureaucracies that work hard to self expand. The sufficiently cleansed and abandoned portions of sky belong to the people who can salvage and use it and therefore have the right to do so.
On behalf of all non commercial aviation and many other sports, it is apparent that nowadays liability concerns alone plus the highly exaggerated (cry wolf, the sky is falling and save our pets and children (in that order)) media will put most people out of business and guarantee high prices. One thing that could be done is to create a multi sport consolidated notice of liberty and freedom to be given to those government entities (who learned nothing in history class) that cry wolf; the sky is falling and wants laws passed to prevent others from doing things that they are afraid to do. People and the media need to understand and teach that they must put their fears in a more accurate perspective, take medication if necessary and tolerate the freedoms of others, or expect to loose their own freedoms soon enough. A few fearful, jealous people and the media should not help derail the train of freedom for the bureaucracies to feast upon without first providing a proportionately larger time period of attack to the much larger issues that really matter and are otherwise censored. The fast food they eat and the lack of exercise are far greater threats causing certain death to a great portion of the population. That deserves regulation far more than any regulation at all for ultralight flight training which should have been left alone with more than the sufficient amount of regulation as it was. If someone does something different than you would, then we should watch and enjoy it as most people do. In our changing and uncertain times, such cowardly fears can run rampid. Government entities are eager to expand their job security, powers and empire to accommodate or cater to the fearful with bad results for freedom and economy. This has allowed our foreign, corporate owned, growth oriented government to stray far away from being a small scale servant to a brave people, to become a large scale manipulative, absolute ruler and predator over a cowardly identical people so that their wealth and jobs can be exported without choice or recourse.
In my immediate part of Ohio, since the introduction of and as a result of SP/LSA regulations, I have seen zero influx of new LSA, one existing two seat Sport 2S got N numbered (the instructor was eliminated), over eight two seat training vehicles were rendered destroyed, all three or more remaining ultralight instructors were eliminated, over (100 and increasing) potential ultralight pilots will never realize the dream of flight, a two seat counterpart trainer design was cancelled and some possible local manufacturing jobs will never be. Total flight time has dropped significantly. The FAA trashed the concept that proper flight training is a good idea.
I have been closely monitoring numerous aviation publications pertaining first to ultralights and then to include LSA followed by sharp declines in the very mention of the word “ultralight”. I was not surprised that the editor of UltraFlight Magazine, Patrick Yonkin, having broken the code of silence about the loss of ultralight flight instruction in his last editorial on page 4 in the July 2009 issue, was replaced with a new editor in the August issue. Patrick spoke of the loss of flight instruction and that the people’s interest to fly lightly and cheaply is not being served. He connected these reasons to his leaving the magazine. That magazine typically would not print anything of this nature.
An important recent USUA article can be seen at www.usua.org or at
This might get some magazine coverage since it addresses the loss of the training aircraft and the resulting quitting of some of the very few SP/LSA/CFI instructors that offered SP training and some limited type ultralight flight instruction in a few limited locations that are inaccessible for most of the country. It was hoped that the LODA process could be used to help save some affected SP/LSA/CFI and perhaps some remnant of ultralight flight instruction. Although it is a very small step of repair to a much greater damage and destruction, it is still extremely important to the cause of safety and access to flight for at least some people. I have heard that the FAA is slow in responding to these LODAs and thus it reflects more poor judgment by the FAA.
Because ending the exemptions has proven to be a failed experiment resulting in dangerous conditions and harm to freedom and economy, it is now an absolute act of necessity, that the FAA needs to undo the termination of the exemptions. Why has this not yet happened? It is hard to view the FAA as being in the business of freedom, as it is hard to view any of the government’s rapidly expanding bureaucracies. They claim that they are in the business of safety which now seems to translate in outright extermination by eliminating safety without just cause or supporting statistics. In 1986 it was reported by one source that the death rate among ultralight pilots was the same as general aviation pilots. I think it was something like less than 3 deaths per each 100,000 hours of flight time. Airplanes have occasionally killed people on the ground while I have not heard of an ultralight ever killing anyone on the ground. Let me know if there are some different numbers here. I am searching for other reasons why the FAA is exterminating ultralights thru the elimination its flight training program.
The overall dangerous conditions created by the FAA termination of the ultralight training exemptions are also well pointed out by the USUA in above links. Has the EAA acknowledged this tragic loss of ultralight flight instruction across the country problem yet? Has the EAA acknowledged that the FAA ending of the ultralight training exemptions experiment did not work? Please let me know. Although ultralights may not be considered a part of the aviation picture by some, except in the eyes of those two brothers on your pilot license, it still helps define the true crushing boundary of aviation freedom. When ultralight aviation is eliminated, general aviation could consider itself surrounded and dying on the front line next, just like clockwork. Whenever an airplane crashes and somebody on the ground gets killed, there is a lot of outcry to outlaw airplanes which will be considered to be the next unregulated unnecessary scary sport. Outcry reports from media organizations supported by fat burger commercials that are really killing off the population and crippling them to the couch for more purchasing and panic lessons for proper fear voting, quite to the delight of expanding bureaucracies, will take a toll if nothing is done.
Having been one of several ultralight instructors in central Ohio, I realized that the potential for growth in ultralight aviation was phenomenal and potentially very rewarding for an ultralight flight instructor. More students will participate and complete their training if a single seat rental is available for their use at the completion of their training program. This is the very best option for the students where while they enjoy some solo time, they can confidently shop for their own machine if they choose. Owning your own hanger and grass strip is also very advantageous for an instructor or a new ultralight pilot. At the initial release of the proposed LSA regulations, I turned my attention to a greater passion for new ultralight design which was also needed to demonstrate new engine technology that is even a greater passion. I do not expect to return to flight instruction, nor am I writing in support of selling M7 ultralights which are not for sale at this time. I can better serve aviation for the people in other more effective ways too. I write here at least to help those thousands of people learn why the sky has been cleansed of their participation or very notion. Even people, who will never fly, are brightened by the thought that it is possible with minimal restrictions, and they too shared in the dream.
Currently I am the president of the Future Flyers Ultralight Club and I continue to receive calls from all over Ohio from people wanting ultralight lessons. I try to help them the best I can. I advise them that there are listings of certified flight instructors from several sources and suggest that they look for a CFI that actually has a two seat trainer that might be similar to the ultralight that they have or are looking at. They typically can not find the type of ultralight flight instruction that they are looking for which, is usually the wide open cockpit type. Some of these people visit our club meetings, make a lot of contacts and learn about ultralights from those who fly them in the real ultralight environments. Much of the discussions initiated and conducted by other members are about ways to provide any level of flight training (or even a short lesson) to those many people who want to learn to fly ultralights. I mostly listen while deep down I feel a great loss that they may never experience the great joy of flying low and slow in an ultralight. Some of them will find a way. The only fathomable solution that most in the ultralight community can determine is a return to the exemptions which enabled the only ever proven workable ultralight training system.
The years long ultralight pilot training and testing programs per the
FAA exemptions were proven and worked extremely well especially when
compared to the tragic void of ultralight flight instruction that has swept
across most of the nation. To my knowledge, until now, never has the
FAA set such a large segment of aviation safety back 25 years such as
has resulted from the timely FAA double blow termination of ultralight flight
training. The travesty is further amplified by the continued
disinformation and censorship in a time when government should be
preventing the loss of jobs, freedoms and future.
The ultralight community needs and deserves a return to its proven and
vastly superior training system. The exemptions should
be regarded as the essential and permanent "hands off" cornerstones
for aviation by the people and for the people.
This includes the return of the fleet of self maintained training
vehicles too, where the students participate in the constant
inspections and become accustomed to the actual skill sets and self
responsibility needed to stay alive in their own ultralight flying
machines in the real ultralight world.
For me my dream of flight was only possible thru the comprehensive ultralight pilot training and testing program that I received by United States Ultralight Association flight instructors in California. This training and the two seat counterpart training vehicles were specifically aligned for the single seat rental ultralights. Because of this comprehensive training and despite the constant rental use, I never heard of any of the rentals ever being damaged.
The current situation in Ohio and some surrounding states is that untrained ultralight pilots are now soloing in ultralights without suggested ultralight instruction, without incident so far that I am aware of. The youngest was sixteen years old in a Quicksilver Sprint. He went to Pennsylvania, purchased it, reassembled it and was very determined to fly it without any ultralight flight experience. I and many others worried, placed calls and made every attempt to find him a legal lesson to no avail. Fortunately someone (not me) took him up in one of the many illegal two seat counterparts to give him some practical experience before he soloed in his. On the other hand several nearby, airplane CFI trained and experienced airplane pilots, have been killed while transitioning to ultralight similar LSA and weight shift LSA without proper flight instruction that could have been provided by ex ultralight flight instructors that were well within range. Yes there was also at least one ex weight shift instructor around who was also put out of business when the FAA terminated the now very clearly proven essential exemptions.
I talked to one LSA accident victim in Missouri who purchased a very nice Challenger LSA. He was very intent on doing everything by the rules. He rented a hanger from a Challenger dealer who lived very close to him who also was one of the specialist type specific ultralight instructors that was eliminated by the FAA. The perspective student had to resort to the published SP/LSA/CFI listings to find a replacement instructor and located one at quite some unreasonable distance away. Upon meeting the SP/CFI at the purchased Challengers location which was a fair distance (100? mi) from the rented hanger destination, it was mutually decided that the students first lesson would be the delivery flight to the rented hanger destination. With the CFI in command and the student aboard, the takeoff which used up a large portion of the airport runway lead to a short (one? mile) flight of limited control and an uncontrolled crash landing leading to considerable injuries to both occupants. Prior to this incident the previous owner/seller had taken the student/Challenger purchaser up for a demonstration flight where the flight was very uneventful and well controlled as opposed to what the student described of the CFI’s skills. I believe that the student indicated that the result of the primary inquiry suggested that the CFI had insufficient experience in this type of two seat LSA which is a type commonly used by some ultralight flight instructors. I have flown in one before with a local Challenger specific ultralight flight instructor (also job terminated by the FAA) and found it to be a lot more airplane like than most ultralights. The Challenger should have been a lot less likely to throw a typical CFI. I gave some lessons in a Skyboy which was very easy to fly but I suspect that its single wee little non vertical wishbone joy stick (in the instructors left hand) shared by both occupants would be more likely to crash a few CFI’s given their dedicated experiences in traditional airplane control systems. I don’t know if it is a bad thing or a good thing that these traditional CFI are not out buying new LSA to meet the growing backlog of eager and disappointed prospective ultralight students. Actually, it is quite understandable because the new SP/LSA financial formula is a no go situation. No one better understands this more than those actually experienced in ultralight flight instruction where they are even more aware of the many other new, unreasonable and unrealistic constraints and conditions that now apply with the new game. This is a game where its creators took away the dice and game pieces to fix it so that they would be the winners. One thing that is certainly and tragically bad is the loss of available ultralight flight instruction.
The main point is (as stated by others) if you must fly any ultralight, even if you are well trained to fly an airplane, try to get at least some experience in a flying machine that most closely resembles the ultralight you want to solo in, even if some of your learning’s in the remaining airplane type trainer may be contrary to the proper operation of the ultralight and in the ultralight environments. The operation of some ultralights (including some fixed wing ultralights) in a manner as properly used for typical airplanes can be dangerous. Ultralights typically fly very differently and many different considerations apply. Zulu time is not one of them. Discussions with pilots experienced in the ultralight type usually can give you some good, perhaps life saving information about the particular flight control characteristics and special considerations needed of the ultralight and flight environment that the airplane flight instructors are not aware of. It might not nearly be as good as the comprehensive ultralight type specific flight training and testing program (that was) provided by USUA ultralight flight instructors and in an actual two seat counterpart. But you will at least (hopefully) get enough flight experience to survive a solo flight and subsequent flights if you can aggressively and safely practice new things along the way. Unfortunately most new pilots may be reluctant to practice emergency skills, fly in turbulence and to try new things that are best and more safely taught by a dedicated ultralight flight instructor in a two seat counterpart.
If Grant or any other instructors brought a “legal” training machine such as a QS Sport II or preferably a Sprint II into central Ohio, he or they would be very welcome. These two models certainly do not cover the different control types, but seem to be the most commonly used in-between type. Coordinating with a group of students with their schedules, from their various distances, for a block of flight instruction time might be possible. Several days of work calling interested students and scheduling lessons would be required. Most students want a complete training and testing package of roughly ten lessons so that they can get their USUA ultralight pilot card which can help them qualify to use a rental. They typically soloed in the two seat trainer after the completion of their final lessons which usually involved additional emergency procedures including at least one unannounced (engine turned off) dead stick landing. When soloing new students in the 25,000 dollar Quicksilver Sport 2S, there was never concern of damage to the training vehicle. On the other hand, there is some concern when they do their first solo flight in any other machine, even some concern when they fly the single seat counterpart in their first solo flight.
Even during the flying season, the weather is often unpredictable enough to cancel flight lessons. A traveling ultralight instructor in the Ohio area could encounter fewer opportunities to instruct where a student can be there at a point where there is a break in the weather. One student drove over an hour each way for at least three consecutive weekends for flight lessons to watch the weather turn worse than expected. He did get a lot of free ground instruction prior to his returning home without his flight lessons. Sometimes a whole week can be ruined due to weather. Due to weather delays and the fact that some students are limited to weekends, a complete ultralight training and testing package would likely take over several months. However any lessons are better than none.
The off season weather in Ohio and other states is an issue too that further limits flight instruction activities.
Another issue involves the fact that there are many different types of ultralights that students want training for. The differences are so significant that a dedicated type specific flight instructor is definitely the best and safest idea. Optimum flight training for a Quicksilver can be very different than for a Challenger. For example, extensive crow hopping and other things are very important for proper Quicksilver training. Weight shift, chutes and other ultralight machines also have very unique training recommendations. This means that a larger number of ultralight type specific instructors are needed for each of the different ultralight types, and in each different area, preferably within a one hour commute for the students.
Although there are some unique LSA designs as Grant points out, and fat ultralights transitioned to the LSA category, Airplane and LSA are typically a lot heavier and less diverse in their control systems and flight characteristics when compared to the broad spectrum of single seat ultralights. SP and LSA also typically operate in less varied environments such as from airports and sometimes closer to air traffic and thus have certain training criteria that is not of much use to an ultralight pilot or a typical ultralight instructor. Therefore, fewer airplane and LSA instructors are needed since one instructor can be reasonably competent in instructing in those more similar models and in the standard less varied and less challenging airport environment that these machines are usually confined to. Even before the massive FAA kill-off of ultralight specific flight instructors, there were some shortages of the various ultralight type specific instructors in parts of the country. The FAA displayed and acknowledged no concern along the way, knowing full well, that there wasn’t any replacement group.
The simultaneous destruction of the two seat counterpart training aircraft pretty well ensured the overall outcome. The words “killed-off” pertaining to the instructors is in reference to the elimination of their jobs and the resulting actual physical FAA killing of some pilots who can not find ultralight flight lessons. The FAA apparently needs some help in understanding this simple concept. The word “destroyed” is in reference to rendering a training machine permanently unusable for the purpose of type specific training aircraft in which this act alone also has a physical human killing effect. The worst killing of all is to the people’s dream of personal flight. These terms are well justified by the outcome witnessed across the country and are especially true in light of the two simultaneous acts of money based manipulation justified by an ill-conceived and failed ideology and the ongoing refusal to acknowledge and address it in light of the harm caused. It would be very difficult for any jury member to deny that a genuine hostile and malicious intent was involved in light of all these things.
The failure of the FAA and the various ultralight and aviation reporting media to acknowledge and address this situation, is irresponsible, calloused, unfriendly and not within the true spirit of the aviation community to say the least. But such a cover-up is not so surprising considering the magnitude. It is up to us to bring attention to this matter or else expect Part 103 to face unfavorable changes during this time of rapidly dwindling voice for aviation by the people and for the people.
Those interested in a petition option and/or a class action civil suit option,
Contact Andrew Snedden at
This includes anybody who was negatively affected, from ultralight instructors to those who simply sought or might yet seek ultralight lessons and found that access to it has been compromised. Please describe your option preference or any other ideas and how you were affected. Also, any comments, ideas or solutions that you have can be posted in this forum.
Thanks for your attention,