All About Ultralight Helicopters
Many have said that ultralight helicopters are the ultimate form of ultralight flight. Fast, nimble, and able to go almost anywhere, lightweight helicopters are also a more economical way to get into flying helis. Plans can be bought very cheaply on the internet. Kits are available for purchase, but typically cost more than building one from scratch from plans.
Check out this video of a Mosquito XE helicopter in flight!
What is ultralight aviation?
Ultralight aviation simply put means you can fly these airplanes helicopters and gliders without a license! (though proper training is always strongly advised…)
Ultralight aviation in the United States is different then other countries “microlight” regulations. The regulations for ultralight are defined in the FAR 103 Ultralight Vehicles publication by the FAA. This defines a powered ultralight as a single seat aircraft that weighs less than 254 pounds.
These vehicles can not carry more than 5 gallons of fuel and are limited to a top speed of 64 miles per hour (55 knots).
Ultralights are also prohibited from flying over populated areas, and can only operate during daylight hours.
Unpowered ultralight aircraft such as hang gliders, paragliders, and fixed wing gliders are limited to a weight of 155 lbs. Extra weight is allowed in both powered and unpowered aicraft for amphibious landing gear (floats).
In 2004 the FAA introduced a new category of airplanes called “Light-sport aircraft.” (this more closely resembles various other countries microlight categories.)
Light sport aircraft require a license to fly called a “Sport Pilot Certificate.” This is much easier to obtain than the regular pilots license. The time requirement for hours flown is cut in half, and no medical certificate is needed (just a valid drivers license).
What is the best way to start?
- The best thing that you can do is educate yourself. We recommend getting the official FAA Helicopter Flying Handbook. Read through it and first familiarize yourself with helicopter flying basics.
- Spend some time on youtube watching videos of ultralight helicopters. Much information can be gleaned from watching pilots fly and talk about their machines.
- Decide if you want to build from scratch, or buy a kit and assemble it. The cheaper way is to buy plans and build from them. Parts and supplies can be scrounged, bought at discount, or sometimes be had for free.
(plus we want to sell you our plans :
How much will it cost?
That all depends on you. Plans to build an ultralight helicopter can be had for under 30 dollars. (we recommend the Adams-Wilson Hobbycopter
Alternatively, kits can be purchase from various companies found on the web like the kit here. Cost? Only 28,000 USD
What is it like to fly a helicopter?
Again, we recommend reading the book Helicopter Flying Manual.
Watch another youtube video on flying a ultralight helicopter.
(Homebuilt ultralight helicopter on the Discovery Channel)
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I have just recently veurtned into the RC Helicopter world. For my first heli I decided on an ESky Lama V4 which is what they call a coaxial heli. It has two sets of main blades stacked on top of each other turning in opposite directions & no tail rotor. It offers up & down(of course), sway left & sway right, forward & backwards, and spin left & spin right. After researching them a bit I found that the coaxial heli is perfect for beginners and novice pilots due to the controls being very easy to learn and master. This unit came with a flight simulator that allows you to fly right on your computer using the actual remote for the heli. It also came with a training kit to help aid in first time flights and landings. All this cost me about $85.00. It is a nice sized heli for still being considered a mini. It measures about 16″ long and about 7″ tall.There is a another helicopter made by EFlite called the Blade CX and CX2. These are very close in comparison to the Lama but with a little higher price at about $120.00. Both are very nice helis and look great! Also both of these helis are easily upgraded to allow for individual tinkering and likes if your brother decides he really likes the RC helicopter as a hobby. Oh, I forgot to mention .. both of these are electric helis and can be flown indoors as well as outdoors. Hope this helps!