Does anyone have any experience with experimental or ultralight aircraft? I found out that many ultralights cost less than many cars, and that you don't need any sort of license to fly one! Now, I'm thinking that instead of getting a car, I'll just save up my money and get a mosquito helicopter! Autos are so mainstream. Experimental aircraft is where it's at! Helicopters don't need a runway, which is awesome because then I can pretty much go to the store in my mini helicopter. :3 


Doesn't that look like the most incredibly awesome flying death trap ever!??!?!?! (They have less-sketchy enclosed versions with shiny fiberglass bodies and windshields, but that takes the fun out of it, methinks.) 

Tags: DIY, aeroplanes, aircraft, airplanes, experimental, flying, helicopters, planes, ultralight

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They have a really high death rate though, that's sort of a turn off.

The helicopter version is a bit of a problem if you part too close to the cars at the store.


I believe the limit for ultra-light, that requires no license is 600 lbs.  So they tend to be somewhat "spindly".  Experimental is a big step towards real airplanes but are of course much more expensive than ultra lights.  They exist in a hole in the FAA regulations.  You can buy some plywood and build your own plane, worked for the Wright brothers!  But generally experimental planes are "kit" planes where the buyer has to put in 51% of the hours to assemble.  Since it will take you a lot longer to glue on a trim tab than a factory to stamp out a wing... well you get the idea of what that 51% really means.  IMO, experimental is just a way to sell an airplane that is unable to get an FAA airworthiness certificate.  This is usually due to somewhere between modest to pretty damn severe design flaws.  I could never be considered a supporter of big government but the FAA is considerably less evil than many other agencies.  And when your butt is suspended a couple miles up in the sky by a quirk in the laws of physics, it might not be the best time to cut corners.


Also while its not really observed, it is illegal to fly experimental aircraft under Instrument conditions or over population centers.


But the picture is cool :)

Did you really want to talk about airplanes?  It is a hobby I explored and found out I cannot afford.

I'd probably get a basic pilot's training (like what a sport pilot has to get) before I get the helicopter. I'll probably wait until I get a stable job before I get all of this stuff (I probably wouldn't have a car for college, anyway). If I move to a city, this would all be impossible, of course. I probably wouldn't fly really high (preferably under 500 feet, which should be adequate for a fairly short trip in something requiring almost no runway area) and would probably wear a small parachute just in case. Powered paragliding seems pretty cool as well, but that requires more room to land. I've always loved hot air balloons, but the fact that you need a spotter van and the fact that you can't steer it at all have always been a turn-off. They sure as hell are prettier than mosquito helicopters lol!

I went in a hot air balloon several months ago, that's what my profile pic is.  It was a lot of fun but crushingly expensive.  I'm not sure they made much at that because in addition to enough propane to run my bbq for about 5 years, like you say there were like 4-5 support people in 2 vans.  It was a LOT of fun though.


I'm just having a lot of trouble seeing how this helicopter is going to work out on campus.  You'll be known as "You know, that girl who keeps decapitating people?"  It's just not a good ice breaker at parties.


For fun look up gyrocopters too.  It's sort of amazing they never really caught on.  They have really unique characteristics. 

Mosquito XE


First a disclaimer - we are the distributor of the Mosquito helicopter (as well as others). The image first posted above by Captain Jaqui Sparrow is one of the five Mosquito models (Mosquito AIR) which include two that are in the FAA Part 103 Ultralight category and the other three are in the experimental category. The Mosquito XET even has a turbine engine - see this video.

They range in price from $26,000 to just over $50,000 and are available as kits or ReadyBuilt


Ultralights do not require a license (but do not confuse getting a license with getting training) and allow persons to participate in recreational aviation under very narrow  conditions without having to invest in more expensive aircraft or advanced training. They are not allowed near population or ATC controlled airspace and are severely limited in fuel capacity (5 gallons maximum). Think of it like the difference between your street motorcycle and you dirt bike. Your street machine requires a license and registration and that you have a drivers license - your dirt bike on the other hand can be ridden off road in remote areas away from persons and property and does not require you to have a license.


So Terry, we just have to provide you with the some facts to go along with your comments:


  • The limit for ultralight aircraft that fly under Part 103 rules is 254 lbs
  • The Mosquito (and all other experimentals for  that matter) DO NOT have a "really high death rate" and in fact the latest numbers show this category slightly lower than "certified" general aviation
  • There is not one square inch of plywood in the Mosquito and most amateur built aircraft, in fact many are state of the art fiberglass and carbon fiber although wood is used in many and even in some production "certified" aircraft.
  • The "Amateur-Built" part of "Experimental" is just one part of the experimental category. Every new aircraft designed in the USA is flown in the experimental category until receiving production certification - the new Sikorsky and Bell helicopters or the latest airliner from Boeing are are currently "Experimetals". The Experimental category contains these specific subcategories (see FAA Form 8130-6):
  1. Research and Development
  2. Amateur Built
  3. Exhibition
  4. Air Racing
  5. Crew Training
  6. Market Survey
  7. To Show Compliance with CFR
  8. Operating (primary category) Kit Built Aircraft
  9. Operating Light Sport
  • All completed experimental aircraft DO have an airworthiness certificate before they are allowed to fly, what you are intimating possibly is a production certificate which is only desired by manufacturers or models desiring to do large scale production of a specific model
  • Before being allowed into congested airspace all experimental aircraft must under go detailed documentation, building and completion inspections by the FAA and and a minimum of 40 hour flight testing which is done over unpopulated areas and only then is it issued an airworthiness certificate
  • Outside of defense development, the experimental category is responsible for most new design and advances in aviation and is at the forefront of the latest technologies and development. The next aircraft you fly in was likely an "experimental" at one point in its path to production which includes that next airline flight you'll be taking

Terry, hope you look around a little more, there are many forms of aviation that are affordable to almost anyone and it would be a shame for you to miss out on this most extraordinary experience in life.

"Everything Rotorcraft"
skype: rotor_fx



I accept I was wrong about the 600 lb limit, apparently I have that confused with something else.  As well as airworthiness certificate.  I do recall that procedure now.  I even went on an official W&B in on one as part of of the process.  I will also admit that flight is not not a quirk in the laws of physics.  However I'm not going to give that up as it is still one of my favorite sayings. I do however prefer a production aircraft with full FAA conforming standards.  It is a bit sweeping to say experimental aircraft have design flaws.  However, there is usually a good reason why they are not certificated.  Sometimes that is the manufacturer can't afford it and later comes back and certificates the aircraft.  More often the plane fundumentally fails to meet the Part 23 standards for certification.  It seems to me this is often in logitudinal stability.


As for safety.  From the EAA: (Experimental Aircraf Association)

"in 2009, 27 percent of the GA fatal accidents involved experimental aircraft even though they account for less than 4 percent of the total GA hours flown."


Also from the FAA:

"FAA analysis of fatal accidents for airplanes operating under an experimental airworthiness certificates, such as the Lancair, has revealed a large and disproportionate number of fatal accidents for their fleet size. Though the FAA has seen a recent downward trend, these aircraft types have experienced fatal accident rates substantially higher than for-personal-use general aviation and the overall fatal accident rate for all amateur-built experimental aircraft." [The Lancair is a particularly high performance aircraft.  Moral: Slow is safer than fast.]


No, airplanes are not made of plywood.  Thanks for being puritanical and annoying. The forums so often lack that important homey attribute.  In the same vein, I don't think Jacqui is planning to build a 787, your description of the legal paperwork supporting the testing of new aircraft designs is as accurate as it is impertinent.


Also, your statement about insurance rates really highlights the higher accident rate for experimentals.  With hull damage an order of magnitude less, the actual rate of loss must be considerably higher or experimentals would be much cheaper to insure, not the same.


I wholeheartedly support the right of people to experiment and enjoy life.  Home designed aircraft are one manifestation of that.  However, the FAA never envisioned the kit plane industry.  That said, unquestionably the FAA has long known about it.  What to do is a very complex problem though.  The issue becomes where to draw the line.  If I were an aeronautical engineer should I be required to machine my own engine just so I can put it in my plane?  Clearly not.


And for a lot of people the difference between $20,000 and $200,000 determines whether or not they can afford to fly at all.  But there are still real concerns that people need to understand before they just assume that $180,000 was just Cessna's profit.  John Denver would not have died in a certificated plane.  However, it was entirely HIS choice.


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