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Model:  Drifter
Manufacturer: Drifter Aircraft
Cruise Speed: 55-65 Mph
Endurance: 1.5 hrs
Engine: Rotax 503 (50 h.p.)

Two seats tandem, dual control

Conventional landing gear

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Model: MXL II
Manufacturer: Quicksilver
Cruise Speed: 40 Mph
Endurance: 1.1 hrs
Engine: Rotax 503 (50 h.p.)

Two seats side-by-side, dual control

Tricycle landing gear

 
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Model:   MXL II
Manufacturer: Quicksilver
Cruise Speed:   40 Mph
Endurance:   1.1 hrs
Engine:  Rotax 582 (65 h.p.)

Two seats side-by-side, dual control

Tricycle landing gear

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Model:   MXL II
Manufacturer:   Quicksilver
Cruise Speed:   40 Mph
Endurance:   1.1 hrs
Engine:   Rotax 503 (50 h.p.)

Two seats side-by-side, dual control

Tricycle landing gear

 
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Model:  S12
Manufacturer:  Rans
Cruise Speed:   65-70 Mph
Endurance:   2.2 hrs
Engine:  Rotax 582  (65 h.p.)

Two seats side-by-side, dual control, two sticks

Tricycle landing gear

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Model:  S6 Coyote
Manufacturer:  Rans
Cruise Speed:   95 Mph
Endurance:   2.5 hrs
Engine:  Rotax 582  (65 h.p.)

Two seats side-by-side, dual control, two sticks

This plane is undergoing renovation

GUIDE TO ULTRALIGHT PLANE DESIGNS

Cockpit:Open, closed or half-enclosed

You can't take this question seriously enough. Open, half-closed and closed cockpits are quite different ways of experiencing flying, none is better than the other, but you will probably develop a strong preference for one of them. Be sure about it before buying a plane.

Points to consider are:

  • Fun: Fly open, closed and semi closed planes and find out what you really enjoy most.

  • Helmet: In an open cockpit you are advised to wear one. In a closed or half-enclosed one you generally can do without it.

  • Eye protection: In an open cockpit you will need goggles or sport glasses to protect your eyes from the wind. If you wear contact lenses make sure to test fly them with an instructor. They can dry out in seconds even with sport glasses on.

  • Motion sickness: You can get motion sick in a closed plane, in an open plane normally not.

  • Wind: You can not work well with charts in an open cockpit plane. Also, some people don't like the wind in the face for a long time.

  • Rain: If you hit a rain shower you will see better through wet goggles than a wet windscreen.

  • Visibility: In a closed UL you see the world through Plexiglass. Your field of vision is also more restricted.

  • Noise: Noise in open cockpits is louder than in closed ones

Push prop or front engine

  • Visibility: In a front engine plane you see less. The engine reduces your field of vision. In addition in the most common side-by-side design pilot and passenger sit in the centre of gravity, which is under or above the wing. In a high wing plane it's difficult to look into the direction of a turn. In a low wing you can not look straight down when flying level. In a push prop plane you normally don't have that problem because the wings are behind you.

  • Balance: A front engine balances the weight of the empennage. Therefore most front engine ultralights are designed to seat pilot and passenger side by side in the centre of gravity, which is under or above the wing.

    The plane stays balanced whether flown with or without passenger, with a light or a heavy pilot. No or only little trimming is needed

    A push prop ultralight has only the pilot in front. If it is a side-by-side plane then it's the weight of the pilot and passenger who balance the plane.

    Consequently the centre of gravity is different with two people on board or only one. The plane must be re-trimmed and some planes need a weight on the empty passenger seat to make it fly well.

    In a tandem configuration (co-pilot behind the pilot) the problem is less because the passenger will sit in the centre of gravity. The plane must only be re-trimmed as a function of pilot weight.

  • Fumes: In a front engine plane it can happen that petrol or exhaust fumes are smelt. This aggravates motion sickness.

  • Propeller risk: Accidents involving contact with turning propellers are less likely with push props.

  • Impact protection: A front engine can protect the pilot and passenger in case of impact. Furthermore a great part of the potentially damaging kinetic energy is lost when a front engine hits the ground or obstacle. In contrast a rear engine's momentum will continue pushing the plane into the obstacle.

  • Motion sickness: The more limited visibility in front engine planes and the possibility of fumes being smelt in the cockpit can be a problem for those prone to sea sickness.

Trike or conventional landing gear

A conventional landing gear (also called tail dragger) has two wheels under the wings and a third wheel at the tail. A trike landing gear has a nose wheel instead of the tail wheel.

A tail dragger design means the centre of gravity is behind the main landing gear. This means the plane is unstable when rolling fast. A slight turn at high speed will magnify itself and the plane could spin around.

Take offs and landings, especially in cross winds therefore need more training and experience than with trike planes.

Tail draggers also have the tendency to bounce when not landed in the exact way they should be landed.

That's why few modern planes are tail draggers. They have however also advantages:

  • They are better on soft and rocky ground (no nose wheel to dig in), which is why bush planes are tail draggers.
  • No wind drag by a large front wheel (the tail wheel is so small it does not matter).
  • Fun. Just ask them tail dragger pilots and you will hear.
Hangar with ultralight planes owned by our members