The ultralight aircraft gained popularity in the early 1960’s with the rise in aviation interest. Ultralights allowed the average enthusiast to get into the air at low costs. The ultralight also served as a trainer for novice pilots, although today this had been outlawed by the FAA. Many of these aircraft were designed by hobbyists and built in their garage. The materials to build an ultralight could be found at the local hardware store. These homebuilt contraptions were constructed using cheap two cycle engines, spruce, aluminum tubing and fabric. In the early 80’s, the FAA enacted Regulation 103. This new law would dictate and oversee what kind of aircraft could fall under the definition of an ultralight.
Many of today’s hobbyist-built ultralights find their roots in the designs of early experimental aviation innovators. Shown above is an ultralight known as the Texas Parasol. This particular ultralight can trace its genealogy to early 1930’s designs. Many kits for sale today are descendants of 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s models, bearing names of legendary manufacturers such as Quicksilver and RANS.
Modern ultralights consist of three different compositions. The first design is a classic airplane style aircraft. The next is a hang glider with an engine attached to it. Finally, we have the paraglider; a parachute variant of the hang glider ultralight. The Kenosha Ultralight Club will focus on building a classic airplane style. This is due to the immense similarity to regular aircraft. Ultralights have become a popular segment of the aviation hobby. AirVenture Oshkosh has a field dedicated to ultralight aircraft. These meager aircraft are excellent for hobbyists on a budget.