I looked back at some old photo albums and found some photos of me flying microlights so I feel obligated to write something about this sport as I was one of the pioneers in the sport.
Ultralights were a craze in the early 1980s. The Americans call these tube and dacron chain saw engined aircraft ultralights and the British called them microlights. Technically, these flying machines must be foot launchable (yes..you have to run with the machine to take off and land while running .Only done during the certification process), not more than 254 lbs and a stalling speed of not more than 20 kts. The max speed should not be more than 55 kts. These were the figures as far as I can remember in 1983. Given these figures there were a lot of innovative designs..some safe and some not so safe! A lot of ultralight magazines reporters ended up as being "test pilots" for the brand new machines that they evaluate for the magazine readers and quite a few ended 6 ft under ground!
In Malaysia ultralights were brought in by Capt Moid an ex commando officer who made a lot of money teaching civilians sports parachuting. Under the company name of Para Aviation Sdn Bhd, he brought in 2 twin seater Eipper Quicksilver MX2 and 2 Single seater MX. Albert Anthony and Capt Hussein of DCA went to the US for the initial training. In 1983 I was doing a staff job just prior to leaving the Air Force and I was based in Kinrara, KL. Being a guy who cannot sit still on ground, I volunteered to be an instructor for them. Some training was given and I was given an instructor's licence for ultralights. My licence number was 004 . The other instructors were Capt Hussein, Albert Anthony, Capt Nordin (MHS pilot, later became FOM) and Low KC. From this small group of us we trained a lot of pilots and instructors.
The original flight park was gazetted in Bangi, Selangor. After a year, I formed up a company called Micro Air Services to operate a flight park in Pandermaran, Port Klang. My partners were Mej Johnny Loo and Wong Kim Hoong and we had a two seater and a single seater Quicksilver. The aircraft was registered under 9M WYF (Me) and 9M WKH (Kim Hoong). It was fun flying these flying lawn mowers....low and slow but the 2 stoke Rotax engines were inverted and we had a lot of engine malfunctions in the air and on the ground. Due to its slow stalling speed and low inertia a forced landing is almost an uneventful event! We need a few hundred feet of cleared area for landing. Of course for brakes we had to use our shoes to provide friction with the ground, Flintstone style....on the average our shoes last us a month only!
My wife always followed me and ended up as a ballast for a lot of ferry flights.
1983 was a bad year. The economy was bad. On National day the RMAF could not afford to do a fly past with their jets and helicopters . We volunteered and flew Ultralights with 50 ft Gasser Banners over the city of KL. A very scrry experience to fly these machines over the city. BUT we were young, dashing and never think much. I would not do it again now even if I were to be paid. We never got a cent from that flight!
It was very cheap to fly those days. We charged RM 700 for a new comer to start flying until he goes solo. After that he flies on the single seater at the rate of RM1 per minute. A total of 25 hrs is required for a Microlight pilot's licence (Group D PPL). I think today the ultralight operators charge ten times more. THAT was one of the reasons that our company went bankrupt 2 years later!
An Mx single seater. the only instrument that we had were an Air Speed indicator which is the plastic tube with a small diaphram .