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Microlighting, also known as ultralight or light-sport aviation, is a popular form of flying that is less expensive and requires less time to train for than other forms of aeroplane training. The aircraft are also much less complicated than a conventional aeroplane and are easier to fly, service and maintain.

Typically, microlights are two-seater aeroplanes that are not more than 265kg and must be capable of flying at low speed. They can be powered or unpowered and can carry a pilot and up to 2 passengers.

There are a variety of different types of microlight, ranging from the flex wing which is similar to hang gliders and paragliders with a ‘tricycle undercarriage’ unit suspended underneath them, to the fixed wing type which looks like a traditional light aircraft (the sort of ones you’d go in on a trial flying lesson). Some are operated by weight shift, which is when the pilot pulls on a lever that changes the amount of thrust that the airframe receives.

Some are controlled using a rudder, ailerons and elevators which are all controlled by the pilot’s control stick. The rudder controls the nose of the aircraft, ailerons control the lift and the elevator controls the roll.

They can be flown in a variety of locations, including grass fields and farms. They are easy to operate and require minimal maintenance costs as most work can be carried out by the pilot.

The UK defines a microlight as an aeroplane that has a maximum take-off weight of less than 300kg and can be flown at low speed. The CAA is currently working on extending the microlight definition to include heavier microlights which will become known as light sport microlights or LSMs.

Most microlights are based on traditional airplane-style designs, but with a few modifications that make them safer and more comfortable to fly. They can often be operated by people who are not licensed to fly traditional aircraft, as well as those already holding a pilot’s licence.

If you are interested in microlighting, it is best to start off with a trial flight experience before making your final decision as to what type of microlight you wish to learn to fly. You can also choose to book a training course with an experienced instructor, who will guide you through all of the required safety checks before allowing you to fly.

You will need to be at least 15 years of age and medically fit to start flight training, which is available from HGFA (Hang Gliding Federation of Australia) or RA-Aus (Recreational Aviation Australia). Once you have completed your training you will be issued with a Pilot Certificate by your instructor.

Microlights can be operated without a pilot’s licence, but there are some restrictions on where they can be used and how they can be flown. They must not be flown near airports or other aerodromes, and in some cases they may not be permitted to operate in certain classes of airspace, namely restricted airspace based on minimum in-flight visibility and distance from cloud.