Ultralight Aircraft for Beginners

Best ultralight aircraft for beginners

Keep reading to find out the best ultralight aircraft for beginner’s. [Credit: CanvaPro]

Editor’s note: The following article is not intended to be a ranking, but is only to serve as a list of possible options. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.

If you’re just getting started with aviation, flying an ultralight aircraft can offer ease for your first solo flights and a great deal of fun. The best ultralight aircraft for beginners are those that don’t require a license to fly and some even allow you to enjoy the thrill of assembling them from a kit. Learn about these great aircraft for new hobbyists. 

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Quicklook: Ultralight Aircraft for Beginners

  • Thunder Gull 2000: Best For a Smooth Ride
  • Jordan Lake Air-Bike 103: Best For Affordable Ultralight Aircraft
  • Composite FX XEL Helicopter: Best For Helicopter-style Ultralight Aircraft  
  • Maverick 2 RT: Best For Larger Weight Capacity

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4 Ultralight Aircraft for Beginners

Prepare for a fun new hobby and a way to see the world from a whole new vantage point with these ultralight aircraft options for beginners.

Thunder Gull 2000

This aircraft is one of the smoothest rides thanks to its Hirth engine. Plus, when you look at this aircraft from the sky, it looks ultra smooth and sleek to provide a great flying experience. 

You can put this aircraft on a trailer to transport it to an area that’s safe for flying so that you can store it locally without paying for a hanger or storage space.

Pricing: Kits cost approximately $10,000 but you can find these aircraft used as well.

Max Range: 165 miles

Dimensions: 5 feet and 3 inches high, 18 feet and 3 inches long with a 20-foot wingspan. 


  • Kit assembly time is approximately 150 hours
  • The aircraft has a takeoff distance of 125 feet and a landing distance of 75 feet
  • To trailer the aircraft, you’ll need a 7.5 foot wide by 6.5-feet tall trailer
  • It can sustain crosswinds of up to 20 miles per hour
  • The kit comes with all prefabricated parts necessary to build the aircraft

Jordan Lake Air-Bike 103

The Jordan Lake Air-Bike 103 is one of the most affordable ultralight aircrafts for beginners. The kit costs less than $7,000, meaning hobbyists can start saving and avoid loans to work toward their goal of flying a plane. 

Just be aware that you’ll need to allow plenty of time to assemble this aircraft as the estimates are about 450 hours.

Pricing: $6,995

Max Range: 115 miles

Dimensions: The wingspan is 26.75 inches and the length is 16 inches.


  • Includes fixed conventional landing gear
  • Uses a 3 axis control system
  • Uses a 28 horsepower engine
  • Has a rate of climb of 475 feet per minute
  • Can cruise at 55 miles per hour
  • Includes flight times of up to 2 hours

Composite FX XEL Helicopter

If you’re looking for a helicopter-style aircraft, you’ll love the FX XEL. It’s equipped with floats so that you can operate this vehicle near water. 

Pricing: Kits ready for assembly cost $41,000 while the factory finished product costs $52,000.

Max Range: This aircraft has a maximum flight time of 1 hour.

Dimensions: The aircraft is 16 feet long or 4.9 meters.


  • Powered by an MZ202 engine
  • Equipped with floats
  • The main rotor speed is 540 revolutions per minute and the tail rotor is 2,500 revolutions per minute
  • The pilot can weigh up to 240 pounds based on the aircraft’s specifications
  • It has a climb rate of 900 feet per minute or 4.5 meters per second

Maverick 2 RT

The Maverick 2 RT is a trike that takes advantage of an existing airfoil. You’ll enjoy the open-air cockpit and inexpensive way to fly. Plus, it’s an ultralight aircraft with a higher weight limit to give more people the opportunity to operate an aircraft. 

You have plenty of opportunities to customize the aircraft to meet your needs and specifications.

Pricing: Prices start at $18,900 but you can upgrade the engine or several other parts for an additional fee.

Max Range: Just under two hours of flight time.

Dimensions: The wingspan is 31.5 feet, but can be folded to be 12 inches by 20 feet. It is 8 feet tall. 


  • Customizable to meet your specifications
  • A storage compartment to take camping gear or extra fuel with you
  • Maximum payload of 600 pounds
  • High ground clearance
  • Comfortable seat with safety harness

What Is an Ultralight Aircraft?

An ultralight aircraft is defined under Part 103 – Ultralight Vehicles. According to the FAA, these aircraft are small, designed just for a pilot with no passengers, and do not exceed 55 knots in speed. If it fails to meet any outlined criteria, it is no longer an ultralight aircraft and therefore subject to all other FAA rules and regulations, including that the pilot has the necessary license and first aid training. 

But before you get too excited about flying this aircraft without undergoing training, realize that there are still several rules and requirements you’ll need to follow. You still need to learn about controlled airspace and look for an area that is unpopulated to avoid accidents.

An ultralight aircraft can take many forms. The most popular style is a trike. Another popular option is a powered parachute. However, a wide variety of plane styles can qualify as an ultralight aircraft as long as it satisfies the FAA requirements.

Ultralight Aircraft Requirements

An ultralight aircraft can have a variety of styles. But to qualify, it will need to meet these requirements for size and use. 

  • Has only 1 seat
  • If powered, Is a max weight of 254 pounds without the pilot
  • If unpowered, Is a max weight of 155 pounds without the pilot
  • Carries a maximum of 5 gallons of fuel
  • Does not exceed 55 knots in speed
  • Has a max stall speed of 24 knots
  • Is only flown from sunrise to sunset, in unpopulated areas and uncontrolled airspace

Types of Ultralight Aircrafts 

Ultralight aircrafts can take many forms. Here’s a look at some of the types of flying vehicles that can qualify.

  • Lighter than air
  • Powered fixed-wing
  • Powered parachutes/gliders
  • Rotorcraft
  • Trike
  • Unpowered gliders/sailplanes

What To Consider With an Ultralight Aircraft for Beginners

When evaluating ultralight aircraft options for beginners you should keep several factors in mind.


Ultimately, ultralight aircraft is a hobby. While you can travel from one location to another, limited payload and flight time will make it challenging to actually use it for travel. Therefore, ensure that you’re looking for an affordable option since this is only a hobby.

Maximum Range

Preparing for a flight will take time and so will wrapping everything up afterward. You want to have the most flight time available so consider the aircraft’s range. 

The distance you’re able to travel is not as important as the time you’ll get to spend in the air since you likely aren’t using this aircraft for travel.

Flying Performance

Speed, ease of maneuverability, and overall aircraft performance are important considerations for which option you select for your hobby. Some amateur pilots want to fly fast while others would prefer to take their time and enjoy the sights. 

No matter your preference, make sure your chosen aircraft will meet these requirements.

Cruising Speed

Review the cruising speed options for your aircraft. Some glide while others will reach much higher speeds. Perhaps gliding is more within your comfort zone or maybe you hope to see more countryside at a faster rate during your travels. 

Regardless, look into the cruising speeds of your aircraft before purchasing.

Safety Record

Aircraft that meet the 103 requirements under the FAA are considered experimental. So while there are no guarantees for how safe they are, look for one that has a good record. 

Some ultralight aircraft have sold tens of thousands of units while others are just starting out. It’s better to pay a little more to go with a well-established aircraft option.

Start Flying Without a Pilot’s License

The best ultralight aircraft for beginners will help you get started flying without a pilot’s license or in-depth training. These aircraft are affordable and enjoyable for hobbyists everywhere. Subscribe to FLYING Magazine for more great flying tips and insights.



Who can fly an ultralight?

Anyone can fly an ultralight aircraft. It does not require a license or special training.

What is the safest ultralight?

The safest ultralight is one that is flown with great caution and care. Ultimately, today’s ultralight models are far safer than they were several decades ago and the motors are far more reliable.

What is the fastest ultralight aircraft?

The fastest ultralight aircraft is the VL-3 Sprint, though each country sets its own standards for ultralight aircraft and the Czech Republic where the VL-3 Sprint originated has much looser standards than the US.

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