Ultralight Options

Ask EAA's Experts

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Each month, Flying answers questions about the new Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft Rule with assistance from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the authority on the opportunities available within the category commonly known as "Sport Pilot".

Q: Help! I missed the January 31 deadline for submitting an application to convert my two-place ultralight to the Light Sport category. I know I can no longer do that, but what options do I have?

A: If you built your single or two-place machine from plans (for example, a Legal Eagle) or a kit (for example, a Challenger), experimental amateur-built certification may be an option. If your aircraft qualifies for that certification, the January 31, 2008, deadline did not apply.

If you built the aircraft from a kit, you must have a bill of sale from the original kit manufacturer and a builder's log (that is, a group of photos showing you working on the aircraft or some equivalent written evidence). If you built the aircraft from plans, you don't need a bill of sale, but you still need a builder's log.

If you purchased your aircraft secondhand, you must have the original bill of sale from the kit manufacturer (if applicable), the bill of sale from any previous owners and the original builder's log to register and certificate the aircraft as an amateur-built aircraft. For your own peace of mind, contact a DAR or FAA inspector immediately to verify whether that route is an option for you. EAA's Aviation Services staff is also available to answer questions at 877/359-1232.

One note: Some ultralight owners have suggested simply disassembling the machine, putting it back together, taking pictures and then attempting to register the aircraft as an amateur-built. That option will not work. The FAA considers that "rebuilding an existing aircraft," and that action does not meet amateur-built regulations. The only other option is the experimental/exhibition category, but that limits flight operations to a significant extent.

Q: Is there a distance limit when flying under the Sport Pilot rule, such as 50 miles from one's home airport? I did a search and couldn't find anything.

A: There is no distance limit for sport pilots. There is an altitude limit-10,000 feet msl-and a prohibition on flying at night, but no specific distance limitation.

Q: What does an existing CFI (under subpart H) need to do to instruct Sport Pilot students?

A: A current CFI may train Sport Pilot candidates, within the category/class listed on the CFI's certificate, without showing further proficiency. Obviously, you will need to become familiar with the Sport Pilot rules under 61 subpart J. EAA has a PDF file of the rule at its sportpilot.org website. Also, you can sign up on EAA's Sport Pilot instructor database to let people know that you're willing to teach sport pilots. Thanks for your interest!

For more information on Sport Pilot, go to EAA's Sport Pilot website at sportpilot.org. EAA, which also hosts the annual EAA AirVenture fly-in at Oshkosh, provides in-depth information on the website, as well as a Sport Pilot hotline and complete membership services for all aviation enthusiasts. Call 800/564-6322 for membership information.