Safety and Training
Elemental to feeling comfortable engaging in ultralight flight is knowing that it is intrinsically a safe sport and recreational activity. Pilot proficiency and aircraft flight-worthiness requirements need to be within reason and appropriate for this type of flying.
USUA provides a number of programs, services and resources to help one learn about safety aspects of ultralight flying and where to obtain assistance when learning to fly.
USUA pioneered the development of ultralight airmen and vehicle registration programs in response to FAA's mandate, and to protect the ultralight community from further regulation. Participation in the airmen registration program provides confirmation of an ultralight enthusiast's intent to meet FAA's expectation that the individual ultralight operator's support and compliance with national self-regulation programs is essential to the FAA's continued policy of allowing industry self regulation in these areas.
THE NUMBER 1 CHOICE IN FLIGHT TRAINING
USUA has an unmatched record of 9,000 ultralight pilots trained and tested in accordance with its Federal Aviation Administration recognized ultralight safety program based on standards contained in Federal Aviation Regulation Part 103 and Advisory Circular 103-1. With hundreds of thousands of operational hours, going back even before FAA enacted ultralight regulations, USUA has the knowledge and expertise you have come to expect to help you identify the training materials you need.
USUA maintains registrations and listings for Basic and Advanced Ultralight Instructors. These instructors are located across the country, and are waiting to help you explore the mechanics of ultralight flying. Whether you are just starting out in aviation or are a high time "conventional" pilot, getting some stick time accompanied by a professional ultralight flight instructor will be your entry point to ultralight aviation.
USUA publishes and distributes three axis, weightshift and powered parachute training manuals that are chosen by the majority of ultralight instructors for ultralight flight training courses. If you are just getting started, ask your flight instructor to include one of these manuals in your training package. For those already flying, pick up a copy to have a handy reference guide confirming your knowledge of ultralight flying.
USUA hosts safety clinics and seminars across the country every year. These gatherings of pilots, instructors and program administrators help maintain a high level of learning and add new levels of knowledge as important safety issues are presented and discussed. Many USUA publications are available through a local USUA instructor or you may place an order through the USUA Flying Store.
The USUA Airmen and Vehicle Registration Program is the oldest and most widely known and accepted program in the United States. It has been imitated by subsequent programs and has been used as a model for similar ultralight training programs worldwide. Program costs are recovered through participation.
No USUA member dues are taken from other programs to subsidize this program.
Voluntary participation in our sport’s safety programs pays back big dividends in the protection of our freedom to fly under FAA’s ultralight regulations. Over ten thousand pilots and instructors have gained valuable knowledge and proficiency specific to ultralight flying when getting their training from USUA registered instructors. Through the education process, they have completed a course of FAA recognized standardized training and passed written, oral and flight tests. Once enrolled in the National Registry a pilot receives a registration card confirming his or her intent tomeet FAA's expectation that the individual ultralight operator's support and compliance with national self-regulation programs is essential to the FAA's continued policy of allowing industry self regulation in these areas.
There is no better way to safely explore the exciting and wonderful sport of ultralighting than with the guidance of a USUA registered ultralight flight instructor (BFI). He or she will provide you the necessary tools so that you can fly on your own. If you decide to pursue pilot training, your education will consist of a mix between classroom instruction, study materials and aids and in-air dual flight training. While each BFI has his or her own unique style of teaching each will train you to the same FAA standard found in the Ultralight Pilot Written and Practical Test Requirements Guide available in the USUA Flying Store.
At the end of your training, after you have soloed, you will take a written, oral and flight test. Once you have successfully completed these your application will be submitted to USUA and, in return, you will receive your very own pilot registration card showing you are on the national registry as an ultralight pilot.
Nationally registered pilots earn opportunities to obtain personal liability and hull insurance coverage, acquire personal ultralight financing, rent ultralights at flightparks, directly access DUATS weather service, gain access privileges at airports, earn respect within the aviation community, obtain personal life insurance coverage and enjoy the personal satisfaction in successfully completing FAA's mandated ultralight-specific training.
Best of all, as an ultralight pilot you get to enjoy the uniquely satisfying experience of simply flying for fun.
What is a Basic Flight Instructor (BFI)?
A BFI is someone how cares about your safety and wants to help you achieve your goal to fly ultralights. He or she has passed flight instructor-specific knowledge and proficiency examinations and is authorized though an FAA-recognized program to give you ground and flight training as well as provide ultralight pilot testing.
How Do I Know I Will Like It?
Your first step to determining if this sport and leisure activity is for you is to sample what it is like. Find you nearest BFI and sign up for an introductory flight lesson. When you get to the field you will first fill out a Passport form that provides you information on what to expect and automatically makes you a USUA member for 30 days.
The exciting part, of course, is going flying. First you will introduced to the two-seat trainer that you will fly in. After a short description of the aircraft and how it is controlled your BFI will get you seated, hop in and take you for a short flight around the local area. During the flight you will experience the sounds and sensations of flying an ultralight, and what is most spectacular for many—the view.
After landing and taxiing back to where you started you are likely to remark on the flight with words such as "Wow," "Incredible," "I had no idea it was going to be like that," and "When can I start lessons?"
How Long Will It Take and How Much Will It Cost?
A typical ultralight flight training course will include 10 - 15 hours of dual flight instruction and a similar amount of ground instruction. Completing the course may take a couple of months if you fly every weekend. The average charge for dual flight instruction is $60-$90/hr and $10-$25/hr for ground instruction. So you can expect to pay $1,000-$1,500 to earn your ticket to fun flying.
What Training Materials Should I Use?
Many considering taking up the sport first purchase a USUA Ultralight Pilot Candidate Package, available through your local BFI or through our Online Flying Store. The pilot candidate package includes a pilot training manual of your choice (airplane or trike), pilot knowledge and proficiency checklists, pilot practical test requirements, pilot and vehicle logbook, airmen & vehicle program guide, federal ultralight resource guide, ultralights at airports pamphlet, fat ultralight/experimental guide, USUA member cloth patch, USUA member decal, ultralight buyers guide and pilot and vehicle registration application.
This gives you all the information needed to proceed with flight lessons and prepare you to pass the pilot tests. You also receive valuable reference materials that you will use throughout your years of flying.
Do I Need Special Training For Different Planes?
There are major differences between categories and classes of ultralights for which specific training should be sought. USUA registered BFI teaching credentials are divided into Categories: Aerodynamic Control (airplanes) and Weightshift (trikes) and Classes: (Land and Sea) allowing you to choose which kind of training you prefer.
Aerodynamic Control Land (ACL)
The majority of BFIs fly traditionally controlled training planes like the Quicksilver Sprint and Sport II, Quad City Challenger, Flightstar and Rans S-12 from small ultralight airparks and general aviation airports. You can expect to learn the basics of flight (or the specific unique aspects of ultralight flight if you are transitioning from general aviation or other aircraft).
Weight Shift Land (WSL)
There is no question that a control bar that effectively changes the position of the whole wing relative to where a pilot sits is a unique category of controlling ultralight flight. Weight shift category BFIs are your entryway into the realm of trikes which may be your first sojourn into the international market place as trikes are the most popular ultralights worldwide.
Any weightshift class syllabus will likely include one or both of the weightshift training manuals available today: the Trike Flyers Manual and Trikes: The Flex Wing Flyers. Both books are available through your instructor.
Popularity of trikes in the U.S. is on the rise. Now is your chance to see what it is all about when you visit one of these BFIs.
Powered Parachute (PPC)
When you see your BFI's head stretch back and eyes go up during inflationprior to takeoff, be glad. He or she is assuring that this type of operation is conducted safely and in accordance with the unique attributes of an inflatable wing. For many, that is the lure that hooks them‹simple, slow, safe flight under canopy with little distraction to disrupt the experience.
Powered parachutes go way back to 1983 when the the twin counter-rotating propellored paraplane was introduced. Since then, a variety of more refined machines, with just one propellor, have been produced. The most popular trainer is the Powrachute Pegasus.
Seaplane Flight Instructors
How fun can it be you ask? Once you've tried this form of ultralighting you may never turn back. There is the special ability to fly for miles three feet above the surface, or to land for a refreshing swim, or just mingle with your favorite boats. Seaplane BFIs will guide you toward a better understanding of float operations and how to make your experience enjoyable.
USUA offers the book How To Fly Floats by J.J. Frey to wet your appetite. With over 100,000 copies sold, this is widely recognized as the most authoritative guide on the subject and is available for $9.95 in the USUA Flying Store.
What is an Advanced Flight Instructor (AFI)?
When we talk about those who deserve the most credit for perpetuating the high standards and integrity of ultralight training in the United States we can turn to the names on this list. In addition to maintaining their BFI, these men and women have taken on the responsibility of examining future ultralight instructors. AFIs determine if a candidate is able to: make a practical application of the fundamentals of instruction; teach the subject matter, procedures, and maneuvers to students of varying backgrounds and levels of experience and ability; perform the procedures and maneuvers to at least the instructor pilot skill level; and pass the required practical test for issuance of BFI with the associated category and class designation.
How Do I Register My Ultralight?
Ultralighters wishing to comply with FAA's mandate to register vehicles may be assured that USUA Vehicle registration has always been available to all categories, classes and types of ultralight vehicles including powered parachutes, gyroplanes, powered paragliders, balloons and gliders as well as airplanes and trikes. Since the FAA recognized vehicle registry's beginning in 1982, USUA members have registered more than 5,800 vehicles.
The national registry for ultralight vehicles operated by USUA is open to any member. Vehicle owners may obtain registration information by clicking on Vehicle Application in the Forms section.
The ability to fly, like many other skills, is not something we humans are naturally born with. Ultralights offer the recreational opportunity to leave the ground and soar above the landscape like a bird, out in the open, maneuvering effortlessly, and experiencing the basic elements of flight. The desire of many to experience this has fostered the need for qualified flight instruction specific to these planes.
Those who have flown a long time know that success and safety in flying can be attributed to our teachers. It is ultralight instructors, with their knowledge, skill, and experience who educate us in the subtleties of aeronautic control and knowledge of the airspace we fly in. Their patience and understanding, both in the air and on the ground, guide us through the lessons of learning, saving us from our own mistakes.
Our government enacted regulations in 1982 to govern ultralight vehicles and their operation. They set minimum standards and mandated "industry self-regulation." Accordingly, FAA advisory circulars and exemptions were developed and implemented for ultralight flight training and vehicle registration & marking.
FAA allows BFIs to operate two-place ultralights for training. They have passed written and practical tests to confirm their knowledge and skill of the fundamentals of instruction, normal and emergency flight maneuvers, pilot examining, and program administration specific to ultralights. USUA Advanced Flight Instructors (AFIs) have the privilege of examining BFI candidates (new instructors).
All USUA instructors possess a registration card and a personalized, dated copy of the FAA training exemption 4274. Don't be bashful in asking to see these credentials. Every USUA BFI is proud to show their accomplishment. In the last nine years more than 1,000 USUA BFIs conducted over 179,000 hours of dual flight instruction. This has created 72,000 new student starts while adding 3,700 new ultralight pilots to the sport.
Showing someone how to fly can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a person's life. Ultralight Aviation pioneer Larry Sullivan (USUA 83) expressed it best when he said, "Everyone knows that one's first solo flight is an enormous personal achievement—the kind you remember your whole life. For me that is only eclipsed by the feeling I get every time I stand near the runway and witness one of my students safely experience his or her own first solo flight. That is what instructing is all about."
Flight instructors face personal sacrifice and hardships as part of their job. However, for each person they teach to fly, there also comes the reward of introducing a new pilot to one of the most exciting forms of recreation in America.
Do you have the desire to share your enthusiasm for the sport and help others learn? If you do, read on and discover what is involved with becoming a USUA registered BFI.
To see how to become a USUA BFI, see our Airman Registration Program web page.
What You Don't Get:
USUA Instructor Program Features:
Students will be seeking you out!
Excellent Referral System
The World's Largest Ultralight Association Behind You!
Strong Protection for Instructors
Make Money With Exclusive Products!
BFI Clinics provide you an opportunity to renew your BFI while renewing old friendships in the teaching profession and enhancing your knowledge at this enjoyable educational event. Invite anyone you know who may find this information valuable, whether they are a pilot, BFI or just thirsting for more knowledge. There is lots of content in the clinic for everyone interested in ultralight aviation.
You will learn the answers to these questions: What legal protections can Ihave? Is there a good waiver and release form? What causes accidents during instruction and how can I avoid them? When is FAA likely to show up, what are they likely to want and how should I respond?
AFI Seminars are held in conjunction with BFI clinics on the same day. To qualify for an AFI Seminar the candidate will have been a BFI for no less than six months, and have trained at least 3 BFIs.
BFI candidates must successfully complete the FAA Fundamentals Of Instructing (FOI) written test before becoming a USUA instructor. This test can be taken from any current USUA instructor, or any FAA approved testing facility. The test covers the following areas of knowledge:
BFI Candidates can purchase the FOI Study Guide and other BFI training materials from our Online Store.
Know Before You Go
Keeping track of where we can fly these days can be a very complicated activity. Notams (notice to airmen) and TFR's (temporary flight restrictions) can materialize on a daily basis making it difficult for the most experienced pilots to navigate safely through these ever changing airspace rules. The final responsibility for flying safely and legally rest in the left seat with the Pilot In Command.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has created an online training program, designed to teach pilots about security related flight restrictions and other airspace rules and regulations.
USUA and AOPA have enjoyed a long standing relationship and have worked closely on aviation safety issues since the early 1980's. USUA will continue providing aviation related information that will benefit all its members ... No matter what they are flying! USUA Part 103 operators as well as Sport pilot candidates will benefit from this useful information.
This online training program, called Know Before You Go is available to everyone. You do not need to be an AOPA member to take this course.
This online course is available now, at: www.aopa.org/asf/know_before.
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Phone: (717) 339-0200