This is a continuation of part 1 (below)
Personally, I sunk back into a funk. My dreams of flying again seemed to be slipping further and further from my reach. Renting from the local flying club is prohibitively expensive (I used to rent a Cessna 150, including fuel AND instructor for $68/hour. Now that same airplane costs $160/hour without an instructor!). Our wheel flying season is short here, so currency on type is difficult to maintain. Joining or purchasing a share in a local club aircraft was minimally less but with the same issues.
The nature of my job as a 911 dispatcher leads me to lots of downtime (between moments of terror) especially during nightshifts. We have access to the internet so I've spent countless hours browsing all the certified planes on Barnstormers.com, EBay, Craigslist and Kijiji. Although there are deals out there, I've yet to find a deal that met all my needs (right aircraft, price, insurance, hangar etc.) I know there has to be compromise in any of these to realistically expect to buy one, but the over-riding issue has always come down to money.
Now, I mentioned earlier that Brenda is "the world's most tolerant woman". She has constantly listened to my ideas and grand schemes to obtain an airplane ("you should see the deal I found last night, Honey!!"). She has always been wise council on this and other matters. I've said to others if we hadn't met, I'd probably be in jail due to my spending habits. Thankfully she got me back on the right course.
Over the last couple of years she has been there for me as I grew frustrated over the airport issues and a lack of flying time. She has patiently detoured with me on our travels to stop at airports all over Ontario just to have a look at what was there. We even explored North Las Vegas airport when we went to Vegas for our tenth anniversary - did I mention how much I love her!
Something that was on my bucket list for many years was a trip to the mecca that is EAA Oshkosh. So in 2013, my Dad and I loaded up our tent trailer, drove for two days and camped at Oshkosh for the entire week long event. It was a fantastic time and couldn't have had a better time with Dad.
This was an important time for me. I learned that my options for getting flying again were many and available for the asking. I think this was when I made the conscious decision that ultralights had everything I was looking for:
- able to carry a passenger in side by side seating, something that makes flying fun for me
- a LOT less government red tape
- ability to put on floats and winter skis
- ultralights are more than a lawnchair strapped to a chainsaw motor that they used to be
- potential to instruct others at a future date
- and several other reasons
In August of this year, during our annual weekend away from our daughters, Brenda and I attended the Ultralight Pilots Association of Canada (UPAC) convention and fly-in weekend. I wanted her to come with me and actually sit in some of the aircraft (ultralight and homebuilt) that were in attendance. Although Brenda understands most things about flying (I've taken her up in Cessnas in the past), we both wanted to get a better idea what's involved and how modern ultralights might be a viable (and possibly economic) alternative path to getting back in the air.
I managed to obtain a demo ride in an Ikarus advanced ultralight while at the show. It was the first time I had flown in a couple of years.
Although I was only up for about 20 minutes (and my skills are rusty, that's for sure), Brenda tells me that the smile on my face when I returned said it all.
But like all things "demonstrated" by salespeople, this was a $90K Cadillac ultralight. Gorgeous and fun but not something even close to my budget. It did have some of the features I was looking for, such as high wing and comfortable seating.
One thing I did notice right away when we were taxiing to the runway and also on the departure. The Ikarus uses the Rotax 912 series of motor. This motor, although a 4 stroke, runs at a very high 5000 RPM. I know that it is geared to turn the prop at a much more realistic 2000 RPM. I caught myself several times during the flight wanting to throttle back as I'm accustomed to in certified powerplants (Lycomings and Continentals found in Cessnas and Pipers). To be honest, I didn't feel comfortable at the time (it felt like the engine was working way to hard) but I suppose it's something one might get used to.
Time until takeoff
Husband, father and 911 dispatcher. Long time pilot with a licence that burns a hole in my pocket where my student loan money used to be. First time aircraft builder. Looking to fly my own airplane.