Top 10 Most Popular Ultralight Aircraft

The Ultralight aircraft that are specially designed for recreation usage and short-distance flight are among the popular variants in the lightweight segment. These beautiful, lightweight master crafts offer fun and value to the aviation enthusiast; the ultralight aircraft falls under the FAA’s ‘Part 103’ rules which have mandatory requirements like aircraft weighing less than 155 pounds, to be used for recreation or sports purposes only, single occupant, and without any flying certifications.

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The ultralight aircraft are unregulated and don’t require pilots a flying license to operate them; even the pilots/owners can build this lightweight aircraft using kits at their own premises. But, these lightweight air vessels can only fly in uncontrolled airspace and unpopulated areas. These aircraft are reminiscent of the early days of the aviation industry, where the pilots self-designed and built the different ultralight models to test the sky touching expedition. Not only the ultralight aircraft are affordable and exciting, but the owners who can build them from the kit can genuinely feel the accomplishment and excitement that the forefather of the aviation industry felt when they succeeded in making their ideal designs.

In the present time, the pinnacle of the aviation sector, there are tons of ultralight aircraft with different brands and models. So, in order to get your adventure in ultralight flying, we have made the list of top 10 most popular ultralight aircraft worthy of consideration. 

1. Earthstar Thunder Gull 2000

The Earthstar Thunder Gull 200 falls under the single-seating ultralight aircraft category; its design was introduced for the first time in the 1970s and has been a successful ultralight aircraft that has made a name for itself in its segment.

Thunder Gull 2000 is powered by the Hirth F33 engines, which is one of the best ultralight engines that reduces vibration sometimes felt by the pilots while flying, making the Gull 200 adventure a smooth and fun ride. The aircraft can cruise at the max speed of 63 mph with a stall speed of 27 mph. Pilots can easily take off with this aircraft from a 125 ft runway and need a landing distance of 75 ft; the Earthstar aircraft has a max gross weight of 550 pounds and an empty weight of 248 pounds. Thunder Gull 2000’s kit comes with a complete jig-welded roll cafe, seatbelts including the full cabin windscreen, and is customizable for maximum versatility.

2. Jordan Lake Air-Bike LS 103

The design of the Jordan Lake Air-Bike LS is the exact model designed by Wayne Ison in 1995. The Jordan aircraft is light and sturdy; it is accessible to built and cost-efficient aircraft that is a complete blast when it comes to sky adventures. Owners can have a pick from the folding wings, brakes, wheel pants, and fiberglass wingtips that are optional while purchasing the Jordan Air-Bike. The air-bike has a simple airframe that consists of a tubular steel frame and wooden wings and is available as plans and unfinished part kits.

The narrow fuselage of the Jordan Air-Bike LS is designed with the rudder pedals outside the aircraft giving the true feeling of enjoying the joyride of air-bike. The Jordan LS 103 is powered by the Rotax/Hirth 40-50 hp engines; it can take off from 150 ft runaway and need a landing space of 200 ft. The Air-Bike 103 has a max gross weight capacity of 525 pounds and cruises at the speed of 60 mph. The build time of the Jordan Air-Bike LS 103 has been estimated to be around 250 hours.

3. Kolb Firestar

The Kolb Firstar is another highly versatile aircraft in the single-seat ultralight aircraft segment. The ultralight Firestar aircraft has been one of Kob’s classic designs that have been continuously in production since 1985. The lightweight aircraft with generous wing area and large-diameter propeller simply outperform other ultralight aircraft in the segment; its powerful, flexible performance combined with the excellent propeller ground clearance allows the aircraft to operate from many types of improved fields.

Kolb Firestar Photo by William Varnes

The Kolb aircraft operates with the Hirth 3202(standard), Rotax 503, or Rotax 447(optional) engines, with a fuel capacity of 5 or 10 gals. Firestar can give the max cruise speed of 80 mph and a stall speed of 27 mph. The ultralight aircraft need a landing distance of 150 ft and can take off from the runway of 100-200 ft area, and it takes around 350-400 hours to assemble this beautiful aircraft. 

Kolbe Firestar is built with solid and durable aluminum and steel airframe structures; its core part is made from solid factory welded 4130 chrome-moly steel and 4130 plates of steel in high-stress areas. On its handlings aspects, the Firestar aircraft utilizes the traditional cable and push-pull tube controls that give perfect flexible handling to the pilots.

4.  CGS Hawk Arrow II

The Hawk Arrow II is the CGS’s two-seater version of Arrow Ultralight SLSA, ELSA, and AULA class. The aircraft’s long streamlines cockpit area has a flat floor and a low sloping windshield that gives an unobstructed view of the advancing course. Its large vertical tail balances the long nose and yield outstanding stability making it easy for the pilots to navigate.  The Hawk Arrow II also has a semi-symmetrical airfoil, streamlined extruded aluminum, and incorporates a curved front spar carry-through that amplifies the headroom making it comfortable for even taller pilots. 

CGS Hawk Arrow II; Photo by Pesawat Terbang Mania

The CGS aircraft’s narrow fuselage allows better inflow to the pusher propellers with reduced drag, and as the rear-seat passengers sit on the center of gravity of the ultralight aircraft t doesn’t make any difference if one passenger is added to the sky adventure. Hawk Arrow II has a gross weight of 1,100 lbs; it is powered by Rotax 582 engines and gives the maximum cruise speed between 55-80 mph. 

5. Quicksilver MX II Sprint

The ensign of Quicksilver MX II Sprint was inspired by the idea of a new pilot in mind; it is one of the easiest two-seater ultralights to assemble and learn to fly. The ultralight aircraft has been an ideal choice for recreational fliers and flight schools; MX Sprint’s high lift, single-surface wings give it a unique take-off advantage and outstanding handling even at very low flight speeds.

Quicksilver MX II Sprint used the Rotax 582 engines with a fuel capacity of 6 gals; it can take off from a short distance of just 79 ft and requires a landing area of 75 ft. The Quicksilver aircraft has an overall length of 18’ ½”, a wingspan area of 32.7”, and a wing area of 180 sq. ft.  MX II Sprint can travel at a maximum speed of 64 mph and has a stall speed of 27 mph. 

6. Kolb Twinstart Mark III

The Twinstar Mark II is one of the most popular products of the Kolb family. The design of this ultralight aircraft is based on the Mark III Classic with some aerodynamics enhancements to generate a 10-15 mph additional speed. The sturdy steel and aluminum framework, the removable doors/windows, including the folding wings and tail feature make the aircraft a complete package. Twinstar Mark II has a generous wing area, big flaps, ailerons, and powerful performing engines that make the short taking-off and landing operation possible. 

The Kolb ultralight aircraft can be powered by different varieties of engines, from the Rotax 503(52 hp) to the Rotax 912S(100 hp) or Jabiru 2200. Mark III also comes with the significant trait that the Kolb aircraft are known for, better visibility; the ultralight aircraft has 360 visibility from the cabin and a gap seal between wings over the cabin, which is Lexan. Twinstar Mark III can operate at the maximum speed of 80 mph with a stall speed of 41 mph; it has a gross weight of 1,100 lbs and can be built in approx 230 hours with the factory quickly built.

7. Aeromarine Merlin Lite

The Aeromarine Merlin Lite is the modified version of the Merlin and a new entrant into the ultralight segment. This ultralight aircraft comes with a roomy  6’6″  pilot cockpit, and racing padded 3-point seatbelts. The new longs wings of the aircraft bring the speed of the Merlin Lite below 24 knots which is the required limit of the FAA Part 103 rule, the cantilevered wings with high aspect ratio wings have an L/D ratio suitable for the motor-gliding or efficient flight under electric power.

Merlin Lite is decorated with features like temper foam sears, twin window vents, bubble windows, a huge baggage area, an armrest, and quality customers. Also, the BRS 500 full aircraft rescue system and twin hydraulic brakes with tundra tires optimize the performance of this crafty aircraft. The Aeromarine aircraft is powered by the Polini 250 DS 2 Stroke engines; it has a stall speed of 27 mph and an empty weight of 275 pounds. 

8. North Wing Maverick 2 RT

The North Wing\s Maverick 2 RT ultralight aircraft show the ingenuity of ultralight builders; the aircraft uses an existing airfoil that’s readily available, the hang gliding wing. The design of the trike and wing of this ultralight aircraft 2 RT has been enhanced to add features that enhance the flight performance, improve sett-up convenience, including storage space and many more; the strikers are generally available in two options, Maverick 2 RT(no fairing) and Maverick 2 Legend(streamlined fairing).

The aircraft’s frame has been extended to maximize the storage capacity behind the pilot, enable additional fuel storage and camping equipment, or anything within the weight capacity. Maverick 2 RT weighs 254 lbs with a gross weight of 600 lbs, powered by the Kawasaki 440, 40 hp engines; the ultralight aircraft has a climb rate of 700 fpm and stall speed of 25 mph.

9. Aerolite 103

Unlike other ultralight aircraft that need assembly hours, the Aerolite 103 comes completely assembled from the U-Fly-IT based in DeLand, Florida. For the aviation enthusiasts who want to build the aircraft themselves, the quick-built kit of the Aerolite aircraft can be completed in less than 50 hours. Each of the factory-built airframes of the aircraft offers a choice of colors to the clients and engine options, including the Rotax 44, Rotax 503, Kawasaki 440, Hirth F23, and others. The Aerolite 103 is equipped with the reduction driver, 2 Blade Tennesse Propeller, basic flight and engine instruments, electric flaps, shock-absorbing main gear, steerable nose wheel, a 5-gallon aluminum fuel tank, and many more.

Aerolite 103 has an attractive finish with high-winged external struts and tubular framed fuselage structure. The ultralight aircraft has a max gross weight of 600 pounds, taking off from a distance of 100-200 ft and similar landing field requirements; Aerolite 103 has a maximum cruise speed of 45-63 mph and a stall speed of 26-28 mph.

10. Pterodactyl Ascender 

Ever since the Pterodactyl Ascender was introduced in the late 1970s, ultralight aircraft has become one of the most beloved aircraft in the segment. After taking part in the Oshkosh Air Show in 1979, the aircraft beams a massive hit and sold over 1,400 kits by 1984. The hander glider style design features a weight-shift pitch control and tip-rudders for yaw and roll control. Among the several designs over the years, the latest version Ascender differs from the earlier Pterodactyl; the Ascender aircraft gives the impression of larger aircraft because of its high wings and larger wheels.

The construction of the Pterodactyl Ascender consists of aluminum tubing, stainless steel cables, and a Dacron sailcloth that covers the wings and winglets. The ultralight aircraft has an empty weight of 125 pounds and a max gross weight of 350 pounds. Powered by the Xenoag 242 two-stroke engines(16 hp), Ascender can give a maximum cruise speed of 45 mph and a stall speed of 17 mph. 

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