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microlight history

The magic of flight

Microlight history

Sam’s history - Flying to Arnhem Land


Let's start the history with two facts I bet you didn't know...

First of all, with more than 3,000 of them on the register, microlights are the largest single group of light aviation aircraft in Australia. And second, believe it or not, flexwing (weight-shift) microlights like the one you'll be flying in, originated from NASA's manned space flight programme!  In the 1960s, when the USA was looking at ways of returning the first space shuttles safely to Earth, a NASA research scientist, 

Francis Rogallo, designed a collapsible delta wing which would deploy from within the hull of the shuttle after re-entry. 

Although NASA did not pursue his proposal, aviation enthusiasts in the USA saw the Rogallo wing's potential for leisure flying.  They developed his design into the first delta wing glider and the sport of hang gliding was born, spreading quickly worldwide.
Almost immediately, some of the Australia's early hang gliding pioneers tried various ways of attaching power units to their wings so they could take off without first having to climb to the top of a hill.  After all kinds of experimentation, the forerunners of the modern flexwing microlight took to the skies in the early 1970s. Since that time, wing and airframe/engine technology has moved on rapidly.

 Today's factory-manufactured microlights, powered by a choice of reliable two-stroke and four-stroke engines, are the result of years of design improvements within a framework of strict safety regulations administered by the CASA. 

In the last few years Australian-made microlights have found their way to many countries around  the globe winning number of competitions.

Despite their fragile appearance, modern microlight aircraft are incredibly strong and have one of the best safety records in leisure aviation.  With their large, high-lift wings, microlights simply glide safely to earth in the event of engine malfunction - these days, with high performance aircraft engines, a very rare occurrence!

Australian made Airborne microlights are considered to be one of the best on the world market. Manufacturer Airborne Windsports Pty Ltd is based at Redhead the suburb of Newcastle NSW. The factory as well as all build there aircraft conform to the CASA's stringent regulations for aircraft manufacture and testing (including structural load tests to forces of 6g - three times that of a jumbo jet!) and each aircraft must subsequently pass the inspection and flight test.

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