a Pilot's Licence at the end of it. The course is a bit shorter: you need at least 20 hours of instruction for a Microlight Pilot Licence as opposed to a minimum of 40 for a light aircraft PPL.
That, coupled with the lower cost of tuition, brings a microlight pilot's licence within reach of people on modest incomes. Microlight lessons are typically around half price of PPL training. Less if you train on your own machine. And that, of course, is the other attraction of microlight flying.
You can buy a brand-new microlight for around $40,000 (or a bit more if you want one with the 80hp four-stroke engine. But you can also buy a safe, flyable second hand microlight for as little as $20,000. It will give you years of service, and the annual costs of servicing, parts and insurance are pretty much the same as running a second car. And those costs can be reduced if you service the engine yourself (yes, the CASA allows you to do this).
So why on earth would someone want to spend time and effort learning to dangle in the air underneath a kite with an engine on the back? Surely you have to be slightly deranged? The appeal is very hard to put into words. It's not about white-knuckle rides or adrenalin rushes or things like that. For me, it's about a profound sense of being in another dimension. I vividly recall my first flight in the back seat of a microlight. As we took off, once the first few seconds of sheer terror had passed, I could not believe what I was experiencing. Although I'd had a few lessons in a light aircraft some years before, this was something quite different.
The sense of freedom, of being afloat in three dimensions, was, quite simply, life-changing.
There are those who become microlight pilots because they love engines and gadgetry. There are lots of others who never lose that sense of awe and wonder which flying brings. A few weeks ago I flew with a trial flight passenger into a rainbow. Yes, into a rainbow. No, it doesn't vanish when you reach it in the air. Instead, it turns into a perfect circle of colours around you. Ahead of the rain shower, we flew back to the airfield within that ring of vibrant colours. And for those few minutes of the flight, both my passenger and I were completely lost for words. That's why I do this.