Mid-flight and looking good.
Beautiful landing by Ben.
The best way to see the Hunter Valley is in a microlight. It’s a two-seater ultralight controlled like a hang glider and is one of the world’s smallest aircrafts.
A microlight is a two-seater ultralight, but unlike conventional aircrafts it has no cables or rudders. It is controlled the same way a hang glider is controlled. It is one of the world’s smallest aircrafts, with a fibreglass cockpit that acts like a windscreen, as well as holding the instruments, radio and GPS. You sit upright and are powered by the wings as well as a motor.
A microlight is a cross between a tricycle, a hang glider, an aeroplane and a helicopter. They fly as high as a small plane and on still days can travel 300 kilometres on one tank of fuel. They are safe because if you do happen to lose the motor, you just glide in. Because they are considered an aircraft they have to undergo Civil Aviation Authority safety tests.
Rob Hibberd’s company AirBorne Australia is the only manufacturer of weightshift microlights in Australia. They make about 10 each month, which are mainly used for fun. They also have a serious purpose, used to track elephants in Africa to help in their conservation. And in Canada they have helped endangered migratory birds re-establish their winter patterns and head to warmer parts.
In some countries microlights are used as crop-dusters, but that use is illegal in Australia.
Motorbike riders are among AirBorne’s biggest customers, as the feeling is like being on an airborne motorbike.
There are no small windows and no wings to block your line of sight, so views are completely unimpaired. You feel the breeze on your face and have a feeling of complete freedom flying over the Hunter Valley, Hunter River, vineyards and mountain ranges at 55 knots.
It is illegal to take people on microlight joyflights in Australia, but you are able to have a trial instructional flight. You are briefed and learn how to control the plane. If you choose to take a formal lesson you swap seats with the pilot, who has controls in the back seat. You take over at 150 metres and the instructor talks you through the controls. With a little help landing, most people are amazed at how easy these little aircraft are to handle.
It takes around 15-25 hours of lessons and flying time to be eligible for a license.
Rutherford Aerodrome, three-and-a-half hours north-west of Sydney.
AirBorne Australia trial instructional flights cost $85 for 30 minutes and $130 per hour for additional lessons.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
AirBorne Australia: Ph: (02) 4944 9199
Fax: (02) 4944 9395
Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13
Best Western: Ph: 131 779www.bestwestern.com.au