“ Microlight Aircraft „
A microlight aircraft?? Yes! The Ikarus C42 is classed as a microlight aircraft here in the UK and hundreds have been sold allowing pilots all over the world to enjoy the pleasure of flight at a very reasonable cost.
I started flying about five years ago at only fourteen years of age and the Ikarus C42 was the aircraft that I used throughout my training, clocking up around a hundred hours of flight time in the machine I feel quite confident in reviewing it and recommend others trying the aircraft themselves. These machines are used by microlight schools all over the country as they are very robust, fast and safe machines and are perfect for beginning pilots as they do not bite. Gone are the days of dangerous looking microlight machines and they're poor reputation which once hovered over the microlight community when the rules and regulations were hardly around. The 'BMAA' - British Microlight Aircraft Association has now taken on the task of making microlighting one of the safest sports with all of the rules, regulations and inspections that they have put in place.
Anyway back to the Ikarus C42 Flying Machine!
It is a two seater (Side by side) aircraft that looks very similar to a Cessna 152 aircraft, just smaller and lighter. It has a metal construction that is covered in fiberglass and high tech cloth to create the flying surfaces and its slick looks. It is usually fitted with an 80hp or 100hp Rotax engine that gives exceptional reliability and performance, the engine has been used for years and is known to be one of the best in the microlighting community.
The inside of the aircraft is nice, two seats side by side with seat padding that are very comfortable for long cross country flying. There is a stick in between the seats for controlling the aircraft in pitch and roll and can be used easily from both seats, there is also a throttle between each pilot's legs for engine control. The instrument panel or 'Dash' as some call it is filled with flying instruments, Air speed indicator, Altimeter, Compass etc..... Everything a pilot could possibly want to fly the machine safely and in balance. There are of course rudder pedals in each seat which are very handy I must say! I'm quite tall at 6ft3 and I can sit perfectly comfortably for many hours which does show the legroom available.
The aircraft is fitted with full doors with large windows creating a safe feeling machine and good visibility to look for other traffic / birds and other small items that you are very unlikely to hit.... It's a big sky up there! But you never know... Each occupant also has a full harness to keep safe in the event of a mishap.
***Flying the Ikarus***
Once all of the safety checks are done and the pilot is happy with the aircraft and his own ability, it's time to take to the skies! Taxying the Ikarus is very easily done and the front wheel is controlled using the rudder pedals, the suspension is quite hard on the Ikarus machines and it can be a little bumpy if you are taxying off a smooth surface but it absorbs most of the bumps and keeps the two occupants rather comfortable. The brakes are very easy to use and resemble a motorcycle type of break; the lever is on the control stick for ease of use, they are not fantastic but technically you shouldn't need to break much at all on landings.
Ready for takeoff! The aircraft being a microlight has excellent short field performance and can easily operate from a strip as short as 250 - 300 metres. Many owners of these planes often have the ability to take off from their own property if they own a small field.
I like to name my engines when I fly, I'm strange I know but when I used to fly the Ikarus my engines name was 'Bessie'. Rev Bessie to full power and off the Ikarus rolls, it is easy to keep this machine straight down the runways and it takes off in as little as fifty metres, progressively pull back on the control stick once you're at flying speed and you're up, up and away! Climbing at about a thousand feet per minute you can now admire the beautiful scenery of the country that you live in and show friends what they have been missing!
The aircraft is extremely stable and once you've climbed to a suitable height you can level off and trim the machine to fly itself. Fly itself Nick? Yep! You can take all hands off controls when flying and the aircraft will keep itself level allowing you to take pictures or whatever else. A lot of people who do not fly are often worried about the effect of wind on the aircraft, once in flight this is very unnoticeable and something that pilots get used to, the Ikarus can fly in winds without problem. I won't go into any flying speeds or wind speeds in this review as I will only bore you non - flyers. If you need any info just ask!
The normal cruise speed for these aircraft with two people up is usually a respectable 85MPH and this is a true touring microlight, it can go faster but obviously will use more fuel and cause unnecessary wear in the engine. I have travelled quite a bit in these machines, never too far as I could not afford to rent the machine longer than two hours but I could happily have travelled for hours seeing new sights and meeting new people. The aircraft holds from memory 60Litres of fuel and burns on average 15Litres an hour, this figure can go up or down depending who is flying and the conditions etc but it is run on normal petrol or Avgas, this meaning you can purchase your fuel from your favorite garage rather than spend more money at the airfield.
Landing the machine does take a bit of learning, the flight instructor will of course talk you through everything to consider and all of the techniques known to man so never worry! Once you've done it once, you'll do it again and again. My first few landings of this machine were a little bumpy and I believe one went off the runway but luckily the Ikarus is very strong and they were hardly felt, it's all part of the learning process.
***Storing the aircraft***
The Ikarus can be kept inside a hangar or outside under covers. Different airfields have different rates and some can be rather expensive. Due to these aircraft being so easy to fly from short strips it is often more affordable to find a friendly small airfield locally and keep it under covers, one of the options when purchasing this machine is wing fold. The wings will fold back and allow the pilot to store the machine in a normal garage or smaller hangar.
To fly an Ikarus C42 legally is probably easier than you think, being classed as a microlight aircraft you only need an NPPL Pilot license which requires 25 Hours of training. This includes 15 hours of dual instruction with an instructor followed by 10 hours of solo flying (On your own!) - This was the scariest part for me but after 10 minutes of flying alone I soon got used to it. There are also 7 multi choice exams that are done with an examiner throughout your training and a final flight test known as the GFT last. It took me three years to complete my training as I started so young; I had to scrape together the pennies to get it completed. Lesson prices vary per airfield but from memory I was paying around £95 per hour lesson and solo flying was a little bit cheaper. I did my training at Swansea airport - Gower Flight Centre is currently doing the full course and they are very helpful.
***Overall opinion on the Ikarus aircraft***
I thoroughly enjoyed my training and further flying with this aircraft and it never let me down, all of my friends that I managed to take up called it a 'Real Plane' as some people do not see microlights as true aircraft - Well they are! They are fantastic machines and I quite honestly would not consider flying anything else for a good few years, I bought myself an X'air Falcon aircraft shortly after I passed my flying test which I also love to bits (Review for that one coming shortly) and I much prefer it to my car, I hate driving..... It's so dangerous down on the ground.
Price on the Ikarus is roughly £39,000 for a used but well looked after example. You can get aircraft a lot cheaper that will do exactly the same thing - take you up in the sky safely and I do reckon the Ikarus is slightly over priced but as a learning aircraft it's fabulous. For a price example I only paid £9000 for my own aircraft which in all honesty is comfier than the Ikarus but it is not at all as speedy, gets me up safely though and I must say it's more fun.
See the Ikarus fly on youtube;
Type "Ikarus C42"
Or search for 'nickbrown60' and watch me flying my own little aircraft.
Thank you for reading.