The BMAA 1983
British microlighting was in turmoil over the new regulations. Increasingly, the CAA was seen as all powerful and difficult to fight. Licensing was seen as having a negative effect on the sport. Few students were beginning training, and the sale of new machines was almost non-existent.
In the January edition of Flight Line, Peter Lovegrove wrote at length about his views on the situation. He was concerned that there seemed to be an increasing emphasis on performance and power. He felt that design developments were pushing up the weight of the craft, leading to a need for bigger engines. Peter called for a return to what he felt microlights were originally about: light, but adequately strong; slow, but pleasant to fly; inexpensive, but robust enough to survive considerable use; controllable, yet able to forgive incompetent or foolish pilots; structurally sound, yet able to be repaired quickly and cheaply; crashable, yet almost incapable of killing the pilot.
With reference to the regulatory framework, Peter wrote that 'we have no right to be surprised at the total intervention of the CAA.. we jolly well asked for it and, by heck, we are going to get it.' This article, of course, generated much correspondence over following issues of the magazine, both for and against the so called 'macro-lights',
Long-distance flights were making news in 1983. Len Gabriels wrote of his entry in the London - Paris race. This event included his second cross-Channel attempt. He and Gerry Breen were the only microlight pilots to have crossed the Channel twice by this time.
In March, the CAA Code of Airworthiness was published: Section S of the British Civil Airworthiness Requirements (BCAR). The BMAA set about devising a system for inspections and testing, putting in place the now familiar Permit to Fly procedures.
A British microlight pilot, Bob Calvert, broke his own altitude record for solo microlights on 19th February when he reached 19,000 ft (5,800 m). He also established a first attempt at a two-seater altitude record, reaching 12,800 ft (3,900 m).
New machines continued to make news. The Hornet Invader made the front cover of Flight Line. This machine was designed to afford some protection for the pilot from the elements.
Image: The Hornet Invader 440/Dual Striker. A side-by-side two-seat single-engined flexwing aircraft with weight shift control.
Another newcomer this year was the Tiger Cub. Reviewed in Flight Line as a 'rugged and appealing little machine' this was one of the stars of the Popham show. The first standard production machine was flown in July 1983.
Image: The Micro Biplane Aviation Tiger Cub. A single-seat, single-engine biplane with conventional 3-axis control.
Rotax was another now familiar name which made its first appearance in 1983. Prior to then a wide range of power units had been used across the industry. Rotax first introduced a range of three engines, one of which was used to replace the Cuyuna on the latest version of the popular Quicksilver from Eipper.
The Spectrum fixed-wing microlight was to become a popular trainer a few years down the line. It was in 1983 that John Hollings and Mike Campbell-Jones launched the company with the same name that was to develop it.
While 1983 was a poor year for the industry in the UK, at last the Spanish were to be able to begin to enjoy microlights as the national ban on them was lifted.
Steve Hunt, who we have already seen as a key player in the early days of microlights, developing his Pathfinder craft, died as a result of an accident during the French Grand Prix. Steve had also been heavily involved with the BMAA in its early days, taking on the role of Chairman. At the time of the accident, he was Chair of the Technical Committee.