The BMAA 1984

1983 had been a bad year for the industry. Manufacturers saw sales stagnate and the recruitment of new BMAA members fell well below predictions. The full impact of all the new regulations could not have been foreseen.

By the 1st January, all new microlights sold to the public had to have a Permit to Fly. By 1st July, all microlights over 70 kg had to have a Permit. The only remaining microlights which remained outside this system were therefore those which weighed less than 70 kg and, as we shall see, this exemption was not to last long.

The BMAA was forced to take stock, as a result of the lower than expected membership. The administration of the organisation was reviewed to reflect the situation, with the choice being to streamline operations rather than to substantially raise the subscription rates.  Ian Stokes was Chairman this year.

Brian Cosgrove took on the role of Secretary. Already well respected by the CAA, Brian brought with him much expertise which would drive forward the organisation.

Image: Brian Cosgrove.

By the end of the year, five companies had received airworthiness approval. However, only two had products approved - Mainair, with their Tri-Flyer and Gemini trike units, mated to Southdown's Sprint wing; and Southdown themselves with their Puma Sprint. The BMAA was now able to run the airworthiness scheme on the CAA's behalf and it was hoped that this would help speed up the process.

In the US, the threat of regulation was also taking its toll. The volatility of the market was noted in a report on Oshkosh '84, where many new models were shown and flown.

Back home, the first all Mainair weight-shift aircraft - the Gemini Flash - was reviewed. This was seen as a tremendously advanced machine in comparison with its predecessors. Its speed range was 30 mph - 70 mph, with an impressive climb rate and excellent handling. Mac Smith, Flight Line's reviewer, wrote:

"I am wondering whether we will ever need the 3-axis development with all its complexity. It now seems that the only advantage is that you need less muscle power to control it, but with weight-shift development going so fast, maybe that problem will be overcome in the near future."