The BMAA 1985

This year saw a new name enter the weight-shift world: Pegasus Systems. This new company absorbed Solar Wings and bought the rights to Ultrasports products, which included the Tripacer trike, one of the most popular single-seat weight-shift designs of its time.

Image: Ultrasport's Tripacer Trike seen here with a Solar Wings Typhoon wing.

This year's long-distance flights included a non-stop flight from Annaba, Algeria, to Monaco. This took place in August and was the first crossing of such endurance and distance to have been undertaken in a microlight. Andre Fournel and Pierre Barret made the flight in an Eipper MXLII, with refueling arranged 5 hours into the flight - by helicopter over the sea.In all, the flight covered 516 miles non-stop

Image: The helicopter flew side by side with the microlight, delivering 22 gallons of fuel in 8 minutes.

Despite the pressures of regulation, British pilots had a good year in 1985. Pete Davies achieved the first British Gold Calibri - at the time the only Gold to be awarded in the world. Britain also won the first microlight World Championships, which took place in southern France. This event was marred by difficult terrain and some challenging flying conditions, which led to the death, on the last day, of the leading German competitor: Joachim Krenz, as well as numerous other accidents.

In Australia, Rodney Birrell made history as the first ultralight pilot to officially carry the mail. To celebrate, 950 first day covers were carried on the flight, each signed by the pilot. The flight was made using a two-seat 3-axis King Cobra

The implications of Section S led to changes in the training machines used for 3-axis students. While some schools had used the Quicksilver MXII, by the end of 1985 it had not achieved type-acceptance.The Dragon had come to nothing, and the two-seat Scorpion was grounded for ever. The Shadow was seen by some as too fast for novice pilots.

An Australian machine, the Thruster, was put forward for approval by Ian Stokes. Since Australian companies were used to the requirements of approval systems, it was envisaged that the machines would be fully legal in time for the '86 season.

Brian Cosgrove was now Chief Executive Officer of the BMAA, with Peter Blyth as Chairman. Writing at the end of the year, the Chairman noted that the BMAA had got its house in order. It had moved from the brink of bankrupcy to point of stability. Microlight pilots were still getting used to the new regulations, especially with regard to airworthiness, but the culture was gradually shifting towards a more positive stance.