The BMAA 1989

With the start of the year came news that Britain has a new category of microlight - the powered parachute. This followed the type-approval of Powerchute Systems International's Raider.

In Australia, flexwing microlighting was still in its infancy. Flight Line reported that in Western Australia you could build and fly what you wanted, but there was still a ban on flying over 500 ft and houses were to be avoided. All flexwings in this area were homebuilts at the time, and were governed by the hang-glider authorities. In an area about 25 times the size of England there were only 8 flexwing aircraft in 1989.

A new microlight biplane became available to British pilots - The Murphy Aviation Renegade. This was one of the stars of the show at the Popham trade fair in Spring.

Image: The Renegade

In February this year the BMAA elected Dave Mudie to replace Peter Blyth as Chairman. Peter had been due to end his term of office the previous November after some 5 years, but had stayed on until the new Council had found its feet.

Dave Garrison completed a world microlighting first by making several take-offs and landings on HMS Illustrious, one of the Royal Navy's 'small' aircraft carriers, flying a Pegasus Q 462. This exercise in precision flying involved landing on a 'strip' barely wider than the Q's wingspan, lined with Sea Kings and Harriers and subject to the turbulence created by the bow wave.

Image: Waiting for the first take-off... and the take off!

After some years of development and a number of false starts, the Spectrum went into production in 1989. This brought to five the number of two-seat fixed-wing microlights to satisfy Section S.

Writing in Flight Line after the Popham trade fair, Jack Bishop states that the long gestation period for the Spectrum was worth the wait. The machine was welcomed as a delight to fly, and a credit to its developers.

Image: The Spectrum, a two-seat microlight with 3-axis, dual controls
and tandem seating.

By 1989, the Nationals were an established part of the microlight year. This was the first year however when a two-seat class was introduced.

The first all-new flexwing to be introduced since the Pegasus Q is launched in Flight Line during the summer. The Hornet ZA is to be produced by Skylink. This was the  first wing to exploit a new CAA definition which allowed for a higher all-up weight of 390 kg.

Image:The Hornet ZA, incorporating the first Skylink wing.

The first microlight crossing of the Atlantic took place this year, by Frenchman Andre Georges Laffite, piloting an Aviasud Mistral. This was not a straightforward crossing however, and Lafitte was forced by bad weather to crash land in Greenland on very poor terrain, being lucky to escape with his life.

Tragedy hit British microlighting this summer when John Hudson, director of Mainair is killed test flying the prototype Mainair Razor, which was to compete with the successful Pegasus Chaser.

Two teams took part in a record attempt for the non-stop circumnavigation of mainland Britain. This event was held to raise money for the Children's Society as well as to gain a place in the record books. The teams flew a Pegasus Q clockwise around the country, each team comprised a pilot and a fireman from the West Midlands brigade. The crews changed over at five of the locations en-route and the record was to be set by flying in daylight hours, in line with CAA regulations. The pilots were Simon Barker and Paul Dewhurst, both of Aerotech. The journey comprised 2700 miles in around 55 hours flying time over five and half days.

At the AGM in 1989, membership of the BMAA stood at 3 400. The success of the Association led to a decision to produce Flight Line in its current A4 format, enabling the editor, Norman Burr, much greater freedom in terms of layout and design. Colour would also be introduced to the magazine next year.

Awards this year included the Steve Hunt trophy for the most notable flight which went to Neil Hardiman for his Round Australia epic; the Ashley Doubtfire award for services to the sport went to Joy Austin and Gill Selwood of the BMAA's office; Brian Cosgrove's Unsung Hero award went to David Young, while John Hudson's widow Eileen presented Dick Clegg with the first ever Hudson trophy.

A new Colibri, the diamond, was introduced by Ann Welch, BMAA President. This would be awarded for outstanding flight.