The BMAA 1990

The first Flight Line of the year includes a story of two brothers who set about rescuing a third from Eastern Germany by microlight. The two already in western Europe had each escaped over the Berlin wall in 1974 and 1981. Two microlights were involved: the brothers knew that if one aircraft failed on landing, the other would be able to get all three of them back.

The same issue of Flight Line includes a review of a new 3-axis import: the Rans Coyote 54/55. These are single-seat high-wing monoplanes, imported from the US in kit form and certified through the PFA.

Image: The nose wheel version of the Rans Coyote, imported from the US by Sport Air Ltd.

The March April edition of Flight Line is the first of the new format: A4 size and with full colour for some sections. Sadly, one of the long-standing features of the magazine up to this point, the Beef Heftytoo cartoons, appears for the last time. Beef Heftytoo had been a microlight pilot since the beginning of microlighting in the UK. He made his last appearance in 1990. The text in the above cartoon reads:
 "We'd been discussing (over a few pints) the rate of progress in our reinvention of the aeroplane... ...and I suppose I got carried away".

The Popham trade fair this year was remarkable because of the weather. While the annual event is often dogged by the British climate, this time the organisers had struck lucky with the sun shining to greet visitors. Key flexwings remained the Pegasus XL and Q; the Raven 447 Sprint and the Mainair Flash 2. Mainair also announced the relaunch of the Flash 1. On the fixed-wing front, the Renegade was attracting a lot of attention, as was the Spectrum, which at the time was less common a sight than its rival the Thruster, but still well received.

A flight test was published for the Chevron, a fixed wing microlight produced by AMF and designed by Angus Fleming. This side-by-side two-seater mid-wing monoplane has conventional 3-axis controls. While more expensive than many microlights, it was said to be great fun to fly, and its quiet performance meant it was unlikely to be a nuisance to the neighbours.

Dave Cook took the challenge of beating Bob Calvert's long standing UK altitude record of 19 000 ft. Using his Shadow, he attained an altitude of 23 621 ft above sea level.

While the Mainair Gemini Flash 2 Alpha had been in production for a while, it was in summer 1990 that Flight Line produced a flight test for this machine. The aircraft was viewed as a well-balanced cross-country machine, much more sophisticated than earlier trikes.The Gemini Flash 2 Alpha is a tandem two seat flexwing with weightshift control, fitted with a Rotax 462 engine.

The Shadow, a microlight which has continually played an important role in the history of the sport, became the first British design to be licensed for production in the US. Meanwhile, in the UK, there is less good news from Hornet Microlights. Having expanded rapidly in the hope of securing military contracts which failed to materialise, the company, one of the oldest in the industry, ceased trading. It was envisaged that this would be a temporary matter and plans were in place to sell remaining machines and to support those already flying.

1990 saw the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. In tribute to those that took part in the original event, a charity rally was organised for September 1st. This involved flying anti-clockwise around the M25, locating and identifying a number of sites which had been 'targetted for possible enemy action'. 13 microlights took part, including two guest teams from Belgium. The event attained good coverage in the press and on TV, and raised plenty of cash for charity.

The really big event of the year was the World Championships, which took place in Hungary. After its victory in the European championships two years previously, the British team was always favourite for both the individual and team events in Hungary, though in the end the team award was difficult to predict as the French had also flown very well. Eight British pilots comprised the winning team, with Richard Meredith-Hardy winning the Classic Weight Shift Class in his Aerial Arts Chaser.

Image: Richard Meredith-Hardy

Steve Slade and Eddie Clapham read in Flight Line of the Icarus Adventure, a flight from Kiev to Odessa. This was to be the Soviet Union's first-ever international microlight event, and the two found temptation just too strong to resist. Their MW6 was transported safely to Kiev, and quickly became the first western microlight to fly in the USSR. The flight comprised 10 western machines and 27 Soviet microlights. The latter were all flexwings, used for crop spraying as well as leisure flying. Winners declared at the end of the event enabled every participating nation to walk away with an award. The British won their class for two-seat, three-axis machines.

The BMAA itself hits problems at the end of the year. Council members stand for re-election every three years, and this year one of those standing was David Mudie, the then Chairman. As David failed to become re-elected, being beaten by one vote on a turn out of 3.5%, the Council was left without a Chairman and calls were made for a different voting system for future years.