The BMAA 1998
Colin Bodill arrived in Darwin, Australia, 40 days after leaving the UK. He had to get to Sydney in less than 59 days to beat the record, which had stood since 1988 when Brian Milton had completed the journey in a Shadow. Colin beat the record, arriving in Sydney in 49 days, the quickest microlight time ever, and in a flexwing. Later in the year, Colin was asked to fly a display at Woodford Airshow, his display was seen by a delighted crowd of 80 000.
Image: Brian Cosgrove greets Colin Bodill on return from Australia.
At last the CAA released a draft of the 450 kg maximum all-up weight proposals for consultation.
Brian Milton and Keith Reynolds glean massive publicity for their planned Round the World in 80 Days attempt in a Quantum 912. The expedition involved a six-figure budget with complex back-up in place, very different to Colin Bodill's method. They leave Brooklands amidst a full media turn-out and cover 3293 miles in the first ten days.
Brian returned to Brooklands 117 days after leaving. He had been buzzed by a Syrian Mig-21, lost his co-pilot Keith Reynolds, flown over the Greenland ice cap at 12 000 feet, suffered several bureaucratic delays and found the whole project threatened when his sponsors, GT Global, were taken over by an American investment company.
Image: The GT Global Challenger
Flight tests in Microlight Flying are 'chalk-and-cheese' - Paul Dewhurst finds the Shadow D 'as fresh as a daisy and a hard act to beat' while Ed Cleasby found that the Mosquito PHG had put the fun back into his hang-gliding.
Later in the year, Ronnie Faux went to the Czech republic and flew three of their designs which may well fit the proposed new 450 kg regulations. All were composite constructions. Ronnie entitled his article 'I Have Seen the Future'.
Image: The TL-96 Star, has a composite construction, low-set wings and a trike undercarriage. One of the three Czech designs reviewed by Ronnie Faux.
Planning matters came again to the fore. There was uproar across the Association when a PFA committee member and solicitor, Peter Kember, acted for a local anti-microlight pressure group at the Bishop Farm Airstrip appeal. Despite the efforts of the BMAA's Planning Consultant, Brian Cosgrove, the appeal was lost and with it the site. However, Cheshire Microlight Centre had better news this year, they learnt that their planning appeal had been successful, giving them permanent permission for microlight flying at Arclid Hill Farm.
Tragedy struck Mainair again this year when their premises were destroyed by fire. Eight aircraft and several wings were destroyed in the blaze. Eileen Hudson announced that she was determined to start again.
The Trade Show again offered a glimpse of the potential of four-stroke engines. Pegasus showed an HKS powered Quantum, while the Hungarian's offered a Jabiru engined Bantam (the Bantaroo), and Medway adopted the same engine for its Raven Eclipse R.
Image: One of the novelties of this years show was this Thruster on floats. While Britain is an island and therefore has plenty of coast line, there are very few microlight pilots exploiting the possibilities of floats.