Welcome to the Future
By Dan Grunloh, Editor, Light Plane World
Hello and welcome to the first flight of EAA’s newest electronic newsletter, Light Plane World. If you are an ultralight pilot, light sport pilot, or enthusiast; you have come to the right place. We want to be about low-cost flying, minimal regulation, and fun. If you are an established pilot or builder from the ultralight or light sport area, you are in the right place. Our articles will offer practical advice you can use to get more out of your flying. If you are a veteran designer, pioneer, manufacturer, or professional, you are in the right place. We need your expertise to help keep us on track and to help us remember our history. Light Plane World will attempt to keep you informed about the latest trends in the industry.
The great ultralight explosion of the 1980s was a unique and wonderful time. Those of us lucky enough to have participated in it can be thankful we were present to witness the greatest revolution in the history of personal aviation. Simple personal flight at low cost was never accessible to ordinary people until that time. Ultralights triggered new growth in experimental amateur-built aircraft, and together they triggered the latest sport pilot revolution.
It’s natural to want to go back to the good old days when so many ultralights flew at the national fly-ins that the traffic pattern was referred to as “the swarm.” Unfortunately, time only marches forward. The ultralight revolution was caused by a convergence of forces. First, there was a strong demand for low-cost flying. Next, new technologies were brought into light aviation. Finally, it was the imagination of the early inventors like John Moody and many others who changed the aviation world.
Today we see a rising demand for low-cost flying, which is expected to continue. There are growing signs of new technologies coming up ahead. Not just on the drawing boards, but on actual flying aircraft. The use of newer materials like carbon fiber is on the rise. Electric-powered airplanes are already flying. There is an exciting trend toward more imagination and willingness to think “out of the box” as shown by new and unusual designs at the fly-ins. We have a history of sudden expansions into new areas triggered by a small technology jump combined with a new idea.
Thirty years ago you had to travel across the country to see an ultralight or to exchange information with a fellow inventor. It took many months for a new idea to spread through the community. Now it travels at the speed of an electron. That third element of change, the willingness to imagine something different, is enhanced by our new connectivity. A good example is the Oshkosh365 discussion groups. Take the time to check out our sample of links from the discussions already in progress. This is not your regular Internet because the people who post there are special folk. They are EAA members. No one can say what tomorrow will bring, but it’s definitely coming. Learn about it and participate. This is your newsletter, and we welcome your comments, ideas, articles, photos, videos, chapter events, and more at LightPlaneWorld@eaa.org. As we hope you will welcome this newsletter into the community, we welcome you to Light Plane World.