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New Microlight World Records

Skinner
Karen Skinner (left)

Record
Record holders David and Pierre with their DTA Magic 912 trike

Two new microlight world records have been announced by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the organization that regulates world record attempts and championship competitions in aviation. On October 27, 2009, Karen Skinner of Spain flew her foot-launched powered paraglider 440.9 kilometers or 274 miles to earn the record for distance in a straight line without landing. The previous record set one month earlier in France was 269.6 kilometers or 167.5 miles, so Karen has raised the standard quite a lot. These records are in the feminine category. Karen also holds world records for maximum altitude (4,030 meters) and time to climb (3,000 meters).

The next announced record is for speed over a straight course of 15-25 kilometers in a weight-shift trike with two persons on board. Pilot David Beolet and Pierre Emmanuel Leclere demonstrated 161.2 kilometers/hour on a course in Montélimar, France, and became the first to set a record of slightly over 100 mph in their class. France has dominated this category since the first record was set in 1992. However, with the rapid advance of weight-shift trike technology, David and Pierre’s record is likely to soon be challenged, perhaps right here in the United States.

A perusal of the microlight records on the FAI website reveals a few exceptional examples that have yet to be exceeded and some good candidates for a challenge. The maximum altitude ever achieved by any class of microlight or ultralight is 9,720 meters or 31,889.8 feet, and it was accomplished in a single-seat weight-shift trike powered by a Rotax 447 engine. The maximum distance in a straight line by any microlight is 1,369 kilometers or 850.7 miles set in an Aviasud Engineering Albatros in 1988. For weight-shift trikes with two persons, the maximum straight line distance without landing is a paltry 589.3 kilometers or 366.2 miles. The current U.S. microlight world record holders are Howard M. Gish Jr. who flew his Six Chuter powered parachute to an altitude of 5,386 meters or 17,670.6 feet in Alaska and Jon Jacobs for distance in a straight line on limited fuel in a Mitchell Wing B-10 powered by a half VW engine. Jacobs flew 274.6 kilometers or 170.6 miles. The official U.S. sanctioning body for microlight record attempts is the United States Ultralight Association.

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