One of our Chapter 77 members, Rick Hayes, has been involved in the "LS" - "UL" movement for a long time and currently serves as an advisor to EAA National's Committee for "Light Sport" and "Ultra Light" aircraft. Here is his story:
“Back in the ’70s after playing around with hang gliders, powered ultralights attracted my attention. I saw it as an affordable way to get into aviation with my minimum wage salary as an EMT. Reading all that I could find about ultralights and watching the classified ads, I found an Easy Riser ultralight with a 10-hp engine for sale nearby. I purchased the ultralight and started looking for some advice on how to fly it. I found a local ultralight club at Almont Airport, the Almont Flyers, and joined the group. I also purchased a damaged SR-1 Hornet biplane ultralight to rebuild. Thus began the start of my aircraft-building bug that I haven’t been able to shake! I also wanted to expand my options by getting my private pilot certificate, which I did at Big Beaver Airport in Troy, Michigan. Making many new friends and attending local and national ultralight fly-ins was a lot of fun in my low and slow ultralights. After owning, building, and repairing many ultralights, I became a Basic Flight Instructor (BFI) for ultralights under the Part 103 training exemption. I trained many pilots to fly in my Quicksilver and Rans S-12 ultralight trainers, always enjoying the looks on their faces when they mastered another task. Other opportunities came with the light-sport rules: receiving my light-sport repairman certificate, getting all of the Rotax ratings I could, and becoming a light-sport CFI. I then started Hayes Aero LLC, becoming a Rans Aircraft dealer and builder. The local flight school had two of my Rans trainers in it, a Rans S-6 and S-7. Students and instructors were looking for something with a little more general aviation look to train in. With that in mind, I purchased a Sling 2 from The Airplane Factory. Along with two of the instructors, we started Midwest Sky Sports. The business took off quickly! We were soon building special light-sport aircraft and doing builder assist. Looking to slow down and spend more time with family and grandkids, I sold my portion of the business to my partners. The comeback of interest in affordable ultralights reignited my passion for the experience of the low and slow flight. After doing research, I discovered a reputable company, Aerolite 103 LLC, with a quality product. I purchased a display trailer full of kits, and I am now an Aerolite 103 dealer. Coming back to my aviation roots, I look forward to being a part of the comeback and interest of affordable, fun, low and slow flying of ultralight aircraft!