A Brief History of Microlighting
Microlight Aircraft started in the United Kingdom during the late 1970's , in the form of hang gliders with small engines attached. These evolved over the next few years into weight shift microlights, similar to, but more basic than, those we know today; with an undercarriage, three wheels and a seat for the pilot. Three axis microlights, the conventional looking aircraft with a tail and main wing were being developed at much the same time in the USA, and started to appear here a few years later.
At this time there were no design or licensing regulations, but, due to a few unfortunate incidents, it didn't take long for the authorities to take note. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stepped in during 1982 and the aircraft became regulated and a licensing system was borne, the 'Private Pilot Licence (PPL) A Group 'M' specifically for Microlight Pilots.
All microlights are now structurally tested and, of course, thoroughly flight tested and approved by the CAA before they can be produced and sold. Microlight aircraft 'permits to fly', instructors, examiners and pilot licensing are all now under the wing of the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) and the CAA. Modern microlights can now carry two people for 500 miles in comfort on a tank of fuel and are flown all over the world. The safety record for microlights is as good as any within the General Aviation field.
In the UK a microlight aircraft is now defined as 'an aircraft having a maximum all-up weight (including pilot, passenger and fuel) of no more than 450kg, and a stalling speed of no more than 65 kph'.