SSDR regulations permit owners to build and fly their own aircraft. It's introduction enabled enthusiasts to recapture the pioneer spirit of flight as owners were allowed to source components in a free market and assemble an aircraft encorporating their own spirit.

For me, it meant getting back to the origins of microlights - a cheap, fun hobby for when the weather is right.

I have been a microlight pilot for some years and previously flew a Quantum 582. It was a nice aircraft but is, by today's standards, a little thirsty. A point emphasised by the sub 10-litres per hour consumption of many 4-stroke microlights now on the market and exasperated by the seemingly ever increasing cost of fuel.

I saw the introduction of SSDR as an opportunity to fly something light and economic. Something to use to "flutter around in, on a summer's evening". As an "arial tourist", speed was not as important as comfort, economy and visibility.

The Exxtacy wing

Starting from the wing, I appreciated early on that rigid-wing gliders had dramatically changed the sport of hang-gliding, leaving the traditional Rogallo design delta wings standing. They offered glide ratios as high as 20:1 where conventional delta flex-wings achieve only 12:1, a traditional microlight perhaps only 7:1

The wing I chose was an Exxtacy 160 made by Flight Design in Germany. Seen here before being branded with it's UK registration.

It was not the youngest of wings, but available, affordable and rated at 160Kg MTOW it would do very nicely.

The trke in Provence, having new battery fitted by Andre, it's previous owner

The trike choice was largely a matter of luck. I spent a great many hours researching and learnt of numerous interesting lightweight units including The Skycycle, Trikosaurus, DragonFly and Flycastelluccio's Trike Delta.

I had nearly settled on the Flycastelluccio product when the owner of the Exxtacy wing I was about to buy lent me a copy of the World Directory of Leisure Aviation. Looking through, my eye was caught by Michael Gaiguant's Alize and seeing that the UK agent was local to me I picked up the phone without delay.

His demonstrator trike was a delight. Fitted with a Corsair Black Magic engine, it looked beautifully engineered and so light I could lift it with one hand.

Author trying the trike for size

My hunt for an Alise trike took me to Provence in Southern France, a round trip of 1,400 miles, to buy an Alize Trike with Fuji 16 wing.

The photo above shows Andre, it's previous owner, fitting a new battery.

On the left: the author trying out the trike for size.

I never did get to fly the Alize with it's Fuji wing. It would have been interesting to compare it's performance with the Exxtacy.