How to build an ultralight aircraft

Written by jerry garner
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How to build an ultralight aircraft
Stick to the blueprints when building your own ultralight aircraft. (Aircraft image by Henryk Olszewski from

The use of ultralight aircraft has put personal aircraft within reach of the masses and opens new doors to more new pilots every year. Although they cannot travel as far as light aircraft, ultralights still have a major advantage, in that anyone can take to the controls. All you need to do is demonstrate to an instructor that you can control the aircraft on your own, and you'll be on your way. If you want to have your own, learn how to build an ultralight aircraft.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Building plans/blueprints
  • Materials (mandated by blueprints)
  • Basic tools

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  1. 1

    Learn the rules of piloting ultralight aircraft. Go for flights with instructor pilots and talk to them about the mechanics of flight and the rules that pilots must follow. Although this step is technically optional, it should the first step for anyone who is thinking about building an ultralight aircraft.

  2. 2

    Choose a design for your aircraft. Designs are available in aeroplane and helicopter styles. Airplanes are far more common and are recommended for beginners. You will notice that most of the plans are for a single-seat ultralight aircraft. There are two-seat models available, but those are instructor aircraft and are not allowed to be flown unless for the purpose of (licensed) instructional flight. You will find, however, that there are many plans available for you to choose from.

  3. 3

    Settle on a design and purchase the blueprints. These plans will tell you all of the materials required and will provide instructions for how to assemble the components of your ultralight aircraft. Most blueprints for ultralight aircraft range from £16 to £195, depending on how sophisticated your plans are. You might find an option to purchase an instructional VHS or DVD to help you understand the plans better.

  4. 4

    Find a suitable location for your workshop. Building an aircraft, even an ultralight aircraft, requires a fair amount of space. You could probably do a lot of the work in your garage, but by the time you are nearing the completion of your project, you will need to have found a space that is big enough for the fully assembled aircraft to fit. Hangars and barns are ideal locations, although you could also build a makeshift hangar.

  5. 5

    Assemble your materials. The blueprint should tell you every pipe, every component and even every screw that will be needed. Obtain every item on the list, checking twice to make sure nothing was missed. After you have obtained all of the materials that are required for your project, organise them in your workshop so that it will be easy to find what you need.

  6. 6

    Get your tools ready. You should be able to build most of the ultralight aircraft with just a basic set of tools--screwdrivers, wrenches, vice grips and perhaps a drill. The more extensive your tool collection, the easier it will be to build your aircraft. In fact, if you are in a well-equipped workshop, you may be able to fabricate some of the parts yourself instead of having to buy them.

  7. 7

    Build your ultralight aircraft. As long as you follow the instructions provided with the ultralight aircraft plans you bought, assembly should be a straightforward process. You can generally expect to build the frame first, followed by the engine, then the aircraft controls, and then finish up with tarps or other body elements.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not attempt to modify the blueprints for your ultralight aircraft. This is especially true if you are not an expert in ultralight aircraft design.

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