|Ray is a professional small engine marine mechanic. He soloed in
the summer 1990 from the Deep River (ON) Airport in a Skyseeker II, an
open cockpit ultralight. Since then, Ray has accumulated over 9 years and
about 150 hours of flying experience aboard ultralight aircraft. He is
a member of UPAC, COPA, RAA and flies out of the Champlain Flying Club
in Cobden (ON).
Interestingly enough, Ray was first interested in aviation through ultralights. In the spring of 1986, after seeing a local ultralight flying around, he simply decided to go for an introduction flight. The experience was so great, Ray signed up for a course and eventually bought the same airplane he had first flown in.
Ray's interest in the Challenger dates from about the same period. Having joined the UPAC, he regularly read articles about the Challenger. In March 1993, he made a specific rendez-vous with a nearby Challenger owner and was very impressed with the flight and the machine. His final selection of the Challenger was based on the very high number of aircraft produced (1,500 at the time) with parts and information widely available. "With my previous ultralight, the company went out of business and, when I needed assistance, no one was around to help".
Describing his personal experience with the Challenger, Ray says: "I don't have a lot of experience yet, but so far, I am having a blast!". Comparing his ultralight experience with the Challenger, Ray replies: "Compared to the Skyseeker, the Challenger is much like a thoroughbred. When landing, it doesn't settle down right away and I call it a real floater".
Ray sums up his ultralight experience this way: "The ultralight is your starting point in aviation. It's grass-root aviation and it's real flying. Most people just want to fly around their home patch and ultralights are ideally suited for the task. Once you can master difficult handling conditions like wind and turbulence, you will be able to fly most anything and move on up".
Ray concludes by saying: "There is a big problem about ultralight instructors: there are so few of them. If we do not produce more instructors soon, I can foresee a real void in new pilots. There is also the problem of aging: at 30 years old, I am the youngest member in my flying club. The conversion of GA pilots to ultralights will soon run out. We have to think of planting new trees for the future or where will we be?"
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