Back in the 70's after playing around with hang gliders for awhile ultralights attracted my attention. The Glider Rider publication started having stories about the Easy Riser and Quicksilver weight shift hang gliders. They were adding go cart engines to become the first ultralights. Many other manufactures were soon to follow. This quickly got my attention as 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 was quickly talked out of trying to fly the Easy Riser and purchased a damaged SR1 Hornet biplane ultralight to rebuild. Thus began the start of my aircraft building bug that I haven't been able to shake!
The Almont Flyers club disbanded and many of the members joined The Michigan Ultralight Association (MULA) as I did. I also wanted to expand my options by getting my private pilots license 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 when the Part 103 training exemption came out. I trained many pilots to fly in my Quicksilver and Rans S-12 ultralight trainers, always enjoying the look on there faces when they mastered another task.
The 103 exemption went away along with the ability to train new students in a two place ultralight.
The new affordable (???) way to fly and get training had arrived with the new Light Sport Aircraft and Sport Pilot's license. Other opportunities came with the Light Sport rules; receiving my Light Sport Repairman certificate, getting all of the Rotax ratings that I could, and becoming a Light Sport CFI. I then started Hayes Aero LLC.
I went to Rans Aircraft in Hays Kansas to see about building ELSA Rans S-19's. I purchased a kit and built the first Rans ELSA S-19. Thus becoming a Rans dealer and builder. The flight school at the airport I was working out of 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 SLSA 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. It didn't take long to see all of the attention that the Aerolite 103 was getting. After doing my research I discovered a reputable company (Aerolite 103, LLC) with a quality product. I contacted the manufacturer Dennis Carly about becoming a dealer. After purchasing a display trailer full of kits 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!
Hayes Aero LLCLLC
Michigan Ultralight Association
Unites States Ultralight Association
Aero Sports Connection
Aerolite 103 Facebook
Vertical Stabilizer Assembly
Rans Wing Assembly