DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU PURCHASE A USED PPC (or Any Used Light Sport Aircraft)!!!
We all realize how exciting it is to be getting into a flying sport and how eager we are to obtain our license and get into the air. We also realize once we have that license we shall have to have an aircraft to fly since there are VERY FEW PPCs out there that can be rented. So, off we go to the web to find that perfect unit.- by perfect we - of course - mean low hours, not crashed, and as inexpensive as we can hope to find.
Unfortunately, many of the PPCs on the market today are not legal to fly. They are not registered with the FAA and cannot be unless they are registered as an "Exhibition Class" aircraft which carries with it some stark operating limitations. The sellers of these aircraft will tell you anything to sell their unit to you. Do not listen and perhaps better yet run as fast as you can away from these people!!!!!
They liked to brag when the FAA stated all two place ultralight type aircraft needed to be registered, that the government wasn't going to screw them. They weren't going to allow the government to interfere with their right to fly. However, now that they are trying to get out of the sport, they do not have any pause to screw the buyer and will tell them anything to get the unit sold. A VERY UNFORTUNATE way to be introduced to a great sport.
So, first, when looking to purchase a used aircraft, call a few flight schools and get their opinion about your possible purchase. Check to be sure the unit is "N" numbered and has a current airworthiness certificate - you can look it up on the FAA Aircraft Registry and get all the owner history. If it isn't registered and does not have an "N" number, don't waste your time or money.
Second, call an instructor in your region of the country. There may be unique flying needs that must be dealt with to safely fly in your part of the world. For instance, here in Colorado, we fly in density altitudes often times at or above 9,000 feet above sea level. That simply means this - IF DENSITY ALTITUDES ARE ABOVE 8,000 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL A ROTAX 582 WITH A 68 INCH PROP WILL BE FLOWN SOLO. Regardless of what a dealer or individual seller may tell you. Flying a unit powered like this can be done solo all year long, but if you are wanting to fly passengers, a 65 hp PPC will not lift them safely during our hot Summer evenings. You'll have to look at a 100 hp unit to do that. Remember, your particular region of the country may be a unique flying environment. Another example: if you are at sea level, a 65 hp unit will lift two people all year long. Check with those who train in your flight environment.
OK, what is the conclusion? There are lots of reputable instructors, pilots, (and sellers) out there who can help you determine what you need to fly and if the unit you are looking at is legal or not. Take time to find one of us and ask as many questions as you need to be sure you will not be wasting your money. We are always there to help.
As an instructor I often hear the rationale that: "I'll fly the PPC even though it is not legal with the FAA. I mean, they'll never find me flying over my 20,000 acre farm." That is probably 90% true, but, here is the problem. If you can go through the mental gymnastics to convince yourself that flying an illegal aircraft is alright, then you can use those same mental gymnastics to convince yourself somewhere down the road that it is OK to fly with that thunderstorm only 5 miles away, or that you can safely fly a passenger when the density altitude is above 9,000 feet because you are a terrific pilot.
Just avoid all the stress and do the right thing - purchase a safe - legal PPC and you'll never have to deal with this mess.