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Since it’s founding in 1980, the FAI Microlight and Paramotor Commission (CIMA) has developed FAI Class R contests and records for the worldwide air sport community. FAI mainly provides the public with information on results, meeting minutes and the like. But those of us who have participated in CIMA activities know there are colorful and uplifting stories of people and events behind what is published.

Who remembers the infamous meeting in Rome or the “goose” championships or the first official scores for Kicking Sticks? Where was the first world microlight championships held in the southern hemisphere? What did it take to have gone the highest, fastest or longest in their respective FAI Class R record class? CIMA’s rich history should be captured for future generations to learn about the character and decisions of those who have pioneered the sport as well as those who have had special experiences to share.  

In 2013, CIMA created the position of Historian and asked me to take it. Reflecting back, taking over secretary duties from CIMA founder Ann Welch at the 1993 plenary in Poznan, Poland was my initiation to a long path of service to CIMA as commission bureau member and championships official. I am honored to take on this new role to help capture and preserve our history.

Much material has been collected over the years by competitors and the media on people and events. We will use this space to share some of that to preserve the spirit and heart of what makes participation in CIMA activities a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Tom Gunnarson, CIMA Historian

The Formative Years  (1978 - 1984)

The first indication of activity from the FAI archives was in a 20 December 1978 FAI notice of an upcoming International General Aviation Committee (CIAG) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland included an annex to the agenda titled “The ULTRALIGHT AND F.A.I.” Authored by Ann Welch, it provided background on a new and exciting air sport and expressed the need for FAI to become involved. The rest, as they say, is history.

 The introduction of small gas engines attached to hang gliders and lightweight fixed wing designs in the mid-1970s opened up the possibilities of sport and recreational flight to a new generation of enthusiasts. A short takeoff from a small field with sustained flight over the local countryside fulfilled many dreams of bird-like flight. Interest in this those early pioneering efforts quickly turned into an explosive growth of activity, with mass-produced microlights (also called “ultralights”) populating the skies. Public interest, and concern over noise, privacy and safety warranted the need for national advocacy organizations and new sections of National Aero Clubs to educate and advocate for this new segment of aviators.

 A few enlightened aviation personalities at the time could see the natural progression of the competitive spirit, from manufacturers vying for customers to adventuresome souls eager to test their new aircraft to the limits and against their peers. Two such people were Ann Welch, president of the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) and well established within FAI, and Paul Poberezny of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) who’s Oshkosh airshow was the largest civil aviation event on the planet. 

 Ann Welch was already a well-known and respected figure in the gliding and hang gliding scene. The first indication in the archives of her intent to formalize microlights under the FAI air sport framework comes from a 2 January 1981 FAI letter to National Aero Club presidents.  It details a decision at the 1980 General Conference in Auckland, New Zealand to “…set up a working group under the chairmanship of Mrs. A. Welch in order to study ways of bringing the rapidly growing microlight aircraft movement into the F.A.I.”

 In a letter dated 19 Nov 1981 to Robert Buck , FAI Director General Bertrand Larcher referred to a microlight committee meeting attended by Mr. Poberezny in which it was noted that, “…the Americans were rather reluctant to let the F.A.I take the lead.” Mr. Larcher asked Mr. Buck to informally reach out to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regarding microlight pilot certificates and the definition of a microlight. Thus began the saga of influence and intrigue in microlight regulation and its place in FAI’s pantheon of air sport activities.

The First Championships & Records (1985 - 1990)

The Age of Paramotors

Introduction of Light Sport

Recently Updated


Name Size Creator Creation Date Comment  
PDF File SKMBT_C45415110617071.pdf 893 kB Tom Gunnarson 03 Nov, 2019 01:58 Report by CIMA President to FAI General Conference 1985
JPEG File IMG_3313.JPG 605 kB Tom Gunnarson 22 Nov, 2019 11:15    
PDF File 1979 AGENDA - CIAG.pdf 3.05 MB Tom Gunnarson 02 Nov, 2020 01:15  
PDF File 1980 LTR - FAI Larcher.pdf 322 kB Tom Gunnarson 02 Nov, 2020 01:15  
PDF File 1981 LTR - FAI on ML definition.pdf 1.38 MB Tom Gunnarson 02 Nov, 2020 01:31  
PDF File 1981 LTR - FAI to Buck ICAO ML def.... 383 kB Tom Gunnarson 02 Nov, 2020 01:33  

Added by Richard Meredith-Hardy Last edited by Tom Gunnarson on 02 Nov, 2020 01:35. Quick links: or CIMA History home
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