Flying more popular asa hobby

The number of small so-called ultra-light aircraft has doubled in the Netherlands in the last ten years. Hot air ballooning and gliding have also become more popular pursuits in this period.

Increase in ultra-lights

Balloons and gliders

At the end of 1992, 177 ultra-light aircraft were registered in the Dutch air traffic register, in December 2002 this had risen to 357. The number of hot air balloons rose from 189 in 1992 to 416 in 2002.

Increase in hot air balloons

The number of gliders rose from 587 (1992) to 740 (2002), of which 127 had an auxiliary engine. Ninety-eight of these have an engine that is powerful enough for them to take off independently. As there is no complete registration of flights with ultra-lights, balloons and gliders, it is not possible to establish how much more people are flying compared with ten years ago.

Increase in gliders

Most gliders in Gelderland and Brabant

The geographical distribution of the owners of engineless gliders is quite remarkable. More than half of these aircraft are registered in only three provinces: Gelderland (117), North Brabant (115) and North Holland (109). There are hardly any gliders in Friesland and Zeeland.

Recreational licences

Air traffic is subject to strict regulations. Pilots must have the right licence to fly certain types of aircraft. According to the air traffic inspectorate 2,450 people in the Netherlands had a recreational licence to fly a glider. Slightly more pilots (2,470) are licensed to fly a winged aircraft.


Pilots with a private pilot licence are also allowed to fly with instruments enabling them to fly at night and in fog, other recreational pilots are only allowed to fly in good weather. Just over 5,100 pilots have such a licence. 246 people in the Netherlands are licensed to fly a hot air balloon. Only two people have recreational licence for helicopter.

Ed. van Gelder