Q: How do I know the UL/LSA I'm buying is worth the money and is safe, and in good condition?
A: Tough question! (Be sure to read the detailed answer; there's a lot of money at stake!) Buying an LSA is more like buying a General Aviation (GA) aircraft, like a Cessna. Buying an ultralight is a bit different, partly because they are (usually) far less money, but also there's less to go wrong, more you can see, but no certifications.
So, simply put, before buying an ultralight, find someone that owns one or has owned several, someone you trust, someone who likes to get their hands dirty and fixes their own engines and such. They would be an excellent ally in buying an ultralight and not getting ripped off. But there's so much more, so read the details.
To buy an S-LSA, well, they are just smaller version of Cessna's and Piper's and so forth, and there will probably be one or more dealers you can visit and talk to, and the experience will be similar to buying an expensive car.
Buying an E-LSA falls somewhere between the two. There may or may not be dealers, but there will usually be a kit manufacturer that you can talk to and get advice from. Finding someone that owns the same model you're interested in would be of paramount importance.
Always make sure the aircraft will fly before you buy it. (This isn't a problem with S-LSAs, as a rule.) I always want to see an aircraft fly before I buy it, and I've yet to get a bad apple.
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