Naked Trike Flying??

Sun, Nov 20 2016 11:19am CST 1
james williams
james williams
11 Posts

Just kidding.. I figured that topic would be more interesting than "noob wants to know".

Hello. My name is James and I live on a ranch outside of Penrose Colorado. I was in Puerto Penasco Mexico 25 years ago when the coolest thing came out of the sky and landed on the beach. Well 45 bucks for a 20 min ride and I was hooked on trikes. I planned on lessons and a purchase as soon as I returned, but life got in the way. So here I am 25 years later ready to go for it.

Help questions:

Training? Should I go to a school and knock it out in a 2 week course, or take 2 hour lessons once a week until done?

Trike? I plan on a off road, open trike (navajo etc) but was wondering about engine size. Im at 6000 feet and arid climate. I plan on building a pole barn hanger that leads to a 450 foot strip. Yes 450. Im I nuts? With this in mind should I be looking at big engines and large wings? Im good with low n slow.

Thank you all. P.S. Im not thin skinned so if im unrealistic in my endever feel free to hammer away.

Sun, Nov 20 2016 08:53pm CST 2
Bill Chance
Bill Chance
19 Posts
I have no high altitude experience, but Geez James, at 6000 feet on a hot day you'll have run by Estes and pick up a dozen or more of the biggest motors they make, strap em on and hope for the best. :) What are approaches / obstacles like at the runway ends. Taking off in 450' is one thing, getting back down and stopped in 450' is another.

How far are you from the Canon City strip?
Mon, Nov 21 2016 03:44am CST 3
Job Chithalan
Job Chithalan
14 Posts
If you have trees and other obstacles such as pylons within a few hundred feet of either end of your 450' strip, usable distance length will be much less.
Even with a 912 engine, landing distances specified for the Navajo is much longer than 450 feet, at sea level.
Then you need to add for the altitude and safety margin for landing in adverse wind condtions.

There are single seater trikes with take off roll of 100 feet and 1000+ fpm climb rates, but do not know if Part 103 trikes in the US are capable of that.

Whatever you do, make sure to get training to solo standard with a good CFI.
He should also be able to advice you on the best trike (if any) that would suit you and the 450' strip.
Mon, Nov 21 2016 07:53pm CST 4
Joe Hockman
Joe Hockman
43 Posts
James, I will offer my opinions. I have limited experience flying out of high altitude strips but I fully understand the impacts of density altitude on what is realistic with trike flight. There are many variables that can impact whether an "experienced" trike pilot will be able to safely and consistently operate out of 450' strip at 6000' msl. Best chances will be with a high power to total weight ratio (both engine weight and total trike weight), large high lift wing with low total wing loading, on a strip with no (or very few) obstacles at either end. So for the NW Navajo (one you mentioned) I would think the largest single surface Mustang 17M or even 20M would be best choice. Depending on your weight and interest/requirement for 2 seats, you may also be able to configure a Maverick trike with a 503 or 582 to meet your need. I think I would recommend against a high powered heavy trike with a small blade wing because I doubt one would be able to consistently land and stop on a short strip with that much weight and inertia. Even with a lighter trike, you will have to have excellent brakes for such a short strip. Notice I said "experienced" above. I would never recommend you (or any one else just learning) attempt to fly out of a 450' strip @ 6000' until you had plenty of hours experience flying your trike and were intimately familiar with what you and your trike can do on a much longer strip. I believe Tracy Tomlinson (I think out of Colorado Springs area) may be your closest trike CFI. I'd recommend you give him a call and chat with him about your interests. all the best, Joe
Mon, Nov 21 2016 10:39pm CST 5
Job Chithalan
Job Chithalan
14 Posts
Good advice by Joe.
Your local CFI may also do some touch and go's to checkout your strip.

Sky Cycle range of trikes by Mike Theeke is worth considering.
One model is with the Maverick 3 Wing, 14.9 meter, 157 square feet, and Rotax 447 engine.
5 Sec take off. ROC 800 -1000 fpm
youtube.com/watch?v=2p69loNo57o
There are other options with different wings and more powerful engines.
Trikes have brakes.
Mike Theeke is a highly experienced instructor and very safety conscious.
He won't sell you a trike until he is satisfied with your flying.

Tue, Nov 22 2016 09:31am CST 6
james williams
james williams
11 Posts

Thanks Bill. The Estes rockets might just be the ticket for take off, now if i can set up a cable catch like an aircraft carrier for my landings ill have it whipped!

The Fremont county airport is about 25 min away but I would love to walk to my hanger, roll out the trike (after pre flight and warm up) and take off.

Great info Joe and Job. Its great to have a site like this where a new pilot can get honest feedback.

Guess if fire up my chainsaw, and put the blade on the tractor, I can carve out a strip closer to 800 ft.

Ive been on Tracy Tomlinsons website and read his reviews. He sounds like a highly qualified CFI, and I plan on contacting him today.

Thanks again for your responses.

Tue, Nov 22 2016 04:12pm CST 7
Joe Hockman
Joe Hockman
43 Posts
James one thing you mentioned caught my attention. Yes I am sure getting out the chainsaw and blade on tractor likely represents a huge amount of work/effort. However, there is a huge difference between being able to operate safely out of a 400' vs 800' strip at your altitude. Even with 800' there may be some risks/limitations but they would be much more severe with 400' especially since your comment suggests you do have some trees at one or both ends of your current strip.
Job not all trikes have brakes. Some very light trikes like the NW ATF do not come standard with brakes. Also some come with rather weak brakes. One of my complaints about my NW Maverick is that the little drum brake on my front wheel has very limited stopping power. NW now makes a dual disk brake for front tire upgrade that I may eventually pursue. Trikes with excellent brakes (usually disk brakes) will have great stopping power and this will likely be a critical component for some one attempting to use a 400' strip.
Tue, Nov 22 2016 07:30pm CST 8
Bill Chance
Bill Chance
19 Posts
James, Colorado Springs is at 6000' . Late in the year for a hot weather take off but if you train there you'll get a feel for the same elevation at your place or Freemont county. Well Freemont is at 5442' but close enough. When summer hits you'll see/feel the difference probably not so much on takeoff but in climb out.

Good luck in your training!










Wed, Nov 23 2016 03:13am CST 9
Job Chithalan
Job Chithalan
14 Posts
Joe, When I wrote, "Trikes have brakes", I was referring to Sky Cycle range of trikes by Mike Theeke.
Though not sure if they are standard or optional.

Part 103 / SSDR / Nanolight trikes have weight limitations. Have to keep things minimal.
Their initial price tend to be kept low. So, even if weight limitations allow, brakes and extras need to be optional.

With soarable trikes, anything that add weight is not desirable. With the low weight and low landing speeds of soarable trikes, linear momentum becomes low; reducing or eliminating the need for brakes.

However, requirement of James is a special case. Look for a light weight trike with low landing speeds and with good disc brakes, preferably on all three wheels. And a powerful engine/prop combination for short take offs.

Brakes are also very useful to reduce take off distances.
One of my trikes, have an engine and prop that produce 110 to 115 Kg static thrust.
Reving up to max before take off roll, it can take off in around 100 feet, with help of slight headwind.

Wing of this trike also has a 'speed bar' that allow pulling the bar in about 3 inches closer to the chest.
After touch down, AOA of the wing is below zero degrees. Reflex also kicks in.
Combination of the two, dramatically increase drag. Together with brakes, a very short landing run can be achieved, if and when required.

It may not practical for many people to travel and use a long runway; but have access to small fields.
I am surprised that manufacturers do not produce a trike optimised for STOL performance!
Wed, Nov 23 2016 12:06pm CST 10
james williams
james williams
11 Posts

Thank you for your additional input. I gota agree with you Job, watching the stol takeoff and landing competitions are amazing! They could probably land on the roof of my barn!

I contacted Tracy Tomlinson yesterday (closest trike CFI) and plan to start lessons after Thanksgiving. We discussed the fact that I will need my own trike to complete the solo training, and how its often a good idea to train on your own trike. Thoughts? I intend on purchasing one, but this seems to speed up the process a lot. I don't want regret a rushed purchase, and it seems the market is sparse in the winter.

What are you feelings about taking lessons from several CFI's? Im planning a trip to Mesa AZ. around Christmas and thought it would be fun to rack up a few hours in a warmer climate. I understand the air density will be different, but wasnt sure gaining the knowledge from different instructors would help or hinder my training.

Well after walking the property i realized that creating a 800 ft strip won't be to difficult. I will have to remove less than 10 small trees, but it's the 2 truckloads of cactus thats going to suck. Any volenteers? lol

I really do appreciate your advice. I understand it gets old reading the same "noob" questions, but the knowledge of experienced pilots is golden!

Wed, Nov 23 2016 07:35pm CST 11
Bill Chance
Bill Chance
19 Posts
Different CFI's can't hurt. Don't be rushed into buying a trike and have someone that knows what they are looking at check out the one you become interested in. You can also take this route, get the flight training and solo a part 103 trike. Have a CFI test fly it first.

Questions don't cost money so ask many before you spend any.
Thu, Nov 24 2016 09:00am CST 12
Job Chithalan
Job Chithalan
14 Posts
Taking some lessons when on holiday can only be good.
Good idea to extend to 800 feet.
UK has high population density. People compalin about noise and the land is scarce.
I envy you guys in the US with vast open spaces, ranches and residential airparks.
Do study the market and take time to buy the best to suit your needs.

Here is the video "Fly From Home" by Larry.
REV takes off and land from small spaces. Worth considering. He should be able to give his view on its performance at 6000 feet.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6kYd2G8S3A
Sat, Nov 26 2016 08:18am CST 13
Trevor  Sayer
Trevor Sayer
4 Posts
Hi James I train at Jackson County airport near Atlanta and solo students in an Airborne Redback with Wizard wing - this allows them to fly the 5 hours solo for Sport Pilot without first buying a trike - unfortuatly I'm a little far from CO - the Redback has a Rotax 503 which has plenty of power for this trike/wing - dual cruises at 5000- 5200 rpm, though Jackson's elevation is only 1000ft Trevor
Sat, Dec 3 2016 08:06am CST 14
Larry  Mednick
Larry Mednick
36 Posts
Even at sea level your 450' unobstructed runway is an accident waiting to happen. It can be done, but take some lessons and you will
Quickly see you cannot land in 450 feet at first. The only way you would probably be able to do this at all is with something that cruises in the 40 MPH range. A 582 Outback or 582 NW with 17.5-20m wing would be ideal for 2 seat flying, but I would NOT try taking off 2 up at that altitude with either. The single seaters should all work fine more or less preferaably with single surface wing. You can go 912 preferably 912S and get out 2 up with a 17.5m wing, but landing will take moderate skill that only comes with 100s of hours. A little bird told me that someone is coming out with a Super STOL trike this SNF. That may worth having a look at if you want 2 seat open air flying...
Sat, Dec 3 2016 10:21am CST 15
Job Chithalan
Job Chithalan
14 Posts
"A little bird told me that someone is coming out with a Super STOL trike this SNF."

There were telltale signs of something like this!
Watch this Oshkosh 2015 video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMUbMt5bygk
40 secs into this video, a 'trike' stops in 100 feet.
At 2'30" a Just Super STOL 912 ULS 100 HP lands, followed by 'the trike'.
Then a "Just Super STOL XL 180 HP" takes off.
'The trike' successfully challenges that ground roll.

Slow speed flying is the forte of flex wings.
A lightweight two seater trike, wing with low Vs, high thrust to weight ratio, powerful brakes, rugged suspension and wheels to suit, would be an unbeatable STOL / Bush aircraft.

Do they allow trikes in STOL competitions?!
Sun, Dec 4 2016 04:48pm CST 16
Steve Beste
Steve Beste
18 Posts
James, regarding brakes remember that on a wet (dewy) grass field no brakes work. They stop the wheels just fine, but the wheels just slide over the grass. This is a big deal for us here in Virginia. Colorado is a lot dryer, but not every day.
Sun, Dec 4 2016 05:47pm CST 17
Job Chithalan
Job Chithalan
14 Posts
I have often wondered why STOL /Bush aircraft fit bald tyres!
With cars and motorbikes, they are dangerous and illegal.
For racing, they sometimes fit slick tyres, hoping that the surface would stay dry. After an unexpected rain, cars skid all over the place.
Thread patterns used on the road are also useless on the grass or in muddy conditions.
What we require for braking, is the block thread pattern as found on tyres for off-road bikes. Preferably with lightweight and inexpensive ALB used in motorbikes.
Sun, Dec 4 2016 07:55pm CST 18
james williams
james williams
11 Posts
Thank you Larry. As I walk my property 450 ft seems like plenty of room, but when i start imagining coming in to land 450 ft seems a little short (a lot short). I'm sure i will have a much better idea when I start my lessons, and I will make it my goal to somday have the training and the trike to make my dream come true. I guess beautiful places dont always make to good airports. Thanks all for your input.
Sun, Dec 4 2016 08:00pm CST 19
james williams
james williams
11 Posts
Thank you Steve, but where I live is rock, cactus and cedar trees, I wish i had the problem of lush, damp grass. lol
Sun, Dec 4 2016 09:34pm CST 20
Bill Chance
Bill Chance
19 Posts
Hey James, when you start your lessons mark off 450 feet on the runway and from the air you will see how short it really is. For fun ask your instructor to hit it.

Job, if your talking about the the big tundra tires skidding is the reason stol aircraft drivers want slick tires. If they are a little sideways on landing they would have them slip a bit instead of digging in. When they land on pavement they have so much grip and low air pressure that the sidewall loads up and acts like a spring throwing the plane back up into the air. Even if the pilot is really good he can look like a newbie. The ones I have talked with will land on the grass alongside the pavement if they can.
Sun, Dec 4 2016 09:38pm CST 21
james williams
james williams
11 Posts
Hey Larry that little bird really got me thinking, and Job mentioning more aggressive tires got the gears turning. It seems that trikes have evolved into these smooth, sleek, modern machines, but there may be a market for flying "rock crawlers". Big wings, big engines, long travel suspentions and aggressive tires that allow for super stol conditions. Hell, paint it flat black and have the wing and seats done in Mossy Oak camo!! Ok. Maybe not camo, but you get the picture. Im looking forward to seeing what rolls out, and I'll trade you some design ideas for flying lessons.
Sun, Dec 4 2016 09:44pm CST 22
james williams
james williams
11 Posts
Thats a good idea Bill. Just curious, how many pilots here would feel comfortable taking off and landing on a 450ft strip?
Mon, Dec 5 2016 12:23am CST 23
Bill Chance
Bill Chance
19 Posts
I have a Maverick trike with lots of hp and a slow wing and in cool weather at 280'MSL I can lift off asphalt in 300 feet in 5 sec. On warmer days with the density altitude around 2k that lengthens to 7 sec. Never measured what that adds to the TO length.

I can land and stop in 450' but to hit the end of a actual 450' strip with precision I would have to come in low hanging on the prop, barely above stall speed, chop the power, and stall it on. Easily doable with my wing as it loses energy fast, but if the engine burbled, or I caught a wind gust I'd be in the rocks and cactus. A big slow wing may lift you off but bigger wings are prone to floating so if your set to land and floated any, you would be out of room and you would have to hit the gas and go around.
Mon, Dec 5 2016 01:55am CST 24
Joe Hockman
Joe Hockman
43 Posts
Yes I have taken off and landed many times on short fields, shorter than 400 feet when I had my ATF with a large Stratus wing and adequate power from a Simonini mini plus II engine, BUT that was at fields close to sea level perhaps up to 500 MSL and I only weigh 160 pounds. In fact I have landed and taken off from a soccer field mostly surrounded by trees basically to prove to myself that I could do it in the case of an engine out scenario. However I had hundreds and hundreds of flights with that trike and I knew what I and my trike could do. However that engine would be underpowered for any kind of STOL performance @ 6000 MSL. With my current Maverick trike and 13M Pacer Wing I would never attempt to take off and land in a field as short as 450 feet particularly if there were a number of obstacles. When I put my 16.5M Solaris wing on I have considerably better STOL performance. As I mentioned previously one should have many many hours of experience in your trike to know what you and your trike are capable of before attempting to get in and out of a very short field.

James I don't recall you indicating whether you were interested in a part 103 trike or if you were planning to get a light sport 2 seater. It may be easier to accomplish your dream of flying out of a 450 foot or actually extended to 800 foot strip if you went the part 103 route with plenty of horsepower and a large wing. A 503 or 582 on a Maverick or similar trike should work well but such a configuration would not meet the UL weight requirement. Also I do not know what your weight is but that will be an important variable to determine what you can do particularly with a true UL.
Mon, Dec 5 2016 08:21am CST 25
james williams
james williams
11 Posts

Thanks Bill and Joe. Any idea how a 3 percent grade would affect stol?

I'm leaning toward a light sport 2 seater. I think a UL would be fun, but I want to share the experience with my lady. I weigh 185, and my girlfriend is 110.

Just to set some minds at ease, I will NEVER attempt to take off or land on a 450ft strip until I have proper training, lots of hours and the trike designed for stol. I could feel people thinking "that dam fool is going to end up dead or pulling cactus out of his butt!!" lol

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