Jul 23rd

Trikefest 2010 - An AirVenture-Bound Stopover - Starts Tomorrow!

By Spencer Forman

Courtesy of Dan Grunloh - LightPlaneWorld

Trikefest 2010 – An AirVenture-Bound Stopover

About six years ago, Illinois trike pilot Curt Shoaf noticed that quite a few trikes (and fixed wing airplanes) were stopping at Cushing Field (0C8), southwest of Chicago, on their way to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Curt proposed a trike fly-in for the weekend prior to AirVenture. It became an instant success, and this year the 6th Annual Trikefest will take place July 23, 24, and 25. Everyone is welcome.

About six years ago, Illinois trike pilot Curt Shoafnoticed that quite a few trikes (and fixed wing airplanes) were stopping at Cushing Field (0C8), southwest of Chicago, on their way to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Cushing Field had already become a popular center for trike flying due to the efforts of Mike Hudetz, a trike instructor and dealer (now pilot examiner).

Curt proposed a trike fly-in for the weekend prior to AirVenture. It became an instant success because Cushing Field is a terrific airport with ample facilities to meet all the needs of the sport pilot and light-sport aircraft community in the wider Chicago area. The 6th Annual Trikefest will take place July 23, 24, and 25. Everyone is welcome. There will be fun contests, educational seminars, and great food. After the Sunday morning breakfast flight, the survivors continue their trek to AirVenture with the fastest trikes leading the way.

Trikefest is expecting trikes from places far and wide, including Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa. As many as 60 trikes are believed to have attended previous gatherings, making this event the largest trike gathering in the United States and perhaps the entire western hemisphere. Trikefest 2010 festivities will include a wedding between a local trike pilot and his powered-parachute-flying fiancée. It will be conducted by a judge who is also a trike pilot.

The activities begin on Friday. Camping is permitted everywhere but on the runway. There’s plenty of grassy ramp space to set up your trike and tent, or park a motor home. There are several public washrooms on the field with running water and flushing toilets.  Hotels are located in nearby Sandwich, Yorkville, and Ottawa. Cushing Field is a busy place with 74 aircraft based at the airport and a credit card Mogas fuel pump.

The airport is also home to Sport Pilot Chicago,a training center with five very active instructors and up to a dozen fixed wing instructors available. Their fleet of five special light-sport aircraft trainers includes Evektor SportStars and a Thorp T-211. Training and services for trike pilots are supervised by Mike Hudetz, who is a dealer for Airborne trikes.

Visitors expected this year from Australia include ShaneDuncan, head of Airborne, who will be available to help with tuning and adjustment of wings. For more information about Trikefest, see the website at A&M Airsports. Contact Mike at michaelhudetz@att.net or 630-879-6568. Aircraft and pilots at this event are encouraged to be FAA compliant as there will be FAA inspectors giving check rides.  

On Saturday afternoon, a competition will include the radar gun run, the balloon in the hula-hoop drop, the dead-stick spot landing, and the dreaded TOLRAC – takeoff and landing race. See an example in this video. The barbecue happens during the competition and is located directly in front of the runway, so it’s a good spot to plant a lawn chair. The Cushing Field Trikers supply the barbecue, food, and drinks, but this costs hundreds of dollars; donation jars are near the food.

There are no sponsors helping to pay, and no fees to attend, camp, or participate in Trikefest (just your donations). The food is truly outstanding and well appreciated by hungry pilots on their way to AirVenture. Sometime Friday evening or Saturday late morning,there will be a seminar on Rotax engines given by Jim Leon. Don Cooney, manufacturer of the Prowler trike, will give a talk Saturday evening on his flying in Cambodia. On Sunday morning, there will be a fly-out to a nearby airport for breakfast, and then it’s off to AirVenture!

Jul 22nd

Astra 103 details published in EAA Light Plane World

By Spencer Forman
Courtesy of Dan Grunloh - LightPlaneWorld

New Astra 103 Trike – and Solo Fixed Wing

Astra 103 Trike

Allistair Wilson, the creator of the Astra line of trikes, has begun test-flying a new single-seat trike design called the Astra 103. The news was revealed on the trike enthusiast website Trikepilot Social by Spencer Foreman, who provided the photo for this report. In an interview, Allistair says, “The Astra 103 is designed to be a stable cross-country-capable trike. It is not a nanolight trike with a hang-glider wing. It is a real trike wing designed to be safe and stable in turbulence. I have flown it in 15-mph turbulent wind conditions, and it behaves just like the larger Astra two-seat trikes. It is a fun trike to fly.”

The Rotax 503-powered trike has a 13.5-square-meter 40percent double surface wing. The trike frame is built from the same materials as the larger Astra trikes, 6082 AL, which is stronger and more fatigue resistant than 6061 AL. Although the Astra 103 won’t be at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010, Allistair will be exhibiting his new single-seat metal/composite fixed wing, the Solo, which is powered by a Hirth F-33.

The Astra 103 trike base tube is “ventilated” to reduce weight. It has steel wishbone main landing gear legs and lightweight main shocks. The front suspension is mild steel, with drag links and high-density butyl shock discs. The wheels are Zytel, 12.5-inch-diameter rear with 10.5-inch-diameter front, and a front drum brake is built into the wheel.

Stall speed is 27 mph, and the velocity never to exceed is 68 mph with a speed range of 30 to 63 mph. Cruise is 45 mph burning 1.8 gallons per hour at 4,400 rpm on a four-blade 59-inch Ultraprop. The climb rate is approximately 900 feet per minute at 40 mph. The trike body is a lightweight carbon fiber reinforced composite, with pod, instrument panel, composite seat, and lightweight wheel pants. The 5-gallon-capacity fuel tank is welded aluminum. The MGL Flight-2 instrument system provides digital airspeed indicator, vertical speed indicator, and altimeter, as well as fuel computer, volts, flight timers, dual exhaust gas temperature/cylinder head temperature, and many other useful functions.

The price for the Astra 103 is $15,495, and Allistair is taking orders now for delivery in September. The Astratrike.com website will soon be updated with new information about the Astra 103 trike and the new Solo fixed wing. Work is progressing on a special light-sport aircraft version of the Astra HKS. The two-seat trikes on the website are still available as amateur-build kits, and spare parts are still available for the existing fleet of E-LSA Astra trikes. For views of the Solo fixed wing, watch this video of the Solo test flight. And anyone who loves flying will enjoy this fun video of Allistair hands-free flying the Astra 103. Contact Sportflight International LLC at Sportflight@aol.com or call 812-384-4760.

Jul 21st

Pics from Lodi - Mick Balaban

By Spencer Forman
Mick Balaban (Noizemaker) had a great day over at Lodi and sent in this Flickr slideshow... check out Henry's Camera Mount system on his gorgeous Tanarg. Slick!!

Jul 15th

Book Three of Wild Blue Yonder - Taking Mexico Flying (Full Book)

By Spencer Forman
TakingMexicoFlying_cover100.jpgDue to popular demand, we've made the full downloadable version of John Olson's Book Three from the Wild Blue Yonder Series, entitled "Taking Mexico Flying", available online for FREE!

Read below, or click to go to downloadable .pdf version.


Tales Taking Mexico Flying - Book Three

Tales Taking Mexico Flying - Book Three

Jul 15th

The Global Reach of Trikepilot Social

By Spencer Forman
I just installed a new analytics program, which has a pretty neat set of features, including a desktop client that allows me to monitor the site and offer tech-support to any visitors in real-time. Fun!

While exploring the output from just a day or so of use, I was gratified to see just how GLOBAL our trike flying community really turns out to be (although I think I always knew it from the member profiles). Check out the chart below:


Jul 3rd

No #@^&$% Camera!!! - A Modern Tragedy - by Gary Berdeaux

By Spencer Forman

The following letter was just received from Gary regarding the tragic events he outlines below. Our condolences to Gary for his momentary lapse of judgment... and our hopes that all of you can learn from his loss.


Hi everyone,

Thought I’d share a flight report with you all.  Yesterday I decided to put the training bars on the Quantum.  After finishing up the installation, preflight, fueling etc. I was getting eager to get in the air.  I did bring my camera, however, I ended up leaving it behind in my haste to get in the air.  BIG MISTAKE!!!

It was a bit breezy from the northeast (not the best direction for launch at Crosswind field.  Got some good rotor turbulence as expected form the hanger and surrounding terrain as the wheels left the grass.  Climbed out of the crud and found calm air about 1,000 agl.  The passing of a cold front has brought a two-day window of unseasonably clear, refreshing, low humidity weather.  Absolutely BEAUTIFUL skies!  …no #@^&$% camera!!!  Decided to head southwest and spin a lap around Barren River Lake.  Half way to the lake I ran across a multi-colored hot air balloon with passengers.  The local balloonist does not fly with any real frequency and is a real treat to see. …no #@^&$% camera!!! 

After a few laps around the balloon (from a respectful distance) I continued on to waive hi to a buddy with a nice grass trip near the lake.  The on to fly over the lake inspecting areas of person interest.  Our lake is a flood control reservoir built and maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.  The torrential spring rains (10” in just a few hours) that flooded Nashville filled our lake nearly to overflow.  I wanted to check the progress of lowering the lake to summer pool levels (only 7’ to go and I can enjoy my boat).  Saw my neighbors at the boat slip and spiraled down for a wing wag hello salute.  From the air I could see the twinkles of pocket flash cameras going off as my neighbor and his guests ecstatically waived hi! …no #@^&$% camera!!! 

I didn’t want to draw too much attention as I had swooped fairly low so I quickly broke off my howdy spin and climbed out for my return back to the nest.  As soon as I got to a safe altitude, there’s that hot air balloon again.  It had drifted near the lake and was in the process of landing in a farmer’s field with chase vehicles (with trailers) waiting. …no #@^&$% camera!!!  Keep in mind just how special and beautiful the light and sky conditions were.  Perfect!!!  I continued back to the hanger poking along about 500’ so I could sniff out those who were grilling steaks for dinner… yum! 

Arriving back a the hanger I greased in a perfect landing.  It felt so good I had to go back up for another one.  Climbing into the setting sun (huge red-orange ball sitting on a clear cloudless horizon, I saw the bright lights lowing at the Hart County Fair… I had some civil twilight left to fly in so I pulled the bar in and blazed north for a spin around the festivities.  …no #@^&$% camera!!!  As I rushed north the sun was a spectacular sight.  …no #@^&$% camera!!!  By now all light had climbed away from the ground leaving that lovely twilight cool green below.  I did a long slow lap around the fair.  By now it was dark enough for all the carnival lights from the rides cast a soft warm glow around the surrounding landscape.  The lights from the whirling rides were like twinkling jewels in the twilight.  Tractor pulls, horse show, rides people way cool to see from the air… …no #@^&$% camera!!! 

With failing light I pulled the bar under my armpits and blazed (for a Q2 wing) back to the hanger at 80 mph.  Upon landing a friend of hanger-mate Jackie had brought his three grandchildren to look at the pretty aircraft.  As I rolled into the hanger and shut down the engine I was greeted by the bright eyed eager youngster.  Wow!  What a special flight. …no #@^&$% camera!!! 

Whenever possible bring a camera with you when you fly or you may miss a special opportunity like I did!  RATS!


Jun 20th

More Astra 103 Trike Video from Allistair Wilson

By Spencer Forman
We just received some more footage of the Astra 103 in flight:

Jun 11th

Spy shots of new 103 legal single-seat trike from Astra

By Spencer Forman
Our sources in the field have sent us these never-before-seen shots of the new 103 Legal single-seat trike from Astra. We don't have all the details, but understand that this flying version has a Rotax 503, single-surface wing, and bears some lineage from the classic "Chaser" design. More to come...

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