Jan 15th

Thoughts on safety.

By Bryan Tuffnell

Why are so many trike pilots dying? We've heard lots of answers to that, most of which I don't buy. God isn't lurking behind a cloud with a Lee Browning taking potshots at unlicensed pilots; if engine failures had to be fatal there wouldn't be a whole lot of hang gliding going on; if higher performing trikes were dangerous how come so many of us are clocking thousands of hours in them?

The root cause of the majority of triking accidents is surely that the pilot lost control of the aircraft, for whatever reason. And yet trikes must be about the easiest aircraft to control. What's going on?

I don't see many stall related accidents; nor is tumbling much of a feature. You've got to be trying to get into trouble through pure pitch. Trike pilots have little direct, independent control of yaw. Trikes don't spin. I'll bet dollars to donuts that most accidents happen because either the pilot can't roll fast enough, or far more commonly, because they can't remove bank - they are locked out of a turn.

This is topical, with all the discussion about roll that's been happening. It's also a pet subject of mine (hold me down).

Every three axis and rotary wing pilot knows how to coordinate a turn. Every trike pilot should know to pull in to initiate a change of bank, and to push out to turn a roll into a constant rate turn. Yet I believe that this lack of what should be a fundamental skill is killing pilots.

This is where the fuss about spiral dives and slipped turns and Arrow wings come from. What's the solution? I see three possibilities:

1 Manufacturers dumb down wings to cater for inadequate skills.

2 An upping of the standard of instruction, somehow.

3 A rating system for matching pilots with trikes.

Higher performing trikes are not harder to fly. There aren't killer wings. There are some trikes that ask their pilots to have a basic comprehension of the roles of pitch and throttle in banked flight, nothing more. I think having instruction that includes Turns 101 could save lives, and is the answer. I don't know how to make that happen.


What do you good folks think?

Jan 8th

How a trike rolls presented with a totally new perspective 2

By Paul Hamilton



This presents a completely different mindset  to look  at the trike rolling into a turn.  It was presented by RB so I will do my best to convey the message/concept. Historically, we have been looking at shifting the weight under the trike wing creating the turn. Forget all that for a minute and open your mind to a different perspective, a new way of thinking about how a trike rolls into a turn.  Simple. We are not shifting our weight under the wing to roll it, WE ARE  TILTING THE WING ABOVE THE TRIKE carriage which starts the turn.




This can be easily seen in this video. Note that the bar is moved, the wing tilts above the trike undercarriage the trike under carriage (with the camera attached) initially do not move much. Then after the wing tilts you can see the trike undercarriage/camera get into the turn AFTER the wing is tilted.  You can see this most clearly flying straight going into a steep turn and also coming out of  a steep turn. This can be clearly seen in this video.







Look at the simple physics. As an example: you have a 1000 pound trike undercarriage and a 100 pound wing. You have 1000 pounds verses 100 pounds, TEN TIMES the mass trying to oppose each other. Which one is going to move more, simple: the lighter weight wing. Yes it could be 5 to 10 times based on the specific weights but we will use 10 here to make the math simple.




So with 10 times the difference in mass, basic physics provides us an easy way to quantify this. You tilt the wing 40 degrees and the undercarriage moves 4 degrees.  Exactly as shown in the video.




So we rotate the wing, the lift vector goes to the side so we start turning. Hopefully we all remember this horizontal component of lift. The problem is that our momentum 1100 pounds at 70 MPH (or what ever speed/weight) wants to keeps us going straight based on Newton's First Law of motion.




So now we have a trike initially being pulled to the side from the changed lift vector, turning but pointed straight. Kind of a mess to start. It appears we are flying sideways to the relative wind. That pesky sideways adverse yaw we know happens but debate exactly how.  Well over time, however many fraction or seconds it takes, the trike yaw stabilizer (nose angle/billow/wheel spats/tip rudders or what ever you want to call it), the trike stabilizes in yaw track the trike into the turn. That pesky adverse yaw goes away. At about the same time (before, during or after which can be debated) the undercarriage swings out from the centrifugal force and we are in a coordinated turn.




Make no mistake, we are shifting our weight, changing our CG under the wing which helps roll the aircraft, but start thinking of it in a new way/perspective and perhaps it will make more sense.


 You can see from the video clearly that for a trike the wing tilts more than the carriage moves to start the turn.




I know all this perspective is very hard for anyone to swallow after we have been taught what we are shifting our weight to initiate a turn. Yes, again, this weight shift is correct but based on physics we are tilting the wing MORE than shifting our weight under the wing to turn it.




How are hang glider turning dynamics fundamentally different from the Trike? Weight ratio.




Look at the hang glider 70 pounds and the pilot at 170 pounds. Only two and a half difference verses 10 for a trike. So the pilot verses wing ratio is significantly different tilting the wing less and bringing the pilot underneath the wing more. Should we continue to base all our highest levels or roll based on a different animal?




Why is everyone's perspective of the weight shift trike turn initiation, weight shift rather than tilting the wing? We have all been brainwashed from the hang glider designers from day one. I am totally guilty of this myself. It started as we were infant pilots and grew. It goes to the fundamental principles of learning for humans: Primacy- we learned it first creating a strong almost unshakable impression, Readiness - we want to learn to challenge and keep us safe, Exercise - it has been repeated so much it is continually reinforced, Intensity - we practice it and imagine it during flight plus we are passionate and emotional about it as we debate it.




With all these fundamental principles of learning engrained it will be hard for many to embrace this new concept.



There you have a completely new perspective of looking at roll for the trike. We have a long way to go to develop, understand and evolve our sport so perhaps this new perspective will be helpful.


Jan 2nd

Twist and Washout in the Trike Pilots Handbook and Why Billow was replaced

By Paul Hamilton




When the FAA Weight Shift Control Aircraft Flying Handbook was being written, one of the objectives was to standardize the terminology so that the WSC trike could most easily be understood by existing and new pilots.




The term billow was initially used by hang glider manufacturers with the original Rogollo wings to add material so the wing was not flat. The nose angle was 90 degrees and the sail was designed to be 95 degrees. At this time this was considered billow so the term "billow" has hung on over the years.




In fact with my hang glider design background,  I personally used this term in the manual along with wing "twist" and "decreasing angle of attack" towards the tips. My FAA review team asked "what is this billow term?. We do not see it in any credible aerodynamic description". The dictionary term was interesting and did not look like any thing related to sail design:






[bil-oh] /ˈbɪl oʊ/




1. a great wave or surge of the sea.


2. any surging mass:


billows of smoke.


verb (used without object)


3. to rise or roll in or like billows; surge.


4. to swell out, puff up, etc., as by the action of wind:


flags billowing in the breeze.


verb (used with object)


5. to make rise, surge, swell, or the like:


A sudden wind billowed the tent alarmingly.




It was explained that all these ancient "Tribal" terms from old times/technology needed to be updated/modernized to commonly known aerodynamic principles. I was initially perturbed/irritated with this but I moved on.




rIt was also brought to my attention that the current FAA reference 2005 for trikes (Lucian/Hal Trikes- Flex Wing Flyers) Page 3-29 Flex Wing Flyersdoes not have the term "billow" anywhere. It uses the common aerodynamic terms "Twist" and "Washout" as the concept was introduced. Again on page 3-39 Flex Wing Flyers the word twist and washout were used to describe turning. No reference or term "Billow" anywhere in the book or  anywhere in any credible aerodynamic resource i could find with an exhaustive search.




I was convinced/forced to comply that both "Twist" and "Washout" were credible aerodynamic terms and we did not need to invent billow to confuse the issue.




So I added in the Aerodynamics section page 2-3 the common aerodynamic terms twist and washout and addressed the term billow to transition everyone over to the established aerodynamic terms on page 2-3:




Wing twist is the decrease in chord angle from the root


to the tip chord, common to all WSC wings and ranging


from 5° to 15°. This wing twist is also called washout as


the wing decreases its angle of attack from root to tip. The


term billow was originally used for the early Rogallo wings


as the additional material in degrees that was added to the


airframe to create the airfoil. It is still used today to define the


amount of twist or washout in the wing. The WSC may not


have twist/washout when sitting on the ground, and must be


flying and developing lift to display the proper aerodynamic


twist characteristic of WSC wings. [Figure 2-6]





Again on Page 2-13 twist and washout are described in turning on page 2-13:




Longitudinal Axis— Roll


Turning is initiated by rolling about the longitudinal axis, into


a bank similar to an airplane using aileron and rudder control.


To turn, shift the weight to the side in the direction of the turn,


increasing the weight on that side. This increases the twist on


that side while decreasing the twist on the other side, similar


to actuating the ailerons on an airplane. The increased twist


on the side with the increased weight reduces the AOA on the


tip, reducing the lift on that side and dropping the wing into a


bank. The other wing, away from which the weight has been


shifted, decreases twist. The AOA increases, increasing the


lift on that wing and thereby raising it.


Thus, shifting the weight to one side warps the wing (changes


the twist) to drop one wing and raise the other, rolling the


WSC aircraft about the longitudinal axis. [Figure 2-24] More


details on the controls that assist wing warping are covered


in chapter 3, which should be considered with use of the


controls in the takeoff, landing, and flight maneuvers sections


of this handbook.





Again on Page 3-9




Roll Control System


Control bar movement from side to side controls the roll about


the longitudinal axis. The wing attachment hang point allows


the carriage to roll around the wing keel. Thus, it can also be


looked at from the carriage point of view, when the control


bar is moved side to side, the wing rotates around the wing


keel relative to the carriage. [Figures 2-31 and 3-19]


It would fi rst appear that moving the control bar to one side,


thus shifting weight to the opposite side, could alone bank


the aircraft. It is true that shifting weight to the right would


naturally bank the aircraft to the right and put it into a right


hand turn. However, the weight alone is not enough to provide


adequate roll control for practical flight.


As weight is moved to one side, the keel is pulled closer to


that side’s leading edge. The actual keel movement is limited


to only 1 to 2 inches each side of center. However, this limited


keel movement is sufficient to warp the wing, changing the


twist side to side (as discussed earlier in the aerodynamics


section) to roll the aircraft [Figure 2-24] by changing the


lift side to side. Simply, the shifting of weight from side to


side pulls the keel toward the leading edge on that side and


warps the wing to roll the aircraft.


Besides the keel shifting relative to the leading edges and


crossbar, overall roll control is adjusted by the designers to


fit the mission of the wing through sail material/stiffness,


leading edge stiffness/flexibility, amount of twist, amount


of travel the keel is allowed, airfoil shape, and the planform


of the wing. [Figures 3-20 and 3-21]






So there we have it, why we used Twist and washout instead of billow and how the wing turns from the shift of washout and/or change in twist...






Dec 22nd

Another great day, month and year for triking

By Paul Hamilton

We are going to have two trikes joining our fleet here in January.


The Delta Jet 2 is coming back. This is where we lost Ted to triking because his wife saw so much bad publicity providein the impression taht triking was dangerious and he sold his Delta Jet 2 to a student of mine who I have been training in the Revo.

We have the brand new Airborne M3-Sport coming for a student of mine who will eventually be opening a full time training Intro flight school in California.


Another great day, week, year for triking.


Happy holidays to all.


Dec 22nd

How to promote triking for the good of all

By Paul Hamilton

We have had a decline in triking, along with GA and I feel we can all make an effort to build up triking which will help us all. As the big valley thermal rises, all the aircraft rise together.

Here are some ideas I have which hopefully we can all work together on.


I feel we have shot ourselves in the foot by posting all the "another trike death" as though is was commonplace and how technically difficult it is to fly and land a trike. I have received allot of feedback from people who look at the social sites for triking and see all the DIRTY LAUNDRY that is highlighted. It does look dangerous and technically difficult. Everyone dying and figuring out how to land is how WE are all promoting ourselves. What else would we expect with this persona. We need to look at ourselves in the mirror and think about others looking at us It is time we ALL made an effort to promote triking as positive safe flying machines, as they are, if you get proper training of which feel is lacking. That is why much of my efforts have been towards comprehensive training to minimize accidents and allow pilots to fly with safety and confidence.

So to provide a place to go over the accidents, causes and solutions I have created a new group where we can put this information to inform and learn from accidents.


Please ALL OF US, refocus our accidents to this new group so the general public's persona of triking is not ANOTHER DEATH.




Another area is to SEND PEOPLE TO INTRO FLIGHTS. Buy a gift certificate for your friend to take an Intro flight. I have noticed that most of my students who started triking took and INTRO FLIGHT and fell in love with it. Support your local CFI.

Dec 21st

Fuel Filter Safety Alert

By Paul Hamilton


Have been meaning to get out some important information on fuel filters. The nice see through fuel filter comes in good designs and bad designs. It is hard to tell the difference and few people know there are differences. I was using the bad design and it failed on me after about 300 hours on a 503.



Here is a picture of the bad filter that failed on me. Note that where it screws into the housing there are only about 1/4 of the threads. With a nice and smooth operating  engine with spacers and no pressure on the threads they stripped and the fuel filter opened up and the engine failed. The fuel goes on the side of the threads to get through the filter element. You can actually see the stripped threads if you look closly.


Luckelly it was on taxi.


Now look below at the good design. Note there are full threads and there are holes for the fuel to go through the shaft to get through the filter element. Generally they both look the same at first glance. Two shots below of the better design I suggest you make sure you have.


Make sure you have full threads rather than partial threads.




Image result for motorcycle fuel filter imagesRelated image








Dec 21st

2016 Aviation Trike Make Models Year in Review

By Paul Hamilton


This year has been a great year for trike development and  improvement with a number of new designs released into the market. Here is a year in review (my opinions) of the major brands to reflect on.




Evolution trikes.


Will start with the introduction of the REV from Evolution trikes builder of the Revo. The REV is an ultralight, made in the USA, which is a completely new design aimed at the lower cost introductory ultralight market. I have not flown one but I hear they are really nice and a new concept on folding and transport. For many of these details I will put links to the products rather than details here http://evolutiontrikes.com/rev/




Along with Evolution trikes new REV the world famous REVO has continued to have constant design improvements as the trike is continuously evolving with improvements such as anhedral/dihedral, sail tension, wing camber, strut angle, hang block, roll dampener, and the list goes on.  Incredible wing Evolution. I must thank Larry for such a master piece and awesome contribution to triking. His service is incredible and his expensive top of the line trike is worth every penny. http://evolutiontrikes.com/revo/


Switching to a Revo is one of the best decisions I have made running a full time FBO flight school.


There is a strong rumor from reliable sources that Evolution Trikes is going to come out with a new lower priced 2 place model. No details but it might be at Sun @ Fun this year. From my information, it will be another game changer for affortable trikes. Not a speed machine is as much as I can say..... Stay tuned




Airborne Trikes.


Airborne finally made a much needed improvement to their flagship trike with all the basic things people wanted: greater comfort, more room, better handling, greater stability, MGL glass panel option, dual disk brakes. Why does it take so long for airborne to make the needed improvements? Because the more stringent certification in Australia. It is more expensive and time consuming to make changes to the trike design.  With the engine canted and wing fins it should get rid of that incredibly irritating right P-Factor and torque turn that drove me crazy on long full speed full power legs. This was my biggest complaint of the old Tundra/Outback design. http://www.airborne.com.au/pages/microlights-m3-sport.php




Does not look like Airborne have incorporated the 100 HP carbonated or fuel injected engine.




I will be taking delivery with one of these new Airborne M3-Sport trikes here very soon, middle January 2017 I hope, and will provide you my report.  Will be able to crank out some hours and see how she flies.




P @ M Aviation




Well for a trike carriage breakthrough, the new PulsR has made it to the USA market for commercial operation and looks really nice. The new carbon composite body with enclosed cockpit really looks sharp. A great addition to the top of the line trikes. http://www.pmaviationusa.com/pulsr.html


Looking at the pricing, WOW, if everyone wants to complain about the high price of trike here is a new clear leader as the target. It looks like it leaves the Revo in the dust after you add all the accessories. But if you want the most futuristic looking trike this is it. I would personally like to get my hands on one out west here and run it through its paces and give you my unbiased report. HINT, HINT to anybody out there.....

Also P@M has released a new Trike the HypeR. More room and all the improvements you would expect from P @ M.






I know Northwing has been incredibly busy building hang glider wings, their own S-LSA/E-LSA trikes and Ultralight trikes in addition the wings for the REVO. Northwing provides the lower cost trike made here in the USA. I must congratulate Northwing in being one of the pillars and foundation for triking here in the USA. They came out with a new wing the Conquest which is their Speed wing. http://www.northwing.com/conquest-wing.aspx and an upgraded Masverik trike http://www.northwing.com/maverick-legend-trike.aspx. They are continually evolving their trikes and getting trikes and trike wings out to the industry.




Air Creation.




The trike I did my first ultralight pre sport and “official  FAA training” back in 2004 to get my CFI and DPE for trikes was in an Air Creation. This was the first trike I rented from Lockwood aviation.  I flew their new top of the Tanarg in Hawaii in demanding conditions.  Air Creation is another standard in the industry producing a full range of quality trikes.


AC made a complete upgrade to the BioniX with the BioniX2 wing http://www.aircreation.com/en/catalog/wings/bionix_521 wing which is the flagship product. Better in every way


They have great trikes but still no strutted wing yet. This continual and rigid opposition to the strutted wing design I feel has slowed sales of the product. Many of the E-LSA get a used Tanarg and put a competitors strutted wing on their Tanarg and have a pretty nice E-LSA. However this is not possible for a S-LSA. However, for 2016, I see that they have a new single place iFun 13 SP model for "short pack" wing that is strutted for easy takedown but still has a king post and top wires.  http://www.aircreation.com/en/catalog/ifun-pixel/ifun_pixel_478


Perhaps they see the light/future and will join the rest of the world and start producing quality strutted wings.


 Aeros trikes.


Aeros has added the ANT trike which is so small and compact it can easily fit into the trunk of a car.

This is a nice breakthrough for the ultralight trikes.





Apollo trikes.




Well, Apollo produces a very nice competitively priced trike which is a nice trike. An upgraded Monsoon. However, they/Abid are moving more into Gyrocopters but continue to support my fleet of S-LSA Apollo trikes including the Delta Jet, the Monsoon and the new Delta Jet 2 which is coming back to Reno/Carson soon with a new student who bought it from the original owner. I must thank Apollo/Abid for continuing to support Apollo trikes in and offer the Delta Jet 2 as an option. If for some reason you want to get into a Gyro, perhaps the SilverLight Aviation Abid's own gyro should be a consideration.





That is the end of my look at 2016. Please provide any other opinions or additional information as you see it. Positive information is welcomed here to get a comprehensive year end review of our beautiful machines.




Nov 14th

Important information to Students and CFI's for the new Student Pilot to Solo

By Paul Hamilton

We have had a big problem here for students trying to solo for airplanes and trikes. This is important information to help CFI's and Student pilots I just added to my web site. Please pass this on......

Notes on how, when and why to apply for a student pilot certificate:

  • A new process was enacted by FAA under the direction of TSA to apply for a student pilot certificate starting early 2016. There is now NO immediate issuance of the student pilot certificate as there was in the past before early 2016. This has caused some big hassles/delays for student pilots to solo.
  • Now, the applicant goes through a background check with TSA before the FAA can issue a student pilot certificate. This student pilot certificate is the same for Sport/Private. No difference. Same student certificate for sport, private, airplane, weight-shift control trike, PPC, gyrocopter, etc …….
  • Once it is submitted to FAA via IARCA it takes about 3 weeks for the green plastic student pilot certificate to arrive in the mail to the applicant after the student pilot certificate has been applied for. Takes longer if you use paper. If a student does not have a US pilots certificate, they need this student pilot certificate to solo.
  • If the student is participating in an accelerated course, solo could be one to two weeks after the student starts flight training. Therefore, it is important for the student pilot certificate be applied for AT LEAST 3 weeks before solo is anticipated.

Guidance for student pilot certificate application:

  • Student/applicant go to the FAA IACRA web site and set up account https://iacra.faa.gov/IACRA/
    • Top right – click register
    • Top – click Applicant box
    • Read terms of service – click agree at bottom and you will come to the IACRA User Profile Information screen.
    • If you do not have any FAA certificate (which you probably do not), skip the top section asking for pilot certificate number and start filling out your information.
    • Under SSN click “Do Not Use”
    • Create your user name and password. Mark these down in an important place – click register. Now you have registered with the FAA which will be your pilot certification account for your complete flying career.
  • After you have registered, you must log in and apply for a “pilot certificate”.
    • Choose student
    • You will receive an FTN number. Again, write this important number down in an important place with your user name and password.
  • Get your student pilot application approved and submitted
    • Once you have applied for the student pilot certificate you need to see some sort of FAA official to get your application approved. This can be the local CFI (FAA flight instructor) at any local flight school. They do not have to be sport pilot specific, they do the same for private pilots. There is no difference. ANY CFI/Flight Instructor can do this for you. There may be a fee for this service.
    • You can also use the local FAA FSDO office and they will do it for free. Some FAA FSDO offices may be more willing to take the time to do this than others depending on their work load. See  https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/ to locate your nearest FSDO office.
  • Once this has been submitted by the approving FAA representative, a green plastic student pilot card/certificate will come to in the mail in about 3 weeks unless there is some sort of problem which you should be notified.



For further information on getting started see:



Oct 24th

Selfie’s While Flying… Best Camera Placement

By Paul Miller

Hello again. After looking at some amazing videos produced by the legionary Henry Imagawa and the video http://www.trikepilot.com/videos/view/flying-and-landing-in-turbulance_24802.html I had a thought!  Is there value to having an installed video camera(s) while flying and where the placement of those camera(s) might lead to the best review for learning?

I must assume the cost of such cameras are expensive, but with proper placement maybe it would only take one or maybe two to capture events where playback and review would help a lot. 

Oct 22nd

Bumps and turbulance for trike pilots

By Paul Hamilton

Here is a blog from 5 years ago that talks about bumps and flying trikes:

This is an important concept so it has been put here for all to look up easily:

Bumps in the air add spice to a flight. How big the bumps are and how to enjoy flying through them is our topic here.


Lets start by looking at two completely different attitudes to flying in the bumps.


The hard core soaring pilot. Not happy unless nose is pointed at the ground but climbing at 2000 foot per minute into big cumulus clouds. The bigger the bump, the higher the potential climb rate. Happy to have clouds forming around and barely maintain visual contact with the earth. Wakes up and gets ready to fly after brunch is finished on Sunday.


The New Ultralight Pilot. Scared if has to react to any atmospheric movement what so ever. Lands immediately when first bump is felt, even if it is his own wake turbulence. Wakes up automatically three hours before sunrise to evaluate the weather and takes off 30 minutes before sunrise with a strobe.


Most of us are somewhere in between these two extremes. But we normally start off flying in calm air and develop a bump tolerance as we progress in our flying career.


What are bumps and turbulence?


Bumps and turbulence are simply the result of flying through air that is moving at different speeds and directions. Bumps is a common term used by pilots many times for lighter to moderately active air, where the word turbulence is used by pilots for stronger air. Turbulence is also the FAA definition for bumps. The terms “bumps” and “turbulence” generally can be used interchangeably.


Here we will focus on atmospheric turbulence which is the result of thermals or wind rather than mechanical turbulence, which is the result of flying in the lee side of buildings, trees or mountains.


The FAA provides a good definition of bumps and turbulence that we will use in our discussion here. Light turbulence are minor bumps you can feel but are not considered uncomfortable, with slight changes in altitude and attitude. Light chop is rhythmic bumps with little change in altitude and attitude.


Moderate turbulence is significant changes in altitude and attitude, but the aircraft remains in positive control at all times. There are strains against seat belts. Experienced pilots call it "BUMPY" and newer pilots are may be stressed and wishing they were safely on the ground.


Severe turbulence is large and abrupt changes in altitude with the aircraft momentarily out of control. Extreme turbulence is when the aircraft is violently tossed about and practically impossible to control. Ultralight and Sport pilots should stay out of severe and especially avoid extreme turbulence.


How do we develop tolerance for light and ultimately moderate turbulence?


Hopefully, your instructor took you up to fly in some wind and bumps before you started soloing to prepare and show you that they are not that bad if you know how to handle them.


But when first learning to solo, your instructor provides you limitations so you avoid moderate bumps when first flying the aircraft on your own. This develops your ability to maintain altitude plus pitch and roll attitude by flying in relatively smooth air. Flying comfortably and perfecting your skills in calm air is the first step in developing skills for bumps. This could be 20 to 50 hours of air time in light air.


My bump proverb provided to students: “Do not look for the bumps, the bumps will find you”.


Even though you do your “Weather to Fly” and predict the air conditions reasonably well, you will encounter turbulence in your desire for smooth air. Little bumps will feel big at first.


If you do your Weather to Fly procedure for sport pilots, you have a good chance of not having the bumps get bigger than your capabilities. A significant problem in getting used to bumps in not the ability to deal with them, it is the fear of the unknown. Gradually fly later in the mornings as the bumps usually increase and work up your tolerance slowly. Take a lesson from a qualified instructor in light to moderate turbulence.


If you know how to gage how big the bumps are, than it will help you realize if you are in light to moderate turbulence and can evaluate the situation. Realizing you are in light and not medium turbulence, is the first step to developing bump tolerance.


Here are some guidelines I use to describe light turbulence for ultralight and sport pilots based on flying a constant airspeed, straight and level with an effort to correct the bump when it hits you:

  1. No more than five MPH variation in airspeed induced by the bumps.
  2. No more than 20 degrees bank induced flying straight.
  3. No more than 300 foot per minute variation up or down induced by the bumps

You will probably get light turbulence even if you do your weather and hope for calm conditions. Soaring pilots will not even bother to go flying but new motorized pilots might consider this scary at first. Light turbulence should be easy to maintain control even for newer pilots. The secret is to evaluate how bad it is quantitivly, rather than let your emotions run wild and make bad decisions.


Moderate turbulence can similarly be described as

  1. 6 to12 MPH variation in airspeed induced by turbulence.
  2. 20 to 40 degrees bank induced flying straight.
  3. 300 to 1000 foot per minute variation up or down in vertical speed from normal.

Soaring pilots seek moderate turbulence to provide the ability to climb and fly cross country by riding the updrafts. New ultralight or Sport Pilots would have their hands full maintaining control and would probably want to be safely on the ground. Experienced ultralight or Sport Pilots can handle moderate turbulence but would be happier finding lighter air to fly in.


If you get into the situation of severe or even extreme turbulence, simply focus of flying the aircraft straight and level, stay away from the ground and find better air.


Summary tips for managing bumps and developing bump tolerance.

  1. Do your Weather to Fly preflight preparation to predict what the air will be doing.
  2. Learn to fly competently in calm air or light turbulence before you fly in moderate turbulence. Slowly build up to bigger bumps.
  3. Evaluate the turbulence objectively and determine its real classification. Do not let your emotions run wild.
  4. If you get in turbulence above your abilities or comfort level, focus on flying the aircraft straight and level and evaluate the situation to find better air.

Developing your abilities to actively control the aircraft and enjoy the air while flying through light and moderate turbulence, allows you to fly more and the ability to fly cross country.

Here are comments from some of the trike pilots:

by dave kempler 19 days ago
I liked your step by step approach to bump tolerance. Yet, academics is no substitute for experience. Unfortunately, there are no bumps in the desert of Nevada to practice in ;) .

I was TERRIFIED of turbulence. Actually, I must admit that fear of the unknown, as you said, is bigger than the fear that I couldn't control the trike. You and others said that I'd get used to turbulence. It did not come quickly. I became discouraged when what I thought was a washing machine, others considered smooth. I really thought my days as a trike pilot were numbered. I bet you did too.

But, its amazing what a little attitude change can do for turbulence. Sure, getting into it and landing safely time after time builds confidence. I think thats the conquering of the unknown fears. But, if others ever have the wonderful opportunity to get so stinking depressed that they have nothing to live for...well, that's the ticket. Then you find out that light and moderate turbulence just wont kill you and then you begin to RELAX!

When a new pilot is told to relax, my reaction was "you've got to be kidding me." But finding the balance of when to react and when to ignore the trike's reactions was probably the hardest thing to figure out. But, that was the key. And it certainly took time to figure out that *I* was the one making it harder than it had to be. The more tense I was, the more violent the trike reacted. It just took time. I didn't believe it, but it was true. I was the link.

One of the biggest confidence builders I had was taking a lesson when I would have chosen to land immediately after taking off. I made the choice to keep flying. I was instructed to do all the PTS manuvers in conditions that 40 hours previous would have made me cry. To my joy, I was able to make the trike do what I wanted it to do with a strong level of confidence.

So, to put things in perspective, it did take me around 40 hours to be merely upset that I had to fly in turbulence, but at least the fear has subsided. A couple of flights ago, it was so smooth that I got bored and went looking for turbulence on the sunny faces of the hills.

So, if anyone cares, that's been my experience from terror to fun.

Who woulda thunk?
Abid Farooqui
by Abid Farooqui 19 days ago
Interesting topic Paul. This one is better experienced but it took me a good 100 hours of flying trikes to be able to even begin to relax in moderate conditions. I used to have my shoulders ache after flying (which I did 326 hours in the first year) a 45 minute session in mid morning Florida in a Tukan with a 17 meter single surface wing. Somewhere in there during that first year I started getting comfortable and at the end of it I was flying in the afternoon just before T-storms of July August would hit (that was pretty stupid) because I almost got caught in T-storm cells once or twice (ok may be thrice).
Abid Farooqui
by Abid Farooqui 19 days ago
My key points to students:
1) Give up the death grip on the control bar
2) Breath out deeply on purpose and let your shoulders drop (drop away the tension)
3) Look at the front strut (I put a bungee on the front strut somewhere) and get a sight picture. It should look like a holy cross against the horizon. If that holy cross starts to look like a tower of Pizza, if it is like that for 2+ seconds, correct it by matching pressure in opposite direction (pull, don't push the bar into the right direction). Many times the slight tower of Pizza will correct itself in 2 to 3 seconds so don't bother. The bungee rising up against static sight picture of the horizon = you are climbing, pull in and bungee against horizon dropping from the original S&L height = you are heading down
Rizwan Bukhari
by Rizwan Bukhari 19 days ago
Great topic...I use to and still at times have a death grip. My friend Tom who is a very experienced pilot has told me many times to relax the death grip when hitting the bumps. I guess with time and experience I will get better. The fear in the back of my head is what if I get hit with one extreme bump and end up losing the positive control of the trike. My other tendency is whenever I hit the turbulence to pull the bar in and give more throttle (to help the wing cut through the turbulence)..I am not sure if that is the best way to handle it either, it kinda worked with my Streak wing, which was awesome and despite have approx 100 hours I did few cross countries with it in mid day conditions and it handled pretty well.
Gregg Ludwig
by Gregg Ludwig 18 days ago
I teach pilots to use what I call a "white knuckle grip" for t/o and landing under windy/turbulent conditions or otherwise very close to the ground. But sure..enroute let the wing do its thing.... Gregg
B Alvarius
by B Alvarius 18 days ago
It was my experience that moving my thumbs from under (around) the bar to on top of bar helped reduce the tendency to grip the bar tightly.
anton jansen van rensburg
by anton jansen van rensburg 18 days ago
After 3000h i still SH#% in my pants at alt, but at low level i just do not care not a prob you have to get use to it and fly in what you can handle do not push your luck i know one or two pilots that came short THEY THOUGHT THEY KNEW how to fly in bad TURBULANCE so take it slow do not fool your self
Paul Hamilton
by Paul Hamilton 18 days ago
I am more scared closer to the ground since the ground that is what usually gets you. That sudden stop.

If the turbulence it is real BAD next to the ground, it does not matter how good you are, BAD things can happen.

The real question is how to avoid real bad turbulence near the ground. Good Weather to Fly and common sense in the air go a long way..
Tony Castillo
by Tony Castillo 18 days ago
Interesting discussion here! ... good posting Paul. If a triker ever intends to get out of the "pattern" for some x-country, at some point then he/she would venture into the "bump-yonder" so ... good to have some discussion about this issue.

The nice thing is that we have quite a lot of control on how we progress. I found myself more comfortable starting early afternoon as weather seems to start pretty bumpy... then gradually get better ... so after a "wild ride" ... later it was really nice and smooth and the icing on the cake with a real nice landing.

A few times I went out early in the morning, to find myself battling bumps later and a heck of a wild landing!!.. so decided to test better test my bump skills in the afternoon when things seem to smooth later on!
Rizwan Bukhari
by Rizwan Bukhari 18 days ago
After I had soloed and had accumulated few hours did I experience my worse experience in turbulence. It rained for many days and I didn't have a chance to fly the trike. The very first chance I got, I ran to the airport, did't check the weather or anything and got ready to take off. There were red flags everywhere but I ignored each one of them.

The wind sock was moving in every which direction. As I took off I started getting hit with the turbulence right away. I said to myself, I will just make a circuit and land. But I was getting thrown around quite a bit and decided to get out of the pattern, gain some altitude and get a better control over my trike.

And as I was climbing, it was not getting any better and then it hit my .... All around me there were puffy cloudes some as low as 700-800 feet. I will never forget as long as I live, I looked at my left wing and (some distance away, not that far) there was this big puffy cloud at my wing level (looked like a giant space ship)...oh boy did I s**t in my pants...and as I noticed this cloud I got hit with some real challenging turbulence (I am not exaggerating). I must have gained 8-10 feet altitude one second and then lost 8-10 feet...I pulled bar in, gave it some throttle and start thinking "Oh boy what did I get myself into and started praying and thinking that I would never see my son again".....Anyway long story short...I was somehow able to put the bird down and thanked God a million times...As I was taxiing back to my Hangar, I tried to communicate with broken sign language to a helicopter pilot that it is very turbulant up there. He nodded at me but I could read the expression in his eyes (yes I know you idiot).

For you experienced pilots maybe this kind of turbulence is nothing but I had to change my underwear after that.

We all make mistakes, going forward with this experience and my two emergency landings back in Jan, safety has become the biggest priority for me because even though I know that inherently, flying is not dangerous, I also know that it is not very forgiving either. Now my preflights take about the same amount of time as my "actual" flight (OK a bit exaggeration here, but my preflights are pretty long now). Also even if the weather looks ok but doesn't feel right, I don't fly at all and keep myself busy with other trike tasks, such as cleaning it or cleaning the hangar etc. And I feel this is the key for my longevity in this sport, there will always be a tomorrow. I got the bigger part of the equation figured out (to own a trike) so there is no rush.
Victor Okunev
by Victor Okunev 18 days ago
I have noticed on many occasions that if I concentrate on dealing with the bumps while piloting the trike, they will get on my nerves. But if I am focused on some other agenda, say staying in formation or finding a new landing spot or just making an approach, suddenly I realize that I handle the bumps pretty much automatically, my arm muscles are relaxed and what used to be a big deal is just a slight inconvenience. But it is not always that you have "an agenda", often you go up just for a pleasure cruise. So I have developed a technique to "get busy" with some kind of made up objective whenever I feel I am getting involved into the war with the bumps. It works wonders for me :)
Rizwan Bukhari
by Rizwan Bukhari 17 days ago
Sometimes I just talk to myself and say things like "It's ok, just calm down, the bird is flying good etc". Surprisingly it always has worked so far.
Larry Mednick
by Larry Mednick 17 days ago
My advice is work up a tolerance safely while staying in the pattern landing every 5 minutes. I remember the first time I made it past 9:00 AM. I remember the first time I made it to 12:00 and I remember the first time I realized all day flying was no factor and was just as fun to fly in. (I'm not saying mechanical turbulence, wind shear, high wind, I'm talking about mid day bumps and average 10-15 mph wind.)

Guys that only fly in glass air are pressing their luck for when they do accidentally run into a front, or sebreeze or venture too far away and encounter changing weather. Work up slowly it takes hundreds of hours.
Rich Arnold
by Rich Arnold 16 days ago
Thanks to everyone for this forum and the comments. I just joined and dealing with bumps and landings are currently my biggest concerns. I have been soloing for a month and I am very intimidated by turbulence. I am following what everyone here says I should: flying when bumps are less likely, but here in North Louisiana with our extreme temps this summer, I know and have experienced sudden changes during my flights that were not visible or expected. When those occur, I am the guy Pual described: wishing I was not flying and white knuckled thinking about the inevitable final approach in such conditions. I have intentionally done an extra landing or two knowing I needed the practice/experience, and so far, I have dealt with all the whooptidoos and got my Sea Wing back home in one peace. Its a stong bird and good thing it is because some of my touchdowns certainly needed a lighter touch.

I have been experiencing all the worries implied in the article regarding cross country flights etc. I know I am not ready for the unknown conditions at the next stop along some planned flight, so I tend to stay close to home base which has lots of flat agricultural fields and two crop duster strips within line of sight.

It is encouraging to here all you folks say you have been where I am and it does get better.

Thanks again,

Rich Arnold
Abid Farooqui
by Abid Farooqui 16 days ago
Rich, if you did not feel the way you did at this point in your trike flying life, there would be something not normal there.
It takes 100's of hours to get comfortable with these things. Keep digging at it. The trike won't flip over
David O
by David O 16 days ago
Abid is right. Sometimes flying with a buddy helps too. I remember flying with Henry on our first long cross-country together and we were encountering turbulence crossing a mountain pass in the middle of no where. Fortunately from hang gliding, where the entire goal is to try and read the sky and FIND the good turbulence that goes up, I was able to assure him this was OK, where I thought it was coming from, how to avoid it, when it should pass, etc. Even better, for him is we started a rating system- that day, I gave the turbulence a 6 out of 10. It seems weird but knowing an approximate amount of turbulence helps a lot. Up until that point, Henry wasn't sure if maybe this was severe turbulence or not, should he be worried or not and when. Is this a normal amount? How normal? We used a rating system. There are those who know much more than me, but I just wanted to relate some of the benefits of flying with friends.
Rich Arnold
by Rich Arnold 16 days ago
Thanks David and Abid! I have wished for a trike pilot friend who could fly with me. I have been considering making the trek to Hearne, TX for the Trike fly-in just to maybe meeting some other trike pilots and learn from them. I noticed one person planning to attend is from Texarkana which is only 35 miles from my ranch and there might be others. I would really like to know I had an experienced WSC pilot in the bird with me at times of uncertainty and it would just be more fun. I know I would benefit greatly from flying with my instructor Doug Boyle again now that I have a month of solo experience, but NC is way out of range. I still fly with mental recordings of his voice reminding me "small corrections" "control the roll""dance with the wind"etc. The instructions are more meaningful now.
jeff trike
by jeff trike 16 days ago
Great topic.

One thing to realize when trike flying through turbulence is while it may feel like you are rocking and rolling all over the place, the wing is not moving much. The carriage is a pendulum and its swinging around is causing all that motion between you and the control bar. This motion is transient and will average out. Don't fight it. Go with it, but keep the average position where it should be (wings level, pitch neutral) When you realize the wing is not moving much, it is much less scary.

Occasionally you will get a good puff of tailwind that will put you in a stall. These are nothing like the "stalls" you experience in calm conditions where you push the bar out to the nose tube and feel it get mushy. A true stall results in a loss of lift that puts you into free fall. If you don't feel the bottom fall out, you haven't stalled. Often a wing tip will drop and you will enter a slipping diving turn. When this happens, just hold the bar centered and neutral. This is no time for any drastic pitch corrections on the control bar. Fight the instinct to pull in all the way. You are in vulnerable to tumbling now. Once you are through the transient, first get the wings level to stop the diving turn, then slow down to a normal flying speed.

When you are getting hammered by updrafts and downdrafts you are thinking, "How can I land this beast? I am all over the place?" And that would be true if your runway was floating in the sky. But our runways are on the ground, and ground has a valuable property, air can not flow through it. There are no updrafts and down drafts in that bottom 20 ft of air over the runway, because the air has nowhere to go. You can have side-to-side gusts or forward backward gusts, but no vertical gusts. This is no time to be messing around with dead stick landing practice. Use power to slowly lower your trike through that bottom 20 ft. Lateral gusts are transient, so if you are getting gusts now, it will stop in a few seconds (unless it is mechanical turbulence). Use the entire length of the runway if you have to and don't hesitate to go around.

If you are trying to land in strong mechanical turbulence, caused by wind blowing over terrain or buildings, you are in trouble. Find another place to land.

You should get all this figured out before heading out on a long cross country.

That's my two cents.
Paul Hamilton
by Paul Hamilton 16 days ago
About this tipping over in a trike. This is what I tell my students. Think of it this way and you will be OK
"I flew a hang glider where you are always looking and needing bumps (updrafts to climb). The wings are almost as big as a trike wing, your speed is generally slower, and you have not much weight (body only) really high above the control bar and close to the wing. If you run the numbers, look at the physics, hang gliders are much more able to “tip over” than a trike which has 4 times the weight twice as low below the wing and flies faster. If you judge the conditions to fly in light to moderate turbulence tipping over is not a big concern.”
Henry IMGW
by Henry IMGW 16 days ago
Thank you Paul, this is a great subject. I don't have any hang riding nor any other airplane flying experience other than trike. I learned a lot from here.
Paul Hamilton
by Paul Hamilton 15 days ago
Some of my thre useful phrases I give to people when flying in the bumps and it gets "bumpy" flying.

"This is Normal" I am sure you can figure out what this means.
Paul Hamilton
by Paul Hamilton 15 days ago
In Hawaii flying when there were whitecaps that abruply changed to to calm water, as group leader flying through this wind sheer I would broadcast "Everyone please tighten your seat belts"
Paul Hamilton
by Paul Hamilton 15 days ago
Why the "Everyone please tighten your seat belts" friends help friends.
Paul Hamilton
by Paul Hamilton 15 days ago
To get someone ready for the bumps before you hit them. This works good flying early in a morning inversion where the air is nice at airport (4700 MSL) when the wind is blowing over 20 knots at 9000 feet ridgetops. It starts nice and gets bumpy.
"there are always bumps, it is just a matter of how big they are. We will see calm, bumpy and alll kinds of air on this flight."
Paul Hamilton
by Paul Hamilton 15 days ago
Looked at the posts and I will say this. Yes it is best to relax in bumps and not use a death grip. But when things get ULGY, with severe and extreme turbulence, you better grip that bar with all your strength and make sure it does not get ripped out of your hands. Otherwise it is VERY BAD. Not sure who said this but generally “maintain control of the trike”.
Evan Caldwell
by Evan Caldwell 15 days ago
Rich and others,

I'm not a trike expert, but I have a bit over 600 hours in my trike (17.5 meter single-surface wing). I'd like to share with you some thoughts I had after reading your post.

When I fly into rough air I try to remember that I have the option to turn around and fly back into the air I just came from (hoping it's still stable).

In my early trike flying I had a tendency to grip the control bar too tightly in rough air. In effect, I turned my trike into a fixed wing aircraft, so every bump the wing experienced was transferred to the entire aircraft (and me).

I've had a few abrupt experiences with thermals during summer in N. California. In these instances I've had one side or the other of my wing slice through a strong thermal. The result was that the wing slammed up on that side to its full limit of travel, and it was done so violently that the control bar was yanked out of my hands. Some of these rattled me so much that I have turned around and put the trike away for the rest of the day.

Since then I've intentionally stayed flying in conditions that are on the edge of my comfort zone to have more experience flying in the rough stuff so that I won't be surprised by it on the days I encounter it.

My instructor said it so often that I hear his voice each time I my piloting skills are being challenged, "Keep flying the trike!"

Blue skies and favorable winds,

Jim D
by Jim D 15 days ago
Evan, thanks for sharing your experience. However I HOPE that after this event you had the wing inspected, sail off frame......."""The result was that the wing slammed up on that side to its full limit of travel, and it was done so violently that the control bar was yanked out of my hands."""
Rich Arnold
by Rich Arnold 14 days ago
This forum has been most helpful. I actually applied some of the advice yesterday morning when I was surprised to find a strong head wind less than 100 feet above the runway with lots of bumps up to 1000 feet. When I decided to abort the flight I had planned since I could only do 11 mph ground speed in the direction I intended, I had to bring it back down through the bumps on approach. The information about the last 20 feet not having ups/downs really gave me the confidence i needed to not rush it to touch down.

Thanks to everyone.

Joe Swift
by Joe Swift 14 days ago
I had an experience that I had on landing my bird in the hot Texas August summer last year at my home airport. It was 11:30AM and I was returning from a long flight to the airport in strong winds and medium to moderately heavy thermal conditions which is normal for Texas at that time of the year. I over flew the airport to observe the wind sock and joined the downwind pattern leg and lined up my final and started my decent to the threshold and touch down at my normal 70-75mph. There is a grassy area just before the runway where there are always heavy thermals popping off so there is a need to carry that kind of speed to cut through the bumps there. I held the wing with 'positive tension' to keep it on track to the runway and cut through the thermals. As I was bumping my wing out to start my round-out at 50 feet above the runway, I very suddenly lost 40 feet in an instant and was now only about 10 feet above runway. I immediately applied moderate power and gained control stability and landed the plane but I was puzzled as to how fast it happened and why. I called my hanger mate and mentor Steve Burns about it on the phone after the flight to ask him about what happened and he said that I had hit a 'sink'. 'What's a sink?' I ask. 'It's when you encounter a heavy downdraft caused by a strong thermal'.

Well that experience got me thinking about how I was landing my bird and how to avoid or at least minimize the adverse effects of this in the future. Up to that time, my normal landing technique was to pull in my wing on final to get the downward glide speed to 70mph and carry only idle RPM. This was how I was taught to land by the 3 instructors who I had trained with and it worked well for me but my experience that day changed the way I thought about how best to land the airplane. I got to thinking about a blog that Jeff Trike contributed to where he advised a longer approach carrying moderate RPM and flying the airplane onto the runway. I started to experiment with it and found that it suited the normal conditions we experience here in Texas very well. I now use Jeff's technique 90% of the time and feel like I'm landing the plane well with it.

I have a question for you Paul, Larry or Abid or you other veterans out there who care to answer. If and when I encounter a very strong 'sink' over the runway in the future using the long approach, powered landing technique, would that dampen the effects of that sink? I'm thinking yes but I haven't experienced any 'sinks' since I have changed over to using the powered landings. If I hit a strong downdraft at landing, would there be any difference in the amount of altitude I would loose? I think that applying full power at that moment of hitting the sink would be the right decision to make to get the plane to start to climb and then after I stabilized and had control of the plane to continue to land further down the runway. I would appreciate any input or feedback you could give me on this.

Charlie Porter
by Charlie Porter 14 days ago
Joe, There is a difference between normal mechanical turbulence and a thermal or dust devil passing through where you are planning on landing. When the conditions are such that there are strong thermals I usually make an upwind pass and if I encounter any strong lift or sink I will wait a short while before landing. That way I avoid landing when there might be dust devils or sinks in the area that I could possibly hit.

Although it is different than most people here advise, I almost always approach and land with the engine off. I feel it is much safer to do so.
John Olson
by John Olson 14 days ago
I'm with ya there Charlie. I's the glidehead approach though. I don't expect everyone to understand. But if you carry all your airspeed down to the roundout you don't need thrust. Jose; if you hit sink near the ground you counter with the bar.
Jim T
by Jim T 14 days ago
Just like there are stronger thermals there are stronger sink rates. There is also wind gradient that can cause similar effects. The only time I land at idle or engine out is in calm conditions. I almost always land between 3000 - 4000 rpm. It has served me well.

The most important thing I learned is "always be committed to going around if your approach is not the way you like it."

I learned to fly at Granite Shoals, Texas. 32TE It is a 2000 x 50 runway but in reality there is only about 30' wide. There is almost always a cross wind with trees on both sides of the runway. So there is always mechanical turbulence if the wind is blowing.

There were several times I experienced this sink. If you experience sink at idle it will indeed be more dramatic than with power added.

The other skill that is very useful in landing is the low pass. I actually did a low pass on my solo flight and I have been practicing ever since. I feel being confident doing low passes and being close to the ground is very important skill.

Practice. Practice. Practice. And practice more.
Joe Swift
by Joe Swift 14 days ago
So an upwind pass to check out the conditions, counter the sink with the bar movement if you are carrying speed and not apply extra power because there is no need and practice, practice............ All very good advise guys that I will apply and use in the future I assure you. I'm getting to be a better pilot by the minute just by asking. Thanks very much...I appreciate it ('much obliged' in Texan) :=)

Larry Mednick
by Larry Mednick 14 days ago
Landing with power should just change your approach angle which puts us usually in the trees if the engine quits on final. Most trikes have a nice enough glide that power is really not necessary for the entire approach. Also during the flare, if you are sill in the power you are doing something wrong in my opinion. But when you encounter sink then burping the throttle is your best option. However the most common problem I see is people hold the throttle too long. Stopping the descent or climbing is the worst thing you can do unless you are doing a go around.

Due to the way our trikes control their pitch, most of the time when the nose is up and you need to get it down (unless you are holding the bar out and pull it in) your trike will have low energy regardless of being bar in. So the last thing you want to do is change the attitude of your carriage. A good sink correction usually is an abrupt full throttle correction followed by coming back off to idle without slowing down below your original sink rate. Example if your approach is 600 fpm and you hit sink that would other wise get you dropping at 1000+ fpm and you give it the right burp of throttle, you will continue to sink at 600 FPM. If you arrest the sink and wind up in level flight you may have done more harm than good. The key to holding energy in the wing is to have consistent energy in the wing. A full pull in on the bar and wind gusts do not ensure constant energy in the wing.

A steady descent rate and CONSISTENT energy in the wing is what's important to me when landing.

Also not always does high airspeed at idle with good energy mean high descent rate. And not always does bar in mean high energy. A constant glide angle with throttle burps to keep the descent rate equal is the easiest way to keep consistent energy in the wing and a consistent descent rate. These concepts are easy to demonstrate but harder to verbalized and even harder to comprehend through writing.
Larry Mednick
by Larry Mednick 14 days ago
The most common reason for sink at 50-150 feet AGL is transition gradient. And it is inertia that causes TEMPORARY changes in airspeed that cause "sink". Wind gusts cause (temporary) lift... A full throttle burp causes temporary increase in airspeed before the trike pitches up. Causing your trike to pitch up on short final can cause temporary loss of air speed followed by high sink rate and the trike then pitching nose down with low airspeed and high sink rate which is the WORST possible combination Near the ground.

So remember KEEP YOUR NOSE DOWN! :-)
Joe Swift
by Joe Swift 14 days ago
Thanks for this input Larry. I followed you and understand what you're saying. I've been experimenting with throttle 'burps' for the past 7 months and understand exactly. Fully understanding how to control that throttle and integrating it into your flight tools bag is a very large part of finessing the airplane to do what you want it to do. I have found this technique works best for my power approaches as it gives me better control of what's going on.

Thanks and much obliged, Larry. :-)

Larry Mednick
by Larry Mednick 14 days ago
Charlie, the one thing I have found the ability to add throttle works especially well for are gusting Xwind landings. Timing the point of touchdown as the nose yaws back and forth requires use of throttle in some cases. I would say 99% of my landings are at idle and often enough with the engine off (I enjoy silent gliding as well), but if it's gusting and especially a xwind I like to have the engine at my disposal just in case I want to burp the throttle given the choice.
Abid Farooqui
by Abid Farooqui 14 days ago
Hi Joe
I read your landing shakeup post above. Steve was probably in the mark.
However in general there is never a reason to start roundout at 50 feet high. Also second Larry

Rule of Thumb that generally will hold true
No pushing the bar out on approach between 200 feet to 15 feet AGL.
John Olson
by John Olson 14 days ago
Jose, if you are flying a really fast wing, and you have the bar sucked-in and you are plummeting towards the ground, that's a good time to start a round-out at fifty feet. In fact, I would suggest it is imperative. No mames buey!
Joe Swift
by Joe Swift 14 days ago
I copy you loud and clear, Abid...I should have said it better.

When I land at the airport in high summer it's very difficult to get the airplane to loose altitude because the runway holds so much heat that I need to get a pronounced down angle by holding in the bar close to my chest to get the 75mph glide speed when I carry idle RPM's. I usually change that angle in stages by 'bumping' the bar at about 40'-50' above the runway. This changes the glide angel only slightly but doesn't bleed off the speed. I will usually input only one or two 'bumps' of the bar depending on what's called for and that is only to get to a less pronounced glide angel. I don't hold the bar out input but just 'bump' it. That is the technique that I used to use exclusively up until my experience that day. On the powered approach that I now use 90% of the time, I fly the airplane onto the ground in a constant approach angle and input my flair out and power back to idle just about 3 feet above the runway and then I'll bleed off the speed until touchdown. I feel comfortable with that.
Charlie Porter
by Charlie Porter 14 days ago
Larry, I find with my little trike that I can make power off approaches at 2x my stall speed and have plenty of time and energy available to level out and touch down with the rear wheels first. That usually takes care of any yawing around that is happening in a x-wind. If your trike continues to yaw around as you land you probably need a better trike or more training. (Abid, that was a joke!)

I feel that landing with power is a tradeoff in safety that I am not willing to make. I agree having power available you have more descent rate control and also the ability to go around. Most people feel that it is safer that way and that is apparently the accepted training method. I don't feel that these advantages outweigh the disadvantages though. I personally feel that with the engine running people tend to make shallower approaches and spend more time in what I call the danger zone between 10 and 100ft altitude. Training yourself to always have the power available if you need it is also just setting yourself up for landing short on the eventual day that your engine quits on approach instead of the continuous repetitive training for an emergency engine out situation that power off landings provide. Also with powered approaches people will tend to level out with excess energy and touch down at a higher speed than is really needed to land. With power on and the engine running, even at an idle thrust setting, you will tend to crash much harder and cause more damage to yourself and your trike if you screw up and hit while still going sideways and roll over. You will also have less of a tendency to throw up rocks and damage your prop with the engine off. And, most importantly, I find that engine off approaches are much more fun and have a much higher entertainment value. In the end, I would suggest that everyone find the landing method that works best for them and that they feel most comfortable with and stick with that.
Abid Farooqui
by Abid Farooqui 14 days ago
Hi Joe,
I use power-on approach in real flying only rarely. May be 3 - 5% of the time. Generally when I am on a short runway with trees or mechanical turbulence with wind from a side coming on or when we are flying and landing in frontal conditions. Regular mid day stuff I rarely ever use power-on approach. May be pump the power a hair if things aren't right at 10 feet but usually not. One of these days you won't have the power and if you are doing this approach 90% of the time, you will become much more reliant on it.
I saw Ole's comment about flying fast trikes and starting a round out at 50 feet, I don't agree. I have been flying some of the fastest trikes around and no such need is there. In the Revo with 11 wing for example, loaded two up, I approach 70 to 75 and touch down mains at around 45 ... mid day or not, start round out at 15 just like anything else.
jeff trike
by jeff trike 14 days ago
Landing with power in gusty challenging conditions is not the time to be practicing engine out landings. In calm to moderate conditions, I go with power off landing every time. I would say the vast majority of my landings are power off. But when it is nasty, you should not hesitate to use every tool available to set down easy.

In the past I used to power idle landings every time, even in gusts and strong crosswinds until one day about two years ago I was doing multiple landings is gusty crosswind conditions. At the time, I welcomed these conditions so I could get in some "challenging landing practice". I pulled it off 4 good power idle landings and was probably feeling a little over confident and about my landing skills. During last landing I mistimed my roundout and made the hardest landing I have ever made. For the first time in a long-long time, I bounced. It was a small bounce, but I have seen too many bouncing trike videos that ended with the trike flipping over.

At that point, I totally changed my attitude about landings in challenging conditions. No need to up the difficulty factor. In those conditions, I now use every tool available to set the trike down as easy as possible. That means use a long stabilized approach where I line up on the spot, but do not obsess on it. You are vulnerable to engine out on the shallow glide, so I set up to land further down field, so I am protected at all times. If I am not centered on the strip and wings level, I stay on the power until I can make it right.

When everything is right I commit to a landing and go to idle. I bleed off my speed at about 1-2 ft altitude to set down with minimum energy. When you level out just above the runway, every second you can milk it, you slow down about 3-4 mph. You are holding off gravity by draining the kinetic energy of the trike. Count out loud, try to get to 3 or 4 before touching down. I do this last part, stretching out the glide on every landing, whether I use a powered approach or not. Then finish it off with a wheelie landing to set the nose down easy. That's how they land the space shuttle, and commercial airliners. The 3-point landing is for tail draggers, not tricycle gear aircraft.
Paul Hamilton
by Paul Hamilton 14 days ago
Great discussion from industry experts on a most important subject for pilots.
Sun, Sep 25 2011 11:38am CDT 2
David Trikeman
David Trikeman
8 Posts
Thanks, very interesting and useful!!