Dec 11th

Special Light Sport Aircraft (S-LSA) verses Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (E-LSA) trikes

By Paul Hamilton
It appears that E-LSA are having more engine failures than S-LSA. Since the S-LSA is now more regulated, it appears that overall they are safer “generally”. Is this observed by others? Are there many S-LSA trikes out there used for non commercial operations? Is it safe to say that "generally" S-LSA trikes are safer than E-LSA trikes?
Dec 10th

Geopilot II Aviation GPS

By jeff trike
I need a new GPS for my trike for Christmas.
Has anyone checked out the Geopilot II?
One thing I like about it is that it has buttons, .i.e no touchscreen

Any other GPS units for your trike that you have an opinion of?
Garmin Aera, Anywhere Map ?


Dec 9th

What rpm to run a 912uls

By tom speirs
Having some fun trying to get the rpm right .What is the optimum rpm if I set the pitch for WOT at 5500. I have to run at 3800/4200 to cruise any more at she starts to climb .Set it for a higher rpm say cruise at 4800 I run the risk of over reving the 5800 my trike weighs 425lbs cosmos phase111 What's a boy to do?I s running the engine at the lower end not advisable Tom
Dec 8th

The Anatomy of a Carb Sync

By Dave Schultz
Written by  Rotax Owner :

The carburetor sync on a 2 stroke or 4 stroke ROTAX Engine is one of the most important functions to keep up with for the health of your engine.

Let’s take a look at performing a carb sync on a 912 series engine. The carb sync is nothing to be afraid of and with a few times at bat, performing this function will become fairly easy. First, why is it so important? The carb sync should be done anytime the carbs or throttle cables are removed or adjusted and at the 100 hour or Annual Condition Inspections. The reason for this is cables stretch, cable hysteresis (cable stickiness), pulley system wear, cables slip and because parts wear and end up with more tolerances. The carbs are almost always out of sync at each 100 hours or the Annual. If you did a carb sync back at the last inspection then they may not be out of sync much, but they will in most cases be out at least a bit. The sync instrument should also be used to set the idle sync if you change idle settings. Let’s start off with thinking of the engine as two engines, a left side and a right side. Two carbs controlling different sides of the engine. You don’t want one side trying to operate at 5000 rpm while the other side is trying to operate at 5100 rpm. These opposing rpms will cause excessive stress and wear on your engine over time and possible damage. You say there is a balance tube in between to help balance them out. The operative word in that sentence is “help”. The balance tube can correct and help with small differences between the two carbs, but it is not a cure all and it is there to help make the system run a little smoother than if there was no connection or correlation between the two carbs...



So which sync instrument to use? Well that is up to you, but here are a few considerations. You might use an electronic sync instrument like a CarbMate, Syncromate or a set of gauges. Here are a few pros and cons of each sync instrument. The electronic instrument may have the capability to split hairs and give you a very fine adjustment, but they are harder to interpret as far as knowing which carb you want to adjust to achieve a specific goal to bring the two carb vacuums together. It takes more time and going back and forth to get this accuracy. You also need a power supply like your battery to attach electrical leads to operate the instrument. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s just different. The standard type dial gauges (liquid filled are better for dampening with needle valves in line to assist for dampening needle pulsation) allow the user to see immediately which carb he needs to adjust and how much he may need to make this adjustment. This writers’ one thought here is; does the accuracy of an electronic device to split hairs that fine over a gauge really make a difference and can the carbs and engine really tell the difference? If you pay attention to detail and use good gauges you can be very accurate. The drawback to standard gauges is they may not be as accurate as the electronic tools are. Picking one of these sync instruments is strictly up to the end user and their personal preference, both systems are acceptable.

Let’s move on to the actual anatomy of the sync and what to look for. I would like this discussion to be on the use of the gauges because it will offer some visual numbers to work with and helps in the understanding of this article. First the engine should be up to operating temperature. Safety first so put in place wheel chocks, hearing protection, eye protection and a person at the controls for safety. Now you need to separate both carbs. You can use hose pinch pliers to clamp off the rubber hose used to connect the balance tube between the intake manifolds or just remove one side rubber hose off the air intake and plug your gauge into the rubber hose end and the other over the metal nipple it was attached to. Later model engines have two small screws, one on top of each air intake manifold you can attach your sync instruments into also, but you still need to address isolating the carbs by either clamping off or plugging the cross over tube we discussed earlier. This writer prefers to slide the cross over tube rubber hose back off one intake manifold since it makes sure the carbs are fully isolated while preventing any hose pinching damage from using pliers to squeeze the rubber hose instead. This is only what I prefer, it’s up to you to choose your method.


There are two syncs to perform, the mechanical sync and the pneumatic sync. The mechanical sync is really well explained in the Rotax Owners video ( and I recommend anyone wanting to perform this task to watch this e-learning video! As well the procedure is also described (although not in quite the same detail) in the Rotax Line Maintenance manual, either way with proper knowledge it’s quick and easy to perform. So now you’re all set in your safety gear so have your safety cockpit operator start the engine. (Don’t forget to advise them that if they see you spin more than three times in the prop to turn the engine off!) 


Now we have the engine running and we take a look at our gauge set. If the needles are pulsating then close the needle valves slightly until they stop and become smooth. Set the RPM to slightly more than idle (off-idle as Rotax calls it). Idle and low RPM is the most critical RPM for smoothness as the power pulses are very pronounced and the gearbox will be working hard as it must settle this argument between the piston power pulses and the huge inertia of the prop. At RPMs over 3000 the engine becomes smoother and the shaking is less pronounced. Let’s mention here that to change the RPMs you adjust the Bowden cable screw either in or out which will add or subtract some rpm. You use the carb idle adjustment stop screw to affect the engine idle only. You do sometimes need to adjust the Bowden cable length to get the idle screw to have enough affect, but we can cross that bridge later.


Okay back to our running engine. Have your cockpit operator advance the throttle up to at least 2000 RPM and check to assure your still in sync, if so continue to advance the throttle all the way up to at least 3500 RPM minimum to assure your high speed sync remains matched. Assuming that’s still working continue to even higher RPM’s just to make sure the carbs remain balanced to the higher power settings respecting the fact you need to assure you are out of the prop blast and the aircraft remains secure. If at the higher RPM’s you don’t remain balanced one of two things might be happening. Because an engine well synced at 2000 RPM should hold that sync all the way to full throttle, if it doesn’t you either have binding in the cables or there is something hanging up in your throttle system not allowing the throttle arms on the carbs to move uniformly with one another. If so; check and correct. The second and much more remote possibility is you have a cylinder that is falling off line due to a hanging up valve or other issue. This is very unlikely on a Rotax but I mention it because even though it rarely happens it might save someone from scratching their heads after verifying the throttle actuation of the cables and throttle levers is all working properly yet an out of sync condition remains. So, backing up to the first off idle sync check at 2000 RPM, let’s say you look at the gauges and see that the left side is at 5” of vacuum (more fuel) and the right side is at 6” of vacuum (less fuel). (Vacuum is expressed in inches of water “H2O or inches of mercury “Hg) The higher the vacuum in our case (6”), the harder the carb is trying to draw in air and fuel, leaner , less fuel. The lower the vacuum (5”) the more fuel it is receiving (richer). Keep this in your head about vacuum, the higher number is less fuel (leaner)and the lower the vacuum number, more fuel (richer). Now let’s go to the left side and loosen the Bowden adjustment nuts and screw it back out toward the cable and shorten the cable which pulls the throttle arm and reduces the rpm and fuel flow. Adjust it back until its 5” moves to 6” like the 6” on the right side. Now they should both be equal at 6” of vacuum at 2000RPM allowing you to proceed to the higher RPM checks. If you went to adjust this left side and the adjustment was already way back and you didn’t have enough adjustment there to pull it back any farther then you have two choices. Go to the other side and adjust that Bowden cable adjuster forward to lengthen it and lower the vacuum towards the left side. The other thing you may need to do is shut down the engine, screw the Bowden cable adjustment in towards the half way position and then loosen the cable at the throttle arm screw and shorten it by 1/16” to give you more room to adjust the Bowden cable adjuster farther back on that left side. Sometimes because of how these are setup you may need to adjust one side back a tad and adjust the other side forwards a tad to make them equal and not run out of adjustment on either side.


Now pull the throttle back to idle and see where it is. If you have a 912ULS a good idle is around 1750-1850 rpm to stay above the low RPM vibration and hammering the higher compression of this engine has(it doesn’t like really low idle settings so they should be avoided). Now if your idle is too high after you pulled the throttle back then look at the gauge and see which gauge has the lower vacuum number. Remember the lower the number the more fuel it is receiving. Let’s say the idle rpm is 1900 rpm and you want 1800 rpm. The right carb gauge is at 12” and the left carb is at 11”. The carb on the left side is getting more fuel and the rpm is too high. So that is the carb we want to reduce the rpm on and raise the vacuum to get to 12” like the right side. So you back out the idle stop screw and the 11” of vacuum raises to 12” of vacuum like the right side. If that made your idle rpm 1800 and you are happy then you’re done. If your idle rpms were still too high then back the idle stop screws out on both sides a little more until the idle rpm is where you want it and the vacuum on both sides is equal. Always double check your work. Run the engine back up to 3500+ rpm and see if the needles are still equal and if not then you may have hysteresis, a broken strand or some other factor causing unequal cable movement that needs attention(or as discussed earlier, that lazy cylinder, another topic for another time). Then back to idle to check that vacuum setting and the idle rpm. If you idle for a long time making an adjustment then run the engine up for a few seconds now and then to help keep it cleared out and from loading up at those low rpms. If your idle rpm was too low (1600 rpm) then screw the idle stop screw in more on the carb with the higher vacuum 12” down to 11” until the vacuum number lowers to match the other side of 11”and the idle comes up where you want it.


After you have doubled checked your work then shut down the engine and make sure all the jam nuts to the Bowden cable adjuster are snug. Remove the gauge set and connect the carb balance tube setup. Even after a sync the engine may be slightly rougher with the carbs balance tube separated, but should be a little smoother when it is reconnected.

Two last parting comments. The throttle control system in your cockpit at idle should have an idle stop on it and when you pull it back to its stop at idle then the idle stop screw on the carb should just make contact at the same time. If you do not have a throttle stop for idle in the cockpit then you will most likely bend the idle stop levers on the carbs due to the leverage advantage you gain from the cockpit throttle control. This over powering of the idle stops on the carbs will result in the idle ending up too low. This continuous bending towards lower idle could also lead to a much bigger chance of stalling your engine from low rpm in flight and it won’t be when you want it to quit. Pay attention to how your aircraft design addresses this issue and adjust accordingly!


Second; You should check the balance of the carbs at both high rpm and at idle. I have seen some back off the idle stop screw until it no longer functions and that means the carbs can only be synced at the higher rpms and not at idle. That means the engine is operating at idle at opposing rpms. If you thought it was important to sync your carbs at the higher rpms to keep them from opposing each other, reduce vibration and from hammering the engine why on earth would anyone not sync them at idle? This is a poor practice to get into. You spend a lot of time idling. Remember what our Dad’s told us; “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”.


I know this was a long article, but I thought it may be worth covering for some Rotax owners. If you fell asleep half way through, print it out and take it to the airfield.



Find the full article at:


Dec 6th

Mandatory service warning to all trikers using heated clothing

By Paul Hamilton
After a loss of heating in 15 degree temperatures two trike pilots came close to hypothermia. Using the Gearings heated clothing, and flying trikes at 15 degrees F, A glove became unplugged and the hot lead hit a ground and the heated clothing shorted and failed in flight. The two pilots headed back to the airport but the intense cold nearly caused hypothermia. To avoid this situation, all pilots using heated clothing in extreme cold conditions should: 1. Make sure your heated clothing is on a separate electric circuit and properly fused to eliminate total electric failure. 2. Use the NEW Gerbings boots/glove system that has the hot leads recessed so the hot cannot be disconnected to ground. 3. It is best to have a separate circuit for the heated clothing and a switch to turn the heating on only after all the heated clothing is plugged in and the motor running. see picture for good (left) and bad (right) hookups
Dec 5th

Wise Words - Lessons from trike fatalities

By Cherian Jubilee
I found and read this on Free To Adventure site written by one David Zuniga. I think its important enough for all flex micro pilots to read.
Original article can be found at

Between April 21, 2010 and May 17, 2011 there were three similar trike crashes in Hawaii, each resulting in two fatalities. Six deaths in 13 months, all over water.  The last four deaths should have been avoided, and might have been, if the flying community had done its job, as I'll explain.

An old aphorism holds that there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.  The aphorism comes from generations of tragic lessons.  If these three lessons don’t teach trike pilots not to conduct overwater flights with passengers, then I recommend we grant the Darwin Award to the next pilot who kills himself in an overwater crash.

People have commented elsewhere on that Steve Sprague was a great pilot and all of the usual condolences after a fatal accident.  The deceased pilot was a great guy, the very best…don’t know how it happened…blah, blah.  I submit that these commenters either didn’t know Steve Sprague very well or are trying to be polite.  Of course it’s heartbreaking that Steve killed himself and his passenger; what’s needed now to hopefully prevent more such avoidable ‘accidents’ is blunt honesty.  If my friend Steve was still here, I’d kick his ass.  But because he refused to take the obvious lesson from the irresponsible flying of Tedd Hecklin and Jim Gaither before him, Steve was the most irresponsible – I’d say criminally negligent – of the three.

It’s critical to the future of our sport and to the lives of future trusting passengers that pilots exercise sound judgment.  So I'll disagree with these glowing assessments of Steve’s piloting with actual data from my personal experience with him, and then I’ll offer up a few other hard cautionary tales of tragedy. 

Young pilots need to hear from old pilots like me because, as with some other sports, flying can be totally unforgiving.  As you read this story, think of the pilot or pilots that you know, whose flying style throws up red flags for.  I think all of us have a duty to confront such pilots before they kill a passenger. 

I distinguish between solo flying (Part 103 or otherwise) and carrying trusting passengers.  In a free country, I say that what a man does with his own life is between him, God, and his life insurance company; but when you involve a passenger – especially when you do so for hire, advertising the relative safety of our sport and yet operating in a foolhardy manner, every responsible pilot you know should call you out for it. 

If more of us confronted the ‘bold’ pilots in our lives that way, it might help the Darwin Award winners from destroying our sport, raising our life insurance rates, and destroying the families of those who are the passenger on their final joy ride.

My triking instructors were Paul Hamilton and Samantha Moore in Carson City; professional operators and meticulous about their aircraft and operations.  But when I returned to Texas, Steve was the only trike instructor in our area so after my initial training I took about an hour of dual time with him, and I saw red flag #1.

At Steve’s home airport as we assembled the wing on his training aircraft, the old Aquilla looked as though it had been sitting for a decade in the sun and had endured many hard landings.  The airframe was so un-airworthy in fabric, fittings, tubes, and gear that as we were taxiing to takeoff, I knew better than to go aloft.  The old Aquilla was not the trike that Steve and his passenger died in; my point is that Steve was definitely not a conservative pilot.  Any pilot who knew him should have known that, but his vacationing passengers had no idea; that’s the worse tragedy.  Perhaps because Steve’s father had been with FAA for years, he felt he was genetically immune to the consequences of irresponsible actions? 

Red flag #2 came when I noticed that Steve’s training area was under the floor of the Randolph Air Force training base MOA.  Low-time jet jockeys blast along at closing speeds that will blow you away like a bug before you can spot their approach.  I was fairly new in trikes but had been a fixed-wing pilot for 30 years and I never felt uneasy about flying with Paul Hamilton or Samantha Moore.  After that day, I never flew with Steve again. 

Red flag #3 for me with Steve Sprague came when I learned that he was also operating a ‘balloon adventures’ business and had been accused by many past clients of ethical lapses.  I did a search for his name and ‘balloon adventures’ on Google and found the San Antonio BBB site.  I discovered that he had an accident that was nearly fatal to one of his balloon passengers.  Rather than reconsidering his activities in that sport, his posts all denied any wrongdoing or judgment lapses.  He continued operating as before, with more complaints about his ethics.  Business ethics is not directly related to airmanship but it indicates judgment; when you read “pilot error” in an NTSB report, judgment is 90% determinative. 

Red flag #4 with Steve Sprague was after I had finished assembling a new DTA Voyager – an expensive SUV-style airframe, the most robust in the industry.  Since there was no one else in the San Antonio area, we hired Steve to be our test pilot.  He started to taxi out for the initial test flight…with his safety harness dangling along behind him.  We waved him down to signal him to buckle up.  In an enclosed aircraft, it’s a basic checklist item, but in an open DTA Voyager your harness is a life-safety item.

Then came red flag #5, when Steve posted videos of himself committing clear FAR violations, flying a trike at night over terrain where no possibility of emergency landing existed.  I emailed him about it; he didn’t acknowledge the email or respond. 

Red flag #6 came for me after Steve moved to Kauai for a clean start, far from his past ballooning accident and reputation.  No one knew him in Hawaii.  Those who signed up to fly with him had no idea what kind of judgment this pilot had; they would log onto his site and read glowing testimonials from past joy-riders visiting Hawaii and being treated to breath-taking flights over forbidding mountains, waterfalls, and 10,000 foot deep ocean!  When I saw Steve’s new website videos, I emailed him, strongly advising him not to operate overwater with passengers.  No response, no acknowledgment. 

Red flag #7 was when I noticed that Steve advertised his Kauai sightseeing tours as ‘introductory flight training’, to avoid the stricter FAA regulations for tour operators.  As with most balloon and helicopter joyride operations, customers assume that the operator is proficient and of sound judgment.  When passengers sign a liability waiver, they sign away their life – or at least make it nearly impossible for the family of the dead passenger to sue the operation for the pilot doing something that any responsible commercial operator should never do. 

Federal Aviation Regulations Part 103 makes triking and flying powered paragliders a self-regulating community; we fly under our own recognizance under Part 103 because the pilot can only kill himself.  Yet an LSA pilot can, by bending the rules as Steve did, operate for hire and seemingly follow the letter of the FARs with respect to equipment and certificates, yet still operate as a ‘bold’ pilot, making all our lives harder when he dies.  Witnesses said that they saw the trike “doing steep turns no more than 60 feet from rock cliffs”, and that looks just like what you see on his website videos.  Darwin Award stuff.

This article is designed to be such self-regulation; a cautionary tale to all my fellow pilots who may call me dirty names for saying hard, true things…but just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.  THINK before you fly.

Steve Sprague was trained and knowledgeable; he knew perfectly well that overwater flight even with a BRS, poses fatal risk for pilot and passenger in case of in-flight failure.  Not only structural (as may have been the case here) but even in an engine-out failure.  Jim Gaither, the ‘instructor’ (tour operator) that Steve replaced on Kauai had killed himself and a passenger in the ocean just 90 days before Steve’s fatal crash.  Why did Steve refuse to heed the fatal lesson given to him by Jim’s crash in the ocean off Kauai that killed passenger Kim Buergel?  Why did Steve refuse to learn from the double fatality (Ted Hecklin of Ted’s Flying Adventures and passenger Grace Moran) one year prior, on the big island? 

The lesson is: no overwater flight in a trike without floats.  Three pilots took the lives of others as well as their own.  As the third on in Hawaii in 13 months, Steve not only knew better; he had been warned about that specific danger and did it anyway because he was criminally negligent and misrepresenting to the public what kind of operation he was running so that he wouldn’t have to face FAA scrutiny of his operation.  Just because he could.  Similarly, the flights he was doing over forbidding granite mountains with no possible emergency landing spots, pose just as grave a life-safety threat: zero error margin for pilot, airframe, or powerplant.  Steve knew this, but didn’t give a damn because Steve was a bold pilot.  Steve was immune.

Ask yourself…is this your attitude when you fly?  If it is, then for you, carrying passengers is criminally negligent.  I don’t know what Ray Foreman’s widow (who took a “training flight” with Steve to celebrate his 25th anniversary) or his 10-year-old son think about it, but Steve’s persistent bullheadedness and daredevil flying cost them their husband and father.  

So yes, I’d kick his ass today if I could.  But I’m not singling Steve out here; I mentioned Tedd and Jim, the other two Darwin Award winning pilots in Hawaii.  I’ll offer a few more, too. 

Over 20 years ago when I flew ultralights, a friend named Bobby in south Texas used to be a daredevil, flying aerobatics in unrated ultralights; even landing atop a moving semi-trailer just to prove that he could!  Watching Bobby fly was always an edge-of-your-seat proposition; he was incredibly skillful, but Darwin’s Law catches up.  We all should have given Bobby a hard kick in the ass and a good chewing out…but none of us ever did.  We in the ultralight community screwed up because today, my friend Bobby is a quadriplegic.  Not from a flying accident; the stunt that finally did him in was a long wheelie at high speed on a superbike in traffic. 

When you hear a spirit of immunity and invincibility in a pilot, who speaks highly of his qualifications yet exhibits bad judgment – call him out on it.  Then tell someone else.  If they’re married, tell his wife to watch him carefully, and if you have mutual friends who fly, have them tag him too.  If he offers rides to passengers, for free or for hire, tell your FAA FSDO if you think the pilot is dangerous enough. 

Considering themselves immune to the aviation community’s collective wisdom, these pilots give all of sport aviation an undeserved reputation with the public and with life insurance underwriters.  These pilots go up when they shouldn’t…they fly in places that they shouldn’t – where there’s no chance of making an emergency landing…they fly in such a manner as to always appear very courageous – or at least like a lot of fun, to people who have no idea of the life safety issues.  These pilots invite a tragedy.  Then they brag about it; they publish photos and videos. 

Is it right for the rest of us to remain mute?  Should we offer them posthumous kudos for being “a great pilot and a great guy”, when the public is depending on our collective judgment to self-regulate our sport?  If we remain quiet about these fools, who deserves the Darwin Award more – them?  Or us, for keeping quiet about what we know very well is stupid, dangerous flying?  

Your aircraft’s airworthiness is as critical to your life as your airmanship, weather decisions, or decision to fly over impossible terrain or water.  My friend Roger Nathanson was president of the Kerrville, Texas EAA chapter not far from my home.  I’m a Christian and Roger was atheist, but we still got along wonderfully.  I considered him a meticulous pilot and mechanic, and as a person he was just a prince of a guy.  Unlike Steve and Bobby, my friend Roger was no daredevil.  But believing you’re immune to airworthiness issues can kill you just as dead.  

In March 2009, Roger bought a used Northwing trike from Oklahoma and had it trailered to Kerrville.  When it arrived, we inspected it at my airport.  Being a structural engineer, I pointed out that both wing spar tubes had undergone severe localized flexural stress at the same point.  Inadequate support and attendant abrasion and cyclical impact loading on the long trailer ride evidenced incipient stress fracture at both locations after 800 miles of bouncy trailering.  I made Roger promise me that he’d replace those spar tubes.  I should have followed the rule I mentioned earlier; should have told his wife not to let him fly until he replaced those spars.  I just assumed Roger would follow through. He promised but didn’t do it.  A successful business owner, it was no question of money; Roger just didn’t install new wing spars because even though an engineer had shown him the incipient failure points in his wings…Roger felt immune.   

On May 24, 2009 the news reported that Roger and his passenger, Dr. Jim Stokes of Kerrville on a ‘training ride’, had died.  The trike had no BRS; witnesses said they saw one wing ‘flapping’ as the trike spun in from altitude.  
That totally avoidable double fatality was worse than ‘pilot error’; beyond a reasonable doubt it was criminal negligence.  Two stress-fractured wings spars were not replaced; the wreckage photos confirmed it, as I reported to the local FSDO.  Damn it, why do some pilots feel immune when they intend to carry innocent passengers!?

My responsibility to my fellow aviators (on this site and in general) is to ask you as you watch such videos right here on this site…is this a good thing for the future of personal liberty and of our sport?  Anybody that knows me is aware that I have always complained about the draconian, tyrannical way that the FAA conducts itself.  It just infuriates me that a government agency is so damned hard on us when all we want is the freedom to fly.  Those who know me, are well aware of my position about the Nanny State, and liberty of the skies.

As I said at the outset of this long tirade, I make a distinction for pilots flying Part 103 or flying solo, as with PPGs.  Each man’s life is his own and we’re all going to die sooner or later; what you do with your life is between you, God, and your life insurance company.  Some people consider the risk worth the excitement.  That’s fine.

But manslaughter is different.  When you carry a passenger – especially passengers for hire – and you fly recklessly, that’s ALL our concern.  It’s definitive criminal negligence, and that kind of ‘pilot error’ should bring serious legal liability for the pain and torment and life difficulties it brings to those left behind. At the very least, your dangerous practices should bring public scorn from those of us who know you.  We owe it to you and our sport to call out your real irresponsibility rather than paper over your funeral (and that of your victim) with platitudes about your having been “a great guy”.

If you’re a ‘bold’ pilot, give the rest of us a break and go skydiving without a chute.  If you’re a responsible pilot of any ultralight or light sport aircraft and you know pilots like the ones I’ve been describing, you owe it to our sport to report that fool’s operations to those who love him – or to the FAA, if the fellow is a real hardhead.  I wish I’d done that with Steve and Bobby.

If you fly a powered paraglider or are carrying a passenger in your trike, never fly over water.  Any aircraft without sufficient glide altitude and not float-equipped and rated has no business in overwater flight.  All trike pilots should enforce this simple rule with our fellow pilots who aspire to the Darwin Award.

Never fly over harsh, forbidding terrain with no emergency landing potential or operate your aircraft in a death-defying style if you have a passenger.  As soon as you take on a passenger, (s)he puts his/her life in your hands.  However competent you think you are, and however invincible – at least respect the lives of others.

By all means, pray for Steve Sprague’s family.  But if he had lived through it, I’d kick his ass.  I pray for the families of Grace Moran, Kim Buergel, Ray Foreman, and Jim Stokes – those pilots’ unwitting passengers.  I pray that everyone who reads my words will learn the lesson of these eight people’s deaths.  Four passengers trusted the judgment of four ‘bold’ pilots whose pilot friends were too easy on their stupid pilot buddies. 

If you love them, don’t be easy on them.  I promise I won’t be.  

David Zuniga
Boerne, Texas 

Added Comments:
Comment by David Zuniga on November 5, 2011 at 3:51pm

Yes, I know (before anyone else says it)...I found a YouTube video of trike flying over Kauai's formidable, jagged mountains and out over the ocean...featuring none other than my trike flying instructor, Paul Hamilton -- the man who wrote the book on WSC training.  As far as I know, Paul was flying solo on that flight but in any case, it's insane. Trike flying fatality statistics will certainly not improve until we all get serious about our responsiblility to one another and to those you take flying. 

Comment by Chris Brandon on November 4, 2011 at 9:16am

Hey David..

You speak my language. All forms of flight require discipline, respect and absolute air-man-ship!

Been flying some 40 yrs in delta wings, from the 1970 kite flying days to hang gliding and since 1982, microlights. In my life I have lost many friends who as pilots sadly allowed their judgement of facts over-ride the true indicators of safe flight.

Your words are strong, correct and refect courage.

Providing the trike manufacturers build there machines to an approved Quality Control Method of Practice, all we need to do as respsonsible pilots is to fly with a simple rule: Are we RAMBO is our aircraft AIRWORTHY.

R - Rested, have we slept well & of clear MIND.

A - Attitude, do we have the sound attitude to make good YES or NO decisions.

M - Medication (are we under any influences that may affect our judgement.

B - 8 Hours Bottle to the Throttle (minimum)

O - Organise, are we and our aircraft organised, certified and safe to command the flight we are attempting.

Sadly, the loss of life in aviation reflects on us all, usually in a negative manner.

Good decisions are the integrity of sound AIR-MAN-SHIP.

Smooth flight my friend.


Dec 4th

Flexible Oil Reservoir Heating Pads

By Dave Schultz

Flexible Oil Reservoir Heating Pads
Engine Heaters and Battery Warmers

Canada Invented COLD Weather

Ensures your vehicle starts on cold mornings

Provides IMMEDIATE lubrication

Virtually eliminates cold start wear

Improves crankability at the coldest extremes

Fast, easy and inexpensive to install


Cars, Diesel Engines, Trucks, Generating Sets, Compressors, Farm Equipment, Water Pumps, Marine, Mining & Construction Equipment.

No Need For A Block Heater, Magnetic Heater or Dip Stick Heater

Dec 4th


By Dave Schultz
SB-912-059 / SB-912-059-UL
SB-914-042 / SB-914-042-UL
Checking of the crankshaft for Rotax 912 and 914 series engines

Rotax has released a Mandatory Alert Service Bulletin which covers checking of the crankshaft journal for cracks on certain Rotax 912 and 914 series aircraft engines including a small portion of serial specific crankshafts sold as spare parts. This ASB is serial number specific and affects certain crankshafts produced in October & November of 2010.

It is imperative that all Owners and Operators cross check their engine serial numbers to assure this ASB does not affect them. In addition, any Owners and Operators who’s engine may have been overhauled or repaired since October 2010 which included a crank shaft or short block with crank shaft replacement, cross check their crank shaft serial number to the crank shaft serial number list in the ASB to assure they are also not affected(see the “Quick Check Serial Number List” attached below or by clicking here).

Full Service Bulletin information at:

Dec 3rd

Sport Pilot Examiner experience

By Rizwan Bukhari

I would love to know your checkride experience, whether you are at the east coast or west. What examiner did you go through and how was your experience. You can either respond in this blog (so it could benefit some of other students who are about to have their checkride) or send a private email.

I am just trying to decide on an examiner hopefully for this coming summer and would like to know your opinions and experiences.


Dec 3rd

Fighting for access to my local airport!

By Gary Berdeaux

At first I wasn’t going to make too much of my long battle to get a hanger at our county airport.  After further thought I decided to share my saga with you all in hopes that it may be helpful to others with a similar problem.

I soloed and bought my first trike (FAR 103 legal Medway Half Pint) back in 1999.  The very first day I trailered my trike to the airport to setup and fly I inquired about renting a hanger.  The FBO (Ed) and his wife were friendly but assured me that they were all full and they would put my name on “the waiting list”.  Every few months or so, I would check to see if any had come available since my last visit.  Always the answer was a polite “no”. 

Eventually I was fortunate to meet a local fixed wing ultralight pilot flying Quicksilvers who invited me to share his private airstrip and hanger nearby (Crosswind Field).  Thought the years Crosswind Field owner Jackie Buckingham and I became good buddies.  Crosswind is a great short grass strip, 1,100’ long.  Unfortunately it is sandwiched in between a manufacturing plant and a residential neighborhood.  The runway has power lines along the East end with a hillside and houses behind.  Not safe to take off to the East or to land from the East as you have to fly low over houses and dive in over the power lines in order to make the landing. 

Fast forward to last year… I decided to buy a brand new P&M GT450 and become a CFI.  For some years now many friends have encouraged me to get my CFI as there are none in our area and they feel that I would be a good instructor.  In the process of buying my GT450 I had become friends with Tony Castillo (P&M Aviation, USA).  I knew that as soon as I decided to instruct I would NEED to hanger and teach out of our county airport.  I knew it was going to be an uphill effort, but I had no idea how much effort it would be!

Though the years I had learned that hangers were available.  Many were actually being rented as storage lockers with no aircraft in them at all!  I decided to give Ed one last chance to be a good guy and rent me a hanger.  I reintroduced myself with my new Kentucky Sport Aviation business card and explained that I was studying for my CFI and had become a dealer for P&M Aviation aircraft.  I expressed my desire to work with him (Ed is an A&P mechanic and flight instructor) to have him do the annuals and 100 hr inspections on my SLSA trike. 

Ed told me:  

1.       He was “not interest in working on my aircraft (didn’t want the liability).”

2.       2. “Hangers were reserved for certified aircraft.”

3.       3. “He didn’t want to take calls on me.”   

Man… was I set back on my heels with this attitude!  On point two I reminded Ed that I was flying a brand new SLSA, FAA registered (N450KY) aircraft that was insured.  And that I was a certified Light Sport Pilot with about 600+ hours of flight experience in trikes. 

On point three I asked Ed what he meant by not wanting to take calls on me.  Was he suggesting that area residents would call to complain about me flying in an unsafe manor? “No” he replied.  “I don’t want to talk to your students.  I don’t want to be your secretary.”  He then continued to say “You know I’m a flight instructor?”  It was now crystal clear to me that no amount of civil conversation would EVER change is mind.  He does not like either FAR 103 or Light Sport aircraft of any size shape color etc. 

For the past few years one of my frequent backseat flying buddies is our local county Circuit Court Judge Phil Patton.  During our flights I expressed my frustration with our local FBO and his unwillingness to rent me a hanger.  Phil was not pleased to hear how I was being discriminated against.  So the next day Phil had lunch with the newly elected mayor of Glasgow.  She did not like what she heard!  She assured Phil that she would “look into it”. 

Less than one month later I had a nice one on one visit with Mayor Trautman.  I expressed disappointment as a local small business owner trying to start an aviation company and the unwelcome treatment I had received.  We also discussed the fact that in the past 12 years Glasgow Municipal Airport hand never held a fly-in, hosted an EAA Young Eagles program, never held pilot safety seminars etc.  She agreed that things must change.

When she called Ed and asked if there were any hangers available, he assured her there were none available.  Further he told the mayor that I was not eligible to rent a hanger as they were reserved for certified aircraft.  She reminded Ed that my aircraft is insured and N-numbered.  He said, “oh, well that was a poor choice of words.”  Mayor Trautman realized that she would have to do her homework in order to change things.  She ordered the city Fire Marshal to inspect all hangers for the improper storage of flammable liquids.  Further he was to report how many hangers were empty and how many had junk stored in them. 

After the inspection the Fire Marshal reported four empty hangers.  WOW!!! A MIRICLE!!! Overnight four hangers appeared out of the blue!  Man was I lucky.  That Wednesday the mayor emailed Ed about the four empty hangers and that he was to rent on to me immediately.  Ed did not reply.  The next Monday she called him into her office for a meeting.  I don’t know what was said, but the next day I had phone messages on my home, business and cell phones from Ed offering me a hanger!

I am now in the process of forming a local EAA chapter at Glasgow and have found a number of local pilots eager to help put on a fly-in next year!  Wish me luck.

There is more to this story but I’ve gone on long enough over it all.  Bottom line here is be polite, be professional, and above all be persistent.  Build a support base of influential local officials then push forward for your right to access your local public airport facility.  You have as much right to be there as anybody else!

Fly safe everyone,