Aug 9th

Another Trike Crash with two fatalities

By Rizwan Bukhari





As reported


JEFFERSON, Wis. (AP) - Sheriff's officials say two people have died in the crash of an ultralight plane into a river in southern Wisconsin.

Jefferson County Sheriff Paul Milbrath said in a statement Wednesday the pilot, 51-year-old David Plambeck of Edgerton and his passenger 16-year-old Max Burlingame of Fort Atkinson died when the aircraft went down in the Rock River near Jefferson Tuesday night.

The ultralight had taken off from Fort Atkinson Airport just before it crashed about 8 p.m. The sheriff says the plane was nearly submerged when first responders arrived. Recreational boaters on the river helped emergency responders pull the two from the plane. They were pronounced dead by the Jefferson County medical examiner.

Federal aviation officials will investigate





Jul 26th

Cost of Aviation Trikes

By Paul Hamilton


In selling new and slightly used high end trikes I have heard many be surprised at the high cost for the best trikes you can buy.

 However everyone must realize that there is a huge range of costs for trikes.


 It is like someone wanting to get into boating and asks you how much does a boat cost to float me and my wife/girlfriend/mistress/daughter/brother/friend? You reply, anywhere between $50 for a row boat to $500,000 for a new 36 foot cruiser depending on what you want. There is a big range of costs and boats.


Another example is someone asking you how much does a car cost. You reply between $2000 to $400,000. Again a range for cars.


How much does it cost to buy a motorcycle? How much does it cost to buy a house?


How much does it cost to buy an airplane. I have heard many people say they can buy a used  Cessna 172 for $40,000,.... why would I buy a $100,000 trike?  Yes the reality is that a new Cessna 172 with options you would normally get costs $400,000. This is a far cry from $40,000.


Cannot compare low end old with high end new.


Yes there is a great difference in price for different things. Generally trikes are about 1/4 to 1/2 the cost of general aviation aircraft on an apples to apples cost basis.


And back to our original question about aviation trikes, how much does it cost to buy a trike. I respond between 10,000 and $120,000 is the range and it depends on what you want AND what is your budget.


So the trikes I sell are the best and the most expensive. The best money can buy. You basically get what you pay for. So anyone/everyone  please do not think the top of the line trikes I sell is the standard for all trikes and lower end used trikes. There is a complete range for all. Again depending on your budget and what you want.



However I will say to every one of my students before they start lessons. If you want a cheap sport, DO NOT TAKE UP AVIATION. Try hiking, basket weaving, pottery,  and the list is endless. If you want to pursue your dreams to fly, triking is a great way to accomplish this. 

Sep 21st

Flying through cloud. A cautionary tale / Article by Robin Kraike

By Tony Castillo

Flying through cloud.  A cautionary tale

At approximately 0850hrs (French summer time) Monday 3rd September 2012, whilst flying home from the annual French ULM show at Blois and keen to make good progress despite deteriorating weather conditions, I intentionally  climbed up through what appeared to be stratus cloud, intending to break through the top.  After a short time I lost control of P&M Aviations beautiful prototype PulsR that I was flying and was forced to deploy the aircrafts ballistic recovery system, in preference to the distinct possibility of dying while trying to regain control before hitting the ground.
There was a loud ‘pop’, and 2 agonising seconds later came the reassuring tug to indicate that the parachute canopy had successfully inflated. I sent a MAYDAY call and prepared myself for arrival back on terra firma as I watched the approaching treetops through the canopy of my now nose 
down aircraft....
Click in the link below for the complete article by Robin Kraike:

Tony C
Oct 31st

Trike incident in Reno/Carson/Tahoe almost fatal with important perspective on throttle use.

By Paul Hamilton

The following is an incident that happened yesterday which a number of high time trike pilots and CFI discussed I will provide my best account for the benefit of all trike pilots.

Pilot is 300 hour trike pilot plus hang glider previous experience. Trike was Airborne Outback 912 Merlin wing.

Wind was southwest 24 to 30 knots at 9000 MSL blowing over the peaks and calm on the ground at Carson City airport 4700 MSL.

Pilot took off and headed north over the hills to Washoe Lake. Calm, smooth air but he noticed a 15 knot tailwind at 6000 MSL. Still smooth. HAND THROTTLE WAS IN FULL POWER POSITION to relax and enjoy the moment. Pilot reported a few bumps that rocked the wing in roll than a slow but consistent roll to the left. Pilot made corrective action to level wing but wing kept rolling up to very high bank angle than nose started dropping. HAND THROTTLE WAS IN FULL POWER POSITION as pilot was using both hands to control roll and now a steep spital dive. Pilot maintained the control bar in a neutral position as speed increased and the rotation was finally stopped but at incredable speed and the trike jetted straight up into an over 90 degree wingover with positive g’s over the top and headed back to the ground in a vertical dive.

Pilot now had the ability to take one hand off the control bar to pull the throttle back to idle as he neared the ground and was able to pull out and safe himself.

After going over the incident a number of times we determined that the hand throttle set at full, and the pilots decision to control the wings uncontrollable roll with both hands, and not reduce the throttle, led to the incredible downward acceleration in the spiral dive and resultant vertical climb.

In the heat of the moment, the pilot felt he had two choices in the second vertical dive,  get to the throttle or get to the BRS chute. He chose the throttle which we all feel was the best decision which got him out of this situation. Reducing the throttle in a steep dive

We feel the full power locked on in dive and resultant vertical climb was a major contributor to this near fatal incident. We are lucky to have the pilot here to talk about what happened and share it with the rest of us.

This brings into question using/locking  the hand throttle in turbulent conditions.

Aug 9th

Trike engine reliability. Are they all equal?

By Paul Hamilton


What is most interesting is how history repeats itself. A year or two ago I put out a video of flying over Los Angeles. There were critics who expressed their opinions condemning me for flying over a city where there was no suitable landing area with an engine out.


Then a very intelligent pilot with lots of aviation experience said something like “there are thousands of single engine airplanes flying over hundreds of cities EVERY DAY in a similar situation. Why is a trike different?”

Good question. Why is a single engine trike aircraft ideology different than all the airplane GA aircraft flying over big cities? Airplane pilots are not badmouthing each other as they fly around. Why are trike pilots different? What motivates trike pilots to have this fearful ideology of engine failure.

It is simple. Here is why. Trikes initially started out with lawn mower engines and progressed to the two stroke ROTAX engines. In the basic “Risk Analysis Matrix” There was a Probable or Occasional likelihood of engine failure simply from the fact of basic two stroke unreliability. Add to that modifications, primitive designs, bad maintenance, and bad operations. There were expectably plenty of engine failures. Now add the four stroke upgrade on experimental’s and things got remarkably better. Why do you think everyone wants a four stroke? THEY ARE SIMPLY MORE RELIABLE. Now add the factory built S-LSA designs with FAA certified mechanics. The S-LSA are simply at a new level of engine reliability if properly maintained. Now we are at the engine reliability level of the GA certificated aircraft. S-LSA have the reliability of all those thousands of single engine aircraft flying over hundreds of cities EVERY DAY.GA airplanes fly IFR into clouds, over mountains at night, and over the open water.

If we try to compare the two stroke and/or old design/badly maintained to a 912 factory design and maintained S-LSA, these are different animals. Not an intelligent comparison.

Modern S-LSA designs maintained by qualified FAA mechanics get to the risk assessment likelihood of remote or possibly improbable. Just like GA engines.

Today I did a flight review in an Ercoupe that was built in 1946. This just came out of annual and I saw it in the shop. It has old systems. However, I feel this is much more reliable than the early two strokes, but I do not think it is as reliable as my Rotax 912 S-LSA that I personally maintain as a FAA Light Sport Repairman Maintenance to S-LSA standards.

So in summary, trikes have come a long way in safety and reliability. So to classify all trikes in the same engine failure likelihood category does not make sense. This is pretty simple. There are many different levels of reliability.




Has who has had engine failures, what type of engine was it (two stroke/four stroke), and what type of a trike was it E-SLA or S-SLA. I would like to find out the statistics so we can get smarter with this.


Sep 21st

Techniques for 180 back to airport with power-out on ascent

By Glade Montgomery

It seems that it's pretty common for engines to fail right during the ascent stage, very shortly after takeoff and when at only a few hundred feet (or, of course, sometimes less).  Based on this, I thought it might prudent to simulate the circumstance by going into my normal steep climb, then immediately dropping into idle, and at various altititudes, to see what was the mininum AGL at which I can manage a 180 back to the runway (or at least to the grass that is parallel to it), and to see what technique would be most effective. 

What I found is I can do it within about 350 AGL, so long as I use a particular and somewhat dramatic technique.  Immediately upon loss of thrust, I pull in hard on the bar, pulling the nose downward from its formerly somewhat steep pitch upward, to a point where it seems I am staring almost straight at the ground.  It's in this extreme nose down configuration (and before significant downward speed builds) that I can rapidly rotate the aircraft around back toward the runway.  If done just right, I can complete the rotation (and round out from the resulting dive) with a good margin of safety (in truth, while doing this I pretend like the floor is 100' higher than it really is, so I have an added margin of safety). 

I've tried other methods.  When pulling the nose down to just normal glide pitch and turning with various degrees of bank, I always lose significantly more altitude (by the time the turn is completed) than via the method above described.  Based on this, I suspect the best method may be the one I discovered.  It's counter-intuitive: when the ground is the very thing you are afraid of (and altitude is your most precious commodity), dive for it (and while turning).  But, within a particular altitude range while on first ascent, I suspect it may be just the ticket. 

This "dive-for-the-ground" technique also has the benefit of reducing any chance of stall (and/or stall/spin) to just about zero.  I believe it's well known that when seeking to minimize altitude loss in these kinds of turns (by keeping the nose up), pilots often lose sufficient speed, and the aircraft stalls fatally.  When you instead dive for the ground, any possibility of that mistake is pretty far removed. 

I am curious if anyone else has tried this technique?  Have your tried this and others, and yet found others are better?  Or have you found similar to me? 

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?

May 7th

Topless verses king post

By Toby SkyDog
I want to get a topless wing to drive it into a 10 foot hanger door. Does Air Creation offer a topless wing for the Tanarg? I have about a 10 foot hanger and do not want to drop the wing.
Apr 5th

Parachute attachment point. Thoughts for all trike pilots. I may change my recommendation about this important issue.

By Paul Hamilton

I had a very interesting conversation with John Dunham at lunch while we were discussing the installation of the BPS (Backup/Ballistic Parachute System) on one of my students trikes. I now have a policy that I will not provide training on a student’s trike unless there is a BPS. When I asked about the attachment point, John provided me information that has may change my viewpoint about the attachment point.


Previously, I was convinced to have the hang point through the top of the wing hangpoint (attached to the carriage) so when you “pop the chute”, you end up coming down level and landing on all three wheels. I have heard many stories in my research about coming down with the trike in many in many uncomfortable situations such as nose straight down hanging with the seat belt etc…..


John explained that if you pop the chute, and it is attached to the top of the wing, two things happen. Whatever speed you have, which is usually substantial, when you pop the chute and it inflates, it pulls the top of the wing back, forcing the control bar forward, and the trike jets up at an unusual attitude climbing, maybe almost looping as the chute pulls the top of the wing back creating an upward tract…… makes sense. Hopefully in this situation “at a high enough altitude” things will stabilize and you will come back hanging under the chute to level and hang to hit the ground with all 3 wheels. Again makes sense.


However, if you are low to the ground it may not be so good if you are attached to the top of the wing. You jet up and now you must stabilize to hang underneath. If you are low to the ground you may hit the ground before you stabilize.


If your chute is attached lower on the mast, above the CG, and you pop the chute, now you will not have both a yanking back on the top of the wing/forcing the control bar forward and such a large moment above the CG yanking your nose up. Yes you would come down nose first maybe 30 degrees and hit nose first.

Overall I see the advantages with the lower chute attachment point on the mast as being able to successfully deploy at lower altitudes and being less hassle for setup/takedown because there is no need to detach/reattach the chute bridle to the top of the wing. The disadvantages is that you would come down nose first and you would have more likelihood of the prop getting the bridle if the engine is not shut off or prop wind milling.

I would like any other opinions or experience on this important issue to understand the advantages/disadvantages of both options for parachute attachment points.

Sep 21st

Biggest misunderstanding in flight SPEED VERSES THROTTLE

By Paul Hamilton

It has been very interesting over the years teaching pilots how to fly in airplanes and trikes. The one misunderstanding most have is the fundamental concept “stick/bar is your speed, throttle is your vertical speed (climb and descent rate)”.

Classic examples which I first explore with students and transitioning existing pilots.

1.       I say “increase our speed” and most give it more throttle and keep the speed the same.

2.       Many pilots and CFI applicants say stick back airplanes/bar forward in trikes to climb.

Overall I am amazed that this fundamental concept is so misunderstood in aviation. This is typical for many GA pilots transitioning to LSA airplanes and trikes. Yes you get your best climb rate at a speed about 1.3 times stall speed and climb rate decreases either side of best climb/glide speed. But overall, the throttle is used for VERTICAL  speed and the bar/stick is used for AIR SPEED.

I am most amazed that GA pilots have been taught this way and new pilots are used to adding throttle in a car to speed up. I have found this is one of the biggest misunderstandings in learning to fly.