Oct 22nd

Make money in aviation

By Abid Farooqui

How do you make a million dollars in aviation? Start with two and know when to quit!
What makes an airplane fly? MONEY.

I am sure all of us at least in the US have heard these jokes. Well except they really aren't jokes. 

Its hard to meet anyone who has made much money in aviation.

Aviation is an industry with over one million employees that serve 750k pilots and the 750k is dwindling down to 650k in the last 6 years due to a bad economy. 

By some estimates this industry contributes, on an annual basis, close to $50,000,000,000.00 to the US economy. Yes that's a whopping $50 billion.

Aviation industry sells single engine airplanes for $550,000.00 and in decent times has a waiting list for buying those airplanes. I have never met a pilot on a government program and yet we make little to no money.

Well of course. Its an industry where 2 employees serve 1 potential customer and not all (even most) potential customers even own their own airplane. How would you expect to make money in such an industry. The market size is puny.

Next time, you want to bitch about the price of a new aircraft just remember this. You are an extremely select group and general public does not have the cajones to go fly and sometimes with good reason. For that sin of large cajones, you pay and you pay good and the person you are paying still cannot make too much money regardless of what you may think. They are in it because they love it.

But back to the guy wanting to do this fulltime to make money. The instructor. The dealer etc.

Well its quite simple. If you go to any business school, in the marketing class they will tell you that the ratio for turning anyone to your product is 2 out of a 100 at best. Meaning if you told 100 people about your product, you should at best expect a return of 2 as a general rule of thumb.

So my dear CFI friend, my good trike dealer, how many 100's of potential trike students did you advertise to last month. Did you reach a target audience of 200? Remember I said target audience. Who is the target audience? Don't go telling grandma, that won't help at all. At the same time you remember I said something about I have not yet a single pilot on any government program or on welfare. Well that's because there aren't many. 

So why would you think aviation would be any different than any other business venture?
It requires just as much work in fact more (yes fulltime work), it has the same rules as any other business. Its just that the people in aviation are generally really bad businessmen. They think from places other than their brain. Making this area look this way or making that wing flying that way takes up many 100's of their hours then to actually think about running a profitable business. Their idea of reaching potentials is to go to your typical airshows. Those airshows that are half filled with has been pilots, 25% filled with general public that are not pilots and never will be and are mostly about dumb repititious questions asked and answered in the most inefficient way possible (in person one on one). No other business ever does that and with good reason. 

Airshows are good to go to but what about flyers to that suburban neighborhood, an ad in the local theatre, a stall at a sports cars gathering. How about putting that shiny little trike or gyroplane or airplane in the middle of a mall (I really wanted to do that) and how about running a what the heck this is, what it does, how much does your product cost, what it takes to get to fly one safely in a video with brochure packs for people to take with them. At the least you can probably get good expensive introductory flight sales out of them.

So go fly and teach some students and charge appropriately for your time without feeling guilty. There is no other job that is more risky and more rewarding. We are in the business of making people's dreams come true. What should that cost?

Apr 5th

Is trike flying safe? I am beginning to wonder.

By Toby SkyDog

With all the blogs of people getting hurt in trikes, it sounds like this is common. If I was just looking at trike pilot social for the first time I would not fly a trike with all the people getting killed. Appears that people getting killed in trikes is most popular subject here. WOW. It sounds like more people get killed than have fun. No wonder the insurance companies will not finance them.  I am sure this is where the smart insurance companies, banks and potential pilots do their research and people learn how dangerous it is. Is there any other web sites that provide a more positive look at triking? I am beginning to wonder if trike flying is for me????

Jul 8th

More on turns....

By Bryan Tuffnell

ABOUT a hundred and seventeen years ago, an obstreperous bicycle mechanic with the very United Brethren name of Wilbur was busy concerning himself aircraft control. He figured that to turn an aircraft, yaw - which at the time most people thought held the key to turns - wasn't enough; a turn had to consist of the appropriate amount of roll, pitch and yaw. The Wright's lingering contribution to aviation is the concept that a turn is not a bend in an otherwise straight line but a three dimensional carved curve, and is why to this day we have control surfaces that operate in pitch, roll, and - usually, and it's important for us to understand that as trikers we have a degree of control of this - yaw.

A hundred and seventeen years later, it seems many of us trikers have forgotten Wilbur Wright's epiphany. We insult our wings in turns by rolling at trim speed and keeping it there, counting on the wing's inherent roll-yaw coupling to convert roll into some semblence of a turn. It works - kind of - and around we go, trike wings being generally forgiving of our lack of technique. Any lack of skill tends to go unpunished until a bit of load comes on... which it does when banked and turning... and this gets exacerbated by billow shift... which means that any absence of skill is most likely felt when trying to roll the wings level. In other words, you're more likely to have trouble rolling out of a turn than rolling into a turn, which is a bad time to discover you don't know something.

If you are flying straight and level and add bank, you have commanded the wing to fly straight with bank on - nothing more. The fact that the wing cannot do that is not incidental; the wing will fall off into an uncoordinated turn. But - here's the rub - while as trike pilots we have little direct control of yaw, we absolutely do have a measure of indirect control. To convert a slipping, banked flight into a coordinated turn we must add pitch. So, some rules:

  • ROLL gives BANK and SLIP
  • BANK and SLIP both cause a bit of YAW.

Okay, if that's as far as you go, you'll get a 'turn' of sorts. But it's like shifting your weight on a bicycle while steering straight ahead: your wing is out of balance.

  • ROLL and PITCH UP (pushing out) gives a BALANCED (COORDINATED) TURN.

Now, let's add finesse at the start of the turn: 

  • PITCH DOWN (pulling in) aids ROLL

There's sound aerodynamic reasons for this. You sometimes hear that pulling in a touch increases airflow over the wings and makes billow shift more effective, but that's not all. Who can give the correct reason?

And how do we translate this into real flying? We should have our hands fixed on the bar, a fair bit more than shoulder width apart (if your hands move, I recommend a couple of wraps of electrical tape on the bar to mark where they should stay. I also vastly prefer gloves to bar mitts, which encourage you to grab the bar the way a wino holds a bottle of Chardonnay - I like to have my thumbs either on top of the bar or pointing to each other along the back of the bar, never wrapped below the bar). Try this for an experiment:

  • Take your right hand off the bar altogether. Sit on it.
  • Roll to the left with your left hand.
  • Watch what happens.

You probably pulled the bar back a little as you rolled. No? Then try doing so. By pulling into the turn with just your inside arm, it's easy to simultaneously pull the bar back. Great! Now... when you're getting close to the desired bank angle,

  • PUSH FORWARD with the heel of both hands (not the crook between your thumbs and forefinger) until

If you've done this correcdtly, you'll whizz around and around in cirlces with no change in airspeed or bank. You'll lose altitude - unless you ADD THROTTLE - the final factor.

Rolling level should be the reverse:

  • REDUCE POWER while

I used to preach that any time you lost control in roll, reducing power and pulling in would always allow you to roll level. I don't say that now, because there are now trike wings that require you to have a basic grasp of turns, and such wings are not necessarily bad, they just won't take an insult: if you're slipping badly, you must correct for that before you're back in control (more on that later). This is may sound challenging, but is uttely fundamental to every form of flying, and every 3 axis pilot knows and comes to grips with this.

We're not riding bicycles here, we're pilots; we kid ourselves if we think that all we need to do to turn is to roll. If we do that, we're relinquishing our control from us as pilots and relying on factors such as sweep, dihedral, airfoil section, washout, midspan twist and a whole host of factors - down to the angle of struts and the size of our windscreens - to provide the control that we do not. You know how some wings have winglets? They exist because the designer couldn't achieve the roll-yaw coupling she wanted without compromising other aspects of her design. 

I want to stress that pilots are dying because they don't have a basic grasp of this. Henry and Ken's video is a great lesson: they are alive in all likelihood because Henry knew that pulling in (and reducing power) makes roll more effective, and under the loads they were experiencing was absolutely necessary. Several Arrow pilots have discovered that you cannot overcome billow shift in turns on that wing by rolling with weight shift, and pitching up to remove billow shift is needed before you can roll out of a slipped turn; knowing that has saved lives (my own included). 

I apologise to the majority of you who know all this... but I believe this stuff, and not pilot age or refresher training or lack of maintenance, is the biggest single cause of pilots losing control of their trikes. 

So, for a pop quizz:

  • What happens to billow shift in an unbalanced turn? In a coordinated turn?
  • Where is your weight in a coordinated turn?
  • Why does pulling in increase roll rate?
Feb 13th

Risk Mamagement - ADM - Is triking dangerous?

By Paul Hamilton

Trike flying is dangerous, or is it to who?
Everybody has a different opinion about what is dangerous, crazy, stupid, and/or irresponsible. So here is a risk assessment range that lets us evaluate the risks for ourselves and others.


There is the lower end or Zero (0) risk – those who think trike flying is dangerous, crazy, and stupid.

They think the people who fly trikes (those unsafe ultralights that crash all the time)  are irresponsible to their families and society to fly for fun. There are plenty of these people out there.


There is the upper end of people who fly at the maximum risk which we will call a 10 or maximum risk. Those who do loops, intentionally break the rules, etc.


Then there is most trike pilots. Fly by the rules, do not exceed the manufacturers recommendations, always have a safe landing site available if the engine fails. Does good weather analysis and flies in good conditions only. Stays close to the airport. Has a ballistic parachute. We will call them a 5 and put them in the middle of the pack. These are safe trikes and strive for minimum risk but fly.

Because there are so many factors that effect the typical relative risk factor, some inportant qualifiers will be added here.

First, lack of preflight preperation which includes pilot physical/mental condition, flight conditions, plus preflight of any aircraft will increase the factor by one or even two. Leaving it tied up outside in the sun and wind and/or moisture verses keeping it in a hagner protected from the elements adds a one or two to the relative risk factor. Peer pressure or the video camera running  also can add  a one or two the the relative risk factor. 
The following include a ballistic parachute on the aircraft. Risk factor goes up significanlty by one or two without one.

Pilot skill, hours and expertise of the pilot also effect the "absolute risk factor between pilots". This is similar to the magnatude of the "bumps". However to account for the this pilot skill the "absolute risk factor between pilots" could be decreased by one from the relative scale presented here.

Additional factors that can add an additional point are landing on rough unknown areas, being distracted by messing with your phone, GPS, map, calculator, plus any object that can go through the prop. There are a number of factors that can add to the risk factors.  

The next rung of risk 6 is the long cross country pilot or flying near the airport in bumpy and/or windy conditions. The experienced triker taking additional normal calculated risks above what most pilots do.


The flight instructor gets a 7 for flying with students which is more risky than on your own. Yes CFI’s take additional risk. This is not considered dangerous but flight instructors take additional risks.


Then come the 8’s. Those who knowingly take additional risks above what they should. Flying over water alone, flying in marginal VFR conditions in bumpy nasty air showing landings for the camera and the spectators. Doing s turns close to the ground in bumpy conditions. Here you are asking for trouble that could break or kill you. The next rung is the 9 who flies over water far from shore with a passanger or student. Wing overs close to the ground. Big shiow off in front of people and cameras. Results are probable or serious injury and death. A 10 is a looper with the highest risk resulting in serious injury and most likely death


The person taking an intro lesson who is scared to death, would not normally go up but is forced by peer pressure gets a 3. Someone who starts to fly but stops because they are scared gets a 4.


And a special category (11) for those who do the 10 (maximum risk) without the experience which have a high likelihood of a catastrophic outcome resulting in a “crash” and probable death such as those watching someone doing loops and just go out and “try it”. This is certain serious injury or death.


Yes the “loopers” are a 10 or 11: unsafe pilots with high probability of serious injury or death. The typical good triker is a 5 who obeys the rules, and generally minimizes risks while flying .



What is your maximum risk management number?????

What do you try to achieve for every flight???? 

What do others rate your risk management number as????

Dec 6th

Todd Ware's comment on QuikR's wing

By Abid Farooqui

I asked Todd Ware how he likes the QuikR wing from P&M. His comment was interesting and is below:


"Abid. Great stable wing for speed and cross country trips. Is hardly effected by turbulence. However for racing and tight turning.... I was telling the Britts today that to really pitch up around a tight turn feels like I have to bench press a baby cow! They all laughed and said they have a similar phrase for it, "if you're not lifting a steer you may be a bit queer". 

HUGE Pitch pressure, and high roll pressure. After a minute and A half race I feel like I've been at the gym for an hour. 
But that also makes it usually stable at high speeds. It's a well behaved rocketship but hard to turn. 
Also if you are going slow it will pull to the left and if you're going fast it pulls to the right so you're constantly having to wind the role trim knob if you fly at different trim speeds. But of course while racing you just don't have time to do that. So you just go fast all the time. Also while going slow the role pressure increases drastically. 
It's nearly physically impossible to get the control bar within 3 inches of the compression strut. 
If I raced it all the time I would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. 
But for beginners and normal flying, I think it's a superior wing."


Jul 2nd

Reb Wallace died in a trike crash

By Rizwan Bukhari

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this. Our beloved Trike Instructor Reb died in a trike crash. There is not much information on it since it happened yesterday. He was with a student at the time of the crash.

I had the pleasure of flying with him many times and was inspired by his knowledge. He will be dearly missed. My condolences are with his family. When I was in Nevada, I flew with him at Lake Meade and the Hoover dam. I went to his house, where he burnt DVDs for me of that flight. I had the pleasure of meeting his wife and also their dog.

I am creating this blog with a very sad heart. And as we find more information about the accident, we will add it to the blog to learn more about what exactly happened.





May 13th

Actual G loads or load factors in flight for trikes.

By Paul Hamilton
After one of my long lunch discussions with trike CFI Bob about some of our “big students”, we were wondering how many G’s we actually hit in bumpy air of which we get plenty here. I thought of buying an aircraft G meter at $200 but we found a free iPhone app that has a G meter application “The G meter” from All Works. It appears to work pretty good (but I have not calibrated nor tested it). My first experience with it I could barely get past 2 G’s in a normal spiral, a high speed pull out  and in the bumps. Any experience out there with G meters and trikes? Trying to evaluate actual flying situations. I understand the text book but looking for any other experience. Landings might be the highest G loading???
Jul 7th

912s simple cooling enhancements

By Paul Hamilton

Thought this would be a helpful subject for all 912 owners.

At 6000 feet MSL, 95 degrees F max continuous my oil temperature is at 250 F using Aeroshell plus 4, and CHT at 250 with Dexcool 50/50. This is within limits but higher than I want.

I was told by a very reliable source who has a similar installation (you may identify yourself if you want but I know you want a low profile), that if I add AMSOIL Coolant Boost to my 50/50 Dexcool  system, I will get 10 to 10 degrees drop in coolant temperature.

I was also told that if I go to the AmsOil motorcycle 10/40 fully synthetic oil I will get a 10-20 degree drop in oil temperature and that the AmsOil is better overall when running only auto/MOGAS.

Any words of wisdom or experience with these two cooling enhancements?  I am pretty much going to do them since it makes sense.

Will running at these temperatures lower the life of the engine?

Jun 24th

Rotax two stroke reliability reveled

By Paul Hamilton

There is an industry stigma that Rotax 2 stroke engines 503/582 are not as reliable as the 4 stroke 912 and they die quickly and for unknown reasons. The truth is that 2 strokes do not die, THEY ARE MURDERED.

Here are some simple tips to help you run your 2 stroke as reliably as possible.


First and most important – use the manufacturer RECOMMENDED mixing ratio. Most Rotax 2 stroke engine failures are simply from lack of lubrication. I have heard so many stories about how people are so proud to have mixed at 100 to 1 instead of the required 50 to 1 because someone said it was OK. At 100 to 1 the engine runs great with less smoke but with half the engine manufacturer lubrication it will fail. That would be like running the four stroke with half the lubrication. The oil injection system is a great way to provide the proper mixture the engine without having to premix at 50 to 1. It provides the proper mixture at full throttle 50 to 1, and a higher mixing ratio progressively to idle. Overall, oil injection is great because it will produce less carbon deposits in the engine allowing it to go further without decarboning.


Use a good well know reliable oil. Many engine failures are from some new oil mixture, some magic new oil or someone trying to save money on cheap oil. I recommend three types of oil. The most reliable over history is the Pennzoil - 2-cycle Air-Cooled Engine Oil. This has been tested and is proven to be the best dinosaur oil. This is the preferred oil if you are in a humid area and/or go for longer periods without running your engine. Pennzoil - 2-cycle Air-Cooled Engine Oil produces the least amount of carbon deposits (for dinosaur oil) and keeps oil on internal components with so they do not corrode when sitting in a humid environment  for longer periods without being run.

The new Aero Shell Sport PLUS 2 has been recently developed specifically for Rotax 2 stroke engines and has been tested and provides the same protection as the Penzoil. This is another recommended viable option.

Another option is Amsoil 2 stroke synthetic oil for low humidity environments where you run the engine more and do not let it sit around for long periods. The advantage is that it produces less carbon and burns cleaner. The disadvantage is that the synthetic oil which does not coat the internal components of the engine as well over time allowing internal corrosion which can lead to engine failure.


Using fresh fuel from a major manufacturer will help an engine run better and avoid detonation and preignition which will cause extra wear and tear and eventual engine failure. Higher octane fuels are generally more refined and higher quality so pay the extra per gallon for a quality brand high octane fuel. Fuel degrades octane over time so fresh fuel is better. I usually drain my fuel if it is more than 3 weeks and put in fresh fuel.


Warm the engine up. If you go to takeoff power with a cold engine, it creates extra wear and tear and will fail than or create damage and fail later. Even when the CHT and water temperature reach the proper operating temperature the crank and gearbox may not be properly heated for takeoff power . Besides getting up to operating temperature, I run my two strokes for at least 6 minutes in the summer and 8 minutes in the winter to warm the complete engine before takeoff power. If you do a long descent the engine cools to below operating temperature. During a long descent bring the RPM UP to somewhere mid RPM 400/4500 to warm it up before applying full power. If the engine is cold and you go right to full power, the aluminum piston will heat up, expand and will either scratch the inside of the cylinder which will lead to eventual engine failure. Many times the engine will seize/stop as the piston gets big enough where it cannot move. This is the classic problem where the engine fails, the engine piston and cylinder walls equalize, and then the engine starts and runs fine. This “Cold Seizure”  is the big mystery of why the engine stopped but runs fine now. It runs fine but has been damaged because the inside of the cylinder walls and piston are scratched. Simply managing your engine temperature will avoid this problem. The 582 Blue head does have 2 thermostats to minimize this situation but proper temperature management will avoid this problem.   


Historically, rebuilt engines have a much higher probability of failure than a new factory spec engine. I do not trust a rebuilt engine. A new block (crankcase, pistons, head, electric/mags, oil injection) only cost about $5000 for a 582 so simply replace the block when it is time.  In my opinion, a rebuilt engine is unreliable and worthless. I have only heard bad things about rebuilt engines.  When is it time for a new engine? Rotax recommends and requires for S-LSA a rebuild/new engine at 300 hours. Industry experts say with proper operation as discussed above they can go about twice 600 hours to 800 hours which plenty of 505/582’s go. I replaced my 503 at 750 hours. I premixed Pennzoil at 50 to 1, ran premium fuel, managed the temperature and never had a blip, hesitation or bad moment. At 750 hours, it ran great, compression was good and there was no difference when I put the new engine on.  Two strokes run great unless they are murdered.

Oct 1st

Changing wings on your carriage

By Abid Farooqui
There is a lot of talk, questions, comments about replacing wings on existing trikes with new wings. Sometimes from other suppliers than original trike manufacturer.

Well, depending on certain factors this could be a great safe experience or it could be a real pain in the neck or a complete safety disaster.

Let us look at the areas involved to make this happen properly.
1) Legality (US only discussion)
2) Function and Fitment 
3) Safety and Support

1) LEGALITY (US Only): Legally speaking if you own a S-LSA trike, you cannot change a thing without manufacturer's consent in writing prior to making the change. Consult your POH and you manufacturer to get a list of approved recommended wings for your trike and purchase them through your manufacturer only or you could find yourself to be illegal fined by FAA on ramp checks or during incident investigations up to $10,000.00 per infraction (an occurance of infraction would be each time you flew the trike with an unapproved wing). You could also lose your license and get your machine impounded. 

So on a S-LSA trike, stick with your manufacturer only. You don't have any choice in the matter. It also keeps your trike's re-sale value higher. 

Keep logs of all changes and maintenance to the wing. The leading edge tubes are flexing and they are Aluminum and there is a limit of cycles that they can take before they should be retired. Look at your maintenance manual.   Sail should be checked with a Bettsometer or using recommended method and tool by your manufacturer.

One of the joys of flying trikes is that you can change the wing and get two completely different aircraft. Most manufacturers offer multiple wings that are all tested to fit and function properly on their carriage geometries for this purpose. If there is a reason or argument to buy another wing, you are becoming a test pilot unless the wing maker can tell you that the wing has been tested and fitted to a certain carriage. Tread carefully. Not all wings will fit all trike carriage geometries. This can get to the point of being unsafe. If you are an experienced trike pilot used to flying multiple wings, this may be ok for you. If not then this is not something you should be attempting without help. Sticking with manufacturer's approved wings may be a better idea in this case. The things to consider here are
a) Control frame geometry
b) Flying wires positioning the control bar in appropriate trim/neutral position
c) Drag profile of the wing versus carriage
d) Hang block (this is generally not a part of a wing and is purchased separately or made separately)

Some wings just have different control frames and they may just not be right for your carriage. This may place control bar too far ahead or too far into your stomach at what should be neutral bar position speed. The control bar may sit way too high or way too low. Control frame may not clear the front of the trike because its too short etc. etc. Changes to control frame make a lot of difference and other things would have to change. Possibly not worth it for a one off.

Flying wires position the control bar at an appropriate spot for the expected speed range in the proper tested CG range of the wing. CG range of the wing is crucial for stability. CG of the carriage not so much. You should not go away from the recommended CG range of the wing in order to position your control bar at the right spot. Changing flying wires however, also changes dihedral of the wing which can change handling. So again may not be worth it for a one-off.

Hangblock that mates the carriage to the wing is a crucial safety item. This is where you are hanging from and also putting all your control inputs on. It needs to fit and function properly. Many items slight customizations are expected. Hangblocks are generally not a part of the wing and are expected to be purchased or made separately.

When you are going away from your manufacturer approved wings to another wing maker, its important to know if they will work to support your installation and provide you continued airworthiness support. After all, in my mind the only critical sub-assembly in the whole trike is the wing. You can land with a broken wheel, bent axle or many other things on the carriage and you will probably walk away cursing. You cannot land with a broken wing. Trike carriages in production today are almost always more than strong enough. Its the wing and power loading that will determine your safety and your ability to get out of dodgy situations. 
Look to see if the wing maker keeps records of critical lot numbers of the tubing or sail lots used in the wing. Keep to see if he releases safety directives for his wing models. Take a look at some of his safety directives or safety alerts. Safety is not just achieved from the actual metal and machine. IOts a whole approach and system around the machine that develops a safety protocol and continued airworthiness system.

In conclusion, going away from approved wings is a task undertaken with care. Your experience and knowledge and willingness of the wing maker to support you may determine how it will go. Its easier to get novice to intermediate performance wings to fit on most machines within reason without issue. Higher performance wings have lower drag profile and their carriages are purpose built and matched to allow high performance while being safe as a system. There are no short cuts to this. You put a high performance wing on a mediocre trike without proper testing and I can guarantee you, you are loosing some safety. Low speed draggy things hide a lot of faults that show up at higher speeds. Be careful.