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.
Feb 24th

Emergency Parachutes

By Josh Jones

I have a Second Chantz compressed air parachute that I intended to put on a new Ace Easy Riser. The parachute needs some repairs done to the internal fittings and a repack, but we have had a really hard time getting ahold of anyone at Second Chantz.

After I did some googling, I found this...


It seems I won't be able to get my parachute operational unless someone knows of place willing to work on an emergancy parachute like this.

So now I'm faced with a decision. Do I just go ahead and fly the trike without a parachute? I live in an area with a lot of flat ground, scattered woods, and fields of corn, soybeans, and wheat. If the wing is capable of flying, I should usually have a decent spot to set the aircraft down. I don't plan to ever fly in adverse weather conditions or outside the limitations of the aircraft. So, do I even need a parachute?

The main reason I would want one is that I'll be flying a new aircraft. Do I trust my ability to put it together properly? Do I trust my life to those untested components? I would feel safer with a parachute for backup.

I don't know much at all about the options that are available. What do you all use? What type or brand would you recommend for a Part 103 trike? Cost, maintenance, and ease of installation are all factors.


Nov 4th

microlight crash on beach

By Qazi Ajmal

It was so bad. 
Feb 15th

Two killed in crash of powered hang glider off Kauai

By Diego Sagrera

Two people were killed today in the crash of a powered hang glider in waters near Glass Beach, southwest of Port Allen, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Kauai County said the aircraft was owned by Big Sky Kauai, a company that offers tours and lessons from Port Allen Airport.

The pilot of the downed aircraft is Jim Gaither, owner of Big Sky Kauai, Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael De Nyse said.

According to friend Gerry Charlebois, owner of Birds in Paradise, Gaither was returning from a flight lesson with a student today and approaching Port Allen Airport when he was reported overdue.

The craft was an experimental Windsports Edge XT-912L, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said in a preliminary report. Such aircraft are known as microlights or airborne trikes.

The microlight took off from Port Allen Airport and crashed about 11 a.m. in the ocean 10 miles southwest of Port Allen, Gregor said. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, he said.

Instructors from Birds in Paradise re-launched to look for Gaither but the water along the coastline was murky due to heavy rains, Charlebois said.

Police received a call at 11:41 a.m. from a kayaker who said she witnessed the crash, Kauai officials said.

Lifeguards from Poipu responded to the call and confirmed what appeared to be wreckage and an oil slick in the water.

Kauai firefighters sent a helicopter, boat and Jet Ski to try to pinpoint the location of the wreckage. Some debris was recovered, county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said. Divers searched about 200 yards offshore near Kalaheo. The Coast Guard was assisting in the search. The search was to continue until nightfall.

The company's website said it operates powered hang gliders commonly known as trikes. The craft have a delta-shaped wing similar to that of a hang glider. A cylindrical fuselage in which two people can sit, one behind the other, hangs below the wing. The prop motor is at the rear of the fuselage.

The company's rates start at $135 for a 30-minute "introductory flight lesson."

Gaither, originally from Montana, has been flying for 40 years, Charlebois said. He arrived in Kauai in 2008 to help Charlebois with his powered glider business as an instructor before Gaither started his own company, Charlebois said.


Aug 14th

Turbulence and Bump flying for Ultralight, Sport and Private Trike Pilots

By Paul Hamilton

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.

Sep 23rd

BRS attachment point in trikes. Pros and Cons,

By Tony Castillo
Hello David O. and Glade Ross,

You have brought a very important point regarding the best attachment point for the BRS lines. We do not have a whole lot of field data on this matter.

We seem to have two proven and popular options, attach to the top of the wing, upon successful deployment, the trike should come down in a mostly horizontal position, and the other would be to attach to the rear frame/engine mount area... upon deploy the trike would be hanging in a nose down position that could be as much as 70 degree nose down.

In my opinion there are pro's and con't to each. I would really like to perhaps create a posting to discuss this subject in detail, and specially to hear others opinion on this matter. Not necessarily to take it to the extreme of discussions we seem to engage so often ... but to have real con/pros thoughts.

Many years ago, I asked the BRS rep., working on our LSA install paperwork, for a mounting attachment to the frame (not to the wing). He conceded at first, but the second day changed his mind, and recommended the top of the wing install, so that is what was approved and that what is done in our trikes in the USA.

Tony C
Nov 17th

Another reason this site doesn't work well...

By E Harv
Just earlier today, there was an ongoing conversation about a fatality in Thailand.  It showed up in the news feed on the home page, but the conversation was actually happening on someone's wall.  So the only way to respond was by also posting on that individual member's wall.  But now, it has slipped out of the news feed by other items.  So unless one actually knows the name of the owner of the wall, there is no way to retrieve the conversation and see if there are any updates.  And if one hadn't been paying attention over the last 24 hours, one would never even know that the conversation had happened anyway.  

And I am not the only one that originally bookmarked the "forum" page here, assuming that would be where the activity was, as with EVERY other web forum.  But anyone that goes to the "forum" page here finds a ghost town because everything happens in these "blogs" which just run on infinitely and then disappear from the home page unless you go to the "magazine" page, which gives no indication whatsoever which of those "blogs" had the most recent activity.  And incidentally, why is Larry's current hot "blog" about spirals not even showing up on the "magazine" page anyway?  And when someone does actually make a fresh post in the forum section, it is the one thing that DOESN'T show up in the news feed on the home page!  But yet it will show you an alert when Abid invites Ole to be on his friend's list or when Larry joins the "newbie" group?!

Too many conversations in too many places.  No organization.  Can't edit posts.  Valuable, life-saving information essentially lost to cyberspace here day after day.  

What makes this site great, and the reason you'll say "I love trikepilot.com!" is because of all of the trike pilots that are here sharing valuable insights and stories.  But we would be much better served by any of the freely available forum hosting software options that EVERY other web forum you visit runs on.  And less time wasted by the host trying to create "pro" versions, etc.  Please, please, stop subjecting us to software experimentation here.  Seriously, we aren't talking about silly widgets or politics here.  A lot of this information could save someone's life if it were more easily accessible and retrievable and did not require daily vigilance to keep up.  You own the website address, and you have us all here.  Can you please switch to something that is proven, popular, and really works?  We appreciate the meeting space you are providing, but it could be so much better and actually be LESS of a burden for you if you switch to basic, proven forum software.

Don't worry, this "blog" will also slip into oblivion eventually... 
Feb 6th

Commercial Trike License update 2012

By Paul Hamilton
With increased effort and some progress, a new article to start fresh has been posted here. David O has been pushing this behind the scenes.

Now that the sport pilot/LSA was been around for a while, we need a commercial trike licence (or weight-shift control certificate as the FAA calls it) for compensation and hire. This way we could provide tours, inspect utility lines, crop dusting, fly cargo to land in small areas like helicopters - the list goes on, use your imagination. Another practical use for the efficient/green operations of light sport aviation. It is part of the "green movement" to offer more efficient aviation services, less fuel used for similar operations.

They have commercial pilot licenses for airplanes, balloons, airships, helicopters, gyroplane, and gliders; why not trikes (OK and maybe powered parachutes).

It would have to be added to part 61 subpart F for pilots and part 91.327 to add commercial operations to S-LSA and 91.319 for E-LSA.

One of the ways any one can contribute is to list a task such as flying geese, power line patrol, crop dusting, border patrol, photography, the more things the better. Plus list the benefits for all and why it is safe. Be great to get input and feedback for this from YOU.

Jun 21st

Craig Valentine's Big Adventure (or should I say, even bigger adventure than the others)

By Captain X
I just got this email from Craig.   He started flying across the US on about June 9th.  He's picking up various states on his "flown to" list.

 Here is Craig's Spot address so you can follow him on this adventure too:


Or I made a short URL for it:  

Hey David,

Can you help me out here?  ...

In my mind there were two initial marker points on this trip. First,
getting past Texas and the second is moving North of Atlanta.  Since
I've done both of those and the initial trip jitters are long gone, I
would appreciate it if you would post something on TPS about this.
Give my SPOT address so people can follow if they want and pretty much
what ever else you would like to say. I'll take a look at it when I
get the chance but I won't respond to anything on it.

The states I've hit so far are CA, NV, AZ, NM, TX, OK, CO, KS, MO, KY,
TN, MS, AR, LA, AL, FL, GA, SC, NC. I think that's all of them.

I'll check the weather for tomorrow over dinner but hope to get up to
NY tomorrow and fly the Hudson the following day (weather/distances
allowing of course). I thought Barry Maggio's # was on my computer and
phone but I can't find him.  Went on the TPS to check in and find him
but I can't get in. I rarely check in and don't have my information
here to do so.

So could you post whatever you like on TPS and help me get hold of
Barry? A phone # would be best but an email address or even a posting
on TPS at a last resort.

Not that it makes any difference but I'm almost positive I won't
publish anything on this trip. It's enough just to do it.


Sent from my iPad

I'm sure that Craig would be very happy to hear all your words of encouragement!!!