We hooked up two weeks ago in a role reversal, she having been my Hang 3 instructor 40 years ago, and decided to live, eat, and breathe the training required to "get ur dun". Three back-to-back days of L&V winds had her soloing the Airborne 912 and almost ready to take her Written Test. Once passed she called Examiner Jonny Thompson and arranged a Checkride in Currituck, NC for the next day.
A cold front was threatening to interfere with the plans, but we went to the airport anyway just to see what developed on the backside of the NC mountains. We took off when we learned the front went stationary over the mountains and enjoyed 20 knot tailwinds the whole way.
Jonny Thompson was there to meet us upon landing and suggested Jackye get started on the Oral right away. By the end of the day the winds laid down and they started the Flight Test. She passed with flying colors and we left the next morning for home. Within 60 hours of passing her Written and a week of flying, Jackye Reynolds earned the Sport Pilot rating that had eluded her for years for one reason or another. She truly set the goal and hunkered down and "got ur done!" Congratulations Jackye for a job well done!
The most common asked questions on buying a trike.
How much do they cost?
For a NEW two place Light sport Aircraft anywhere between $40,000 for basic no options to $110,000 for the top of the line fully loaded. Fully loaded adds options such as a radio/com system, ballistic safety parachute system, more powerful/reliable engine, transponder, enclosed body, hydraulic disk brakes, lights, upgraded tires, etc… Most of these options have lower and higher cost alternatives all add to the large price variation.
Used two place trikes that are flyable and considered safe can range from $10,000 to $90,000 all depending on age, condition and options.
Single place new ultralight trikes can range in price from $12,000 to $25,000 dollars with used from $5,000 to $20,000.
Are trikes safe?
They are as safe as you make them. It is like asking are cars safe. Yes cars and trikes are safe but it is the operators that create the danger. With a properly maintained trike, proper training and good decision making for flying, trikes are as safe as driving a car. Almost all accidents are a result of pilot error in some form or fashion.
How fast do they go?
Depending on the size of the wing, the weight and the size of the engine, you can cruise at speeds ranging from 25 MPH to 100 MPH.
How long can you stay up and how far can you go?
Depending on the size of the fuel tank and the type of engine you can stay up for 5 hours and fly as far as 400 miles on one tank of gas.
Where can you take off and land?
With the proper aircraft and pilot certification, any where an airplane can including large and small airports. Additionally, you can land on dirt roads, fields and in reasonably small areas. If equipped for outback operation you can land in reasonably rough terrain and with floats you can take off and land with on water.
Do you need a pilot’s license?
For a two place you need an FAA Sport pilot license minimum but for a single place ultralight no license is required.
How long does it take and how much does it cost to get a pilot’s license?
Minimum 20 hours training for a license but it usually takes about 35 hours to become proficient as a pilot. Cost is from $4000 to $10000 to get a sport pilots license, about half the cost of a private pilot airplane license. This cost can vary greatly depending on how fast you pick it up, how much you study on your own, and how frequently you take lessons. The best training schedule is to fly every other day. If you come for an accelerated course, and you study ahead of time you can get through the course in about 2 weeks.
What is the best plan to learn to fly?
It is hard to find a full time trike instructor near you therefore you may have to travel. If this is the case, I suggest that you fly with an instructor for about a week until you are ready to solo, than you are educated enough to buy your own trike, than you solo in your own trike.
How do I get started?
Simply get the training materials to start studying on your own or simply go take your first flight lesson.
Where do I find trike instructors near me?
The best place is the listing at http://trikepilot.sportaviationcenter.com/sport-pilot-locator/
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.
2) FUNCTION AND FITMENT:
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.
3) SAFETY AND SUPPORT
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.
We have had many inquiries on the performance of the NEW Delta Jet 2 with the Cheval 12.4M wing. I thought I would give some real life results from a recent flight.
This DJ2 is equipped with a Rotax 912ULS 100hp and the tundra tire option and has a useful load of 540 lbs. This flight was one up with me at 240lbs, full fuel (14 gallons), density altitude 1,700, temperature 24, dew point 20. Keep in mind that Delta Jet 2 has a proper static port to report airspeed that is much more accurate than some set-ups. This DJ2 is equipped with the new Sterna three blade composite propeller.
- Take off with trim in full slow position delivered 1150 fpm climb at 63 mph turning 5325 rpm
- With the DJ2 trimmed for full fast and turning 5640 rpms my level cruise speed was 102 mph
- At full fast trim and bar pulled into my gut speed topped 112 mph at 5700 rpm
- When set at full slow cruise I was able to settle in at 65-67 mph
- Trimmed for medium cruise speed delivered 82 mph at 4650 rpm
- Powering up to 5,000 rpm put my cruise at 89 mph
The Cheval 12.4 is a light in roll and great tracking wing. We use lexan winglets and in testing I found I gained 3 mph speed with the winglets than without and improved turning performance. The wing is stable and delivers a very slow stall speed. In fact, power off stalls in level flight yield no buffeting and the nose just leans over into a gentle descent. The full stall position would actually be at a point beyond the compression strut.
Having trained in an Airborne XT, flown and owned both a Tanarg and a Revo for a number of years, I have to say the DJ2 has exceeded my expectations both in performance and true value.
Factual review of the GibboGear Mako 15.
First let me start by introducing myself. I am a fairly high time trike pilot and an advanced rated hang glider pilot, I am also an avid foot-launched hang glider pilot.
Here is a video of me flying:
I recently bought a GibboGear Mako 15 wing from Mark Gibson. After realizing the wing does not perform anywhere near the way Mark Gibson told me it would, and receiving a lot of questions about the wing I have decided to post this review.
The first issue I have is with fit and finish. After a search
around the Internet I found out that the Mako was originally
built with the downtubes mounted further back during its
experimental phase. Gibson sent me a sail from his first drafts
of the wing with the new frame so the sail can’t zip up all the
way, this leads it to coming un-zipped mid-flight unless it is
zip-tied shut! I didn’t volunteer to be a test pilot, and Gibson
never told me about this before he sent me the Mako 15.
The next issue I had was with the wings power off glide. BEFORE I bought the wing I explained to Mark Gibson that power off glide was important to me. He quoted me a power off glide of 7:1, with a 400fpm sink rate, here is a quote from his email to me:
70 mph at this setting.....its not a problem landing with power off....power off glide is around 7 to 1.....sink rate is around 400 fpm.
My guess for shipping is 7 to 8 hundred.
In actuality the wing has a sink rate of 1300ft/minute and a glide ratio of 3 to 1 to maybe 5 to 1. This is a very drastic difference and this fact alone would have lead me to buy another wing…especially since this wing touches down at 45 knots with a single 150 pound passenger!
I also made it clear that carrying a passenger was important to me. Gibson told me it was no problem and that the wing could carry “two Big Ol Texas boys” no problem with a 582 (recorded phone conversation) in the SAME trike I have…he did send me pictures of it flying in my same trike model. In reality the Mako 15 struggles to climb out of a 4000 foot runway with me (150lbs) and my friend (180lbs) at 6700 rpm with fresh 582 climbing at 150-250ft/min!!! DANGEROUS…see height of climb out with passenger in video!! It needed 6000 rpm to hold level flight! By way of comparison we put my buddies Streak 2b wing on my trike and it climbed out at 800ft/min and held level flight at 5300 rpm with the same passenger and me!
I made it clear to Gibson that I needed to be able to fly out of a 600-foot strip landing strip. He told me that wouldn’t be a problem, but knowing him like I do now I realize he skirted the question here is a quote from the email:
How does it climb out?
Will I be able to climb out of little 600-foot long back country airstrips with it?
How does it handle in slow flight?
What you have to consider is the windows a wing like this opens for you.....it is very high performance. ...it handle extremely easy...it can be flown in and out of the same area a regular wing can be....Mark
Well actually, Mark it closes doors for me because It needs 800-feet to get off the ground and clear a 50-foot obstacle! And with a passenger it probably needs 1500-feet (didn’t have the guts to measure that one). Now I can’t land at 3 of my favorite airstrips (including my home strip) unless I want come out on a trailer…or an ambulance! I live at basically the lowest density altitude in the US!!
Here is the true stats on the wing:
Level flight with 582 and 150 pound pilot only: 56Knotts at 5500rpm
Climb Rate with 582 and 150 pound pilot only: 750ft/minute
Power off glide: 3-5:1 depending on bar position
Sink rate power off with 150 pound pilot only 1200-1300ft/minute
Takeoff distance with 582 and 150 pound pilot only: 600-feet
Max speed bar stuffed with 582 and 150 pound pilot only: 65 Knotts
Climb rate with 582 and 150 pound pilot+180 pound passenger:150-250ft/minute 6100RPM needed for level flight
The wing is easy to fly and land. It has heavy bar pressures in pitch. It is a bit heavier in roll than a Streak 2b, wizard, Profi, and Quest Gt5 but not bad.
The Mako handles turbulence well, but not as well as a Streak 2b, Profi, or quest GT 5 (all tested on my trike-friends wings).
I think the reduced span is really a gimmick. All it really does is decrease glide ratio and increase the amount of power needed to fly. It did perform well in turbulence but no better than other popular double surface wings with traditional spans.
I did some 300-mile cross country trips with it and it did ok, it is pretty fast and easy to land provided you have a good landing strip. The high rpm’s required to fly it means it sucks a lot of gas…which closes more doors. It handles ok, not as good as other high performance double surfaces in turbulence or headwind, but it is also a lot cheaper.
Frame seems to be built very solid.
I tried to get my money back from Gibson, even offered to pay shipping back to him. Wing is still in perfect shape. He wouldn’t go for that. He did send me a free pitch block but I can’t use it and it doesn’t fix my problem. He offered to send me a new sail too, but rescinded that after I posted a review on line. When I started posting reviews online he deleted me from his yahoo forum so others couldn’t read what I have to say. I have been contacted by several Orca owners that have had problems too.
Now for the pitch block.
I also received a pitch block with this wing. Mark Gibson sent it to me for free when I started voicing my dislike of his business practices. I can’t use it because the mechanic that does my annuals took one look at it and wouldn’t sign it off (he is a mechanical engineer by trade so I trust him). It came with an aborted hole drilled in it (weakens it) and requires ~1.5-iches of spacers (that I had to build) to get it to fit on the mast. I tried it, it made the wing handle easier (almost as easy as a Streak 2b wing) but it is unsafe so it is in the trash now.
Just want others to know what they are getting into with this wing if they buy it.
Here is some other info for what its worth;
My trike is a 582 blue head with the E Box 3.47.
Wings I have borrowed and compared to the Mako (flown on my trike) with no problems: Aeros Profi, Streak2b, Quest GT5 (Awesome BTW). Also I have flown Strangers, Wizards, Mavericks, all with great results.
I am 100% sure my Mako is set up correctly (it is not that hard), I tried other CG (hang points) within Gibbo’s recommendations, but its initial hang point was the best.
We attached it to a few other trikes: a Northwing with HKS (need more power), another Edge X 582 it flew just like mine (same results), and an outback with a 503, it needed 55-5700rpm for level flight didn’t try a passenger..just wasn’t worth it, but it was lighter so it had a 1000ft/minute sink rate. The wing did do pretty good with an XT912 but it still was working harder than usual with a passenger.
Recently, there have been a number of comments that EVERYONE is pushing EVERYBODY into expensive, high power, fast trikes. I would like to set the record straight as to my feeling about this.
Does everyone need an expensive, high power, fast trike? Simply… NO.
Here is my story about my decisions to buy the trikes I bought.
I first put a trike undercarriage on my modified hang glider in 1981. A Fugi Robins engine. About 30 HP. Not much. It would barely get off the ground at 5000 foot density altitude but it was awesome to get flying in a trike. I had a great time with this. Fast forward to 2001.
I decided to buy a two place trike since my wife/girlfriend wanted to go up and move on from Hang Gliding. It was allot of money so I economized bought a Cosmos 503 (verses a 582) because it was light weight, less expensive, and I liked the wing. Soon after I got it I flew this slow Rotax 503 on a cross country from Carson, down the Sierras, up to Mount Whitney 14,000 and the trike Odyssey was filmed.
I flew this slow, underpowered trike to 17,000 feet, flew 250 pound students to 10,000 MSL regularly, trained many pilots. Did I need an expensive, high power, fast trike? NO.
Than in 2010, the FAA cracked down and my experimental was no longer allowed to be used for flight training. I waited for the LODA. Nothing. So I decided to buy a trike. By this time everyone was flying the 80 HP Rotax 912 and EVERYONE is pushing EVERYBODY into these more expensive, high power, fast trikes. I simply could not afford a 912 so I bought an Apollo Monsoon 582 S-LSA when I decided to go into trike flying full time.
Again, I would fly it to 10,000 feet with 250 pound students, etc…. I was making a living at flight instruction in a Rotax 582. Did I need a need an expensive, high power, fast trike? NO. However, it is a 14.5 meter stiff wing and had wind turbulence limitations. I had to shut down training earlier than I wanted.
After 3 years and my third Rotax 582 engine which operated great all the time, I wanted a smaller wing that I could blast through the bumps with an easy handling wing I could increase my flight hours since I had to turn many flights down when the wind came up and it got bumpy during the day.
If I had a smaller wing, I could fly more hours and everyone would be happier. Bottom line, a smaller wing needs more horsepower . So after 3 years of flying full time I decided to sell my great Apollo Monsoon 582 and go to a 912S so I can get a smaller wing.
OK which trike? Here are the reasons why I choose a Revo, generally in the order of importance which helped my decision:
Topless small wings.
Easy to get in and out of loading and unloading people (similar to my Apollo Monsoon)
Easy handling/response for ease of flying and safety/recovery in the bumps
Almost everyone who calls and asks about buying a trike wants a Revo.
Super sexy looking.
Made in the USA with easy parts/great service.
Did I have to have an expensive Revo? No but it allows me to fly comfortably is more bumpy and windy conditions.
In fact we have a number of 503, 582, and 912 80 HP trikes at the airport here and the pilots are very happy with them.
Again. Do they need an expensive, high power, fast trike? NO. Not if you can live with the limitations.
However, if you can afford a trike and you want to climb faster, get there quicker, fly in stronger conditions and be more comfortable overall, spend as much as you can and get the trike you want. You basically get what you pay for.
Here is the page where the Chapter can be downloaded:
Yesterday I hid some of the worst turbulence I have hit in a long time. It was unexpected. Overall light winds predicted. I took off 7:30 AM for a morning flight with an intro student. Climbed to 10,000 in glass calm air. A few rain drops but not much. Headed north for about 15 miles and started my descent. By this time the student was controlling the aircraft and doing a great job of it.
My hands were off the bar. At about 8,000 feet, to my surprise, airspeed drops and we stall, wing rises. I grabbed the bar to pull in and level the wing than hit with a gust and the airspeed jumps to 80. Wow. This lasted about 2000 feet in a descent until it got glass calm again. I headed back to the airport and was going to go south announcing over the radio my intentions and one of my previous students announced over the radio hit had just hit severe turbulence where I was going. Flew back to the airport, did a couple of touch and goes in nice calm air and landed.
What happened? I fly many days when the sky looks the same.
However, this morning there were some fresh cumulus above the
cloud layer in the distance. Looking in greater detail at the
winds aloft I see there was a --- Rapid temperature drop:
unstable air possible ---- note on the winds aloft. It was 10 C
from 6000 to 9000. That is 3.3 C per 1000 feet. This is highly
unusual. 2 C per 1000 feet is the normal lapse rate. In my
weather to fly video I say that 3 c is highly unstable and 4 c is
Looking back after we landed I saw virga in that general area where the severe turbulence happened
Moral of the story is that stability matters and at these numbers above 3 C per 1000 feet it can affect you during the early morning.