Sep 6th

A study in recent trike accidents

By Rizwan Bukhari

I am so sad at the news of Bill Crow passing away. His Revo crashed and he sustained many injuries. He was air lifted and passed away in the hospital.

Before we go any further, I want to be very clear in saying that all I want to do is to find some answers. This is a fact finiding mission and that is the only purpose here. As we know that in a year and a half (since last may 2014) This is the fourth Revo trike incident/accidents. Out of the four, three proved to be a fatal. This is not good statistical data. And I feel this is important to point out and discuss what caused them. I can think of atleast 6 or 7 Revo accidents.

Now I know many of you trike pilots are thinking this but I will put it in words that we would like some answers from the industry leaders and their mouth pieces who leave no stone unturned to promote their product via blogs as the best trike money can buy.

I hope you realize that every life lost affects many other lives. The pilots that perished flying your machines, their death impacted their children, spouse, friends and their entire life style. That is a huge cross to bear.

If I was to compile a data of total "top of the line trikes" sold and total accidents and fatalities of these trikes. The percentage so far would not look very favorably towards the manufacturer and the dealers. And hopefully we can find an answer for pilot safety, whether it is more training or some other solution, whatever it maybe.

So lets examine some of the accidents and what caused them.
First Gerry of Birds in Paradise perished last May, he had modified the vent system, that caught fire during the flight and we all know that much but no one has ever answered why he felt the need to modify the vent system? Was it a poor design?

Then Craig died and according to eye witnesses his Revo trike and the wing seperated. Should any trike (forget top of the line trike claims for a second) behave like that. Craig, like Gerry was an experienced pilot. I would like to know what happened there?

William in Virginia Revo stalled and crashed in five to six feet deep water. The trike was totalled but he should be counting his blessings that it didn't happen on asphalt or the outcome could have been fatal.

And now Bill Crow....this is very sad. These four accidents have happened in about one and a half year.

And while we mourn the loss of our good friend Bill, the loss of Scmidt's brother and near death experience of the gentleman flying Henry's trike with a Revo wing are fresh in memory.
 I hope you can give us an explanation with the same enthusiasm as you promote your products. Because pilot lives are important too.

Another thing while we are at this topic is that majority of trike pilots already are talking about (and I am pretty sure that you are aware of this) your wing being prone to instability at high speed that could cause spirals, but what do I know. And if that is true, the solution should have been to fix the problem with a poor desinged or tuned wing rather than shoving Spiral Dive Recovery as PTS manuvers to protect yourself from impending law suits . So the question is that how many lives will be lost before we fix these problems?

I sincerely hope that I am not offending the manufacturer and the leaders, but firmly making my point that next time you aggressively promote or sell your product, please also be prepared to answer about the fatalities and imperfections too and what are you doing to fix them. Because pilot lives matter.

We all learn from our mistakes, the important question here is what have you done or are you doing to make sure that no more lives are lost.

Thank you,



(PS: My intention here is to learn to clarify some qustions that are on many mind and find some solutions that are on your mind).

Aug 17th

Engine Out (Emergency) Landing on 4th of July

By Michael Rosiere


This past July 4th I had a engine out on take-off. 


After a touch and go at American Falls airport, Idaho I had engine failure that I could not recover from at about 250-280 feet above the ground.

With myself and a passenger I knew I didn't have enough time to turn around and land at the airport.

Everything that I had been taught and practiced for, for such as in an event like this kicked in automatically. I informed my passenger to prepare for an emergency landing.

I brought the nose of the wing down to maintain air speed and pulled up the landing gear and decided on a location to land.

I had three main obstacles to get over: a couple of buildings, a road, and an irrigation system.

I made it over the road and split the buildings. After that I had to flare the wing slightly to maintain altitude over the irrigation system.  I chose to flare the wing knowing I might loose lift after the irrigation system but decided I rather fall out of the sky at 10 feet then hit the pipes at about 55 mph ground speed.  Fortunately I was able to get over it and still retain enough energy to create lift.   

At this point all I had to do was bring it down into a landing in a very bumpy potato field. I set the back end down and kept the nose of the aircraft up as long as I could to bleed off as much speed as possible. And at the last couple seconds I lowered the nose down and we came to a stop.

I turned to my passenger Joe and said you just survived your first emergency landing (of course it was also my first). He threw up his hand and high-fived me and said something along the lines "that was an awesome landing".

Joe is one of the bravest people I know. He remained quiet and calm during the whole event and afterwords I asked him why he didn't say anything. He said he wanted me to be able to focus on what I was doing.


I had only 40 hours of Pilot in Command logged when this occurred over a month ago.  I can honestly say that I was completely calm and was thinking very clearly during what most people would consider a scary event.  I attribute this state of mind to the training that my three CFIs gave me( Doug Boyle, Dave Myers, and Joe Lorenzen). 

They more than prepared me for what could and did happen to me.  One of the most important things that was ingrained into me by them was 1st Fly the Plane!, 2nd Fly the Plane, 3rd Fly the Plane.  I had many decisions to make during the event that unfolded very quickly but the one thing I did throughout was FLY THE PLANE!


I was able to land the aircraft without even a scratch.  After pulling the landing gear up, those floats worked out great landing on that potato field perpendicular to the rows.  After washing it down later I could only find a couple spots where a little paint was rubbed off.  By the way, I was able to get the aircraft out of the field when 8 farmers helped to lift and walk it out to the dirt road where I was able to load into on to its trailer.

I waited to post this hoping I could give everyone the info on what cause the engine out.  We could not find a smoking gun.  With the help of a A&P who also specializes in Rotax engines we went over the entire engine and focused on fuel flow through the whole engine.  We saw a little debris in tank which we cleaned out.  He believes it was not much.  We replaced the fuel pump with a new one and put a backup electric one on.  I have flown twice since then trying to recreate everything leading to the engine out (first over water, lots of runway if needed) with about 6 touch and goes and then into full throttle.  No issues at all.  I flew over mountains here in Utah this past weekend for two hours also with no issues. 


I believe all is well with it but will continue to always be prepared as I was before and also was trained to do.


Aug 14th

Battens falling out of a trike wing during flight

By Rizwan Bukhari


A few months ago I watched a trike crash video. It was somewhere in Russia. It was a fatal crash.


This trike was a single person trike with a 80 hp 912 on it. In the comments, there were many opinions (guesses) as to what caused it. Some pilots were of the opinion that there was too much torque.


One person said the cause of crash was battens falling out of the wing during take off deforming the wing causing the crash. Can this really happen?


My current trike wing has strings to hold battens in their place. My questions is


1) How much pressure (if any) is on these batten strings, especiallly during flight?


2) Is Bungee string a better way vs just the regular strings becuase a bungee can stretch under pressure?


3) Can these batten strings actually break in flight?


4) If a batten string breaks in flight, how likely is it that a batten would slide out of the wing and fall out?


5) If one is faced with such scenario where the batten is falling out, what is the best course of action?






Aug 14th

Night Ride Home

By Bryan Tuffnell

Picture this: it's 2 a.m., raining, and forty knot winds are trying to rip your trike from its tethers.  You're trying to de-rig the wing in this dark tempest, assisted by a tall, striking blonde woman you met a dozen hours ago, you're both nearly naked, and fifty yards away a couple of others are engaged in a similarly near-nude hectic battle with the elements... 

This story starts over a beer, because, well, nothing worthwhile begins with a salad.  It was in a bar, a long time ago, when Steve and I decided that we should make an epic cross-country flight; one that would have maidens singing and old men raising their glasses. 

       "I just need a few days' pass from Joanna and the kids", Steve tells me.  "Can you get some time off?"  I assured him that I could.  Being an underemployed bachelor has its advantages.  "Sounds good", he says, pushing an empty glass my way.  "Your round."

We made extraordinarily detailed plans: we'll take camping gear, enough kit for passengers in case some landowners whose property we'd turned into an impromptu airstrip or campground cared for some aerial recompense, and, uh, some maps.  Sorted.


Day one, Saturday.  For a couple of guys who'd long talked about a multi-day triking adventure, we were remarkably unprepared.  After faffing around at the hangar for hours, shoving camping gear, clothing, spare helmets and headsets under seats and into borrowed saddlebags (cheers Doug), Steve and I discovered that we were equally gifted in organisation.

            "What about plates?"

            "Bugger.  I forgot."

            "Cutlery?  Wine glasses?  Corkscrew?"

            "Ah... bollocks, no."

            "Lighter?  Matches?  Flashlight?"

            "I've got a flashlight... Here, see!  No, wait - the batteries are flat."

By the time we'd cleared the supermarket and petrol station (and were now proud owners of a complete set of plastic cutlery and paper dinnerware) it was mid afternoon and plain we weren't going far that day.  Steve beats me into the air by half an hour as I finish packing and sort fuel, with a loose arrangement that we'll meet at the Culverden strip.  On the ground, I'm pretty sure that I can find the strip. Once airborne I'm not so sure.  Perhaps I'd better consult the GPS.  Argh! The air is quite rowdy, and the GPS batteries are flat.  Nothing for it but to change the batteries in mid-air.  I can do that, no worries.  Well, not too many worries. Oops. Where'd that battery go?  Ah well, I've got plenty of spares in my pocket. Bollocks, this is harder than you'd think.  Might have to land somewhere and sort this out.  

Chance hangs on slender threads. We both landed in a paddock at Waikari after rejecting Sam Mahon's sheep-infested strip in favour of a paddock next to the main road.  Next to a couple of hitch-hikers, in fact.  Jill was enjoying a break from lecturing at Canterbury University; her brother, Neil, was looking after Big Sis. 

          "Hi, I'm Bryan, better known as Tussock, and the shambles disentangling himself from his headset is Steve. Oops - sorry - I wondered where that battery went.  Where are you going, and why are you giggling?"

And so two became four. 


We made Hanmer Springs that evening - hardly a milestone in aviation, but there's a comfy hay barn for four right on the airstrip, and hot pools and restaurants and beer a bit of a walk away.  Steve, keen to play the part of the seasoned aviator and master navigator, assured us of a short-cut into town that he found on his GPS; half a mile later we were wading through a "little" river that AirNav Pro had somehow neglected to inform us of. 

I discovered that Jill and I had a hatful of mutual acquaintances ("She's your ex-girlfriend?  Really?  I went through Med School with her in Dunedin, and flatted with her for a couple of years while I wrote my PhD..."), and that we had opposing views on running barefoot (in fairness, her qualifications as a High Performance Coach for Olympic-level athletes carried almost as much weight as my I-read-a-book-about-it-then-tried-it-twice experience, I have to admit.) Steve and Neil discovered a shared penchant for grubby jokes.  We swapped tall tales of past derring do over a curry and pint - Steve's martial arts prowess, honed over decades; Neil's foreign diplomatic skills, practiced in war-torn countries on behalf of the United Nations; Jill's extensive international sporting career in a multitude of disciplines; and my famous ability to recite Monty Python lines while belching.  We chased dinner and diatribe down with a soak in the thermal pools.

Now clearly, seeing your new mate's sister in a rented swimsuit somewhat too small for her calls for discretion, tact and good taste.  Steve and I, of course, had none.

           "Neil, mate!!!  Your sister's better than a 10!"

            "No wonder you're a zero. Jill got all the good looking genes."

            "Got any other sisters?"

            "Ever considered having a sex change?"

            "I'll pay."

Neil assured us that revenge is a dish best served cold.  In the pool, we talk a little about ourselves and make bad jokes.  Après soak, Neil and Steve looked all set to paint the unsuspecting town of Hanmer Springs some indiscrete shade of red, so Jill and I decide to leave them to it and we wander the long dry way back to warm sleeping bags in the luxury suite of the barn at the airfield.

Steve's 2 a.m. shout had us all awake, up and running.  WIND!!!  A front is coming through from the south, and we need to protect the trikes.  Hence, the near-naked scramble in the dark gale to get the wing down...  A brief blast as a front rolled through from the south, and then all was calm again.  Amidst the rustling of nylon as we're all climbing back into our sleeping bags in the darkness: 

       "Steve, if I can't control myself and molest you tonight, it's your fault 'cause of what you were wearing."


Day two, Sunday.  Dawn.  A cloudy, cool and calm, post-frontal day.  I'm awake - wide awake, and there's a tradition to uphold.  After the usual struggle to align the mast and wing, ZK-JPR (known to his mates as Jasper) is ready for flight.  Before the first rays of the rising sun kiss the clouds over the Amuri Plains, the barn is quaking to the tune of a Rotax.  Heh!  After the customary beat-up, I land and taxi back to the barn to find Jill has already left for an absurdly early morning run with Neil, each awoken prematurely by Steve's sonorous snorings which were continuing to echo around the valley. 


Steve keeps up a constant chatter on the radio.

            "What do you reckon, big boy... ah, this rain must be wearing our props out... hey, Neil wants to know if Jill is warm enough... I think there's too much cloud to get through the pass..."

            "Jill wants to know if you ever shut up?"

            "Yeah but this rain's getting worse.  We'll have to land somewhere soon."  

I want him to shut up as well.  I'm aware that we're going to have to land or turn back, but there's a happy team in my trike and this reality business is an unwelcome intrusion.  Jill and I are singing Neil Young's 'Thrasher' over the intercom, accompanied by the crackling Rotax and whistling propeller.  We had left the Amuri basin shortly after takeoff under a solid overcast, nursing a forlorn hope that we'd find a way to get on top and fly over the high mountains in this area - I really wanted to see again the summits of Gloriana, Faerie Queen, Trovatore and Mt Technical; peaks I knew from climbing - but the prospects were slim.  Instead, when we turned into the Waiau Valley we were confronted with lower cloud and intermittent drizzle which turned to light rain as we flew north.

I wish we could fly - not in a trike, but really fly, like Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, for us to be able to extend out arms and soar through the falling rain, climbing and swooping and diving and rolling, and go above this rain and the murk and into the sunlight above.  I want to walk among the billows of the cloud-tops and rest on their vaporous domes.

But it's not to be.  A quick conference on the chat channel has us picking a paddock on the river terrace below; a low pass confirms the choice and we're soon setting down on the soft wet grass.  The tents go up, and given Steve's incredible nocturnal performance the night before (his snoring repertoire includes plausible imitations of chainsaws hard at work on tough trees, trains leaving stations during a blitz, and spectacular aircraft collisions with rugged granite cliffs), the tents are located some distance apart and I'm feeling sorry for Neil.  By midday the rain has set in and my tentmate and I are snuggled into sleeping bags co-reading 'Puckoon' and giggling like schoolkids.  For the rest of the day we trade stories, ideas and dreams, while the primus keeps up a steady supply of chicken soup which we drink from plastic cups bought from the Rangiora supermarket.  Nightfall settles on the Waiau Valley and I am supremely content.  By midnight there are stars punctuating the night.           


Day three, Monday, brings a crisp, clearing dawn and the promise of wonderful flying.  Ribbons of cloud are wrapped like skirts around the surrounding summits; the sky above is a perfect vault of blue.  No one stirs until the sun warms the tents and soft billows of steam rise from the paddock.

Day three is also the day the day Steve's engine refuses to start.  After a battery-threateningly long R-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r we try hand starting.  I manage maybe a dozen modest tugs on the starter cord before gasping and stepping aside.  Neil looks sideways at me, grabs the starter handle and gives perhaps thirty solid pulls without puffing.  I rub my left shoulder and mutter about it not being right since fending the lion off my cook in Botswana.

       "It might be damp from all that rain.  Let's give the plugs a wipe, dry off the ignition leads and check the carb bowls for water."

       "Perhaps we can get Steve to fall asleep facing backwards.  A couple of his snores should get us a hundred miles or so."

       "Or we could be repelled from here by one of your Python jokes."

It takes until late afternoon, and a battery swap, before getting started.


Jill and Neil have the front seats today.  We're underway at eight thousand feet on a bluebird afternoon.

       "Relax, take a deep breath, Jill; you're doing fine.  Hey, see that little tarn on the ridge to our right?  I camped next to that a month ago.  Wow!  Look at the light on Lake Christabel - isn't that something?  That's the Freyberg Range and Cannibal Gorge in front of us, isn't it beautiful?  And that's the Spencer Mountains to the right.  Let's fly over th..."




She’s doing a pretty good job of flying straight, making gentle corrections with an athlete's touch; and I’m giving no more than the occasional nudge on the training bars.



            “What’s the name of the peak just to our right?  The one with rocky spur running down towards us?”

            “That’s Mt Duessa.”

            “I’d like to climb it.  Can we climb it?  And sleep on the summit and watch the stars unwind through the night, and give cute new names to the constellations and eat chocolate covered raisins until dawn, then…"




We fly over the Main Divide, not shhhing at all but singing Pink Floyd.  Jagged rock summits flecked with snow rise above tussock basins beneath us.  Narrow valleys flanked with forests tapering down to deep gorges slide under our wings.  I love this.  This is my home.

Murchison is a short grass paddock dotted with cows.  It takes a couple of passes to clear enough space for a pair of trikes to land.

            “How’d you go, Neil old sport?”

            “Bloody amazing. Fantastic!”  Big grins.

            “More fun than burning your sister’s toys, eh?”

            “Too right, mate!  Brilliant!  And easy!  No wonder even you two can do it.  I'm shouting dinner tonight!”

             “Aw mate; you have no idea what you've just committed yourself to.  Steve only eats as much as a small African nation.  You could shout us a feed at Beachwoods if you’re prepared to peddle a few of your body parts to some back-alley Angolan surgeons.  Tell you what, we'll restrict Steve to six deserts and keep the wines down to hundred dollar bottles…”

And no tents tonight - we’re in the height of back-country New Zealand salubriousness - cabins at the campground.  Yay! 


Day four... Tuesday, and I’m feeling a little guilty.  We’ve got two passengers who were going to go to Motueka, and after four days we’re STILL at least an hour’s flying away and now we're trapped in a solid blanket of fog.  We're going nowhere, slowly.  Neil isn't concerned.

         "Look, Motueka was never important - it was just an idea for somewhere for Jill and I to go to for a sibling bonding holiday.  Things are different now.  Different dynamics, new adventures.  Steve and I are a team now anyway, God help me.  This is brilliant fun, in spite of the terrible company."

         "Then do we keep aiming north for Motueka, or head for the West Coast and home over the Alps?  Better flying, amazing scenery, big mountains, somewhere different?  There's a definite risk of being trapped by weather, but it's not a bad place to be stuck…"

Jill and I go for a long run, up the Matakitaki Valley to the gorge.  We swim in the river as the sun dissolves the fog.  We lie on the granite boulders, basking in pools of sunlight.  Then we fly west.


There were kayakers all over the white-water of the Buller - O'Sullivans, Ariki Falls, Jetboat rapids and Earthquake Run had paddlers bouncing their kayaks in the froth.  Jill was inspired.

            "Picture yourself…"

            "…in a boat on a river…"

We chorus over the intercom:

            "…with tangerine trees and marmalade skies…"

So we Beatled our way down the forested flanks of the gorge, with me casting slightly anxious glances to the side, searching for non-existent places to put down should the engine quit.  Motorcycles are parked by the Iron Bridge, and others are riding towards us on the gorge road.  Neither Steve nor I can resist a flyby, so we drop down low over the road.  A forest of arms bending to an unseen breeze wave to us as the bikes slow.  We're cut from the same cloth, trikers and bikers. 

We follow the Grey River downstream, easy now with a narrow strip of paddocks between the forested valley walls.  Sewell Peak and Mt Davy announce that the coast is near, and the township of Greymouth soon appears.  For one of a handful of times in my flying life we land on a sealed runway.  There's the satisfying chirp of the mains on asphalt… hold off the nosewheel… bit more… and we're down, and taxiing to the buildings.  We watch Steve and Neil land, tether the wings, and dinner is fish and chips on the beach.


It's late in what is a perfect West Coast day, still and cloudless, and Jill wants to make the twenty-ish mile flight down to Hokitika in the last of the light.  Why not?  Steve and Neil choose to stay in Greymouth for the night, probably swayed by the temptations of a supper from the local all-you-can-eat buffet, and will join us for breakfast tomorrow.  We take off, Jill in the front, and she takes the controls as soon as we're airborne.

The short journey south is nothing short of magic.  Mt Cook and Mt Tasman stand tall and proud, dominating the view to the south, and the expanse of Alps between here and there is clear and magnificent.  We're flying right along the coast, the long strip of beach beneath us and the swells of the Tasman Sea breaking on the sandy shore.  With the hand throttle set I have no need to touch the training bars and I'm free to soak everything in, to wring the greatest joy from the sweep of scenery from the sea to the mountains, the expanse of ocean nudging forested plains and rolling hills that yield to the majestic glaciated stretch of the Alps beyond.  The sun is touching the horizon now, and the alpine snows have a full blush of evening alpenglow.  We're not Peter Pan and Tinker Bell but we're close enough, flying through this scene and I love this, intensely.

            "Wow, Jill… this is a highlight of my life.  Thank you."

            "Mine too.  This is incredible… unbelievable.  The best day of my life." 


Day five, Wednesday.  We watch Neil, in the front seat, following Steve's pointed arm from the back, taxiing their trike up to the Hokitika Airport terminal building - close behind an Air New Zealand twin turboprop.  Steve and Neil get out as the Dash 8 disgorges its passengers, and there's mutual bemusement.  Jill runs up to her brother and crushes him in a hug.  Steve looks around and bleats.  Bah-h-h-h.

            "I was pretty nervous about its prop wash", Steve says, pointing to the Dash.  "We were well clear of it in the air, but it took ages backtracking and taxiing.  I didn't want to park anywhere near it in case it starts its engines again while we're on the ground.  Where are you parked?"

            Jill grins.  "We've got a hangar.  Tussock's got friends in high places.  The airport manager, Drew Howat, watched us land and he's done us proud.  Apparently there are only two commercial flights a day into here, and the rest of the time this building is locked.  Drew gave us the keys to the entire terminal building, and we had the place to ourselves last night.  We slept in his office upstairs.  We're welcome to stay here as long as we want, and we've got free use of a car.  C'mon, we'll get your trike into the hangar and go for some breakfast."

            I chime in.  "Drew is a trike pilot too but he's a decent bloke, not like us at all.  I've only met him a couple of times before, on previous trips here.  He's been good to us.  We've got fresh gas, too."

We could fly home today if we chose, but no one is keen.  Steve and Neil opt for an afternoon flight south along the coast to Franz Josef.  Jill and I take Drew's recommendation: we fly up the rugged Whitcombe Valley, around Mt Evans and the Bracken Snowfield.  I know the area from previous visits on foot, and it's every bit as dramatic, stunning and awesome from the air.  It's big country: precipitous rock faces, deeply crevassed snowfields clinging to anywhere flat enough for snow to stick, jagged skylines.  It makes me feel tiny in the little trike. The air is beautifully smooth on the western side of the Main Divide, but as we cross to the east above the Ramsay Glacier the turbulence becomes extreme - a couple of wire slaps and involuntary ninety degree turns has us in retreat.  We're hammered as we go back to the western side, but it turns perfectly smooth again as we follow the Alps south.  We hear Steve and Neil on the radio, and meet them and a B20 3-axis microlight above Harihari.

            "Looks like we've got ourselves a convoy."

 We fly together back to Hokitika.

With the trikes tucked away in the hangar, we take the car to Hokitika Gorge.  Rainforest drapes grey granite boulders in a sheer ravine; the turquoise water flows like a benediction beneath.  We dive in to the river, our protests about the water temperature echoing from the canyon walls.  The attempt at thawing in the sun evolves into an extended sandfly squashing session.

This has to be our last night here; the weather cannot last.  No one wants to talk about tomorrow.  Steve and Neil have taken the two tents ("A tent each!  I can sleep in peace tonight!") and they've gone in Drew's car to the campsite at Lake Mahinapua.  Steve has family duties; they will fly straight back to Rangiora in the morning.  We will take our time.

Night falls.  I want to be alone for an hour, and go for a walk along the beach under a nearly full moon.  When I get back, Jill unlocks the doors of the Hokitika Airport Terminal for me.  She's wearing an airline captain's cap she found in the office and a shy grin.  She presses an eight-page letter into my hand.           


Day six, Thursday.

            "No, sorry Jill, it's too risky.  We've been over plenty of tiger country before on this trip, but I've always felt that if push came to shove and the engine quit, I'd get it down well enough for us to walk away.  Moonlight isn't enough."

We're parked on a patch of grass in the Rakaia valley.  The Tussock luck has held and the manager of the nearby sheep station, Darryl Thompson, has offered us a room in the shearers' quarters for the night.  I've taken him for an aerial tour of his domain.  Our crossing over the Alps was spectacular, and everything is perfect - why chance wrecking everything by flying through remote NZ in a two-stroke trike at night? 

Jill is pensive. 

             "So how do you balance risk and reward?  Do you stop when the probability of something going wrong reaches a threshold, or do you accept a higher risk when the rewards are greater?  In mountaineering, and in whitewater kayaking, don't you go for the finest line you can - the closer you cut the corner, the greater the reward?  How is it in flying?"

Now there's a question.  How do you slice the pie?

               "I don't know that I consider it in the same way.  In flying, you must know how to fly.  It's nearly entirely subjective because the only variable is the engine, unless you're committing to a window of weather.  There's nothing really to reach out and grab you."  

               "Yet in mountaineering, say, there are moments where the joy or wonder or satisfaction is so intense that you're willing to risk all your future happiness for the joy you feel in that brief span of time.  There are minutes or hours that you would sacrifice years for."

               "Yes, absolutely true.  It's the old saying about having more life in your years, not years in your life.  But two mountaineers might entertain a risk that a pilot wouldn't expect a passenger to take."

            "So you'd fly by moonlight if you were alone?"

            "Perhaps... yes."

            There's a pause.  The warmth of the sun is exquisite.  The river is reciting its gradient and the boulders of its bed.  The peaks are etched sharply against a cobalt sky. 

Jill breaks the silence. 

            "Do you know Joni Mitchell's song 'Night Ride Home'?"

I laugh.  I don't know the song, but the title gives away her thoughts.  She sings the first verse:

     "Once in a while

     in a big blue moon

     there comes a night like this

     like some surrealist

     invented this Fourth of July

     night ride home"

 Wow.  Now I get it - this is Jill's Big Blue Moon; this is her moment in time.

             "Ok, let's get an early night tonight.  So long as there's no fog and the sky stays clear, we can wait until the moon is at its highest and its light is filling in the valleys and fly back up to the Alps.  We can do a loop around the Main Divide, and then come back to here for some more sleep."

We lie in the sun, reading 'Puckoon' and giggling, eating cheese and crackers.  Later, we walk up Double Hill to watch the sun set behind the Alps. 


Day seven, Friday, midnight.  It's cold!  We're wrapped in every item of clothing we can manage.  Moonlight floods the valley with a blue glow, and there's magic in the air.  It feels as though the moonlight makes a faint distortion of distances when we leave the ground, but it may be nothing.  We follow the Rakaia, climbing steadily, and then fly over the Butler range to Erewhon Col.

The mountains have dark, sinister faces where shadows fall, and snow-speckled grey slopes where they're touched by moonglow.  From a distance the snowfields look like white blankets draped across the crags to soften their contours; up close the appearance is of billions of diamonds, their crystal faces catching and returning the moon to space.  We spin around Mt Whitcombe and Snow Dome, and can clearly see blocks of ice in Vane Stream that have tumbled down the slopes from the Essex Icefall.  Evans River flows in a catacomb between the truncated spurs that flank it.

The Sapphire and Radiant glaciers are just that, in dazzling contrast to the valleys they flow in to.  From a low pass over the Heim Ice Plateau I can make out the spot where fifteen years earlier Geoff, Doug and I had pitched our tent.

Clouds are boiling up on the western side of the Alps; pillows of grey vapours that catch our moonshadow and turn it into faint halos; Saturn's rings around an umbra of black.

Malcolm Peak is a spire in the night.  I recall that years ago we found an aluminium film canister that had been blasted by lightning in a cairn on the summit; presumably left there by Ebenezer Teichelmann a century earlier.  We cross over the top of the Lyell and Frances Glaciers and into the sublime world of the Gardens.

The Lambert Glacier and the Garden of Eden and Garden of Allah are three expansive ice plateaux that cloak the peaks of the central Alps.  I want us to be Peter Pan and Tinker Bell again - beneath us they are timeless and still, studded by peaks that keep them apart, and seem close enough to almost touch. 

We circle around the Arethusa Icefall and swoop through Angel Col.  The little rock rounds at Adams Col and Icefall Lookout - places I had camped when I'd come to slay the dragons - are dark smudges in the night.  We fly along the Devil's Backbone to The Great Unknown, and turn east over to the safety of the Rangitata Valley.  We're shivering when we land. 


Saturday evening.  We're standing in Steve's kitchen while he puts the finishing touches on a couple of pizzas.  Steve's daughter is bounding around with the exuberance of a puppy with a full bladder, clearly enjoying having her father home and guests to bounce off.  Joanna is pouring drinks while Neil regales her with epic tales of our journey without taking his eyes off the pizza.  Jill looks like a million dollars in a skirt and blouse, fingers around the stem of a wine glass as she follows Neil's chatter.  Steve gives me a big wink, and tells me a lie:

            "Jo says I don't snore."



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. 

Jul 10th

almost goproless

By monty stone

the preflight went ok, the parts i landed with last week were still there. i mounted my new $65. adventure x4 gopro knock-off camera looking backwards, (i can then see where i,ve been!) i screwed my go-pro to the side of my brain bucket,( no tether) then taxied over to 11/29. on the way i swung my bar forwards, backwards and left and the 'other' left, i felt a 'twang' as a stay wire hit the go-pro, i briefly considered checking it, but 'moronic stupidity' won and i proceded with plan A to take off. no adventure flight no 'trike-abatics, no spirals or ,tumbles, just a few laps around the area, then landed on the 'big plane' runway taxied to my hanger,shut down, took my helmet off to turn my gopro off, it wasn't there, gone! no longer mine! now i'm blessed with an excellent memory, though it doesn't last long! did i mount it? is it still in my bag? nope, not in the bag,the clamp screw was in and tight! WTF! then i remembered the 'twang'. i trudged along the taxi-way, then i saw this little silver speck in the distance . yep there was my little gopro,laying on it's back, stareing lifelessly (sniffle) with it's one little eye aimed  at the sky it would never again witness,(more sniffling) but wait! sos was on it's screen! i hit the power button, it works! a tiny scratch ( 'tis but a scratch!) the only evidence of being callously thrown to the blacktop. tetherless. i learned from this, make SURE the clamp screw 'goesinta' ALL the holes, and let the stay wire 'twang' the camera,(at least once!) before take-off. if it hadn't been 'twanged' it would have gone through the big fan, in flight, with all the 'inconvenience' of a prop strike. the 'knockoff' x4 seems to work fine, easier to program than the gopro, and accepts the 'cheapo' cards, the gopro won't, i don't anticipate throwing it to the blacktop yet to test it's 'gopro toughness', maybe next week! monty



Jun 25th

Justification. Adding Spiral recovery to the PTS

By Paul Hamilton

Based on a number of trike fatalities because of lack of training of pilots being able to exit intentional or unintentional spiral dives, I have decided to pursue getting spiral dive recovery into the Practical Test Standards (PRS) for the USA so all new pilots and CFI's will start training to this important standard. This will also emphasize the importance of this for pilots and instructors for the 24 month flight review. If we are successful here and this is my goal, we can make spiral training visible and available to all pilots within 24 to 30 months.

I have contacted the FAA USA and discussed this addition to the PTS so here is my plan based on this conversation. It is more than likely we can achieve this so I am asking others for input to this important evolution in trike safety.

1. Justification for addition to PTS

2.What exactly is the task .

This article is the justification from specific instances where spiral dives hurt people or training saved them. The specific tasks are covered in a separate article.

Here is what I have now but we need specific instances. PLEASE HELP by adding specific links where spiral recovery would have helped.....

I am starting with Henry Trike Life video as a perfect example where training helped avoid a spiral fatality:

Accidents where spiral dive s without recovery are suspected main causes:

Rob Lyons 2 fatalities Washington state:


Michelle and Steve (Buzzy Bee) in Australia


reported spiral witness



I could go back all the way to 2005-2005 and show you that:

in New England, a BFI and a student spiralled in, in an Air Creation with IXcess wing when they ran through some wake of (but well behind) a coast guard helicopter that made them start the spiral but the student or the new BFI had no clue on how to come out of it and spiralled multiple times to the ground from 800 feet and died. There was a spiral like this in a Klass trike which was fatal in 2006 or 2007, there was a suspected (no witness) spiral to death in I think Arizona in 2009 in an Air Creation with a new pilot and a CFI. There was a clear spiral from a ground reference maneuver (turn around a point) with a DPE (without trainer bars) with a student in a Northwing a couple of years back that was very clearly this spiral from 400 feet AGL to the ground digging in the tip into the ground killing both in Washington state. There are more that I don't know about or remember but these had clear signs of this spiral type lockout from the front seat occupant.



Jun 25th

Call to Action. Adding Spiral recovery Tasks to the Practical Test Standards (PTS).

By Paul Hamilton

Intentional or unintentional spiral dives have caused a number of fatalities throughout the world. Therefore,  I have decided to pursue getting spiral dive recovery into the Practical Test Standards (PTS) so all new pilots and CFI's will start training for this important maneuver in the US and hopefully worldwide. Additionally, this will also emphasize the importance of this important safety concept for pilots and instructors while performing a flight review required for all pilots ever 24 months in the USA. If we are successful with this, we can make spiral training visible and available to all pilots in the US within 24 to 30 months.

I have contacted the FAA and discussed this addition to the PTS so here is my plan based on this conversation. It is more than likely we can achieve this so I am asking others for input to this important evolution in trike safety. All input is appreciated.

There are two specific topics that need to be achieved to accomplish this:.

1. Justification for addition to PTS

2. What specifically to test for in the PTS which will be the basis of training for spiral dive recovery.

Before we get to the specifics, let's look at the closest item in the PTS that would relate to this subject.

The PTS is located at training_testing/ testing/ test_standards/ media/ FAA-S-8081-31.pdf or you can purchase a paper copy at

In the PTS Power Off Stall Task, the turning stall task is made to simulate the base to final turn and specifies a maximum 20 degree banked stall to represent this base to final scenario with no more than a +/- 10 degree variation. Hopefully this maneuver is thought by instructors to cover this base to final stall/spiral avoidance as a starting point to avoid this situation altogether in the first place. Typically the inside wing falls and the recovery is the same as a spiral recovery - reduce angle of attack (AOA) while leveling the wing, EXCEPT, repeat EXCEPT, you add throttle to recover at a slow speed and bank angle below 45 degrees  RATHER  than let off the throttle to recover in a spiral dive when the nose is pointed down. Significantly different recovery methods based on the bank angle.

Back to the JUSTICICATION before we get to the specifics of the spiral recovery maneuver.  I can easily write a paragraph describing the problem but specific instances involving pilots in accidents is important to make this happen. I will put this into another blog/article to keep it separate and on track since this may create some discussion on this topic. Here we will focus on the specifics of the PTS task here.

Where should this be in the PTS as a task? Well it can be either in the Slow Flight and Stalls Area after the whip stall and tumble awareness OR in the Emergency Operations Area. The Slow Flight and Stalls Area is similar to the tuck tumble task for WSC/trikes and similar to the Spin Awareness for the Airplane Task which is in the slow flight and stalls for airplane. The Emergency procedures is appropriate since it is an Emergency recovery procedure. Ideas and input as to where the appropriate place in the PTS are appreciated from CFI's and DPE's.

The problem is how I teach this is not easily replicated for student to practice nor testing during a checkride. I now teach this with a two step process:

1. Get into a very high 60 degree bank and recover from there. Nose falls and the recovery procedure is initiated by simultaneously decreasing angle of attack, level wings and reduce throttle. Additionally at a very high bank angle, push out to demonstrate the stall and how this will initiate a spiral as the wing drops and things get worse. Again, the recovery procedure is initiated by simultaneously decreasing angle of attack, level wings and reduce throttle.

2. Get into a steep bank angle (example 45 degree bank performance maneuver) and bumping the bar to a higher bank angle as if there was some event that put the student into a very high bank angle (example 60 degrees) unable to maintain altitude at full throttle. Nose falls and the recovery procedure is initiated by simultaneously decreasing angle of attack, leveling wings and reducing throttle.

There may be a difference of opinion of exactly the sequence among flight instructors, but  I teach a simultaneous pitch/roll/throttle where a sequence 1,2,3 can also be utilized for specific wing/trike situations. The PTS tasks needs to be open enough to accomplish either method depending on the specific trike/wing.

So how do we provide a recovery technique to initiate and recognize a spiral that can be thought by CFI's and practiced by the student on their own.

Here is my first cut at this in the PTS to accomplish this task. The objective is to obtain input before I submit this to the FAA to have it incorporated into the PTS.  Here is a first cut at the two tasks as a starting point:


REFERENCES: FAA-H-8083-5; Aircraft Flight Manual(AFM)/POH/AOI,  .

Objective. To determine that the applicant:

1. Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to power on spiral recovery.

2. Selects an entry altitude that allows the task to be completed no lower than 1,000 feet AGL (Typically this would be at least 2000 AGL).

3. Establishes a high banked minimum 45 degree turn maintaining altitude at 1.6 Vs  as specified by the examiner. Applicant simulates unintentional spiral by bumping to higher bank angle not to exceed 60 degrees and nose down attitude 30 degrees. Transitions smoothly and immediately from nose down high banked turn to level flight with 0 to 30 degrees bank angle.

4. Minimizes altitude loss, with no high pitch angle recovery, with immediate correction to new heading with no more than 180°correction in direction from simulated spiral initiated heading.

5. Recognizes and recovers promptly after the spiral is initiated  by reducing the angle of attack , leveling the wing and reducing throttle to return to a straight-and-level flight attitude with a minimum loss of altitude appropriate for the specific weight-shift control aircraft.

6. Returns to the altitude, heading, and airspeed specified by the examiner.




REFERENCES: FAA-H-8083-5; Aircraft Flight Manual(AFM)/POH/AOI,  .

Objective. To determine that the applicant:

1. Exhibits knowledge of the elements related to power off spiral recovery.

2. Selects an entry altitude that allows the task to be completed no lower than 1,000 feet AGL.

3. Reduces throttle and establishes a high banked minimum 45 degree descending turn at 1.6 Vs  as specified by the examiner. Applicant simulates unintentional spiral by bumping to higher bank angle not to exceed 60 degrees and nose down attitude 30 degrees. Transitions smoothly and immediately from nose down high banked turn to level flight with 0 to 30 degrees bank angle.

4. Minimizes altitude loss , with immediate correction to new heading with no more than 180°correction in direction from simulated spiral heading.

5. Recognizes and recovers promptly after the unintentional spiral is initiated  by simultaneously reducing the angle of attack, leveling the wing and increasing throttle as appropriate to return to a straight-and-level flight attitude with a minimum loss of altitude appropriate for the weight shift control aircraft.


6. Returns to the altitude, heading, and airspeed specified by the examiner.

Jun 10th

Airborne 912XT w/ Streak 3 wing

By Doug Boyle

This beautiful Red, Black, and White Streak 3 wing flies 65-70 mph behind the XT 912.  It is an extra trike that I'm willing to sell for less than 30k!  No damage or hanger rash and comes with Lynx helmets/headsets, Powered Interface, and an Icom A6 radio.  It has a BRS installed but is out-of-date.  The XT 912 is a 2007 SLSA and has 725 hours, in annual, and well-maintained.  The wing is bagged and ready to ship to the new owner.  This is a great price for a great trike!  Instruction is available if you desire to drive/fly it home from Winston-Salem, NC.  Or, you can take delivery in Rochelle, IL at the conclusion of PreOsh on July 18.  Doug Boyle (336) 414-2522

May 8th

Steve Morse possibly looking to sell his Apollo LSA airplane

By Abid Farooqui

Hi Guys and Gals:

Steve Morse (yes the rock guitarist of Deep Purple fame) owns and flies an Apollo LSA that we assembled at Zephyrhills in I believe 2008 or 2009. The plane flies almost every day or two by Steve and he loves it but he is a tail-dragger enthusiaist and would possibly be willing to part with the pane to order a replacement tail dragger version.


It has a BRS, MGL Enigma EFIS, Partial backup analog panel, 2-axis auto-pilot and the works. 980 hours. Located in Ocala, FL.

If you don't know who Steve Morse is, see:


Serious inquries please. 

Asking price is $56k.