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Trike Advice For New Member

Posted By:
Ralph Ledger
#1 Posted: 12/10/2010 08:54:08

Hi Folks:

I have just retired and have decided to get my LSA license as soon as the New England weather breaks.  I really like trikes and am gravitating towards getting the WS ticket or supplement - forgive my lack of proper nomenclature.  I joined the local EAA chapter but none of the guys are weight shift people.  I flew hang gliders 20 years ago which is the sum total of my PIC time.  

My plan would be to get my dual instruction with my instructor on his aircraft then when solo time came and I was still enamored with trikes I'd purchase one.   

Here are some questions and request your input:

-I want to find the best trike instructor available.  How do I find him/her?

-Short of actually flying one how does one determine the flying qualities of the various trikes available?  There are a lot on Barnstormers but using a boating reference, how do you determine the Bayliners from the Hinckleys?     Each brand has its fans but I'm at a loss on how to cull the good from the bad.   

-What does liability insurance run for an SLSA? (I'm not interested in an ELSA)

-Same question re: hull insurance?

I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you experienced folks.  

Very Respectfully,

Ralph Ledger



#2 Posted: 12/13/2010 23:26:42

Hi Ralph,

I am also interested in Weight Shifters and would like to obtain an endorsement to my Private Pilot Certificate.  The EAA site allows you to find, on a state basis, instructors for LSA and Ultralight  training. Also, I suggests you join Trikepilot social at http://www.trikepilot.com/. This website may provide you with some answers to your questions.



Ralph Ledger
#3 Posted: 12/14/2010 08:45:48

Hi Jean-Pierre:

I have done just that since I last posted.  I have also located a highly recommended instructor in Massachusetts two and a half hours from my home.  Considering that I was willing to go to ZephyrHills, FL for training this was welcomed news.  I have purchased but not yet received the LSA-WS training kit from Paul Hamilton's site.  Seeing as I have 4 or more months of ice, snow, sleet and cold left before decent flying weather I'll have plenty of preparation time to absorb the materials.  

I will train every day the weather is good until I am deemed ready for solo and if I decide that triking is for me I'll buy one to build time with.  It seems there is a shortage of rental trikes but that's ok with me.  

I appreciate your response and wish you luck with your triking endeavor.

Very Respectfully,

Ralph Ledger



Air America


Grant Smith
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#4 Posted: 12/18/2010 20:10:04

The NorthWing line of trikes is American made and acceptable quality. The major foreign brands are also acceptable.

The issue that I would like to point out is that there is a wide range of weight speed and price in the trike line. Most of the SLSA trikes are Rotax 912 powered. This makes them big, fast, heavy and expensive. To me that takes away the advantage of trike flying. The whole idea is slow inexpensive and fun. If the object is to go someplace get a real airplane.

I believe Northwing now has a certified SLSA with a lighter and less expensive engine. If this is the direction you wish to go we can have a more detailed discussion.

Grant Smith CFI
Sean Haberland
#5 Posted: 1/4/2011 19:10:47

I'm an inexperienced pilot (I only have about 20 hours in trikes) but have flown several trike models. ( Tukan with Gibbo wing, Airborne 912 with streak 3 wing and wizard wing, Revo Trike with the reflex 13 wing.) and all these trikes flew well with the biggest difference being how the wings handled. My humble advise is to find a trike you like and that does not break the bank and put the wing that preforms and handles the way you like, on it.

Try, if you can to take some intro flights in different trike models. Short of this, talk to people who have lots of experience with different trike models. Larry and Abbid at http://tampabayaerosport.com/ are real knowledgable and have many hours in trikes ( I think Larry has over 5000 hours.) I've asked both of them questions and they have both been real helpful to me. I definitely recommend them.

Good luck,



Brian Reynolds
#6 Posted: 1/11/2011 11:37:14 Modified: 1/11/2011 11:46:14


I am 49 years old and have been flying a AirCreation GTE912 UL with and IXess wing. I have about 300 hours of flying here in Colorado anywhere from 5000' to 15000' and from 10 degrees to 90 degrees. You must want the open cockpit feel. I do love it. You must be thinking that you can afford a nice trike if you are set on a SLSA. They are more expensive and require a certified mechanic to work on it which makes it more expensive to maintain. You can do some maint. on it but it is minor.

Almost any instructor will not put you in a trike to learn with a difficult wing. Learning was  physically challenging for me .

 The wing characteristics are really everything when in comes to learning. If you try to learn on a very fast wing( something the cruises at 75-80 MPH) takes a bit of an experienced touch to control well. A slower wing (single surface cruises from 40-50 MPH) is more forgiving on your inputs.

Engine selection is important. Some folks are hardcore 2 stroke. They are inexpensive and powerful. They also have a high fuel cost and must be rebuilt in a few hundred hours. The 4 strokes (Rotaxs) ( rebuild up to 2000 hrs) are way more expensive to purchase but I love mine. I have never had trouble while flying with it. My buddies that have automotive conversions or 2 strokes have all had engine outs while flying.

Tracy Tomlinson based at Meadowlake Airport in Colorado is a fantastic and dedicated instructor. Without his experience and encouragement I'd still be on the ground. The EAA will have a good listing of weight shift control instructors.

The EAA will also have a list of insurers to contact.  

Hopefully you've gone for an introductory flight. I've heard that 3 axis pilots are a bit thrown off for awhile when first learning as none of your flight controls are with your feet( except throttle ).

By the way I thought that when I purchased a trike I could trailer it everytime I wanted tofly and would be able to avoid hangering cost. Big mistake, I lasted about a year of doing that. I've been in a hanger with 2 other trikes for a couple of years now. It was a ton of hassel and time when setting it up.

Keep us posted,





Ralph Ledger
#7 Posted: 1/11/2011 21:48:22

Hi Brian:

Excellent input.  

I am not a big 2 cycle fan but my reticence is tempered by the price of the 912.  Some guys have been flying the big 2 cycle Rotax and love it.  

I believe I have found my instructor within a 2 - 3 hour drive and he was recommended to me by Larry Mednick.  Certainly a fine endorsement.       

I'll be happy to build time on a slow wing and progress from there.  I'm impressed that you have logged 300 hours already.  I am retired, single and motivated to get my sport pilot WS.  Just waiting for the warm weather.

I'm an old A&P so the inspection costs for an SLSA are not that important to me.  

I have heard the same setup story from a lot of guys and being an old hang glider pilot I know what a pain in the ass it is.  Must be nice to drive to the airport and hop in the trike and go.  

I have no time in a 3 axis but lots in helicopters and hang gliders.  I will have no transition issues.  Actually the long glide on final is unnerving to me when riding in my buddy's fixed wing.  I am more used to the steep decent onto the numbers in a helicopter.   

I have this dream, realistic or not, of flying at sunup through Monument Valley.  I hope to make it happen.  

Best Regards and thank you for taking the time to reply.

Ralph Ledger

Tolland, Massachusetts

Dan Grunloh
Homebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
#8 Posted: 1/13/2011 10:43:03

Ralph said:


I have this dream, realistic or not, of flying at sunup through Monument Valley.  I hope to make it happen. 

Bravo!  Of course it's entirely realistic.  I hope to do that myself.  As to trike selection, there is an abundance of excellent "grandfathered" 2-seat trikes out there that will be in service for a long time due to the availability of replacement wings and engines.  You have plenty of choices.