Why Fly A Trike

There are many choices when considering what type of Light Sport Aircraft to fly. Maybe you're brand new to the sport or perhaps you are an experienced pilot of something other than a trike and are curious about crossing over. The information below should be very helpful. Have questions? Contact us!

  Trike Powered Parachute Light Sport Open Light Sport Enclosed Gyro-Copter
  Light Sport Trike Light Sport Powered Parachute Light Sport Open 3 Axis Light Sport Enclosed 3 Axis Gyro-Copter
Kit Or Ready To Fly Sold ready to fly Usually sold ready to fly Usually sold as a kit Usually sold ready to fly Sold as kit
Landing Gear Under carriage adequate for off airport landings Under carriage adequate for off airport landings, (but parachute is not) Under carriage not usually adequate for off airport landings Undercarriage not usually adequate for off airport landings Usually unsuitable for off airport take-offs
Servicing Engine Engine position low and centered for better access Engine position low and centered for better access Engine position high for difficult access Engine cowled for difficult access Engine accessible except on cowled versions
Position of engine in forced landings and in-air emergencies Engine position low and in rear for safer operation and forced landing stability Engine position low and in rear for safer operation and forced landing stability Engine positioned high in front or center which creates higher in flight hazards (fluids leaking and fire) and is more likely to tumble over during forced landings Engine positioned front or center which creates higher in flight hazards including fire and smoke in the cabin Engine low and in rear
Purchase and Maintenance Low to medium cost Low to medium cost Low to medium cost Medium to high cost Medium to high cost
Maneuverability Maneuverability is excellent without concern for stalling/spinning or exceeding VNE Not very maneuverable since PPCs are two axis, bottom heavy, and slow Not as maneuverable as trikes, and require much higher piloting skills to perform similar maneuvers Good maneuverablity but airspeed(VNE and stall) can be reached easily; require much higher piloting skills to perform maneuvers easily performed by the average pilot in a trike High maneuverability
Roll Rate 45 to 45 is 2 – 4 seconds 8 to 12 seconds 3 to 5 seconds 2 – 4 seconds 2 - 4 seconds
Engine Location when Leaking Fluids Engine in rear has no part of the aircraft aft No part of the aircraft aft of engine Has part or all of the aircraft aft of engine creating problems with smoke, leaking fluids onto occupants and fire in flight contacting the wing and airframe Has part or all of aircraft aft of engine. More chance for smoke in the cabin, leaking fluids and fire to contact the wing and airframe Engine in rear with tail surfaces aft
Cleanliness of Aircraft With engine in the rear, wing high off ground and no empennage, aircraft does not collect soot off engine and the wing does not become soiled from ground debris With engine in rear and no empennage, base stays clean but wing drags on ground during TO + landing. This soils wing and can lead to damage and wear Aircraft becomes dirty quickly with low to the ground wing, and engine soot Aircraft becomes dirty quickly with engine soot and wing low to the ground Engine in rear with tail surfaces aft
Feedback From Flight Controls control bar is part of wing and the wing is the control surface. Feedback from the air flowing over the wing is direct and immediate feedback is indirect and dampened through the lines and the by the fact that you are flying with your feet typically with shoes on (not as sensitive to feedback as hands) Feedback to the controls is indirect since it travels through a linkage system Feedback to the controls is indirect since it travels through a linkage system Feedback indirect
Drag Fairly low drag with tandem seating and minimal airframe (no empennage or tail surfaces) Very high drag most PPCs will not exceed 30 mph airspeed Very high drag – especially when seats are 2 across Very low drag Fairly low drag on newer models
Ease of Repair Easy access Easy access Difficult access Difficult access -
Pre-Flight Inspection Ability to access and inspect all hardware during pre-flight inspection Open and accessible for pre-flight inspection Most hardware can be accessed for inspection during pre-flight Much of the hardware is concealed and not easily accessed for pre-flight inspection Depending on model, some hardware can be difficult to inspect
Flight Range Flight range is good, with high end trikes ranging over 400 miles Flight range is very poor in a powered parachute due to slow airspeeds Flight range is poor due to high drag and low airspeeds Flight range is usually excellent in fully enclosed 3 axis LSAs, with some going as high as 600 miles Flight range varies but is good in newer designs
Useful Load Useful load is excellent in a trike with most being around 500lbs Useful load is excellent in a PPC with most being around 500lbs Useful load is diminished due to all the additional airframe and hardware needed, adding to the empty weight Useful load is diminished due to all the additional airframe and hardware needed, adding to the empty weight Useful load is excellent in newer designs
Cabin Room and Comfort Although not heated in winter, cabin comfort on a trike is typically good and roomy due to the tandem seating Cabin comfort is good due to tandem seating Cabin comfort varies with some side-by-side seating being too tight Although protected from the cold and wind, cabin comfort may suffer due to tight side-by-side seating Cabin room and comfort is excellent in newer enclosed designs
Ease Of Fueling Fueling access is excellent, with the opening usually at waist/ chest height Fueling access is excellent, with the opening usually at waist/ chest height Fueling position is usually poor with many openings above shoulder height Fueling position varies with many openings above shoulder height Fueling access is usually excellent
Getting in and out of airplane Cockpit access and egress is very easy and quick- especially important in an emergency Cockpit access and egress is very easy and quick Access and egress can vary depending on configuration from excellent to poor, but can often trap the occupants in an emergency Cockpit access and egress is fair to poor on these aircraft and will often trap occupants in an emergency Access and egress varies from good to fair
Occupant Protection A protective roll cage construction protects occupants from fences and thin power lines and other obstructions as well as in tumbles on the ground Most powered parachutes have excellent protective roll cages Lots of protection from power lines and fences with the frontal bars that come on most models Most open 3 axis LSAs do not have protective roll cages or guards that will take any impact. The pilot's feet and legs take most of the impact and the pilots torso, neck and head are exposed during fence and power line strikes Some enclosed LSAs have reinforced cockpit areas, but most do not Occupant protection varies from good to bad depending on model
Weight And Balance CG issues are non-issues with a trike. A stock trike does not have balance concerns since the weight (no matter how displaced) always hangs from the center of lift point on the wing If rigged right, there are no CG issues with the powered parachutes but improper rigging has caused serious accidents CG is critical with 3 axis and needs to be monitored on every flight and with every modification to the airplane CG is critical on enclosed LSAs since engine and baggage compartments are often located far from the center of lift CG is critical
Stall And VNE Stall and VNE are both very difficult to reach - trikes will not enter a full stall under normal meteorological conditions and all trikes are impossible to spin. It's also impossible to exceed VNE in most trikes A PPC is very difficult to stall. A lot of mechanical input must be applied to cause a stall, but it is impossible to exceed VNE These are easy to stall, and can exceed VNE These are easy to stall, spin, and exceed VNE These are not serious concerns in a gyro
Engine Vibration The engine is isolated from the wing preventing fatigue from vibration, from reaching the wing The engine is isolated from the wing on a PPC, preventing fatigue from vibration, from reaching the wing The engine is not isolated from the wing and is usually very close to it, transmitting vibration and fatigue to the wing and airframe The engine is sometimes isolated from the wing, but still connected to the airframe, transmitting vibration Vibration issues are common but are diminished in some of the newer designs
Stress Loads In Flight The flexwing offloads excess loads from turbulence by flexing and immediately dumping excess pressure A PPC cannot collapse during negative loads The rigid wing does not offload excess flight loads The rigid wing does not offload excess flight loads Rotor flexes and offloads
Visibility Visibility is excellent Visibility is excellent Visibility varies from excellent to poor depending on configuration Visibility varies from excellent to poor depending on configuration Visibility is excellent
Turbulence Management Turbulence managed well with double surfaced wings which offer a smooth ride since the wing flexes and the trike base swivels Do not handle turbulence well at all Most do not handle turbulence well Most handle turbulence well, but may provide a rough ride in turbulence Turbulance management is excellent
Short field Take-Off and Landing (STOL) STOL are accomplished in trikes with around 100-400 ft roll STOL in a PPC is only around 50 feet to 100 ft roll STOL is anywhere from 100-400 ft roll STOL is from 400 to 600 feet roll Short field landings are possible but Short field take-offs are not
Crosswind Takeoffs and Landings Crosswind landings depending on wing – can handle from 10 to 20 mph cw component A PPC can handle some cross winds on take-off and landings, but only with training Most will handle 10 to 15 mph crosswind on TO and L Most will handle 15 to 20 mph crosswind on TO and L Strong crosswind take-offs and landings can be a problem
Flight Control Linkages Simplicity of flight control linkage - with only one moving part in the entire system (and that has a back-up for safety) Powered parachute is a 2 axis machine, but has a number of control lines and pulleys associated with the flight control These aircraft have a number of cables, rods, pulleys and hinges that need to be constantly checked for wear These aircraft have a number of cables, rods , pulleys and hinges that need to be constantly checked- but are not always easy to check – since everything is enclosed Flight control linkages are somewhat complicated
Glide Ratio Glide with engine off is 6-1 to 10-1 Glide engine off is 2-1 to 4-1 Glide is 3-1 to 6-1 Glide is 6-1 to 12-1 Glide 1/1 to 5/1
Ground Clearance for rough field operations Most about 12" Most about 8" Most about 8" Most about 12" Most about 12"
Upgrading Wings Takes less than 20 minutes to remove one wing and install another About 30 minutes Wings cannot be upgraded without major (40 hours +/-)work involved Wings are usually never upgraded or changed from original design Rotor blades usually not upgraded
Electric And Fuel Linkage Short fuel, cable and electrical runs, since the cockpit and fuel tank are directly in front of the engine compartment Short electrical and fuel line runs since cockpit and fuel tank are directly in front of engine compartment Fuel line may or may not be a a short run but throttle cables and electrical cables are usually long runs creating possibilities for kinking and breaking Fuel line is may or may not be a long run, all other cables and wires may or may not be a short run from cockpit to engine Short runs
Training Time Usually takes 10 to 20 hours (to solo) Usually takes less than 5 hours to solo Usually takes 10 to 20 hours to solo Usually takes 10 to 20 hours to solo Usually takes 10 to 20 hours to solo
Portability Preparing to transport by trailer can be done in less than an hour and a small open trailer can be used Can be prepared for transport in about ½ hour and a small open open trailer can be used Can take 3+ hours and a large enclosed trailer should be used- wings are not in wing bag (like all trikes and PPCs have) Depending on folding wings or not, could take 1 to 8 hours to prepare for transport and needs large enclosed trailer If blades can remain attached, can be loaded for transport in about 15 minutes
Hanger Space 2 or 3 can be stored (erected and ready to fly) in the space of one 3 axis LSA Take up minimal space and could fit 4 for every one 3 axis LSA Take a lot of hanger space Take a lot of hanger space Takes minimal space in a hangar
ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) Not required by FAA Not required by FAA ELT required by FAA ELT required by FAA -
Artificial Horizon maintain for IMC unintentional flight into Instrument Meteorological Conditions Not needed for level flight in IMC Not needed for level flight in IMC Needed to maintain level flight in IMC Needed to maintain Level flight in IMC Needed for level flight in IMC
Cruise Speeds Slowest and Fastest in category 35mph - 85mph 25 - 35 30 - 65 65 - 120 30 - 120
Aerobatics No inverted flight or whip stalls No inverted flight or negative G's Some approved for aerobatics Some approved for aerobatics No inverted flight
Ease of Repair Easy, quick, and economical Easy, quick, and economical Economical Difficult, time consuming and very expensive Economical
Fuel Consumption 2 - 5 gph 2 - 5 gph 2 - 5 gph 4 - 7gph 4 - 7 gph
Whole Aircraft Parachute System Easily installed and functional Easily installed but functionality is questionable Easily installed and functional May or may not be possible to install Not possible