Ultralight Trike: Personal Air Vehicle (PAV)

Posted on Oct 10, 2008 in Ultimate Adventure Vehicles

Price: $20,000 – $100,000 (depending on options and instrumentation)

Sitting somewhere on the Aeronautical food chain between a Hang Glider and a Cessna, the Ultralight Trike is an exciting new class of aircraft which is set to bring the joy of flight to the masses – or at least the ones with $50,000 to spare.

Ultralight Trike Flying over the desert in the Southwest USA
What is Aerotrekking?
Imagine an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, roaming freely from town to town – well it’s sort of like that – only in the air. Find out more about this new sport at http://aerotrek.us/ or check out Adventure Magazine’s article about Aerotrekking the Southwest

Also known as Personal Air Vehicles (PAVs), Weight-Shift Ultralights, or just plain Trikes, these high-tech aircraft are safe and relatively easy to fly. They’re powered by a rear propeller and steered with a bar at the pilot’s fingertips. New materials and technologies have made these craft incredibly airworthy, fast (up to 110 mph) and maneuverable

Most Trikes have been tested for forces exceeding 6 G’s – that’s much higher than most conventional airplanes. And if the engine ever cuts out you can still glide safely down to earth.

Because of their incredible nimbleness Ultralight Trikes are being used for a new sport called Aerotrekking in which pilots skim over predetermined routes, sometimes just 10-20 feet off the ground.

Aviation Wild West

The best thing about Ultralight Trikes is that a pilot’s license is not required to fly one. Trikes are regulated under the Federal Aviation Regulations Section 103, so, in essence, triking is a self-regulated sport without all the rules and regulations associated with flying something like a Cessna.

Airborne XT-912 flying over the water

Because of this lack of regulation Trikes can take off and land in spots that no regular aircraft ever could, all you need is a relatively pot-hole free dirt road and you’re airborne in seconds.

With a range of over 300 miles, or roughly 5 hours airtime, your Trike can access those inaccessible spots that you could never reach in your 4×4. This makes it the perfect vehicle for a weekend camping trip to the middle of nowhere. Add some pontoons and your Trike becomes the ultimate island hopping machine.

Flight Training

Okay, so just because the FAA doesn’t license these things that doesn’t mean you can just jump right in one and start flying.

To stop overanxious newbies from killing themselves and to keep the sport self-regulated, pilots and instructors alike adhere to some strict policies and guidelines laid out by several Aviation organizations. In the USA they are:

To fly solo in an Ultralight Trike you’ll need to get certified by an instructor licensed by one of these associations. In the USA a Sport Pilot Certificate requires at least 20 hours of flight instruction at about $200 an hour.

In other parts of the world the certification has various names:

Certification Required

  • Australia – CASA
  • USA – Sport Pilot
  • France – DGAC
  • South African – CAA
  • Israel – CAA
  • Germany – DULV

How Much is it Gonna Cost Me?

Airborne Outback XT-912 brochure
Click image to download Brochure

A new ultralight trike will cost somewhere between $20,000 to $80,000 depending on which model and options you chose. Radio and navigation equipment can add another $2,000 – $20,000 onto that price.

The XT-912 Outback (pictured right) is a pretty good representation of a mid to high range Ultralight Trike. It’s made by an Australian manufacturer called Airborne. Click on the image to download the Outback Brochure or download the XT-912 price list for pricing options.

If you want to get a better idea of the variety of trikes out there check out the websites of the four main manufacturers:

Manufacturers

WASHINGTON

FRANCE
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AUSTRALIA
airborne logo

Or the Airborne USA site

How Do I Get Started?

The best way to start is with a tandem introductory flight. This gives you a taste of flying. Once you have seen what it is like then you can sign up for tandem lessons until you’re ready to solo. Then once you solo, you build up time and experience to become a pilot. The basic techniques of ultralight triking — takeoff, turning, landing — are fairly easy to learn. The length of the course is designed to compensate for weather constraints and different learning curves. You must be 16 years of age.

Three Ultralight Trikes parked in a remote camping location

Resources

Pilot Organization

UNITED STATES

  • FAA – Federal Aviation Administration
  • EAA- Experimental Aircraft Association
  • USUA – United States Ultralight Association
  • ASC – Aero Sports Connection
  • SportPilot.org – EAA Sport Pilot & Light Sport Aircraft

INTERNATIONAL

  • FAI – Fédération Aéronautique Internationale

SOUTH AFRICA

Flying Periodicals / Magazines / Web Sites

  • Ultraflight Magazine – All types of light flight. Content is very good. One article per issue is available online. You can send for a free magazine.
  • UltralightFlying.com – USUA magazine
  • Aero Connections – Aero Sports Connection magazine
  • Ultraflight Talk Radio – Discusses fixed wing, rotorcraft, powered parachutes, hang gliders, powered paragliders and more. If you are flying or have always dreamed of flying, this is the show for you.
  • UltralightPilot.org – Information and links about ultralight airplanes.


  • On Jan 29, 2009 at 5:31 pm Stephen Woodgate said:

    Can you recommend a training location where I can get certified in a week long, or less in residence course for trikes.

  • On Jan 29, 2009 at 7:48 pm admin said:

    @ Stephen:

    My dream is to train at the Sky Gypsie’s facility in New Mexico. I haven’t done the research yet (cost, etc…) Check out this article from Adventure Magazine – but be warned, you may be inclined to sell everything you own and move there permanently after reading the article – I’m seriously contemplating it….

    Or you can check out All About Ultralight’s Pilot Training Page.

  • On May 16, 2009 at 7:42 pm chad said:

    There is a lot of inaccurate and incomplete info on here. Most conventional aircraft are tested to at least +6 -3 G’s and very trikes fall into the FAR 103 category of licensing. Even if it does fall in this category, that does not relieve one of knowing and following airspace rules.

  • On Aug 21, 2009 at 8:00 am aakesh said:

    I AM INTERESTED IN ULTRALIGHT AIRCRATE BUT I HAVE SOME PROBLEMS 1:SIZE OF WINGS (HOOD) 2:SIZE OF PROPLER BLADE PLEASE SEND ME REPLY

  • On Jan 9, 2010 at 5:14 am teguh gunadi said:

    I want made trike single seat, but I have some problems 1: size complete of wing. 2: size complete of propler blade and RPM.3:Power HP ,wat cant use engine 4 stroke carburator.4:wat cant use steel chasis.help me please thanks

  • On May 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm lorien chen said:

    Im a 18 year old keen microlight trike pilot! i did my international microlight pilot licence september last year in south africa and was flying a trike for the east african whale shark trust for research purposes in kenya. im in israel at the moment until the end of may and was looking up / wondering about any trike flying in israel, i currently have 42 hours in the air and am looking to get closer to my goal of 200 hours in order to proceed with my instructers licence!! anything that can help me get in the air i would much apreciate it!!
    looking foward to hearing from you!
    Lorien Chen

  • On Jun 4, 2010 at 2:56 pm qazi ajmal said:

    i need used trike wing.if any one reply me thanks.
    we can make propeller for rotax engine. in cheap price.

  • On Jun 9, 2011 at 12:35 am siyad kk said:

    very good trikes ilike that

  • On Sep 20, 2013 at 10:54 pm Peter said:

    You can buy a good second hand trike in zimbabwe for around $10 000 made in South Africa. I think anyone interested in weight shift flying should search should look at a few more sights this forum seem a bit scarce on detail.

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