Here’s the sharp new Solairus (yes, that’s the right spelling) from North Wing, the premiere American producer of weight-shift trike ultralights and Light-Sport Aircraft. Solairus easily qualifies as a Part 103 ultralight vehicle meaning no license is needed. The fresh design is a departure from the usual trike and the one we examine is powered with a four stroke engine with electric starting. You’ll want to watch the video to get all the details.
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Here’s another in our growing series of mini pilot reports where you get some of the benefits of a full-length pilot report in a video format. This time it’s the new Solairus from North Wing. Any weight shift enthusiast could love it but for those of us who enjoy soaring flight, here’s a dream come true… even more so for those who don’t live near mountains or an airpark where they can tow you aloft.
If you flew better than 9,000 hours solely to give trike instruction, you would tend to develop ideas about how an aircraft can better fit the type of flying lessons you want to give. That’s exactly what Wild Sky owner Denny Reed reports.
Denny has an enviable position to some. Imagine any fixed wing instructor saying, “I wish the aircraft would do some operations differently for my teaching. I can’t find one that exactly matches what I seek, so, you know what? I’ll just design what I want.”
Yeah, sure. Most of us never have that chance. Instead, we learn to adapt to the aircraft. As an example, what if you wanted the throttle in a different place, or any number of possible changes.
In a long career that has included talking to CFIs from around the world, I have never met a fixed wing flight instructor who set about making the airplane he truly wanted.
Some pilots are wary of taildraggers. This is hardly surprising since only tricycle-gear aircraft have been used in primary flight instruction dating back into the 1970s. Most pilot have no experience with taildraggers but nearly all have heard of the dreaded ground-loop tendency such gear configuration can allow.
Indeed, when investigating insurance for a taildragger, you will have to prove you have some experience or get training from a suitably-experienced instructor — and you won’t find many able to help you.
How about if an aircraft went both ways? What if an affordable aircraft allowed you to fly with tricycle gear but permitted you to practice your taildragger technique yet still use the nosewheel’s self-straightening capability if you start to get a little “sideways” (literally or figuratively)?
Kolb Aircraft has an answer.
Producers of Part 103 aircraft, such as Kolb Aircraft report consistently strong business for the last few years.
Recently I had an exchange with Australian Flying magazine editor, Steve Hitchen. He asked some great questions and after giving my responses I realized some of his question were common ones I hear being discussed. So why not share our give-and-take? Steve’s questions are in blue.
I’d like to talk about power. With LSA restricted to 120 KIAS, it seems unlikely we’ll get much engine development to increase power unless regulations change to either allow an increase in speed or gross weight.
LSA are getting more power, to wit, Rotax’s new 915iS with 135-horsepower and the Continental Titan line with 180 horsepower. I do not think this is the end of the horsepower boosts …plus LSA speed and/or weight changes could conceivably follow in the USA but are currently not limitations in other countries that accept the ASTM standards as a basis for approval or certification.
North Wing is America’s leading manufacturer of weight shift LSA and Part 103 ultralight trikes. The company’s wing designs are so good that most other trike manufacturers use them. Aircraft prices are highly affordable by all.
North Wing makes more trikes than you might think. We also have a video on the sweet little Solairus, a soaring trike. In this video we review the Maverick, a more deluxe single seater with a beefier engine from Kawasaki. Yet even with the additional features, Maverick still fits into Part 103 where no pilot license, airman’s medical, or N-numbers are needed.
I’ve been writing about very affordable aircraft•, specifically about Part 103 ultralight vehicles. I know some readers prefer speedier or fully enclosed aircraft. Those people are fortunate as many choices are available and, of course, I will continue writing about them frequently. However, many pilots in the USA and around the world do not have a budget for a magnificent carbon fiber personal aircraft that costs $150,000. Even among those who can afford such aircraft, I’m amazed at the renewed interest in these simplest of aircraft.
In addition, aircraft as shown in the nearby photos have seen considerable development since the early days of weight shift trikes. In my view, America invented these aircraft back in the late 1970s but as three axis ultralights developed, interest from American pilots drew away from weight shift and the best new ideas seemed to come from Europe, Australia or other countries. However, I now see the freshest developments coming from U.S.
From the land of sky-blue waters comes … no, not a beverage but Canada’s first electric ultralight. And sky-blue waters aren’t the point; instead, it’s all about blue skies and getting up to them for a bit of soaring fun. Thanks to my journalist friend Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief of AvWeb (one of my favorite aviation websites), I heard about a Canadian friend who’s done some interesting development work. Given the general excitement about electric power and my personal interest in soaring flight, I called up my old friend.
Like many of us who enjoy soaring hang gliders, developer Randy Rauck said, “I always wanted to apply electric to a lightweight trike so we could quickly and easily fly our hang gliders up to where the thermals abound.” When he’s not creating a new powerplant Randy runs the Freedom Flight Park in Lumby, BC Canada. “I wanted to try electric to get away from the vibration of a lightweight two-stroke gasoline engine.
Whew! It’s over. Man, Sun ‘n Fun can be the busiest six days of one’s life… well, at least until the next one. In this survey article, I want to skim the very top of what I found interesting at the recently concluded show. Each highlight will get fuller coverage. Before starting, though, I owe a couple shout-outs. *** A huge, enormous thanks to Jim Lawrence who kept you up on a daily basis. Accomplishing that means long days shooting photos, interviewing personalities, and working into the night in a motel room with a crappy Internet connection. It may look easy and fun but only half that assessment is true (hint: it ain’t easy). *** Secondly, another thanks-a-million to UltralightNews, my video collaborator. I have the easy job; they will put in an enormous number of hours to edit and finish more than two dozen new videos that I’ll post here as each is done.