ST. PAUL, MINN. — My opening segment should start, “Once upon a time, there was Escape Pod, Pod Racer, and Porky Pod…” You’d probably be baffled (though perhaps intrigued). I’m referring to the Pod series from former Seagull hang glider boss, Mike Riggs. I’ve unabashedly promoted this project since it came from my challenge for a true “soaring trike.” Pods are sleek fuselages to house pilots attached to hang glider wings. Their goal is to offer more comfort, low drag and light weight, and a rigid attachment to the glider. You fly seated/supine — and have a full enclosure. Think of a powered ultralight trike except one with all the draggy bits pulled inside. Escape Pod and Pod Racer (and surely Porky Pod, too, when it’s ready) will feature fully retractable tri-gear, in-flight C/G adjustment, and a molded clear plastic canopy that fits smoothly to a composite body. A positive aspect is the rigid connection to glider, such that you can never fall into the wing, possibly preventing broken gliders after a tumble or tuck.
Trikes: they’re enjoyed around the world by thousands of pilots A what? Not sure what a “trike” is, are you? Don’t feel bad. Although these machines may represent the largest production of aircraft in the world, many pilots have overlooked their appeal. A trike is an aircraft made of two principle parts: a wing that resembles a hang glider (but is more stoutly built) and a carriage. The latter element is comprised of an engine, landing gear, seat and instrumentation. Within certain bounds, the wings and carriage can be mixed and matched. They may sound strange, but they are enjoyed around the world by thousands of pilots. In fact, among European light aviation enthusiasts, about one in every two flies a trike. Just a toy? Not! In case you think that such a contraption must be only for young sport enthusiasts that don’t have enough money for a “real” airplane, think again.
Updated: 7 December 2001 If you like hang gliding… then you have come to the right page. Currently, the Website has several Dennis Pagen pilot reports of the most popular hang gliders. (Thanks to Dennis for working me to bring you his fine reports.) I also have posted the last few Product Lines columns from Hang Gliding magazine. This column has run every month for the last 22 years and therefore represents a significant historical record for the sport of hang gliding. I will add the newest versions each month and will go back and add the older ones on a steady basis. Powered Hang Gliding & Soaring Those hang glider pilots willing to add engines to the equation will find some pilot reports on light trikes. These are machines I have flown that can deliver soaring flight to hang gliding enthusiasts. Some are better than others. well, that may be why you visited this site — to see the differences.
ST ST. PAUL, MINN. — Since last month’s column, I’ve been to the USHGA board of directors meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. As usual, the large group of directors spent many hours — all unpaid, volunteer work and they pay most of their expenses to do so! If you want more details, ask your regional director or read articles elsewhere in this magazine. ••• However, my focus at these meetings is as chair of the Publications Committee. Often, this committee’s work is obscure but this time, the committee recommended and the full board blessed an idea that will affect everyone in Yooshga, including both hang gliding and paragliding pilots. The committee recommended and the board approved a plan to combine our two magazines into one. • Now, before I go off and make someone angry, let me stress that you will see articles in both magazines surrounding this change AND members will be given a chance to provide their thoughts.
Dockweiler Beach renews hang gliding memories. Most KITPLANES readers probably don’t think of hang glider pilots as old folks. Indeed, it remains a younger man’s flying sport due to the athletic nature of the launch and landing. (At least that’s true if you don’t count the 30-40% of all launches that are done via aerotowing behind a specially built ultralight.) Nonetheless, this event at a famed California beach site was dubbed the Geezer Fly-In by many who celebrated in good humor at the landmark where so many first got their feet off the ground under a hang glider. Many of those present qualify as fifty somethings. “Nearly 400 pilots attended,” says Michael Riggs, himself a figurehead in the early days of hang gliding. Riggs started Seagull Aircraft, which became highly successful selling thousands of his distinctive hang gliders with the smoothly curved leading edges. He also described the event this way: “There wasn’t a dry eye all day.” Of the hundreds who gathered, many had not seen each another in the last 20 years.
What’s in a name? A Texas-based event, last summer’s World Record Encampment, predicted accurately its own success; two top hang glider pilots set world records for distance flying and broke another record that stood for nearly a decade. On July 19, Dave Sharp flew his A.I.R. ATOS rigid wing hang glider for an astounding 311 miles (501 kilometers), narrowly beating the long-held record of 308 miles set by another leading competitor, Larry Tudor. Tudor first broke the magical 300-mile barrier by flying 303 miles in July, 1990. He repeated this achievement, flying 308 miles several years later, but nearly a decade passed with no other pilots exceeding 300 miles. That unique status was shattered thanks to participants at the World Record Encampment 2000. Sharp flew more than 9 hours to earn his world record. The one that people will remember is the 311-mile flight of straight distance, but along the way he also set a record for a flight to a declared goal of 203 miles.
Sport aviators host their own traveling event. Boat and RV shows are in full swing during the winter months when use of these toys is low. It proves to be a popular time for sportsmen to look at gear for the upcoming season. Flying should be no different. Yet most of the major aviation trade events are held in conjunction with airshows. Needing good weather, these gatherings are clustered throughout the late spring, summer and early fall. If successful, they get established in one location that requires everyone to travel to them. Traveling Airshow If we are to attract new people into aviation, maybe we need to go to where they are rather than demanding that they come to us. Attracting the general public is worthy, but such a traveling event can also motivate local pilots. The truth is, popular as airshows are, most pilots don’t get to them. Attending more than one or two airshows a year is time-consuming and expensive.
TEAM Aircraft - Air Bike
“Wow! …what a great little machine,” is how many airshow attendees regarded the unique plane TEAM introduced at Sun ‘n Fun 1994. When the company unloaded the Airbike at the Florida event, it was immediately surrounded with admirers who didn’t leave it alone for the entire week.
The mystique encompassing the Airbike is more than looks. A delightfully simple and light machine, it meets the weight requirements of Part 103 with 30 pounds to spare! An airplane you get on not in, TEAM’s Airbike is aimed at newcomers, or anyone looking for a good time in the air. Derived from their early (never released) EZE-MAX, an all wood design with an equally narrow fuselage, the Airbike represents a departure for TEAM. She’s made up of a welded steel main structure, wood wings, fiberglass upper cowl, aluminum support structure… making the Airbike a genuine “composite.”
Flying an Airbike confirms one thing. Handling of the TEAM model line is a very crisp. Plus, takeoffs and landings can be done at such slow speeds that things happen at a comfortable pace. The Airbike is intended to be a mellow flyer, cruising in the mid-40s. Novice and experienced pilots will find something to like in the Airbike.
Then, you have the TEAM team. Many customers say the TEAM mates are the main reason they keep coming back. A talented bunch, they’re also widely regarded as genuinely caring about their customer’s satisfaction. Company requests for their builders to bring their planes to the airshows regularly brings a crowd no other manufacturer has matched. Airbike, MAX-103, or any other of the TEAM planes will put a smile on your face while giving relief to your wallet.
TEAM was featured in the October 1993 and November 1992 issues.
TEAM Aircraft – Air Bike By Dan Johnson, August 1, 1995 “Wow! …what a great little machine,” is how many airshow attendees regarded the unique plane TEAM introduced at Sun ‘n Fun 1994. When the company unloaded the Airbike at the Florida event, it was immediately surrounded with admirers who didn’t leave it alone for the entire week. The mystique encompassing the Airbike is more than looks. A delightfully simple and light machine, it meets the weight requirements of Part 103 with 30 pounds to spare! An airplane you get on not in, TEAM’s Airbike is aimed at newcomers, or anyone looking for a good time in the air. Derived from their early (never released) EZE-MAX, an all wood design with an equally narrow fuselage, the Airbike represents a departure for TEAM. She’s made up of a welded steel main structure, wood wings, fiberglass upper cowl, aluminum support structure… making the Airbike a genuine “composite.” Flying an Airbike confirms one thing.