I never really noticed before just how much the Buckeye Industries powered parachute carriage looked like a trike carriage. Maybe you didn’t either, but in your mind’s eye, remove the prop guard and see if you don’t agree. They aren’t identical, of course, but the visual relationship is uncannily close considering the two aircraft types developed separately. What a perfect situation. Ralph Howard’s family members and friends have built Buckeye from “nothing” to one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers, all in the ’90s and without even using the entire decade! Whatever combination of talent, money, timing and luck was involved in this tale of success, the Howards want to keep it going strong. That won’t be easy, but these Indiana Hoosiers may be up to the task. Take the momentum of a reported several hundred powered parachute units sold each of the last few years. Revise the hardware slightly to expand into the manufacture of trikes, and you have a potent mixture that could emerge as one of America’s largest trike builders.
|Empty weight||355 pounds|
|Gross weight||655 pounds|
|Wing area||187 square feet|
|Wing loading||3.5 pounds/square foot|
|Height||11 feet 6 inches|
|Fuel Capacity||10 gallons|
|Kit type||Almost fully assembled|
|Build time||1/2 hour|
|Standard engine||Rotax 447|
|Power loading||16.4 pounds/horsepower|
|Cruise speed||34 to 46 mph|
|Never exceed speed||65 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||700-850 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||50 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||75 feet|
|Standard Features||Electronic Flight Instruments package (altimeter, tach, hourmeter, flight timer, variometer, dual EGT, dual CHT, fuel gauge), foot and hand throttles, foot pedal ground steering (push left, go right), mechanical nosewheel brake, 3-point shoulder harness, padded seat, 3-blade composite prop.|
|Options||Rotax 503 single or dual carb (with electric start), other trike wings, nose fairing, ASI, ballistic emergency parachute, velour or black vinyl seat covering, wheel pants, single strobe, prop spinner.|
|Construction||Test with ñ in it too! and also &nwrong and &right|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - A hybrid design, Buckeye's trike line has been through more than a year of thought. All Buckeye powered parachutes can now be converted to a trike (at extra cost). Beautiful, confidence-inspiring hardware allows the swap. Buckeye craftsmanship has consistently dominated airshow judging of powered parachutes.
Cons - The switch from powered parachute to trike takes a couple hours, and adds significantly to the cost. Price is well-equipped; not aimed at bargain shoppers. & really sweet
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Buckeye trikes are best (to me) when they remain fairly simple to preserve handling, but the 2-seater can add systems like electric start and lighting systems. Trikes don't need systems like flaps which add complications. All Buckeye trikes come standard with the EFI flight instrument. Fuel is easily reached behind seat.
Cons - You don't need many systems to support flight in the Buckeye single-seat trike, and that very simplicity will turn off some buyers. Pull start only on the test aircraft (though it worked fine).
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Very comfortable seat with support and padding where useful. Easy entry, even better than the powered parachute version (where you must maneuver around some structure). The EFI instrument deck was easily read thanks to its angled installation. Large foot pedals support feet during flight and ground operations. Shoulder belt was standard.
Cons - Seat is not adjustable. Digital gauges, though appreciated as standard equipment, aren't always the quickest to interpret. No cargo area.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - For careless pilots or innocent bystanders, the hoops surrounding the prop arc may prevent injuries. Taxi steering is precise without being slippery. Maneuvering among parked aircraft has long been a strength of trike designs. Extremely durable carriage able to withstand substantial abuse.
Cons - I don't personally care for a throttle that moves forward for less power, but pilots get used to these things pretty quickly. "Wrong way" steering (typical of trikes) still turns off many experienced conventional pilots (though an argument exists to suggest it isn't "the wrong way").
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Trikes are very easy landing machines and the Buckeye continues the theme, especially with the tamer Fun wing. Excellent visibility in most directions (also a strength of the parachute versions) makes for easy launch/land operations. Slow approach speeds. Landing ground roll is short.
Cons - More push-out (to raise the nose or prolong the flare) was needed due to a slightly forward wing hookup point; however, this is easily adjustable within a range on the Air Création wing. Not adept in stronger crosswinds when cross-runway landing won't suffice. No aerodynamic aids to landing, like flaps. Ground clearance at aft of carriage is limited by the prop guard.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Single-surface Fun wing has superior handling to most double-surface trike wings. Roll-in and -out (banking the wing) has a reasonably light touch. Single-seat weight also helps ease control. Easily "harmonized" in turns with bar push-out, simpler than 3-axis coordination. Very good steep turns; very stable throughout. High predictability from handling.
Cons - Buckeye's "reversed" hand throttle takes familiarization (though foot throttle is standard trike-style). Roll rate is slower than many 3-axis machines. Air Création's trike wings are somewhat stiffer than some other brands. Precision turns to headings require more muscular effort than 3-axis aircraft. Crosswind capability is quite limited.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - A Fun Eagle trike is not meant to be more than a simple fun-to-fly aircraft, a goal it accomplishes very well. Climb was very strong, nearly 1,000 fpm despite the smaller 40-hp Rotax 447 engine. Factory reports a low 1.6 gph fuel burn rate at 37 mph cruise speed. Relatively speedy Vne of 65 mph (for a single-surface wing).
Cons - Wing is not fast; those seeking swift flight could try a double-surface wing like Air Création's XP-11. Cruise is very modest at 34 to 46 mph per specs (though this is the pace many ultralighters prefer). Lots of extra drag with the prop guard, which isn't needed for trike operations. Takeoff roll was rather lengthy on our test trike.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stalls below 30 mph at gross weight. All stalls extremely mild. With the forward support strut to contain movement, no stall gets very extreme. Very good longitudinal stability; returns to level quickly after being disturbed from trim. Excellent steep turns, very stable in turn and good roll power to exit. Throttle addition always raises the nose.
Cons - No emergency parachute, but company is pursuing development. Longer takeoff roll (than necessary) suggests the hookup may have been off a little (though this slightly increased cruise trim speed). All trike wings use some anhedral to aid roll; in steep enough turns, a tight spiral can develop. Cannot dive with liberal power applied.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - You get more aircraft for your money when you go both ways and you broaden your flying horizons rather significantly. Company believes in their design enough to work toward FAA certification of the powered parachute model. Excellent-looking machine work on the trike hardware parts compliments the overall machine well.
Cons - You must pay a hefty additional price to add a trike wing (earned by quality hardware perhaps, but still an extra cost). With the prop guard and extra structure for powered parachute attachments, trike is heavier and draggier than it might be.