Everybody knows that trikes are composed of a chassis and a wing. Many companies specialize in one or the other for good reason; the two manufacturing skills are quite different. For years North Wing Design owner, Kamron Blevins, has built the wings that lift many trikes. Now his Washington state based company does it all. A couple years ago the company introduced their Maverick trike, notable for its clean, simple, white chassis and unusually strut-braced delta wing. Later Blevins introduced his ATF model, a simplified and even lighter chassis which can connect to a conventional hang glider wing. Remaining busy, by spring of 2000 he offered the two-seat Apache model. In every case, of course, the trikes uses the company-produced wing. Beginning in the days when he supplied trike chassis makers with wings until he began to offer the whole trike aircraft, Cameron has clearly been listening to customers. From my inspection he has incorporated many features that trike buyers have sought over the years.
North Wing Design Apache
Phone: (509) 682-4359Chelan, WA 98816 - USA
|Empty weight||335 pounds|
|Gross weight||900 pounds|
|Wing area||157 square feet|
|Wing loading||6.1 pounds per square foot|
|Kit type||Fully assembled|
|Notes:||1A strut-braced wing is also available; height is then reduced to 8.5 feet. 2ATF can be purchased without wing, and common hang glider brands can be fitted to the trike.|
|Standard engine||Rotax 582|
|Power||50 hp at 6,500 rpm|
|Power loading||18.0 pounds per hp|
|Cruise speed||55-65 mph|
|Never exceed speed||85 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||700 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||150 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||150 feet|
|Standard Features||Contour 14.5 test-flown double-surfaced wire-braced wing, pilot pod, steerable nosewheel (push right, go left) with nosewheel drum brake and trailing link suspension, hand and foot throttles, 4-point seat belt system, Hobbs hourmeter, dual CHT or water temperature, dual EGT, altimeter, heavy duty fiberglass main gear legs, 10-gallon fuel tank, 3-blade composite prop. ATF - T2 tandem wing, tachometer, CHT, 3-gallon fuel tank.|
|Options||Rotax 582 66-hp engine, electric start, dual steering and throttle, 3-, 4-, or 6-blade prop, ballistic parachute system.ATF - Front fairing, side skirt with storage bags, JPX 2-cylinder engine, ballistic parachute system, 5-gallon fuel tank.|
|Construction||6061-T6 and 7075-T6 aluminum airframe, steel and aluminum fittings, AN hardware, fiberglass, Dacron sailcloth. 6061-T6 and 7075-T6 aluminum airframe, steel and aluminum fittings, AN hardware, fiberglass, Dacron sailcloth. ATF - Same. - Same.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - PROS - First 2-seater from North Wing Design, an established supplier of trike wings. Very credible effort with several features of note: most significant is the dual mast design that increases comfort. Folds from above the engine so it stays upright during transport. North Wing Design has long excelled with wing design; this Contour 14.5 is no exception. Delivered fully assembled.
Cons - Acceptance of the new brand is still developing, which means resale isn't well known yet. Field testing by ordinary pilots is also in early stages. Test Apache used wing with common upper rigging that demands tall doors for entry to hangars.
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 - n-flight trim makes a difference of several miles an hour, relieving control pressures. Dual nosewheel steering controls (optional). Instructor bars give a rear-seated instructor pitch and roll control. Electric starting on test Apache. Remote choke in easily reached position. Skirting hides fuel tank from view. Excellent repair access.
Cons - Limited space to add radios, GPS, or other instrumentation (though space might be used more efficiently than test Apache's panel). Electric starting plus dual steering and throttles, as on test Apache, are deluxe but add to the $14,000 base price of the trike.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Dual mast keeps connection to wing from hitting rear occupant. Instructor bars make for good dual controls when the instructor moves to the rear seat. Well-padded seats are more comfortable than average trike. Stash bags on both sides of seats gives some room for items you want to carry. Solid 4-point harness system up front is easily adjusted and clasped.
Cons - Throttle moved counter-intuitively; you move it backward to increase power. No footrest for heel; only rubber-coated peg (although floor of fairing would tell you if your foot was slipping off the peg). No shoulder belt system for rear seat occupant. Seatback for front seat is limited to the lumbar area.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Nosewheel steering damper keeps shake to a minimum and works with trailing link arrangement to keep nosewheel true on landings. Suspended nosewheel has fairly effective drum brake; useful on paved runways. Cantilevered gear legs provide excellent underside clearance. Visibility in trikes is very good. Maneuverability is also excellent, a benefit to being able to move the wings at will.
Cons - Brake was not particularly strong plus it was on the nose where light loading reduces traction. Cantilevered gear legs make some buyers uneasy, worried about fold-back in rough fields (however, design should largely counter that problem, I feel). Ground handling trikes in windy conditions can be challenging.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Engine thrust line placed parallel with the ground to reduce the swing-through effect many trikes exhibit on lift-off. All trikes enjoy a wide-open view for takeoff and landing. Good controls make the Apache reasonable to land in uneven winds. Trikes are easy landers as main gear wants to touch down first; wing pitch can be effective to slow rapidly.
Cons - Double-surface wing prefers approach around 50 mph for best results (much like other 2-place trikes). No flaps on trike wings (yet) nor can trikes do slips well; therefore approaches to landing must be planned better. Trikes are not as good as 3-axis ultralights in crosswind conditions (though experience can greatly widen your capabilities).
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - A long-time wing producer, North Wing Design has refined the art to include both good speed and superior handling; I've liked every wing of theirs I've flown. With practice, you can do nearly everything a 3-axis ultralight pilot can do. Contour wing controls were relatively light. Response was very good. Trike control harmony is often better than 3-axis designs; very good on this Contour.
Cons - Like virtually all 2-seat trikes, the Apache is not as agile as the single-place Maverick or ATF. Crosswind landings are still challenging for many newer pilots; trikes don't benefit from standard aviation training in this regard. Trike precision turns to heading aren't as accurate as 3-axis controls. Control pressures are not as light as single-place wings.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - North Wing Design wings have long exhibited a fairly wide speed range while maintaining good handling. Vibration felt quite low, probably thanks to the center-of-mass engine mount system and rear "spine" construction. Climb of 700 fpm with popular 50-hp Rotax 503 dual carb engine was quite respectable. Double-surfaced wing retained energy quite well on landings.
Cons - If you fly with two big occupants in high density altitudes, you'll want the optional 66-hp Rotax 582, at extra expense and weight. Trikes don't dive well with power at higher settings, should that be necessary in your flight. Fast cross-country cruising is better in some 3-axis designs. For low-over-open-field flying, I'd rather have a single-surface wing (North Wing Design has some good ones).
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - A focus of owner Kamron Blevins, the Apache was ballistic parachute equipped, though rocket had to be removed for shipping. Proper 4-point seat belt system will hold front seat pilot securely in place. Very predictable wing; you'll get no surprises. Steep turns maintained bank angle comfortably. Hard to get in much trouble with the Apache (though some pilots can be very "creative").
Cons - No shoulder belt system for rear seat occupant.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Excellent wing design, a vital part of any trike ultralight. Wing design work is a core strength of North Wing Design; handling and speed range are both very good. Clean and simple machined parts. Very well-equipped 2-seater; many features like 3-blade prop are standard. Fold-down system leaves engine upright and fully braced. Design optimized to ease minor repairs.
Cons - At $14,000 fully assembled list price, the Apache may not be the less expensive among 2-seat trikes (though several are more costly). New design with unproved resale or field-use history though wings have been around much longer).
North Wing Design has a history that stretches back into the mid-1980s when 23-year-old owner Kamron Blevins started making hang glider wings. After gaining experience with other companies and dabbling with his own ideas along the way, Blevins started North Wing Design in 1996 to provide trike wings. His timing was good. After years of work to encourage Americans to consider trikes, various suppliers – many from Europe – were pleased to see their efforts pay off. Trike numbers began to increase about the time North Wing Design got into business. At first, Blevin’s new company created specially built trike wings for several chassis suppliers and the enterprise grew. With increasing sales of wings to others and with a rising tide of trike interest lifting all manufacturers, North Wing Design decided to go all the way. Their first full trike ultralight offering in 1999 was the Maverick, a slick single-seater that met FAR Part 103 parameters with a Rotax 447 (see “Pilot’s Report: North Wing Design’s Maverick Trike,” September 1999 Ultralight Flying!