On Saturday Kathleen and I took advantage of the chance to take a short class in Trike flying and then go up for introductory rides.

This was an event organized by AreoDynamic Aviation (formerly Amelia Reid Aviation) at the Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose.

We arrived to find Pete Marsh's Antares MA-34 R912 Ranger with an 80 horsepower Rotax 912 engine sitting outside the hangar. So I took several photos of the engine, cockpit, and wing while we got a good look at it.

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A view of the cockpit.

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Beefy landing gear!

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The Rotax 912 Engine

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Glass Cockpit

After checking it out, Pete spent about an hour telling our class about Trike flying in Alaska, answering our questions about the sport and the machines, and giving us a little bit of an idea what to expect.

For the record, this Trike has electric trim and will cruise at about 70-75mph while burning 2.5 gallons of high octane auto gas per hour. So mileage is comparable to most cars. But the ride is a hell of a lot more fun! And with a 15 gallon fuel supply, you can fly a lot longer than your bladder will let you.

Several of us had reserved times to fly 1 hour $99 introductory rides with Pete, and before I knew it my time had arrived. I was really looking forward to the experience.

Pete helped me get strapped in and I took a few pictures and a vide as we taxied over to the run-up area for runway 31R.

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My turn!

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Strapped in and ready!

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View out the front.

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Engine running and we're taxiing!

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We sit close together.

Here's a short taxi video:

After a couple other departures, we were cleared to take off!

Takeoff video:

Trike Flying
Check out that view!

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Look, Ma. I'm flying the Trike!

And before I knew it we were in the air and flying.

The first few seconds were kid of freaky, given how open the cockpit is. But that quickly faded away and I began to really enjoy the flying. We headed a bit south and then over the first ridge toward the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton where we could play around a bit and I could get a better feel for flying the Trike.

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Heading for the hills...

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Me again.

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All those houses...

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Another great view.

Back there I got to try various flight maneuvers, really get a feel for the air, and even did some soaring in thermals. I was really impressed by how well we could feel the air as the wing tried to move and the distinct changes in temperature as we flew into different pockets.

Turns were easy once I got over the idea of forcing them. We also performed a few stalls (though they hardly compare to stalls in a larger airplane or glider)--very benign. I was impressed by how stable the aircraft was too. Let go and it'll pretty much fly straight and level if you're in calm air.

The view was, of course, amazing. And being able "feel" the air more directly makes you feel a lot more connected to the atmosphere you're flying in.

All in all it was a much more "raw" experience then the glider flying I'm used to. I really enjoyed it.

After almost an hour of flying, it was time to head back in and land.

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Heading in to land.

Landing video:

After landing, we taxied back to the hangar so that Pete could pick up his next victim passenger.

Trike Flying

Next up was Kathleen...

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Strapped in.

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Ready to go!

The took for for a similarly fun 1-hour flight.

Takeoff video:

I was there to grab a few pictures as the taxied back to the hangar area.

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Thumbs Up!

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What a blast!!!

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Time to let someone else play...


We both had an absolute blast flying the trike. It's a little like flying a power plane and a little like flying a glider, but it's a very different experience from both. It's a very raw and natural form of flying that really puts you in touch with your surroundings and gives you an amazing view of the area you're flying in.

Thanks again to AeroDynamic Aviation for organizing this event. Not only do they provide excellent flight training and aircraft maintenance, Owner Zdravko Podolski has consistently organized events to help pilots expand our flying horizons.

We're both very tempted to get a weight-shift control add-on for our pilot certificates. It's worth noting that many Trikes make it easy to swap out the wheels on the landing gear for floats (land on lakes!) or skis (land on snow/ice).

Pictures and Video

I have the whole set in this Picasa album: Trike Flying at RHV

Or you can see a subset in my Trike Flying album on Flickr.

The videos are in my YouTube channel as well.

Posted by jzawodn at August 02, 2009 08:22 AM

Reader Comments
# Timothy said:

That sir is just pure awesomeness! Great pictures!! Thanks for sharing.

on August 2, 2009 08:56 AM
# Dan Isaacs said:
on August 2, 2009 04:21 PM
# Jan said:

This looks awesome! I am currently working on my PPL but this looks like a very cool alternative, given the cost of flying the 172 Cessnas I normally fly.

on August 3, 2009 12:32 AM
# Games said:

Cool! looking at the pictures it seems that I was flying..the pictures is pretty cool..

on August 3, 2009 01:01 AM
# Neal said:

Loved your pics. We fly trikes and tinnies a lot here thousands of miles away from you in Kenya, East Africa. We use them for elephant and African Wild Dog research. I program in python and was very pleasantly surprised to see your pics in a like interest. Enjoy the trike flying --- no other feeling is quite like it huh?


on September 12, 2009 09:22 AM
# Seth Wisely said:

you might like flying an acrobatic plane ;)

on September 19, 2009 04:08 PM
# Darrin Ward said:

Outrageous. I want one!!

on September 21, 2009 01:26 PM
# Alan said:

Jeremy...did you get a price on the Trike you and Kathleen rode?

on October 5, 2009 11:48 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Alan: yeah, it was in the $30k ballpark, IIRC.

on October 5, 2009 08:35 PM
# ZXT said:

Wow! Those are priceless experience. I love your pics and videos but a little scary for me as you are literally in the air.

on November 18, 2009 12:45 PM
# Private jet said:

It's a cool post. really very interesting. Pictures are very clear and good.

on December 5, 2009 02:43 AM
# Tugman said:

We went to Hawaii for our 25th anniversary and one of the things I did there was a 1 hour intro trike flight. It was totally AWESOME! I fully intend to get one in the not too distant future and would recommend a flight in a trike to anyone who gets an opportunity.

on February 28, 2010 02:26 AM
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