Flying trikes offer a number of advantages, which account for their popularity. You can find them as two-place weight-shift control (WSC) light-sport aircraft (LSA) or single-seat ultralight vehicles.
Trike weight-shift control light-sport aircraft are the most fun to fly. A trike is most easily compared to a “motorcycle that flies”. It is a simple carriage with wheels and a wing.
A trike is simpler, easier, and less expensive to own and operate than typical aircraft. They perform well at lower and higher speeds and burn less fuel. Trikes are designed to burn less expensive auto fuel.
Because of the wing design, they are stall resistant and safer to fly than airplanes with these safer slow flying characteristics. Many trikes have emergency parachute systems making them safer that regular airplanes. With the great glide performance, if the engine fails you just glide down and land just like a hang glider.
Speed and Range
Sport trike aircraft are known for the ability to fly low and slow, to see the earth from a different point of view while others are designed to fly high and fast. The trike’s typical cruise speed can range from slow at 30 MPH to 80 mph (55-150 km/h). You’ll typical operate at heights between 300 and 1500 feet (90-500 meters). But you can ground skim just a few feet off the ground (a popular use of the aircraft) or cross country to altitudes as high as 18,000 feet (5.5 km). Equipped with a larger 25 gallon fuel tank, you can typically fly for about six hours and go about 400 miles.
The sport trike is easier to fly than the airplane because is is a natural action to control. You simply move your body to there you want to go. You are only controlling two axis, roll and pitch. In an airplane, you must control three axis which makes it more difficult. Trikes have an automatic rudder so crosswind take and landings are easy. The natural feel and the easier to control make trike flying easier, less time/money, and safer.
Transport and Storage
A trike’s wing folds into a 16-foot tube that is 8 inches in diameter, and the carriage fits in a garage or trailer. It takes less than an hour to set it up or take it down. Another way is with a bigger trailer, the wings are folded back and it rolls right into the trailer which takes about 15 minutes to take down and set up..
If you want to go from airport to airport, you’ll want a smaller wing and enclosed carriage with skinny, streamlined tires. If you want to fly from beaches or in the boonies, you’ll want a big wing and fat tires, and you know with the extra drag you’ll not go as fast, or as far.
There are some interesting options in trikes when you consider wing size, wing configuration, engine size, carriage configuration, and accessories. Overall, you must first decide what configuration, and then find the brand and dealer who can supply it. It is like buying a car. You must decide upon SUV, sports car, truck, minivan, or RV. Then you go looking for the dealer who can supply it.
With the speed, ease of flying, and crosswind capability of the trike, it has become popular to new people learning to fly plus powered parachute and airplane pilots adding a new category.