2011 Chicago Area TrikeFest

2011-July 24 Delta wing swarm

And now for something completely different. Well, OK, not COMPLETELY different since PPG was involved, but much different than my normal flying event.

On the weekend before my venture to Oshkosh, I attended Mike Hudetz's Trikefest at Cushing Field in Newark, IL. It has to be among the largest gatherings of weight-shift craft in the country. He does a casual competition and basically hosts a party.

What's cool is that this is within easy helicopter range of my house so, the day before, I flew down there to practice some weight-shift flying. I've got a half-share of a Cosmos Samba nanolight soaring trike that, unfortunately, I only fly a few times a year. The crazy paramotor keeps me busy. But I wanted to try my hand at competition.


So I went out and started flying lines, mostly up high at first. I chose straight lines mostly, but also curved lines and 90 degree lines to practice precise rollouts -- flying various degrees of bank. Then I went down low, to within a few inches of the road, so as to regain a feel for precise pitch control. It's a hang glider so you push forward to go up and right to go left. Making matters worse is my throttle which is backwards. Nuts. Thus the desire to practice until reaction was second nature.

Then back to the field for spot landing practice. My first attempts were miserable and nowhere near competitive but mostly because I experienced control reversal on just the flare. I'd come down with some spare energy, much like a paraglider, but instead of a tiny pull on the bar to touch the spot, I'd give it a tiny push. Ooops. Floaty, floaty. By the fouth one I was getting within a few feet.

Weight shift trikes are so completely different than all the other stuff I fly that I've got to get re-acclimated. Everything is backwards, including throttle, pitch and bank. What else is there?!?

Saturday Flying and Competition (sort of)

It was flyable basically all day because of cloud cover so I just went back and forth between flying the Samba and paramotoring. What fun. While I still favor the paramotor I have to say that the weight shift flying is cool, too. They had a very casual competition but we only got to run a few tasks, largely from lack of interest. The one we did do was a bomb drop. With water balloons.

The trike guys all had passengers which made things much easier since the passenger could carry the water. I didn't have that option on my Miniplane so I carried the water balloons in my emptied camera bag, then used a technique I learned from Eric Dufour where I would put the balloon in my feet. Then as I flew by, just let go. Of course these were water balloons so I had to be careful about breaking them and they were harder to hang on.

They have the same rules as we do with no altitude minimum. But I discovered a drawback to my slow speed and low altitude: the balloons wouldn't brake. So I'd have to fly higher to make sure they gained enough speed while dropping. I actually nailed the target a couple times on both the Samba and the Paramotor but the balloons didn't break. My bad. You drop low for accuracy but take your chances that it may not break. As with all competition, being good is more than just flying.

It was a good time and I highly recommend anyone interested in hang glider trikes to check out the event or training there at Cushing, Mike Hudetz will set you up nicely.

This pilot has an interesting story. But for now, he's about to enjoy some airtime..

Before flying these craft, make sure to get real good instruction. We're lucky to have the operation in Cushing that we do. Whereas poor instruction in paramotor usually means pilots struggle to get aloft, poor instruction in these things is more likely to be fatal.

© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!