Powerlite Trikes Can Utilize Hang
Gliders for Wings
U.S. Airborne Sport Aviation Center is importing the
lightweight single-seat Powerlite line of trike carriages from
Australia's Airtime Products. The trikes are appropriate for use
with modern hang glider wings, which many former hang glider pilots
still have, according to U.S. Airborne's Scott Johnson.
Scott Johnson of U.S. Airborne Sport Aviation Center, a trike
ultralight dealer and Miniplane powered paraglider manufacturer
in Asotin, Washington, reports his company is now importing single-seat
Powerlite trikes from Australia's Airtime Products. "U.S.
Airborne is highly involved in the U.S. air sport aviation marketplace,"
U.S. Airborne Sport Aviation Center has added Powerlite trikes,
Explorer powered hang glider harnesses and Discovery foot-launched
backpack-style powered paragliding units to their list of air
sport products. "We have now started importing what we consider
to be one of the best lines of light trikes, powered hang glider
harnesses and powered paragliders in the world, from Airtime Products,"
Johnson says. (See next month's "Industry Watch" for
information on the Explorer powered hang glider harness and Discovery
powered paragliding units.) Johnson's company also is a dealer
for Australia's Airborne* line of trikes and South African manufacturer
Rainbow Aircraft's Aerotrike Cobra** and Aerotrike Safari***trikes.
And U.S. Airborne also manufacturers the Miniplane****powered
paraglider. "The Powerlite trikes have been designed to fit
a hang glider wing," U.S. Airborne notes. Most trike wings
these days are specifically designed for heavier trike carriages.
In general, such trike wings are probably too fast and too stiff
in handling to be successfully foot-launched and -landed as free-flight
(nonpowered) hang gliders. Lightweight trike carriages, however,
are being used with hang glider wings, and many trike pilots
were formerly hang glider pilots with a hang glider stored unused
in their garages. Johnson (and other trike dealers in the ultralight
industry) see these pilots as a potential market for lightweight
trikes. "Powerlite trikes are extremely light and maneuverable
to fly," Johnson says. "They have the comfort and ease
of launching a trike with the soaring capability of a hang glider."
One key to producing a lightweight trike carriage is using a lighter
engine to power it. Powerlite trikes use either the Swedish 14-hp
(at 9,000 rpm) Radne 2-cycle engine or the Italian-made 21-hp
(at 7,200 rpm) Cors-Air 2-cycle powerplant. "The state-of-the-art
Radne and Cors-Air motors are both specifically designed for aviation,"
U.S. Airborne says. "They have proven to be low-maintenance
and extremely reliable," the company claims. "Importers
of these engines provide a 12-month warranty, and U.S. Airborne
stocks a full range of spare parts." The power-to-weight
ratios of the Cors-Air and Radne 2-cycle engines are good enough
to also use them as powerplants for Airtime Products' Discovery
line of powered paragliders, and the 120cc 13-hp model Radne engine
is used on their Explorer powered hang glider harness. Powerlite
trikes are constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum, and "the
Powerlite trike base is designed to be very robust to handle rough
takeoff and landing sites," U.S. Airborne says. The Powerlite
R135 features the 18-hp Radne 2-cycle engine with centrifugal
clutch and carbon-fiber composite prop, in-flight restart capability,
intake silencer, 10-liter (2.6-gallon) fuel tank, Corduraseat
with storage and radio pockets, and carry/storage bag. The Powerlite
C122 and C130 trikes feature Cors-Air 2-cycle engines with electric
start and a self-charging system, intake silencer, 10-liter (2.6-gallon)
fuel tank, Cordura seat with storage and radio pockets, and
carry/storage bag. Options include: instruments (tach, EGT and
CHT), stone guard, and electric start (for the R135 model). "The
quick-release 2.6-gallon fuel tank will give up to 3 hours motoring,
depending on the wing used and wind conditions," U.S. Airborne
says. "The ability to quickly remove the fuel tank is a bonus
for transportation and refueling when out-landing near a service
Prices are: Powerlite R135, $4,400; Powerlite C122 and C130, $4,975.
All prices are in U.S. dollars and do not include trike wing or
*For a flight evaluation of the Streak 2000,
see "UF! Pilot's Report: Airborne's Streak 2000 Wing,"
October '00 Ultralight Flying! magazine
**For a flight evaluation, see "UF! Pilot's Report: Striking
Cobra - South Africa's Aerotrike Goes First Class," April
***For a flight evaluation, see "UF! Pilot's Report: Rollison's
Rainbow - the Aerotrike Safari From South Africa," February
'99 UF! magazine
****See "Industry Watch - New for the 2000 Flying Season:
Miniplane Quieter Than Weedeater," June '00 UF! magazine;
and "Industry Watch: U.S. Airborne Markets Miniplane Powered
Paraglider," May '00 UF! magazine
- Buzz Chalmers
Info: U.S. Airborne Sport Aviation Center, 1212 5th St., PO Box
579, Dept. UF, Asotin, WA 99402. Phone: (509) 243-4988 * e-mail: