Chattanooga Sail & Frame Offers Trike Wings, Repair Services and Parts

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Expanding Services in U.S. Trike Market

A "Stars and Stripes sail" was a 50th birthday present from the wife of Chris Blyth of TC's Trikes. The patriotic-patterned wing (seen here mounted on a TC Trike) "is designed to match the characteristics of the TC Trike," Blyth says, "but will fit any trike on the market today." The sail was sewn by sailmaker Alan Bloodworth and the Super D-16 trike wing built by frame specialist Paul Mays, partners of Chattanooga Sail & Frame, which has been supplying TC's Trikes with complete trike wings for the past 3 years.

Chattanooga Sail & Frame (CS&F) isn't exactly "new" to the U.S. trike ultralight industry, having supplied trike manufacturer TC's Trikes* with complete trike wings for almost 3 years. But CS&F has kept a pretty low profile since it was founded by Alan Bloodworth and Paul Mays, both experienced hang glider pilots, instructors and hang gliding dealership repair specialists. Now CS&F is offering the same trike wing construction and repair services to other manufacturers and dealers in the U.S. trike industry.

A little background: Trike manufacturers are a bit different than fixed-wing ultralight manufacturers. While most ultralight manufacturers use subcontracting companies to supply their production lines with ultralight parts (and sometimes even complete subassemblies), trike carriage manufacturers may have another business supply them with the entire wing (or offer another company's trike wings as an option). This is because designing, testing and producing hang glider-type trike wings is a specialty business requiring knowledge and design skills found more often in the hang gliding industry than the traditional fixed-wing powered ultralight industry.

It's no surprise then that many trike manufacturers worldwide (such as Australia's AirBorne Windsports and France's Cosmos/La Mouette sister companies) produce both powered trikes and foot-launched hang gliders. In most cases, the companies evolved from manufacturing hang gliders first, then entered the powered ultralight market by adding a trike carriage to one of their wings. A trike is essentially an ultralight that is a type of powered hang glider, except today's trike wings are usually designed specifically for trikes. Most current trike wings are too fast (and too stiff in handling) to be easily and safely foot-launched, flown and foot-landed as free-flight (nonpowered) hang gliders.

An exception to this general principle is the lighter-weight single-seat trikes on the market, like Lookout Mountain Flight Park's SkyCycle (called the Freedom Machine** when it was introduced in '98) or U.S. Airborne Sport Aviation Center's Powerlite***trikes. Because of their lighter wing loading (less weight per square foot of sail), these single-seat trikes can sometimes use actual hang gliders for their wings.

Many modern hang gliders designed and tested during the last 2 decades are strong enough to support the extra weight of the trike undercarriage. Sometimes this is accomplished by adding structural reinforcement in important places ­ for example, adding an internal sleeve to the aluminum tubing at the center of gravity point where the trike carriage attaches to the wing's keel. Although the hang glider may have the structural strength to carry the weight of the trike carriage, hang glider airframes are not designed with airframe vibration (from a pulsating powerplant) in mind. Anyone considering using a hang glider for a trike wing would be well-advised to contact the wing's manufacturer, as well as the trike manufacturer, for advice.

Today's trike market is seeing more companies specializing in designing, testing and producing trike wings specifically for the powered ultralight market. The principals of such trike wing companies ­ like Bloodworth and Mays ­ usually come from hang gliding backgrounds and with hang gliding industry business experience. Two noteworthy examples in today's trike market are Kamron Blevins of North Wing Design and Mark "Gibbo" Gibson of Butterfly Wings by GibboGear.**** Blevins began as a hang glider sailmaker, then formed North Wing Design to produce trike wings (and now entire trikes). North Wing was the first to introduce a strut-braced (rather than the typically cable-braced) trike to the U.S. market with their Maverick*****trike.

Gibson was a very experienced hang glider pilot who earned a gold and two bronze medals as a Hang Gliding World Championships competitor. A decade ago, Gibson also held the official World Record for distance flown in a hang glider ­ 412 kilometers (258 miles) on July 31 of '92. Gibson designed hang gliders for British hang glider manufacturer Airwave and developed and produced his own hang gliding harnesses for a living under the company name GibboGear. Turning his talents and attention to the larger ultralight market, he formed Butterfly Wings by GibboGear, designing and manufacturing trike wings at first, then entire trikes.

Three years ago, Bloodworth and Mays were eyeing the growth in the ultralight market. Both pilots had gained considerable experience in hang glider sailmaking and airframe construction while working for Matt Taber, president of Lookout Mountain Flight Park, a "hang gliding resort" and the Number One mountain-flying hang gliding training center in America. Taber had expanded his business by developing and marketing the single-seat SkyCycle trike using the 22-hp single-cylinder Zenoah G25B-1 2-cycle engine.

Bloodworth and Mays formed CS&F, and soon began building and supplying trike wings to local trike manufacturer Chris "TC" Blyth of TC's Trikes. (Bloodworth specializes in sewing the Dacron®-sailcloth sails, while Mays does the airframe work. According to Mays, CS&F subcontracts some of their sail-repair sewing work to another local hang glider pilot with considerable sailmaking experience. CS&F's trike wing repair services are designed for ultralight dealers who don't have the facilities, equipment or experience to handle the job, but still want to offer repair services and support to their customers. CS&F also sells after-market parts for trikes.)

Not surprisingly, the two partners of CS&F are hoping to eventually develop and manufacture their own trike (to be introduced perhaps as early as the end of this year).

- Buzz Chalmers

*See "Industry Watch: TC Trike Latest to Enter Ultralight Market," December '00 Ultralight Flying! magazine
**See "Industry Watch: Freedom Machine 'Soars' on the Market," July '98 UF! magazine
***See "Industry Watch: U.S. Airborne Imports Airtime Products," May '02 UF! magazine
****For a flight evaluation of a trike with a GibboGear trike wing on a Water Trikes' trike, see "UF! Pilot's Report: Efficient Amphib Trike ­The Kalypso," July '02 UF! magazine
*****For a flight evaluation, see "UF! Pilot's Report: Not Like the Others ­ North Wing Design's Maverick Trike," September '99 UF! magazine

Info: Chattanooga Sail & Frame, 4223 Kelly's Ferry Rd., Dept. UF, Chattanooga, TN 37419. Phone: (423) 504-8745.


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Venture Cinchers' correct telephone number is (479) 648-4987. The seatbelt manufacturer also has a weekend number: (918) 427-6490.


Nesmith Family Fund Established

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Bob Bullock of WaterTrikes, B&B Sport Aviation's Ted Bryant and Mark Gibson of Butterfly Wings by Gibbogear are sponsoring The Nesmith Family Fund. Ted Nesmith, manufacturer of the Top Dog trike line under company name Top Dog Ultralights, was involved in a crash that resulted in the death of a friend and serious injury to himself. "From the latest report [I received], it will be 2 years before Ted can even walk," says Bob Bullock. "Like a lot of us in this business, if you do it full-time, it is your sole income. And he has a wife and kids, and it's not going well for him right now. It's also hard to get insurance and the only thing he had to fall back on was veterans benefits.

"I don't know how much this will help ­ his hospital bills are staggering ­ but anything is better than nothing."

If you'd like to help out, make checks payable to Julie and Ted Nesmith, and mail them to: The Nesmith Family Fund, PO Box 686, Hughesville, MD 20637.


Fifth-Grade Internet Flight from Indiana to Seattle

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Fifth-grade science teacher Richard Beamer is at it again. He is planning another on-line science adventure for his students by flying his S-4 Coyote from Wabash, Indiana to Seattle, Washington.* "I enjoy teaching science to all three of our fifth-grades at Southwood Elementary in Wabash, Indiana," says Beamer. "For the last 2 years we have created Internet adventures. Two years ago we flew an ultralight to San Diego and I e-mailed the students daily of our adventures and misadventures. Last year we paddled 800 miles down our rivers to Memphis, Tennessee, again e-mailing the kids using our laptop. This fall we propose to spend the first month of school preparing for our next expedition: flying from Indiana to Seattle following the old northern route across the high plains and through the Rocky Mountain passes.

"In science class we will learn about airplanes, weather, and how to make Webpages. In math we will do the navigation. We will also read two children's aviation novels, and in writing class, the kids will e-mail schools along our route, inviting them to follow along on-line. Then the students will launch me, their teacher/pilot, in our S-4 Coyote, along with a laptop and camping gear."

Beamer plans to e-mail the students each day about his adventures and misadventures, and will include digital pictures and information about geographic and historic points of interest that the students will have learned about while planning the flight. The students will then edit his e-mailed text and digital pictures with the help of their technology teacher, and make a new Webpage, a journal entry, linked to their Website.

"Whether or not we actually make it all the way to Seattle is not important," explains Beamer, who was able to underwrite this endeavor with a grant from the Community Foundation. "We will already have achieved 90% of our objectives during the first month of school before taking off in the Coyote, because of the curriculum and flight planning we will have completed."

Beamer plans to fly direct from northern Indiana to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, then follow I-90 all the way to Seattle. "If you live along our route and have a grass strip where we might camp, or if you have tools we could use, or if you have suggestions about points of interest or navigation tips, we would appreciate your phone number or e-mail address," says Beamer.

Contact: .

*See "Flightlines: Beamer Makes Successful Flight," Ultralight Flying! magazine December '00.

San Diego Ultralights Invited to Ramona Air Fair

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 Members of the San Diego Ultralight Association (USUA Club 24) were invited to take part in California's Ramona Air Fair on June 2, 2002. Ultralights performed an informal demonstration, weaving around a group of hot-air balloons that were just lifting into the early morning air. (Right) This balloon and ultralight added to the bright, cheery aerial display.

On June 2, 2002, eight ultralights from the San Diego Ultralight Association (USUA Club 24) ­ including two Hurricanes, two Quicksilvers, a Challenger, an Avenger, a Skyboy and a 2-seat Flightstar ­ attended the Ramona Air Fair in northern San Diego County, California.

Ramona airport manager Richard Salinger invited the SDUA members to the Air Fair as part of ongoing cooperative efforts to open more of San Diego's regional airports to ultralight traffic. After several recent successful flights by groups of SDUA pilots into San Diego County desert airports, the club was requested to fly into the Ramona Air Fair and perform an informal demonstration weaving around a group of hot-air balloons.

The ultralight group arrived the afternoon before the balloon fly-by because of concerns that typical "June gloom" conditions on the morning of June 2 would have prevented a flight from the coastal Otay Airpark where many of the pilots are based. On June 2, the balloons fired up as early as 7 a.m. and the ultralights were in the air by 7:30 a.m. Although a few of the balloons quickly drifted up into the 1,000-foot ceiling, most of the balloons stayed low enough for a good show for early Air Fair visitors.

The balloons and ultralights were a colorful and cheery display, brightening up a gray morning for residents of Ramona.

- Report and photos filed by Lisa Butler


Annual Nebraska Ultralight Gathering 2002

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Planning an ultralight gathering when the temperatures are likely to be in the nineties would seem a bit crazy, however, as ultralighters are often described as such, July seems to be as good a time as any to host the largest gathering of crazy people in the Midwest.

This year marks the third time the Annual Nebraska Ultralight Gathering (ANUG) has taken place, and it was bigger and better than ever. David City, Nebraska was the venue as in previous years, and the local ultralighting clubs all banded together and worked with the David City airport, Chamber of Commerce, Fire Department and many other local organizations to make it so.

As in previous years, most of the planning was done via the Internet, using an open communication list. Any interested parties could log on and ask questions, voice opinions and make constructive suggestions. It worked just as successfully as in previous years. By the time my wife Anne and I drove in on Friday afternoon (my excuse for not flying in was that we were promoting our newly formed custom sheet metal cutting business, and needed the trailer to haul in our samples), there were already around 20 3-axis machines, a trike and several powered parachutes parked for the night, and several more enjoying the beautiful conditions.

The air was warm and the thermals were dying off as the sun sank towards the western horizon, encouraging several of the pilots to go off and play, or join in a flight around the town, as requested by the David City townsfolk.

Friday evening, safety officer Bob Harvey called a meeting to brief everyone on safe practices and procedures. He repeated the briefings on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Each pilot was given a hospital-type wristband to prove that they had attended the safety briefing. Not having a wristband meant not being allowed to fly, so all the "outpatients" could be seen wandering around the town sporting their washable wristbands over the weekend. If found wandering aimlessly, they could be shepherded back to the airfield on the shuttle bus provided by the city, and manned by volunteers from the local ultralighting clubs.

Probably the group making the greatest effort to attend the event were from Colorado. Five machines, supported by a great ground crew consisting of wives, girlfriends, families and friends made the mini epic adventure an unforgettable one, both for themselves and for all the new friends they made over the weekend.

Dean Spencer flew his GT 400, Cole Hanscome flew his MXL II, Chuck Ashbaugh piloted his modified Kolb fitted with a 750cc BMW engine, Barney Fletcher piloted his distinctive yellow T-Bird, and Michael Flannery flew his FireStar.

Setting out at sunrise on July 4, three machines from Longmont, Colorado and five ground support vehicles converged on Hanscome's farm in Greeley, Colorado to fly and drive out together.

The group had worked out a clever leapfrog ground crew system where vehicles carrying spare fuel and supplies would spread out along the route. The first vehicle would report to the others how many and when the ultralights left the ground. The next vehicle would then report when and how many landed, and once refueled, how many departed. In this way, it was possible to keep a close watch over the pilots. If any ultralight needed maintenance, there was always ground support at every landing point. Flannery, who modestly described the group's epic flight to me, said the pilots would not have been able to make it to ANUG without the fantastic efforts of their ground crew.

Flannery had his own exciting moment when he nosed the FireStar over at Curtis, Nebraska following a flat tire problem on takeoff. The ground crew and other pilots were able to quickly sort out both the blown tire and a bent Pitot tube, and get Flannery airborne once more, without wasting much time. The pilots mentioned rough flying conditions at times, but battled on to achieve their goal.

One of the ground crew vehicles had its own exciting moment, when it caught fire from a leaky muffler. Swift action prevented the fire from doing serious damage, and they were able to continue to ANUG.

All the pilots and ground crew met with incredibly friendly and helpful hospitality along the route, which brought them through Sterling, Curtis and Minden, Nebraska. They overnighted at Minden, shared a potluck dinner, and set off at sunrise on Friday, July 5, to fly into Aurora, Nebraska, where Dean Sombke ­ flying a white Challenger ­ joined up with them to fly the last leg to David City. A strong tailwind helped all the pilots.

They were not the first to arrive, however. Ed Burt from Osborne, Kansas reportedly got there first. Many of those who flew in the previous year came back again. On Saturday morning with more than 30 aircraft already on the ground and several more playing in the warm air, the spectators had plenty to look at. Ed Casey had trailered in from Red Oak, Iowa, and took no time at all to assemble his Fun Racer trike and get into the air. Casey spent most of the day flying around, practicing engine-off landings and showing everyone what triking is all about.

As usual there were door and raffle prizes, many donated by ultralight organizations or suppliers. Ray Abbruzzese, an ultralighter known to many USUA members both locally and nationally, donated a GPS. Ray is recovering from throat cancer, and I know that we all wish him a speedy recovery.

The strong thermal conditions that developed throughout the morning did not prevent Karl Fricke, Steve Tweedt and Guy Stayner from flying in around noon from the Council Bluffs, Iowa area. Fricke was piloting his T-Bird, Tweedt a Quantum 912 trike, and Stayner an Aerotrike.

As J.D. Stewart continued to give introductory flights to students in his Challenger, the rest of us sought shelter from the sun and enjoyed slices of melon provided once again by the Dragon Fliers Club from Omaha, Nebraska.

Scott Dubsky from Schuyler, Nebraska entertained spectators with his superb radio-controlled aero models. A member of the Norfolk & Columbus Radio-Control club, Dubsky had picked up the radio-controlled model obsession from his father almost 20 years ago, and for the last 4 years had been flying almost every week of the year. Dubsky had brought along a P-51, a Lightning P-38, a Zero, and a Russian Yak, plus a tank. Dubsky loves to fly his models off snow and also off water, and says a beginner could start flying radio-controlled models for about $400, but that the obsession could lead to flying models costing more than $2,000 each.

One ultralight aircraft landed out with an engine problem. The pilot was able to fix the problem and flew back to the airfield a short time later.

In the evening, some pilots joined in a bean bag accuracy event. By this time, we were all watching the cumulonimbus clouds pumping up in the south and west. The other precision tasks had to be cancelled as thunderstorms started to sound off. About 10 minutes after everyone had tied everything down we were subjected to more rain than we had seen in several weeks.

J.D. Stewart sent the following item to include in this article: "Saturday evening, I had two introductory flights left. It was clouding over, and I thought we'd have enough time to get at least one student flown in my Challenger II. After taking off and flying over to the student's parents' farm, we started heading west towards David City. Seeing the rainstorm heading towards the airport, I made the decision to fly around it and follow it in, since we still had a lot of time left on the intro flight. We could see clearing conditions directly west and north of us.

"As we headed west, we caught the edge of the storm, and it got pretty turbulent. A 700-fpm bumpy updraft made me decide to head northwest to get farther away from the storm. We found a 1/2-mile hayfield that had just been mowed, with a long section where there were no bales. We set down nicely and yakked about airplanes while we waited for the storm to pass.

"Sure enough, a half-hour later a state patrol officer and sheriff showed up to survey what they thought was a crash. After telling them the situation, they called the airport to let everyone there know we were okay. Our spouses were certainly worried by now.

"The rain and winds started, so we moved the plane next to some trees for a windbreak. We didn't quite miss the storm, but only got 20 minutes of rain and wind.

"We saddled up around 8:45, with me in the front seat this time, and taxied to the north end of the field, noting rough spots along the way. With wet, 5-inch grass and 450 pounds of passengers, I knew it would take a lot of the field to get out of there, and it did. We flew directly south until we were west of the airport, and headed in. At about 2 miles from the field, we started to get a little mist from the back end of the rain. By the time we landed, it had passed, and everyone at the field greeted us. My student was excited with this adventure, and the next morning I took his wife up for her intro flight, giving her some extra time for her previous night's worry."

A town not much further to the west of us received a 10-inch deluge, which washed away parts of Interstate 80 and left many homes flooded. For us, the storms passed in time to allow David City to have their fireworks display, held off from the 4th to fit in with ANUG and other city activities.

On Sunday, five more ultralights flew in, and there were still plenty of machines on the airfield and sampling the air for spectators to see. Ultralights continued to fly around in the very muggy, humid conditions.

Chief organizers Harold Ostler and Dave Nissen were delighted with the event and it looks like we'll all be back again next year. I intend to be flying my trike in too ­ the business will have to take second place for ANUG weekend.

- Report filed by Kevin Rutland

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