The Terminator Tries Trikes

Top Dog Flight

Arnold Schwarzenegger trains on an ultralight for his role in The Terminator

Advanced Flight Instructor Ted Nesmith (left) gives actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (maybe best known for his screen character "The Terminator"), ground instruction before taking the actor for an introductory flight in a Top Dog trike.

Top Dog Ultralights founder and advanced flight instructor Ted Nesmith travels around the U.S. giving introductory flight lessons and selling Top Dog trikes. While in Sun Valley, Idaho, Nesmith had the opportunity to introduce trikes to many people, including actor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Schwarzenegger had never flown in an ultralight before and was very excited and amazed that such a small aircraft could fly so well," Nesmith recalls. "He said the trike was the 'ultimate sport utility vehicle'.

"We started making trikes in '98 and spent 1 1/2 years in research and development before we put our first ultralight out," says Nesmith. "In the last year and a half we've put out more than 40 trikes."

Top Dog trike frames are constructed of 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum, and the brackets, fork assembly, engine mounts and everything else is 4130 chromoly, according to Nesmith. "One of the big things is, we've got hydraulic disk brakes on the back wheels," says Nesmith. "No other trike manufacturer has that."

Built in Colorado, the 2-seat 315-pound trikes are powder-coated in-house, and are now available with the Butterfly trike wing from Butterfly Wings by GibboGear and a choice of three engines: a Rotax 40-hp 447, 50-hp 503 or 65-hp 582.

"What we've tried to do is take the best features of all the different trikes on the market and put them into one," explains Nesmith. "Then we added some new features like disk brakes. We've got a chromoly internal bushing in the front steering assembly, which obviously makes it much nicer, and we have the big tundra tires. We provide everything including the engines. It's a very strong, lightweight, heavy-duty design. They're kind of like Schwarzenegger said, they're the ultimate SUV."

In addition to giving introductory flights and lessons and selling trikes, Nesmith sets up dealerships all over the country as well. "We also put out a good information package, a 10-page brochure and a video," says Nesmith.

Info: Top Dog Ultralights, PO Box 1284, Dept. UF, Cortez, CO 81321.
Phone: (970) 749-4838 e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .