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  • EAA pushes for ultralight training reforms- Instructors plunge from 3,200 in '02 to FIFTY...

EAA pushes for ultralight training reforms- Instructors plunge from 3,200 in '02 to FIFTY !!!???? More WTF


Read the short article at the link above.  It's an electronic version of EAA magazine.  Zoom in and see the article at the upper right ...

Well, we can hope EAA gets FAA to fix this ...  or we can help DO something !!!


  • FlyDiver

    A large number of us former BFIs commented in the NPRM predicting just such a scenario. EAA was blind to the problem then. All they are doing now is claiming to fix a problem they created. EAA was formed and is dominated by folks with certified albeit experimental aircraft, not ultralights. Don't let EAA fool you again, they have never been interested in ultralights unless they thought there was money or membership in them.

    On your point about doing something, I suggest supporting manufacturers who support ultralight products. An economically strong ultralight market will do more for the ultralight community than anything EAA will do. And remember that when you open a government can of worms, think FAA, the solution rarely satisfies anyone. FAA is a very big can of worms.

  • Ole

    Does this news make anyone wonder what exactly these clowns at FAA-610 actually do with their 40 hour work week to earn their obscene salaries? How can anyone show up for a job like that and still look themselves in the mirror? Posterboys for uselessness.

  • Doug Smith

    I've thought of this, trouble is access to both instruction and new aircraft. Had a conversation over on the other site(the dark side) about the lack of entry level trikes. The argument thrown at me was there was no money in it for the manufacturers.  Active recruitment by us pilots would help. Fly-ins solely geared towards showing our sport to the new wanna-be's.  It would require more LSA pilots contributing a bunch of free flights. It's how I got hooked. 

  • XC Triker

    3200-> 50 Instructors.  SHOCKING!!!  ... and the FAA/EAA know this stat AND what caused it.

    Smaller lgihter trikes are actually "funner" to fly and I proved it to myself again flying with @KLP and  Doug From Boulder Creek @hwy9fergs  at Salton.  There's a not so subtle push for bigger faster heavier trikes from the machine that's designed for them with / by the EAA ... some think there was collusion on the rules by visions of forcing a market for  expensive S-LSA by the trike industry people that were on the panel.

  • Kevin S

    About the EAA. I have submitted several good stories for publication in EAA's magazine "Sport Aviation" They centered around a weight shift trike, which I fly. Both stories I submitted were rejected. Looking back on stories they did publish would be - Warbirds , Turbo Props, Jets ,AB Aircraft, and other $250,000 aircraft. In April of 2010 there was one article on trike called Weight Shift Wise - All About Trikes which was written by myself and Terry Sipantzi. In the last 4 years there have been no stories about Trikes, Powered Parachutes, PPG's, or Gyrocopters. It seems the editor of the magazine, would rather not cover any story involving Light Sport Aircraft. There are guys in Hawaii flying people in trikes everyday ,that would make a great story. A guy in Florida building and selling the Revo trike. That would make a great story. Trikefest in Cushing Ill. held every year before Oshkosh. There are many people doing interesting things in Light Sport Aircraft.    

  • ULtrikepilot

    Well XC this article touches one of my sensitive buttons.  Completely agree with FlyDivers comments.  In recent years, I have not observed any EAA activity that effectively promotes the UL category.  Frankly, I am not convinced that EAA really cares much about part 103, at least their actions do not show it.  It has become even more difficult for prospective UL pilots (WSC) to access "appropriate" training.  Trend among remaining CFIs is to use SLSA with high hp engines and blade style wings which is not a good combination for some one intending to get a light soaring trike.  From what I have seen there are very, very few CFIs that are able to train part 103 pilots in a trike with a large slow wings where wing loading & handling characteristics are closer to what they will experience in their soaring trike.  Understandably CFIs tend to gravitate toward where the $ is which is training for SP coupled with sales of a higher end LSA trikes and that is not helpful to a prospective part 103 pilot.  IMO if the FAA and EAA where truly interested in a thriving UL segment then they would make provisions (like many LODA exemptions) so that UL pilots can get appropriate training.  I do agree with Doug's comments that fly-ins can increase public awareness and LSA pilots willing to give interested individuals a ride can really help to promote WSC flying in general as well as interest in part 103.

  • Doug Smith

    Regarding the 3200 instructors, that number is bogus. Most of them were guys just wanting to take the wife around the patch. It really sucks that good instructors like Ole and others got screwed by Sport Pilot but when I was trying to find a instructor, I went down the list (EAA and ASC) in the SoCal area and talked with 25 non- teaching so called instructors. 

  • acetrikesusa

    Regarding the options in the 103 category, there is a new player in that field... us! We will be officially announcing and marketing our product in a couple weeks, but I can assure you all, it is an aircraft for the regular folks out there and should help to ease the financial pain of getting into this great sport.

    Regarding instruction, this is a serious problem and one of the reasons this sport is so hindered in our country. The dream of "being paid to fly" is often (quickly) shattered by the insane costs to legally run such a business. Truly a shame. Instructors are the absolute backbone of this industry and a vital part of its' future. The only ones that seem to really turn a profit, tend to fly used equipment, operate in a more mild climate, and fly out of a dirt strip. In other words they keep their costs to an absolute minimum, still charge roughly the same amount as the guys instructing in new trikes, and can offer instruction many more days out of the year... But even these folks often have to keep a "day job" to make ends meet.

    The threshold people have for hourly rates can't take much more of an increase so something has to give. The interest is there, but there is a huge disconnect between interest and beginning instruction. People often have to take off of work for a week or two at a time, fly somewhere, and either sleep in their rental car or a hotel to try to get training done. This is a huge roadblock to widespread adoption of what (in my opinion) is one of the best forms of aviation. I don't really have a solution, although ACE Aviation UK (our parent company) is working on a very basic SLSA 2 seater which may help, but realistically it is a complex problem and one that won't be solved overnight by simply offering a less expensive aircraft.

    Interesting topic and I'm glad it's being discussed.

  • Doug Smith

    For discussion??  How do we get to a lower cost trike (LSA) that could be a teaching work horse for the ultralight crowd? Are there any recent/new instructors that are not flying a 80-100mph monster?  The only instructors I hear of, are all excited about their new Revo, and/or Tanarg? Don't get me wrong, I want one!  But for me the hook was the moderately inexpensive start up. Next came the folding and transport ability that sold me. I could never have considered any Aircraft that cost 3 times what I made in a year.  I've been reviewing the weight shift hand book, and most of the pictures are of trikes that are not in the teaching loop any longer. 

    Sorry I'm rambling. 

  • Doug Smith

    Way to go Acetrike! Your post came in while I was typing mine. You read my mind and answered it. 

  • ULtrikepilot

    Doug, I really like the comments/points you bring up.  Yes, it is true that many of the former BFI folks were really only BFI in name only and only a fraction really had a training business, but many of the trikes they used (perhaps many now converted to ELSA) were much more ideal for training a part 103 pilot.  Incidently, that article XC provided link to stated the 3200 in 2002 to 50 today included fixed wing, gyro, PPC, and WSC.  I do not claim to know the WSC instruction situation nationwide, but I have not heard of any WSC CFI that received a LODA to use their EAB or ELSA for WSC instruction.  So my suspicion is that very few if any of that 50 apply to WSC.  All or almost all would have opted to buy a more expensive SLSA for instruction purposes, that is if they could afford it.  And quite a few (perhaps like Ole) could not justify the additional expense of acquiring a pricey SLSA.

    IMO, for a CFI to really be ideally setup to provide WSC instruction for a part 103 student today, they would either 1) have to have a personal passion for UL trikes, or 2) have a substantial portion of the instruction business coming from part 103 students, or 3) have a business of selling part 103 trikes.  I don't think many meet any of the above.  There are exceptions and Mike Theeke who builds/sells SkyCycles would be one exception I can think of.  He probably makes as much $ building/selling his trikes as he does from instruction fees (that would be my guess but I don't know that) but it certainly would be advantageous for him to train in an SLSA that would provide good transition training to a part 103 pilot ready to solo.

    Yes, I too am excited to have another UL option here in US with AcetrikesUSA.  When you have more information to share I certainly look forward to more information on what you will be offering Acetrikes.

  • Ole

    I just want to sell ****s.

  • Ole

    Who is that masked man acetrikesusa and why does he/she hide behind a silly moniker? At least he/she could sign his post.

  • acetrikesusa

    Haha.  Hello ole.  I assure you there is a human behind the mask!

    My name is Alex Chalier and I am the owner of ACE Trikes USA.  We are the new US importer/distributor for Ace Aviation UK.  Sorry about the anonymity but I/we have been trying to keep a somewhat low profile until we do an official announcement for the business and US sales.  I am also overseas often and was a bit jet lagged last night.  I will make sure to sign my posts in the future!

    I try not to inject my personal thoughts too often since I am representing a commercial entity but the conversation last night is an important one and kind of hit home.  This is an issue that affects all aspects of this sport from top to bottom and really needs to be addressed.



  • Wayne

    My history may be wrong here, but I thought the EAA was one of the flying organizations behind this mess. They helped make it. Now they want to help make it better. They wanted to raise the weight limit for ultralights and went to the government (FAA) to get that change. I may be the only one with this opinion, but whenever you go to the government to solve things, it seems like they screw them up even worse. Seems like we were doing fine even with the fat ultralights. The government (FAA) was busy with other things and left the ultralights alone.

    Want to train more people to fly a part 103 ultralight? Seems like everyone is thinking in the wrong direction. We should be thinking simple. How hard would it be to make a trike without an engine and hook it to a big "floater" wing? All the equipment is there. We have tandem hang glider wings. We have the trikes. You would just have to get rid of the mostly costly thing about a trike - the engine, prop, and re-drive. We have winches. How many different types of flying are learned with a winch? I know hang gliders, paragliders and even sail planes are winched. We have good radios to teach with. Not like the old days when I learned. We have it all, and yet we are depending on another special interest group, like the EAA, to get the government to help us out. LOL!!!



  • Doug Smith

    Wayne, that's an interesting idea for instruction. Developing a technique with a winch and a trike carriage. Anybody hear of that practice? Would it work with dual ( 2 seats)???  I always wondered why no instructor I worked with ever suggested hang gliding as a useful step in under standing how our wing performs.  Or is the lack of thrust a game-changer??? Never tried one.  (grin!)

  • cburg

    Although there are financial obstacles, technically it would not be that difficult to design a SLSA or EAB trainer trike with the sole purpose of part 103 transition/primary training.  The engineering challenge is to design a wing and trike trainer that flies virtually the same as the single-place 103 counterpart.  While not exact, certainly close enough for a person to make a safe solo transition while being supervised and in radio contact with the instructor.


    A slightly larger engine and wing should be just enough for the instructors weight.  The handling should be made to as closely match the single as possible.  There is of course only a minuscule market and therefore will never happen...but technically it could be done.

  • ULtrikepilot

    Right on, Wayne!  Winch towing should work just fine.  Easy and straightforward option for transition training for a HG pilot.  Should not be too difficult for towing an engineless 2-seater to acquaint the non-HG pilot with WSC and an experienced trike pilot handing over the controls to the student.  Might have to beef up the weak link system here though.  I don't think I have ever witnessed a winch tow of engineless trike with wing but should be rather easy to do.  As you know, John R. down in OZ now has a very light trike frame (no engine) for aerotowing with his ATOS wing.  But a big tandem trainer wing on light trike frame would be great teaching platform.

    Even after some winch towing experience, it might be useful for the student to have some dual time (not  much would be needed) to get the feel for difference between flying with thrust and flying with tow force but that might not even be necessary for a student showing competent skills in controlling the wing.

  • Wayne

    Hey Joe. I'm looking for the easiest way to learn how to fly a trike. I'm sure there are lots of ideas out there. I think we could teach someone to fly a part 103 trike with as little red tape as possible. Is hang gliding and 103 trike flying still self regulated? Do we really need a CFI? I know we do if we fly 2 up. I think trike flying can be safely accomplished the way I learned and with very little government intervention.

    A new student could be taught to hang glide with a winch. Once competent with winch towing, take a hour course in a dual trike with a CFI, then move on to small trikes.

  • XC Triker

    Here's a potential option for very cheap training.

    I've done about 5 winch tows in a HG, while fun, it had it's drawbacks-- including and expensive winch, dedicated operator, if the unit is fixed (and/or turn around point fixed too) it is wind direction and property dependent, and what I most didn't like about it is that it pulls downward.  I've done innumerable aerotows in a HG-- they pull you UP ... but they're not cheap ...

    I couldn't find the correct link, but this concept of training off a towed deck has advanced greatly over this test below:

    The much later version I saw had the wing fixed to limit it's excursions in all axises (what I see above looks VERY dangerous-- but what I saw later (but couldn't find video for) with appropriate tethers looked very safe.)  The instructor was fixed as well so s/he would not fall off the platform and could just stand continuously by the pilot as the pilot "flew" within his 3' restrained 3D box.

    In the end, it was kinda like this:

    Which was very excitedly discussed (without the trailer / moving platform / self generated wind) HERE a little over a month ago.

    Now you need no engine!!  You could put a 2 seat EATULO* trike with a lead block for an "Engine" in it.  Have the instructor sit in the back and "Fly" all you want with no paperwork and no licenses (well someone would need a drivers license-  IF on public property).  @WingedGringo  there you go, train all you want!!!  Train them in 103 !!!!  Heck, any of us could do it !!!


    *EATULO=  Expensive And Totally Useless Lawn Ornament  (A Fat Ultralight that missed the 2010 paperwork deadline and now can never be registered in the US.  Doesn't even need a working engine-  in fact, not working is even better maybe-- certainly cheaper.

  • ULtrikepilot

    Wayne, my interpretation is that a CFI is not needed to learn how to fly a part 103 trike.  A scooter or winch tow system actually would be a great way to learn to fly a light engineless trike with slow floater wing.  I actually did quite a few winch tows for HG and did not like it maybe because operator was just learning with new equipment.  Some times tow speed and force was only enough for a fast run and some times it would increase just enough to get airborne and then decrease which required immediate set up for landing flare.  But taking off and landing on wheels is much easier IMO than running with a winch pulling you.

    In the flatlands I think the best way to learn how to HG is by aerotowing, usually involving plenty of dual time with HG instructor.  You immediately get the feel for controlling wing when instructor turns over control to student and of course initially student is never given control of wing during takeoff and landing sequence but with time and instructors confidence with skills, student does do some of the control during those critical sequences.  Frankly I think a seasoned HG pilot is ideally positioned to quickly transition to a part 103 trike.  As you know that was my situation.  Before soloing a soaring trike I felt quite apprehensive about flying with thrust which is why I obtained some instruction with a CFI.  And again IMO I think the feeling, sensation and control of flying with a towing force is quite different than with thrust so that is why I still think it would be useful for a part 103 trike pilot student to have some dual time with a SP trike pilot as it provides the experience and confidence to deal with thrust.

    Yes, HG and part 103 trike flying is self-regulated in a sense.  With HG now days all instruction is provided by USHGA instructors and even access to most popular launch sites is maintained/regulated by local clubs which require certain ratings dependent on site. Part 103 trike training is IMO a bit different because there is no national organization, like USHGA, and there is no mandated minimum training requirements.  Most of those that want to pursue flying a part 103 trike seem to think only way to get appropriate instruction is to get training from a WSCL CFI. My impression is that many of these do not distinguish between what is needed or required to fly part 103 vs LSA and so the 103 student is taken through basically all the SP curriculum and SP flying requirements and this may be a bit more costly than really needed to fly 103 safely.

    XC, I agree that platform truck towing video has many potential risks for a brand new HG pilot.  Things can go bad rather quickly with that set up.

  • cburg

    Starting in 1978/79 I was instructing HG and triking long before Part 103.  It was all done on large floats, what was then referred to as a "deep water start".  This was back when the tow line attachment was on the control bar and very quick and deliberate control inputs were required.  All of my students who went through this program easily graduated to single-place trikes without any problems.  The towing was harder than the triking, but was quite similar.  Center-of-mass towing while much safer, does not transfer over as well for trike training.

  • XC Triker

    ULT I don't think you understood, THAT platform example was not really what I was referring to.  I couldn't find a video of the improved system.  Once you have a towed platform where the wing is restricted in ALL axises to only be able to fly within a 3 foot box, then the system is quite amazing.  The restrained instructor can stand right next to the pilot and guide them the whole time as they "solo" from day 1.  The video above showed a HG & instructor that was completely untethered and therefore very unsafe-- it was the closest YouTube I could find though.

  • ULtrikepilot

    XC, I think I did understand about the restriction in all axes.  BTW, Steve Wendt at BlueSky HG has a really good setup for both scooter towing and truck platform towing.  For beginners that huge WW condor wing is very nice and slow.  See video near top of page on his website.

  • Ken

    For those without the perfect ocean breeze, I wonder if some largish hollywood fans could serve the purpose of providing a steady controllable breeze. The trike could tether, and the fans could be increased to the appropriate level, raised and lowered etc. They do free fall parachuting practice like that here in Vegas. Seems possible. Maybe @Eddie is familiar with some fans that could fit the bill?