Ken McNeillNone

  • Pages
  • Ken McNeill
  • Getting off to the best start in TrikeLife -What advice would you share?

Getting off to the best start in TrikeLife -What advice would you share?

Last updated by Ken McNeill Comments (17)

First off, this question has more than likely been asked and answered a few times here, so I apologize if this is redundant. While I've always had an interest in ultralight aircraft, I've only recently had serious thoughts about jumping in the pool.

Funny.. I had similar thoughts regarding sports car racing 6 years ago. One ride-along with an instructor and a month later a Lotus race car in the garage. And while I've mastered high-speed driving fundamentals, I learned through hundreds of high speed laps that I'm just too darned conservative and careful to be fast enough to be competitive. But that's ok, it was always about the fun and doing it safely. Now I'm an instructor (mr. safety). Seems when there is a slippery slope, I slide all the way to the bottom!
That said, I've been considering jumping to the next exciting 'bucket list' in life... Trike Life. Several videos on YouTube have truly inspired me. While the thought of flying a Cessna doesn't quite flip my switch, the open air / low & slow aspect of weight-shift flying is very appealing to me.
I've explored a few websites for LSA Trike Schools located throughout the country and figure what might work best for me personally is to attend a week-long start-to-finish weight-shift specialized certification program. I'm not aware of any schools here in Minneapolis, but travel to a facility is a relatively minor inconvenience to do this right. Some even sell the aircraft and certify you on your trike. As for my skill sets, while I'm familiar to the fundamentals of flight, I'm pretty much a blank slate student for the right instructor.
I'm really attracted to both the Air Creation Tanarg and the Airborne XT, but open to everything at this early point. What advice would you give to me regarding school choice, aircraft choice, flight/weather in the area I live, local Midwest clubs, and pre-requisite study, forums, magazines, and familiarization that may better educate me for choices I'll have to make?
Your collective thoughts and advice are much appreciated.


  • white eagle

    Hi ken. First let me say that you are a good canidate for a triker just by put saftey over comp. Big plus in triking. The tenarge is an aeesome machine. But so is the my experience there is pilots who have no fear(die eventually) pilots who have uncontrolled fear (die quick) and pilots who have controlled fear (have a long prosperous adventured life.i had some uncofortable moments starting out triking.i can make some referalls for you .scott johnson is worth the trip and he may even travel to you.he has a lot of experience .i would rate scott as an exelent instructor. Get prof help when buying a trike someone you can trust to represent youre interest. The wourld of selling trikes is very competitive.everyone says theres is the best.there is some bargains on used trikes but have someone with you who knows the ins and outs .my suggestion is to get ahold of xc triker or tom tabbs on this site .
    Good luck and keep us posted on youre journey. Rizzy wizzy would be. Another contact sorce.

  • Ken McNeill

    Hi David,

    Thank you for you comments. Much appreciated. Controlled fear, or respect for the inherent danger surrounding high performance sports is practiced here. I'm 53 and have a lot to live for. By no means would I describe myself as a dare devil. This sport looks safe to the educated, responsible and careful aviator. I've no doubt I would approach it as the uber-conservative student who's primary focus above all is safety.

    I think I subscribed to Tom Tabbs YouTube page (along with Henry TrikeLife). Very inspiring videos! Where is Scott based out of?

    Also.. How feasible is ownership without a hangar rental? I would probably opt to use an enclosed auto hauler and spend the hour setting up. Do many trike owners take a similar approach?



  • white eagle

    Hi ken scotts number is 509-780-8377 or 509-780-0554
    I would personally recomend scott .1 for his exsperience hang gliding and triking.
    His approach is to throw the bs out the window and he wont take anything from you that is not fair.
    And he has an exelent record for not wasting your time. I would definatly pick an instructor with lots of hang glider time.i flew hang gliders from 1978 to 1993 so when i took trike lessons from multible instructors it was quite clear that you get the xtra edge from a hang glider pilot. There are many good instructors and a few less exsperienced ones.paul hamilton chuck bragoon denny reed are to name a few of the good instructors.
    Many store ther trike in a trailer and toy haulers which is a. Nice thing about trikes. Basicly there are some differences in many trike designs far103 single place soaring trikes are the least hassle for the grass root fun flyer and i think the safest thing t fly hands down.the 2 place 2 cycle 503s and 582s are affordable and good trikes but limited on no lz cross country flights. The 80 hp 912 and 100 hp trikes are awesome but quite exspensive and tom xc or scott could find you a reasonably priced used one.i have a skycycle soaring trike that is just a blast to fly with engine off and i have a airbourne redback for when my wifey wants to fly.but she now wants her own.i would like to buy a tenarge with a bionx wing but it will be a while to come up with the moola for that one.

  • Ken McNeill

    Sounds awesome David. My strategy is to sell one toy (i.e. Lotus racecar) and replace it with another, so my timeframe will be dependent on that. I really want to find a hobby that my wife will participate in. A few years back, I bought a sailboat. I took her out for her first experience and it got pretty windy. Needless to say, I scared her pretty good. Lesson learned: wait for perfect weather before taking introductory ride!

    She is the type not interested in participating in the operation of the toy, but may be open to enjoying the ride. I could NEVER get her in the race car (unless I told her we were going to a Nordstrom shoe sale). ;-)

    Here's what I've learned about the toys I've owned. Always settle on a top tier toy, as upgrading later is a difficult sell. Buy all the accessories at the time of purchase. Upgrades are treated as "Why didn't it come with that?" and again a difficult sell. Exorbitant recurring costs are a difficult sell (i.e. boat slip, race tires, hanger storage, etc.). Hence a toy trailer works good!

    That said, I usually opt for top tier toys as I know I'll wish I had bought that instead. This is usually followed by a "You didn't do your homework before buying.. did you?" Don't get me wrong. My wife is awesome, and understands my desire to live life to the fullest. She want me to be happy, but she knows if unrestrained, I'll come home with second-hand space shuttle. ;-)

    With this in mind, I definitely desire to have very nice two-seater with an 80-100hp four-stroke. Fully loaded with all the creature comforts. At this point, I'm not sure cross country would be her thing, but ID certainly enjoy going on excursions with folks who share similar passion for the sport. I can say that 'Soarin' over California is her favorite ride at Disneyworld.. so I got that going for me.

    Lastly, we may retire in Key West in a decade or so.. and I'm not really the type who will ever retire, so the thought of an instruction/introductory school down there has been a thought to keep me busy. It's my understanding you can't really operate these as 'ride entertainment' but can as an introductory flight lesson once becoming a certified LSA instructor. So I have a few years to work in that direction. Thoughts?


  • white eagle

    Well you have larry mednick in florida and he sells the revo a very good machine
    The tanarge is my favorite as it has a lot of comfort for the passanger.i also like the tanarges sporting look.
    The revo ive never flown in one but iam sure they are very nicr. I have flown yhe airbourne xt 912 and am equally you can see in our post on elk river fly in. Tell youre wife that the wives all have get togethers.the woman are included in all events.toms wife kathy is a awesome host but unfortunately the wives do some babysitting of us when were not flying .

  • Ken McNeill

    The Revo looks fantastic too. I REALLY like that model. There is a great manufacturers video on YouTube that really explores the features of the aircraft. I could see that the fly-ins were family friendly. We travel to Florida a couple times a year. Maybe I'll see about some introductory rides for my wife and I this spring with Larry? Any idea where he's out of?

    Any pics or vids of your trike online?


  • Bill Pilgrim


    If you want to store your trike in a trailer, a strutted wing that folds while still mounted on the mast is by far the easier way to go. A king posted wing has to be dismounted then folded on the ground, then you have to man handle it into the trailer. Not all strutted wings can be folded on the trike though, I know Airbornes SST can't, not sure about their new Arrow. All the Reflex wings can ( Revo ).

    Here is a good demonstration of what is possible, this wing is a, LaMoute made, Oryx mounted on a Revo 

  • Ken McNeill

    It looks as though Larry may be out of Clearwater, FL. That may the ticket! Why not learn in a beautiful climate? 

    Thanks for posting that video Bill. I was concerned about how complicated the procedure might be. That looks no harder than transporting the track car. Really cool trike too!

  • Noel C

    Hello Ken,

    I just thought I would add my comments to your question posed.  I have recently done exactly what you are contemplating....jumping into the Trike life pool.

    I had done a little GA flying many years ago, however my flying passion was reignited at a recent airshow in Melbourne Australia earlier this year when I saw a couple of Airborne trikes on a stand run by a microlight club (Southern Microlight Club  A conversation with the very enthusiastic members, an invite to one of their meetings, a few further conversations and I was hooked.

    From there I was stuck with the dilemma where do I go from here in regards to training and involvement in this exciting sport.

    I have, I suspect, a similar attitude to yourself.  I enjoy more risky hobbies based on the approach of managing as much of the risk out of the process by the right attitude, good decision making, a conservative approach based on ones experience at the time and seeking out good quality training.

    With that in mind I considered all of the opinions of those people I had spoken to.  Needless to say there is a element of filtering to work out what information was relevant to my circumstances.

    I met and chatted to a few different instructors all of whom were very competent.  I chose an instructor I felt had a good deal of experience, had a great reputation within the fraternity of trikers and who I felt was also a great teacher.  My final decision meant I had to travel further afield to train but I think it has been worthwhile.

    On the subject of an appropriate trike to purchase I listened to all opinions, filtered what I felt was relevant and researched extensively on line.  The factors I considered included,

    - What I want the trike for - (Opportunity to do cross country flying which requires a trike with good performance and endurance and fuel economy)

    - The type and configuration of wing that was going to suit my experience and requirements.

    - Ongoing maintenance periods, schedules and costs

    - Something my wife would consider coming flying in.  That equates to something she would be comfortable in and feel a degree of safety whilst strapped in.

    - Avoiding buying someone else's problem given my budget didnt extend to a new machine.


    There is a useful article on the Southern Microlight Club website outlining some factors to consider in purchasing a new or used Trike.  The predominant trike in Australia is manufactured by Airborne and they are a great trike from all the feedback I have had and research I have done.

    I ended up settling on a low hours Tanarg 912 (80HP) 4 stroke trike.  My final decision was based on a combination of the quality of the engineering, the style, comfort for both pilot and passenger (big tick) and the general reputation and feedback from others about these trikes.  I am sure this brand may not suit everyone and I believe the Revo's match allot of the Tanargs attributes, however this is the way I ended up going.

    To date I have completed about 10 hours training with my instructor in my own trike and have enjoyed every minute of it including all of the bumpy rides in less than ideal conditions.

    I wish you luck with your endeavours and look forward to updates on your progress on this site.


  • white eagle

    Hi noel. I just wanted to add how well youre reply was written and all exelent advice.hey sounds like youre doing well in youre training .i think youre training with yft arnt you lucky.hes a great instructor and about some more pictures noel of you and youre buitiful trike. I let you all in for a little secret. Keep lookin for the vids on the glacier trip? Youre in for a real treat!!!

  • Ken McNeill

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Noel. Much appreciated. It sounds as though our circumstances are very similar. I really like the Tanarg as well. One advantage I've seen with the Tanarg is that there are a number of used ones for sale. I'm assuming that's because it's been around a few years while the Revo is newer so the 'used' market for them doesn't yet exist (or is rather small).

    One of the things I really like about the Revo was seeing how easily it breaks down and rolls into a trailer ( an absolute must for me). How well does the Tanarg break down? Are you satisfied with 80hp, or would 25% more be worth it?

  • Noel C

    Thanks David for your comment.  I will look forward to seeing the vids.  It is stuff like the info and pics from the Elk River Fly away that inspires me to pursue triking as a means to see my country in all its glory.

     I am training with YFT and all is going well.  He runs a great operation and it is a pleasure to spend the days up there training.  I am doing my training in blocks of 3-4 days at a time.  I feel this way I get some concentrated flying over consecutive days (weather dependent...It is winter down under at the moment) followed by a few weeks to reflect on the positives and negatives of my progress and how to do things better on my next stint of training.

    In answer to your question Ken, I have my trike hangered at Yarrawonga where I am training.  I have not had to break the wing down as yet.  I believe Air Creations (who produce the Tanargs) have stuck to the wing design with a top post and do not produce a topless wing.  I am fairly sure the wing would have to be removed from the trike base and packed separately.  The person who owned my trike before me features on this site as "wefly".  He transported the Tanarg in a custom built trailer all over the country.  He has some great videos on youtube showing the trike in action in outback Australia and the trailer that he built to transport it.

    On the subject of hp, the 80hp rotax seems to have plenty of power from my perspective.  It certainly gets myself and my instructor into the air very easily whilst maintaining a good rate of climb (approx 700-800ft per minute.)  I can imagine flown solo the performance will be excellent.  Having said that we dont have the same density altitude issue you guys would have to contend with in the USA and there would be much wiser heads than mine on this site that would be better informed on that issue. 

  • Ken McNeill

    Great information! I would love to see some pictures on this page of your trike Noel. Please keep us up to date on your progress. It would definitely provide great information for myself and future readers of this page.

    I saw a Tanarg on youtube where Evolution fitted it with a Reflex Sport Wing. I especially like the front folding/detachable compression strut system for lowering the control bar. With the dolly up above, it's pretty slick for single-handed setup.

    Reflex Wing on Tanarg:  

    Folding the Reflex Wing:  

    Lowering the Wing:  


  • Ken

    Hi Ken

    I started in the sport about 4 years ago. I took a bit longer with lessons etc, longer than necessary, but was glad I did. I wonder if you can experience as great a variety of conditions, situations, places, that gave me are variety of experiences if training is crammed into a week or two? A subject of debate I'm sure and likely there is a different spot on the continuum for everyone, but something to think about none the less.

    I took a different route on acquiring a trike as well. As my lessons were spread out over some time, I attended a lot of flyins I had the opportunity to fly in, and or see a good number of trikes up close. Northwing, AicCreation, Antares, Airborne, Apollo, Revo, etc. I went in with a friend on an affordable trike with a 582 for starters. Figured we were likely to make a mistake or two as we started out and a sturdy and affordable trike would be more forgiving on any inadvertent repairs. Opportunities present themselves, and Just this year I got a tip on a used Tanarg 912 for sale. Never thought I could afford one before, but timing was good and the price was right and I was in a position to acquire it and am really happy now, with a really fantastic machine. So I would say, look around, see and fly some different trikes in person and look for the pros and cons of each. 

    Regarding wings and trailers, I think just about any trike will fold and pack if it has a strutted wing. I have two wings with mine, one strutted and one king posted. So its not about the trike, its about the wing. Its not hard to attach strutted wings to the carriage of your choice, and wings are way cheaper to change out. Keep that in mind as you move forward.


    Here is a photo album I have here on alltrikes showing some trailered trikes with wings attached

    And a video I made of the system I had for my Nortwing

  • Ken McNeill

    Thanks for your input Ken! I think if I could spread the lessons out to learn in various weather conditions, that would be optimal. Funny I've noticed most of the schools have set roots in areas with pretty consistent weather patterns (AZ, FL, WA). ;-)

    Good information on the wing types. How common is it to mix wings on trikes? How can one be certain if a wing design will work safely with a given trike design/weight? Or am I over thinking it? Bottom line it's great to know that wing design can change the portability and performance of the trike.

    Slick trailer setup. Do you have something setup for the Tanarg? Post a picture. I'd love to see it!

  • Ken

    Hi Ken - yes the tanarg is on this trailer - currently working on the wing option.


  • Ken McNeill

    Wow! Fantastic setup Ken. Love the strutted wing on the Tanarg. Looks great! What wing is that? Curious how long it takes you to setup and breakdown, from trailer to taxi (and vice versa)? Just brilliant!