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Three Wheels or Quad?

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Considerations for PPG Trike Pilots

Looking at the "Evolution".

Powered Paragliding is making a natural progression towards wheels. Whether it's due to physical necessity, limited strength, age or simply the desire to expand your knowledge and abilities, wheels offer benefits that simply demand their consideration.

Three Wheels or Four?

If you are involved in the sport of PPG, you are sure to be aware of the numerous discussions and opinions being discussed by pilots - at Fly-Ins, local clubs, magazine ads, internet radio shows or the discussion groups. There are many views being offered, some put forth by highly opinionated individual pilots, others by those with experience with both types, and without exception, those from the companies marketing their products.

While there are lots of colorful and long-winded conversations, there are some real differences between the use of three wheels or four. Two wheels simply do not make sense, and five, six or more are probably unnsessasary.

What are the real considerations?

The use of three wheels is widely used in aviation. From small trikes all the way to the largest modern jets, three wheels simply makes a lot of sense. While it's true that three wheels are clearly less stable on the ground (look at how they took the three wheeled ATV's off the market!), a PPG Trke is primarily a flying machine, not an off-road vehicle. This is not necessarily a reason to throw all stability out the door, but we need to look at the primary function of our vehicle.

Launching and Landing

When most aircraft launch, they typically will lift the front wheels(s) off the ground first. As the aircraft gains sufficient airspeed to launch, this is the natural progression of how the wheels leave the ground. Landings reverse this process, with the rear wheels nearly always touching the ground first.

Exceptions to this include airplanes known as "tail draggers", where there are two wheels forward and one (usually smaller) towards the rear of the aircraft, often near the tail and also used for steering while on the ground. While I think that it has been done on a PPG Trike, I doubt it will ever be widely used, due to stability challenges.

Four is great for Learning

There are a few things that make a PPG Trike more stable while on the ground. One is a wide real axle, another is a low CG. Without question, a quad configuration with both of the above features will make for a very stable platform for launching and landing. Some say that the quad has an extra "training wheel" attached to it!

However, once you have learned the basics of the techniques of inflation, balanced taxiing and practiced liftoff, there is little need for four wheels, unless you like the look of it.

It's Also a Matter of Style

For some pilots, the look of the Quad is simply irresistable. For others, it's simply a flying marshmellow roaster, with wheels sticking out in more places than they're needed.

Realistically, three wheels will be more efficient, with a single wheel leading the way, cutting through the air more effectively. Looking at (or being looked at) three wheels or four is often, again, a matter ot the preference of the individual pilot.

What's Best for You?

Learn to fly a PPG Trike. Take the time and practice the specific skills needed to operate this unique aircraft. Once you master the basics, it really just comes down to your own personal preferences. Both three wheel PPG Trikes and Quads will fly. It's really more about what you want to look like up there, and what it feels like while you're flying than one type actually being better than the other.

More importantly - fly safe and enjoy yourself up there!

 

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DISCLAIMER: Please read and be sure you thoroughly understand this disclaimer before flying a TrikeBuggy. Trike flying is an extremely demanding sport requiring exceptional levels of attention, judgment, maturity and self discipline. It is unlikely that you will be able to participate in it safely unless you make a conscious and continual commitment to your own safety. PPG and Hang Glider Trike flying is a dangerous sport and may result in injury and death even when practiced by a competent pilot using proper equipment. TrikeBuggies are not covered by product liability insurance, nor have they been designed manufactured or tested to any federal or state government airworthiness standards or regulations. Do not fly them unless you are willing to assume personally all risks in the sport of Trike flying, and all responsibility for any property damage, injury, or death which may result from your use of this TrikeBuggy. Safe operation of the TrikeBuggy requires a pilot proficiency equivalent to that of a BFI (Basic Flight Instructor), as well as an equivalent level of knowledge and understanding of those wind and weather conditions which may compromise the pilot's safe control of the TrikeBuggy. In particular, be advised that gusty winds or turbulent conditions may interfere with even an expert pilot's ability to safely control the TrikeBuggy, and may cause it to crash. Never take anything for granted in Trike Flying. If you are in doubt about anything, stop and figure it out or call TrikeBuggy. Also please read our Warning and Caution!