North Wing makes more trikes than you might think. We also have a video on the sweet little Solairus, a soaring trike. In this video we review the Maverick, a more deluxe single seater with a beefier engine from Kawasaki. Yet even with the additional features, Maverick still fits into Part 103 where no pilot license, airman’s medical, or N-numbers are needed.
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I’ve been writing about very affordable aircraft•, specifically about Part 103 ultralight vehicles. I know some readers prefer speedier or fully enclosed aircraft. Those people are fortunate as many choices are available and, of course, I will continue writing about them frequently. However, many pilots in the USA and around the world do not have a budget for a magnificent carbon fiber personal aircraft that costs $150,000. Even among those who can afford such aircraft, I’m amazed at the renewed interest in these simplest of aircraft.
In addition, aircraft as shown in the nearby photos have seen considerable development since the early days of weight shift trikes. In my view, America invented these aircraft back in the late 1970s but as three axis ultralights developed, interest from American pilots drew away from weight shift and the best new ideas seemed to come from Europe, Australia or other countries. However, I now see the freshest developments coming from U.S.
A couple of years ago, TC’s Trikes owner TC Blyth and North Wing owner Kamron Blevins joined forces in a cooperative arrangement. TC’s Trikes would buy wings from North Wing (rather than continue to make their own), and could better represent North Wing on the Eastern Seaboard. North Wing, headquartered in the northwestern state of Washington, is far from TC’s Trikes’ Tennessee home. It seemed a marriage of convenience and more.
Blyth has been particularly active in training and introductory flight lessons. He’s done many thousands of them at his location near a top Tennessee tourist and outdoorsmen attraction – the Ocoee River, popular for white water rafting, kayaking, and other sports. Blyth has been focused on meeting this need with his own brand of trikes, and all his experience gave him something clear and viable to add to the expertise of North Wing.
North Wing has risen to the top of the U.S.
Two years ago, I flew and reported on the only model TC’s Trikes offered. Though their line had little depth, the Tennessee company built their own wing and chassis. Many trike chassis builders purchase wings from other sources, much like happens universally in powered parachutes. TC’s Trikes did it all based particularly on their needs as an active flight school operation.
In today’s light aircraft world, a wider product line addresses more pilots, which makes a more viable business. Given the pace of refinements, it can be tough to keep up. Yet TC’s Trikes had a track record in the East, selling more than 100 trikes of their own and other brands. Pairing up with another company, if the fit was right, could be smart business.
A match was found between TC’s Trikes and Washington state-based North Wing Design. TC’s Trikes had something North Wing lacked – a presence in the Eastern USA.
Quick Reference Table
DFS Trike, Aerotome
BB Trike 340/447/503
Model C, SeaWing, Tukan
Trike Zilla, Tukan
North Wing Design
Apache, Maverick, ATF
Soaring Eagle, Inc.
Incredible Flying Boat
Top Dog Ultralights
Published in Experimenter Magazine
Made in the USA and Yankee friendly!
Many pilots and even some experts believe trikes are a European innovation. Indeed, producers across the Atlantic took the breed to new heights, yet the fact remains that the earliest commercial producers of weight-shift trikes were here in the United States. In the early 1980s trikes were primarily an American phenomenon.
In the early days, before ultralights
had been defined, hang gliders
added power and slowly evolved to
use wheeled carriages. The first
producers included brands that
transitioned from the hang gliding
world, such as Soarmaster, Bennett
Delta Wings, and Flight Designs (no
relation to the German producer of
the CT). All of these American names,
and a good many more, are now
Today, when you hear the word
trikes, you may think of Air Creation,
Cosmos, Pegasus, AirBorne, or other
companies from Great Britain,
Europe, or Australia. Most of the
development work in trikes has
seemed to come from imported
All right, what is this? A trike with no upper support? What does the designer think he’s doing, trying to be some kind of maverick? Well, yeah!
Kamron Blevins runs the show at North Wing Design. When I first met him, I’d call him a mere lad, except that makes me sound old. So, Kamron was a “young entrepreneur” from the Seattle area who made hang glider sails for a living. (His mom probably thought this sounded like as odd an occupation as you think it does.)
Funny thing, though. The kid grew up, got good at making wings, branched into trike wings, and now manufactures entire trikes. And you know what? It’s a darn good trike with some excellent thinking. Let’s look it over.
Youth Gains Experience
Blevins isn’t a kid anymore. But he looks around and sees all his old hang gliding buddies looking older, too. Some of them are using wheels on their gliders (as a backup safety feature for those not-so-perfect foot-landings).
Everybody knows that trikes are composed of a chassis and a wing. Many companies specialize in one or the other for good reason; the two manufacturing skills are quite different. For years North Wing Design owner, Kamron Blevins, has built the wings that lift many trikes. Now his Washington state based company does it all.
A couple years ago the company introduced their Maverick trike, notable for its clean, simple, white chassis and unusually strut-braced delta wing. Later Blevins introduced his ATF model, a simplified and even lighter chassis which can connect to a conventional hang glider wing. Remaining busy, by spring of 2000 he offered the two-seat Apache model. In every case, of course, the trikes uses the company-produced wing.
Beginning in the days when he supplied trike chassis makers with wings until he began to offer the whole trike aircraft, Cameron has clearly been listening to customers. From my inspection he has incorporated many features that trike buyers have sought over the years.
Trike and trike wing manufacturer North Wing Design has debuted a new trike called the Apache Sport. Developed for the proposed Light-Sport Aircraft category, this new 2-seater can also be operated as an ultralight trainer qualifying under the training exemption to FAR Part 103.
Barely a year after the new millennia dawned, North Wing Design introduced their first new 2-seat trike to the ultralight community – the original Apache. In the last year of the old century, the Washington-based company offered their first trike – the single-seat Maverick with its distinctive strutted wing.
Prior to these developments, North Wing Design was a trike wing supplier. For many years, small manufacturers of trike carriages have been buying wings from North Wing because they handle and perform handsomely. In a still-earlier role, the company was a savior to owners of certain brands of hang gliders whose manufacturers had left the business.
North Wing came to the aid of these stranded owners.
North Wing Design has a history that stretches back into the mid-1980s when 23-year-old owner Kamron Blevins started making hang glider wings. After gaining experience with other companies and dabbling with his own ideas along the way, Blevins started North Wing Design in 1996 to provide trike wings.
His timing was good. After years of work to encourage Americans to consider trikes, various suppliers – many from Europe – were pleased to see their efforts pay off. Trike numbers began to increase about the time North Wing Design got into business. At first, Blevin’s new company created specially built trike wings for several chassis suppliers and the enterprise grew.
With increasing sales of wings to others and with a rising tide of trike interest lifting all manufacturers, North Wing Design decided to go all the way. Their first full trike ultralight offering in 1999 was the Maverick, a slick single-seater that met FAR Part 103 parameters with a Rotax 447 (see “Pilot’s Report: North Wing Design’s Maverick Trike,” September 1999 Ultralight Flying!