More Fun for Two People What could be more fun for two people than an Air Création Fun 450 trike? Okay, I don’t really want to know the answer you were about to give. Next to that, those Frenchmen in Aubenau certainly know what they’re doing. In the state of design and execution, Air Création arguably makes the finest trikes in the world. The Fun Racer was an early trendsetter, before everyone wanted to buy a 2-seater. The “Racer” part of the name came from the carriage and it acquired this name due to a lower-slung, racier look. The “Fun” part refers to the wing. This wing design is Air Création’s entry as a single-surface model. It has worked so well for them that it has remained in their line almost since the beginning. To jazz up the Racer trike, a few years back they paired it with the XP-11 or XP-12 wings.
Air Creation USA Clipper 912
Phone: (520) 203-1275Vall, AZ 85641 - USA
Clipper 912 with iXess Wing and Fun 450
|Empty weight||440 pounds|
|Gross weight||992 pounds|
|Wing area||161 square feet|
|Wing loading||6.2 pounds per square foot|
|Height||11 feet 7 inches|
|Kit type||Fully assembled|
|Set-up time||30 minutes, 1 person (from trailer)|
|Standard engine||Rotax 912|
|Power loading||12.4 pounds/hp|
|Max Speed||90 mph|
|Cruise speed||50-72 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||1,220 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||185 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||225 feet|
|Standard Features||81-hp Rotax 912 engine with electric starting, Arplast 3-blade prop, Clipper chassis with deluxe cockpit fairing and short windscreen, iXess wing (available in only one size), hand and foot throttles, nosewheel steering, nosewheel brake and fender, parking brake, 3-point recoil seatbelts front and rear, 3-wheel suspension, instrument panel, water temperature gauge, 10-gallon fuel tank, back seat storage (acting as seat back).|
|Options||Kiss 450 wing also available, carburetor heat, in-flight trim (called "Pack Vmax" by Air Création), ballistic parachute system, rear-seat throttle and steering.|
|Construction||Aluminum airframe, fiberglass fairing, mixed fabric sailcloth wing covering. Made in France (with 20% ownership by American importer). Distributed by U.S.-based importer.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - New iXess wing suits mission of Clipper 912 and is one of the best wings ever from Air Création. The wing is a good improvement over the earlier XP-17 wing mated to the 912. Beautiful fabrication of all components; excellent engine installation. Perhaps the most versatile design the French company has ever introduced.
Cons - Aircraft with everything on them generally cost significantly more; so does the Clipper 912 with the iXess. Combine that with a soaring euro-to-dollar exchange rate and expect well over $36,000 (at current exchange rates) for the aircraft in these photos (though it is deluxe. Lower-cost models are available).
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Excellent trim system; works well and universally labeled (see article). Optional hand and foot throttles for both seats. Optional rear-seat steering bar helps if giving rides/instruction from back seat. Excellent, secure placement of kill switch and magneto switches (under throttle). Brake on left pedal gives positive feedback.
Cons - No landing aids like flaps (true for all trikes so far). Since the Clipper 912 iXess comes with almost everything a trike should have, it's hard to fault its systems.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Nosewheel brake system is more powerful than expected. Dual hand and foot throttles with rear-seat steering position are a good improvement if you want to give rides from the back seat of your Clipper 912. Cargo seat system supports your back when flying solo. Sleek, classily styled cockpit fairing is very roomy inside. Highly secure steering pedals, especially good, as they also support your feet.
Cons - Full-face helmet or one with a pull-down visor recommended; won't appeal to everyone. No matter how well done it is, the Clipper still uses typical trike wrong-way steering and that vexes some buyers.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Large, supportive foot pedals, nosewheel dampening, and trailing link suspension makes the Clipper 912 very positive to ground handle. Fender and enclosure deflect dust and debris on takeoff. All gear is suspended. Brakes are more powerful than expected. Rear-seat steering and foot throttle allow back seat operations.
Cons - Push-right/go-left steering of most trikes remains counterintuitive for conventionally trained pilots. The iXess wing is an improvement over the XP-17 once delivered with this trike chassis, but it's still a handful to hold still in gusty winds. Needed full-face or visor helmet restricts ground visibility somewhat.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Fast ground acceleration, short takeoff roll and breathtaking climb rate define launching this Rotax 912-powered aircraft. The iXess wing also makes takeoff ground break come fast. Very good energy retention. Good visibility on takeoff and landing. Very strong chassis and good ground clearance for off-field landings.
Cons - The Rotax 912 is possibly too much power for beginning trike pilots to handle (when solo, I took off most times with about 60% throttle). Fairly fast-flying wing means ground rolls can be speedy, tougher for those less certain about push-right/go-left steering.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Even for someone familiar with delta wing design, I find it hard to believe Air Création had further improved handling without sacrificing performance, but they did! The iXess wing has most of the light handling of the earlier Kiss wing with most of the speed performance of the XP series. Trimmer system eases handling pressures in some situations.
Cons - The iXess wing is so well-achieved that handling negatives are few. Significant crosswind limitations still apply despite excellent iXess wing handling. And keeping a pivoting wing steady while taxiing in gusty winds can demand some muscle power. No other negatives.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Air Création's latest iXess wing performed brilliantly, with maximum cruise of 85 mph in my experience. Well-achieved trimmers help make more effective use of performance range. Even at high speeds, the iXess provides good control authority. Rotax 912 brings an abundance of power. Air Création engine mount made for smooth operations.
Cons - Plenty of power can be too much power for pilots unprepared for this level of performance. Larger single-surface trike wings can land more slowly than the iXess; 2-place operations for beginning trike pilots need to be done alertly. No other negatives.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Beautifully behaved ultralight. All stalls were very benign; did not break (though very aggressive entry may produce a stall break). Excellent stability characteristics throughout the speed range of the iXess. Longitudinal and throttle response checks were positive. Three-point harness is secure.
Cons - Some overbanking tendency noted if bank angles become steep - common in trike or hang glider wings, which employ some anhedral. Like most trikes, the iXess cannot be steeply dived, even with power reduced (with too much power, no dive is possible). No other negatives discovered.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Air Création's Clipper 912 iXess is a weight-shift trike done to perfection - this aircraft is about as good as it gets, except for whatever the company does next. Air Création has other, more modestly priced trikes. U.S. support is very solid with American John Kemmeries of Air Création USA owning part of the French company.
Cons - Price will be a barrier to some pilots at more than $36,000 (depends on various factors; call company rep); this may also affect eventual resale. The Clipper 912 iXess may not be appropriate for beginning trike pilots. The Rotax 912 is much admired but a more complicated powerplant to maintain. Overall, it's quite hard to fault this aircraft.
After flying all their models, after visiting with company representatives on several occasions, and after visiting the factory in Aubenau, France, I feel like I know the Air Création people. So I should have known they wouldn’t just make a new wing purely for marketing reasons. Indeed, when I few the iXess after flying their new Fun 450 wing (also reported in this article), I came away with that same head-shaking-in-wonder feeling that has affected me before. I know a little something about delta wing design, having been around hang gliding since the early 1970s, and trikes since their beginning. That helps me to comprehend how far these wings have progressed and how much harder it is to extract additional gains year after year. Trike wings (and hang gliders) generally trade more glide or speed performance for handling ease. At least, that was how it used to be. Today, that statement must be modified to reflect the surprising capacity of modern wing designers to find more performance at the same time they refine the handling.