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.
Co-Developing the Navajo Trike
|Empty weight||360 pounds 1|
|Gross weight||950 pounds|
|Wing area||158 square feet|
|Wing loading||6.0 pounds/square foot|
|Height||8.5 feet (with strut-braced wing)|
|Kit type||Fast build 2|
|Build time||about 3 hours 2|
|Notes:||1 Trike only 140 pounds; Rotax 582 B drive without electric start, 92 pounds; wing 105 pounds; then add for accessory systems|
2 Six components that assemble quickly (see company Website)
|Standard engine||Rotax 582|
|Power||65 hp at 6,500 rpm|
|Power loading||14.6 pounds/hp|
|Cruise speed||40-55 mph|
|Never exceed speed||60 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||900 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||125 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||125 feet|
|Standard Features||Strut-braced Quest 14.5 double-surface wing, instrument pod, steerable nosewheel (push right, go left) with nosewheel disC brake and trailing link suspension, hand and foot throttles, shoulder seat belt system with recoil for front seat, basic instruments, heavy-duty fiberglass main gear legs, custom fuel tank, 3-blade composite prop|
|Options||Nose fairings and side enclosures (Apache Classic or Apache Sport models), choice of other wings from North Wing, Rotax 503, 912 or HKS 700E or MZ 202 engine choices, electric start, dual steering and throttle, 4-blade prop, ballistic parachute system, and more.|
|Construction||6061-T6 and 7075-T6 aluminum airframe, steel and aluminum fittings, AN hardware, fiberglass, Dacron sailcloth|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - Simplified training-capable version of the Apache trike series. Excellent dual-mast design that increases comfort for the rear occupant. Comfortable seats with front seat back support (folds down), optional spring strut to ease lifting of the wing; excellent engine vibration isolation. Slightly revised and versatile wing.
Cons - No nose fairing or side panels or skirting. Unique features plus desirable options produce a higher price. The strutted Quest 14.5 wing, while delivering a modern look many want, makes others question the structural integrity (though testing and field experience have proven the concept).
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 - Custom fuel tank fills easily (located in the back near engine). Spring-assisted wing-lift system greatly eases setup. Easy access to engine for service work. Optional front or rear nosewheel steering control with throttle. Electric starting and remote choke both fitted to test aircraft. Convenient switch panel between legs on keel. Hydraulic parking brake.
Cons - Training is needed to optimize features like the spring-assisted lift. In-flight trim not fitted to the test ultralight. Some features, like the heim joint used to adjust engine position, are used only once or infrequently, yet add weight and appearance of complexity.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Thickly padded seats include side bolsters. Folding backrest in front; good back support and easier rear entry. Adjustable front fork position for pilots of different height. Dual mast design is more user-friendly than most trike masts. Shoulder belt harnesses front and rear with recoil in front.
Cons - The Navajo "training" chassis is Spartan compared to European trikes (though fancier faired North Wing models compare well). Dual steering is an optional extra. No storage areas for things you want to take along (though model is aimed at training.) Windier cockpit with no nose fairing.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Nosewheel steering uses a trailing link suspension and a dampener. Maneuverability is very good, a common trike benefit as you can move the wing to avoid obstacles. Nosewheel brake is useful on paved ramps and has a parking brake lock. Good ground clearance.
Cons - Nosewheel brake is not useful for heavy, quick stopping; trikes brakes are more effective on the main gear (North Wing has such an option). Taxi handling trikes in stronger winds requires more physical strength. Optional rear steering system needed for instructor ground taxiing (but works well).
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Lighter weight trike with Rotax 582 engine leaves ground quickly. North Wing's ground parallel thrust line reduces swing-through motion at lift-off. New Quest 14.5 wing gives good control authority for windy landings. Adjustable engine position strut helps adjust for P-factor.
Cons - Quest, a double-surface wing, is best with a faster approach (50 mph). No flaps or slips to control approaches; plan ahead or S-turn. All trikes are less versatile in crosswind conditions compared to 3-axis ultralights (though experience can greatly widen your capabilities).
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Building hang gliders for many years gives designer Kamron Blevins the experience to wring superior handling from his wings. As a double-surface wing, the Quest retains light controls useful for training application. Lightened 2-place chassis (less fairing, etc.) helps control agility.
Cons - Though a lighter 2-seat trike, the Navajo not nearly as agile as company's single-seat Maverick. Control pressures, while reasonably light in a large, double-surface wing, still require more effort than a joystick. No other negatives.
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Quest continues the surprisingly wide speed range common to many North Wing designs. Good climb rate of 900 fpm with Rotax 582. Double-surface wing retained energy quite well on landings. Thanks to the unique "spine" construction with superb shock mounting, engine vibration was well isolated.
Cons - The Navajo also sold with lower power Rotax 503, less robust for training (not tested). No trike dives well at high power settings. Not designed for cross-country flying; aimed at training market. Wing is a middle ground design with less top speed (though speed isn't needed in training).
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - The Navajo with Quest wing would not break in stall during any trials; perhaps good for newer pilots. Recoil shoulder seat belt system for front seat pilot; shoulder belt without recoil for rear. Very predictable wing with no evil tendencies discovered. Steep turns maintained bank angle well.
Cons - Struts rule in fixed-wing design and have advantages on trikes (easier hangaring), but some question the long strut's ability to withstand negative gust loads without jury struts. No parachute fitted (often present in other North Wing evaluation flights). No other stability negatives.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Contemporary trike aimed at the training market. Excellent Quest 14.5 wing design, a core strength of North Wing; handling and speed range are both very good. Dual mast more comfortable for rear occupant. Superior engine mount isolates vibration well. Company is the largest and most successful American trike builder.
Cons - At more than $20,000 fully assembled with Rotax 582 engine, the Navajo isn't cheap for an unfaired chassis (though a Rotax 912-powered trike will cost much more). Market for a training-focused trike is uncertain in this time of Light-Sport Aircraft and new certification.