Motorised Nano-Light Hang glider Trike
We are working, all be it slowly, on
development of a carbon fibre nano-light hang
glider trike base for use with a standard
king-posted or topless glider. This project was
started a few years back one winter by myself,
Ian Duncan, and Gavin Griffiths (from New
Zealand). Unfortunately Gavin moved back to New
Zealand and progress since has been sporadic at
best. Most work is now completed to fill any
down time in the working week.
The concept is
to design and build a carbon/paper honeycomb
trike base that was small enough to fit into the
back of a station wagon yet light enough to
allow attachment of a larger more reliable
engine than is conventionally used. The all up
weight needed to come in under 35 kgs. thus
enabling an all up glider/trike weight of <70
kgs. We also wanted a small storage compartment,
parachute deployment tube, fuel bladder and
electrics to be internal and the rear of the
trike to be somewhat aerodynamic.
First thing we needed were some concept plans
and a weight/force analysis. This was Gavin's
area of expertise and quickly we had some basis
plans to start with.
We started working weekends building a
timber/plywood/fibreglass vacuum mould to
produce the front seat panel. This was to be
made with pre-impregnated carbon fibres, vacuum
bagged and cooked at 85 degrees C. We therefore
needed an oven, which was quickly made by
insulating the underside of our cutting table
and rerouting hot air out of our normal curing
oven (which is to long and low to fit the
Gavin was keen as hell and this kept
us pushing along. Thanks Gav.! It was somewhat
harder for myself after working composites all
week and having a desire to go surfing instead
on the weekends. We soon had the mould and front
About this time Gavin moved home to New Zealand
and things slowed up...dramatically.
The next step forward involved bonding large
blocks of Styrofoam to the rear of the front
panel which were then hand shaped to the
finished shape of the rear of the trike. This
was completed at a reasonable pace then......I
looked at it for about 5 months!
I decided that I didn't like the shape. So on
with some more foam for a reshape. Months later
the reshape was completed and that's how the
trike stayed for another few months.
We had a
bit of quiet time with work at some stage, can't
even remember when, so I had my employee Paul
Button laminate over the foam with 2 layers of
carbon cloth. When this was cured the rear
carbon skin was removed and all the foam was cut
away from the front panel. Finally we had a
front and a rear.
Months more passed before we
got around to adding structure to the rear skin.
Lots of umm-arr what do we need and where do we
need it !!!! Meanwhile I had to design and
acquire a custom fuel bladder, build a test
stand for the engine, test fit engine electrics,
battery box, fuel lines and internal mounting
plates for the custom flexible engine mount that
I had made, what now seemed like years earlier.
I had purchased a Konig 430cc 3 cylinder 2
stroke radial engine around the time we started
the project. This little beauty does not require
a re-drive reduction as it only does max. 4200
RPM but puts out approx. 24 HP. I have attached
a Powerfin 51" x 3 blade ground adjustable
carbon propeller. This may need cutting down in
practice but it seems fine when run on a test
stand. It produces approx. 80 -85 kgs. of
thrust. It nearly blows my neighbours trees out
of her yard !!!
The trike is designed so that
the last part of the rear aerofoil shape is
actually an aluminium fabrication that houses
the muffler. This required that we custom
fabricate a stainless steel manifold.
Next thing we needed was a pair of aerodynamic
lower rear wheel struts. More fun for Paul 'the
proto type technician'. I found some light weight
wheels and some front forks off a kite buggy
that seem to suit fine. Meanwhile I made some
to go vertically between the rear axle and the
engine bed. These struts have a reduced section
at the top to attach to a spring
housing, at the engine bed, to take some shock
from a bad landing.
We added a parachute tube through the rear body
and a flush hatch into the internal storage
compartment. It be came obvious that it would be
difficult to get to the battery, if need be to
jump start the trike, so we added a small quick
connect fitting, that exits flush with the
exterior, to which a set of modified jumper leads can be
At time of writing we still need to
make, rear axles, rear suspension mounts, a glider support mast/attachment and seat
belts before bonding the front and rear
together. Then its finish fairing and a paint
job before final assembly.
Don't hold your
This photo shows the trike as complete as it has
been, in a simulated
landing position with the front wheel approx.
250mm above the ground
when the rear wheels touch down.