VSKYLABS Powered Hang Glider project

The VSKYLABS Powered Hang Glider project for X-Plane

Sport 'Trike S-1' (V009) for X-Plane 11.00 / 10.51
Sea 'Trike S-1-F' (V009) for X-Plane 11.00 10.51
Micro 'Microlight Trike S-3' (V009) for X-Plane 11.00 10.51
Rigid-wing 'Experimental S-4' (V002) for X-Plane 11.00 / 10.51

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Package update log:
  1. 3rd July 2017 - FIX Update release:
    • Over tendency to tumble was addressed.
    • Cruise speed for S-1 variants was slightly increased.
    • Tire friction re tuned for better off-runway acceleration. 
  2. 27th Feb 2017 - FIX Update release:
    • Update only to the X-Plane 11 versions (now v008a).
    • FIX for changes in X-Plane 11 Beta 12 to engine model simulation (low rpm/engine shutdown at idle etc...).
    • S-1 Floater version handling on water was tuned a bit.
    • S-3 flight dynamics model was tuned a bit. This Trike doesn't have pitch-trim feature (like in the S-1), and "trimmed" straight and level flight can be achieved by setting a balanced cruise airspeed. 
    • S-4 glider - pitch-trim option was added. 
    • Instrument gauges of the S-1/S-3 are now positioned so it won't show uneven reflections in the outer instruments (the outer two gauges are originally pointing slightly outwards, but now all three gauges are in the same direction.
  3. 5th Feb 2017 - MAJOR UPDATE RELEASE:
    • Cockpit update for the S-1's, S-3 models: 
      • an altimeter setting knob was added to the altimeter.
      • All gauges plates were replaced with an (experimental) "mixed" 3D modeling and X-Plane gauge integration approach. 
      • I've added some dirt onto the GPS screen and gauges glass. Looks realistic in sun reflections. 
    • New and improved engine and prop simulation model for the S-1's, S-3 models.
    • Sound improvements for the S-1's, S-3 models.
    • Note that the S-4 model is still on version 002 (no changes).
    • X-Plane 11 known issues (very minor): X-Plane 11's runways are following the terrain with a given resolution. There is a small gap between the physical runway surface and the visible runway surface. This gap is changing along the runway. Because of that, depending on your exact position on any given runway, you might notice this gap, especially when taxiing any small aircraft with small wheels. The S-3 model is equipped with quite a small landing gears, so sometimes you may notice this gap as you taxi the runway. It is not a bug in the model, but a *very minor* issue of X-Plane. Hopefully, it will be solved in the future.
  4. 16th Jan 2017 -  MAJOR UPDATE RELEASE:
    • Upgrade for X-Plane 11 (including both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 10.51 versions). 
    • Flight model refinements: Engine gearbox set to 1:2.33, Idle RPM setup, propeller refinements. 
    • 3D model engineering update (including fuselage, cockpit, textures, object structure arrangements for the XP11 upgrade). 
    • New sounds for the S-1's Trikes.
  5. 18th December 2016 - Major package update:
    • This update is for X-Plane 10.51, and it is a part of the preparations for upgrading to X-Plane 11. 
    • Update information: 
      • 3D model engineering update and refurbish (including fuselage, cockpit, textures, object structure arrangements for the future XP11 upgrade. 
      • Systems updates: new compass is included.
  6. 7th December 2016: 
    • "Fly-by-Mouse" feature is now setup to move the control bar in the same direction of the mouse (100% realism). 
    • The package was updated and upgraded to X-Plane 10.51.
    • 3D cockpit upgraded with new features and textures (S-1/S-1-F/S-3).
    • GPS system was added to the S-1/S-3 variants (X-Plane GPS 530).
    • Flight model deeply refurbished. The Trikes flight envelope was "opened" to allow more control authority when landing at nose-high attitude (one can now run on the two main gears more easily).
    • Extended-Usability features added to the cockpit (S-1/S-1-F/S-3):
      • Toggle Pilot Object: switch on/off pilot object visibility.
      • Toggle Field-of-View: switch between 95 and 103 degrees).
      • Toggle Pilot-Assist mode: switch to pilot assist mode in which the trike can maintain desired flight attitude easily and can be flown with reduced pilot work-load).
      • Fly-by-Mouse: click on the mouse and drag it as if you are moving the control-bar. This is very useful for real trike pilots who like to experience more natural and realistic control method, other than a joystick.
      • Trikes model S-2 and S-1-F (floats only) were removed from the package.


What is an Ultralight Hang Gliger Trike aircraft?
An ultralight trike aircraft, also known as a flex-wing trike, weight-shift-control aircraft, microlight trike, deltatrike or motorized deltaplane, is a type of powered hang glider using a high-performance Rogallo wing coupled to a propeller-driven three-wheeled undercarriage. While many powered aircraft have three-wheeled landing gear, the term "trike" refers specifically to the form of aircraft described above.

Flight control in a trike is made by weight-shifting; the undercarriage structure is connected to the wing at a hinge-point, and the wing can be tilted in both X and Y axes. While on the ground (takeoff for example), pushing the wing control bar raises the angle of attack of the wing and lift is produced. As the aircraft is airborne, moving the control bar of the wing causes the undercarriage to swift both sideways or back and forth, and a weight-shifting control is achieved.

Screenshots Gallery


VSKYLABS Trikes S-1/S-3 Cockpit Features

Cockpit Features - Easy Field-of View Setup
(Click to switch between 95 to 105 Degrees)

Field-of-View Setup: You can toggle between 95 and 105 degrees by using the Toggle-Field-of-View switch in the cockpit (s-1 variants, s-3) or by clicking on the screen of the smartphone which is in front (s-4).

Cockpit Features - Toggle Pilot Object
(Click to show or hide the pilot object)

Toggle Pilot SwitchLocated in the cockpit panel. Push to toggle the pilot appearance in the cockpit (for not seeing the pilot object).

Cockpit Features - Pilot Assist
(Click for pilot-assisted flying)

Pilot Assist: Use this switch to get some help while flying the trike; in real-life, we do lot's of pilot-workload Unconsciously. Main reasons for this is that in real life we have full Peripheral Vision, and we feel the motion of the aircraft instantly, so we do, most of the time (when not distracted), a lot of pilot workload as a "background procedure". The Pilot-Assist feature will ease up the workload (as if you are doing the background workload without noticing it...). 

Cockpit Features - Fly-by-Mouse
(Click and drag the mouse as if it was the control bar)

Fly-by-Mouse: Use the Fly-by-Mouse area in the cockpit panel by clicking on the mouse button and dragging it as if it was the control bar.

Joystick and controls setup: You can fly the trike with regular fixed wing aircraft joystick setting (pull the stick to pitch up, push the stick to pitch down). For more realistic training:
  • Joystick pitch axis should be inverted (joystick setting menu) to simulate the real style flying of the trike which is push the control bar of the wing to tilt it up and by that getting the nose up (push for up). When moving the control bar of the wing, the weight of the undercarriage is shifting also and once airborne it is the main control input for the trike.

Flight model important notes for X-Plane:
  • The 'Trike S-1':
    • Trimmed for 45-50 knots. Adding power will affect the pitch attitude slightly and produce a nose-down moment. I made this setup due to some limitations of X-Plane's flight model which concerns hang-gliders physics; in real life - the engine's thrust vector is (supposed to be) in straight line with the CG location, and change of power settings doesn't affect the aircraft's attitude. In the 'Trike S-1' flight model, the vertical CG location is lowered, as much as possible, to eliminate "nosing-up" when tilting the wing upwards, while on the ground (X-Plane is shifting the weight backwards while on the ground...this doesn't occur in real life, when the weight is actually shifting while airborne). So...when changing the engine's setting from full power to idle, expect a slightly nose-up moment.
  • The 'Trike S-1-F':
    • Equipped with large scale floats and landing gears which are affecting its stability and total response; fly the Trike with ease, make room for maneuvers.
    • The Trike is capable of taking off safely from water with waves up to 0.7 feet. When taking off from the water, apply full power and tilt the win up slightly. Once at~35-40 knots, apply an extra push to the control-bar for departure, but as you are airborne, ease it to gain airspeed before climbing.
    • Landing is straight forward; final at ~40 knots, judge for touchdown at ~35 knots, nose slightly above the horizon.
    • Taking off with the Trike S-1-F from land is straight forward, but rotation speed is ~40 knots. This is not a "dirt-buggy'; land take-offs should be operated from paved runways.
    • When experiencing a dead-engine gliding with the S-1-F, it is recommended to keep the airspeed at ~40 knots on the glide. This aircraft is 'dirty' and sink-rate is noticeably greater than the S-1.
    • Because the trike is trimmed to 45-50 knots, almost no pressure at all will be required on final approach, and when the engine is on Idle, it will keep gliding in a good attitude, near the stall speed, right until touchdown. This is a very fun exercise when landing the trike.
    • Do not exceed a 60 degree turn, nor abrupt movements of the control bar on steep turns. The lateral stability of the trike is limited, and it could snap out of the turn.
  • Micro-light Trike S-3:
    • During taxiing, push the control bar slightly forward to have a better nose-wheel traction for steering.
    • On take-off, judge to get airborne at ~30 knots.
    • Landing is straightforward, but keep the airspeed above 30 knots right until touchdown. It is not recommended to flare the S-3 too much, and if so, do it with slightly additional power.
  • The experimental S-4:
    • Take off only with head-wind. Lift-off speed should be around 35 knots.
    • Watch out for abrupt weight shifting, especially forward motion and especially at high speeds or the aircraft will tumble.
    • Use Drogue-Chute for descent as it is acting like an air brake (in the cockpit - left handle).
    • To land fly the final at ~45 knots, and flare the S-4 so touchdown will be at ~28 knots.
    • Always land with head wind!.
    • Fly it "nice and easy" and you will be able to do magic!
    • Cockpit instrumentation is including: Left side - Drogue Chute handle, Bat and Fuel shut-off switches. Right side - Brakes handle. Front side - Smartphone info + X-Plane GPS (pop-up).

Performance (VSKYLABS Trike S-1 / S-1-F):
  • Climb Rate @ Gross weight: ~850 fpm / 700 fpm / 550 fpm.
  • Stall Speed @ Gross weight: ~40 knots / 35 knots / 35 knots.
  • Cruise speed: 45-55 knots.
  • VNE: 80 knots.
  • Descent Rate @ Gross weight / Idle: ~500 fpm @ 44 knots.
  • Fuel Capacity: 12 Gallon.
  • Fuel Burn @ Cruise speed: ~2 Gal/Hr.
    Performance (VSKYLABS 'Microlight-Trike S-3'):
    The VSKYLABS Microlight Trike S-3 is an agile and challenging powered hang glider, bringing X-Plane simulation almost to it's limits because of its size and weight.
    Treat the S-3 with caution. It is not as heavy and stable as the S-1, and it should be flown with great care, because it will give you the impression that you can do "anything" with it, jut until you lose control...
    • Climb Rate @ Gross weight: ~650 fpm.
    • Stall Speed @ Gross weight: <30 knots.
    • Cruise speed: 40 knots.
    • Descent Rate @ Gross weight / Idle: ~400 fpm @ 35 knots.
    • Fuel Capacity: 12 Gallon.
    • Fuel Burn @ Cruise speed: ~1.5 Gal/Hr
    Performance (VSKYLABS Experimental S-4):
    The VSKYLABS Experimental S-3 is quite stable and maneuverable. You will have to handle it with extreme caution though. Ground take-off run corrections are made with shifting the body left or right, gently. When flying do not exceed extreme velocities nor maneuvers, or it will tumble. Take it easy and relax with the S-4, and you will be able to stretch its performance to the limits, and perform mild aerobatics with it.
    • The S-4 will stall below ~35 knots.
    • Lift-off speed is ~35 knots.

    Extra reading / watching / learning

    How to fly a hang glider trike? 

    I highly recommend reading this book:

    "Hang Gliding"
    The Natural High of self launched personal flight/Peter L.Dixon

    I've found this book in a used books store in California ("Point Reyes Books"). At the time, I was in the middle of a really deep research into hang gliding. I was looking for some authentic materials and writings from the 60's and the 70's...trying to understand deeply what I've experienced as child, observing these triangle gliders on the beach in the early 80.

    The book is an authentic, almost documentary reading material from the past (it was printed in 1977), with a wide-spread content, from Hang Gliding history to weather flying, safety, flying techniques and even considerations regarding the selection of a Hang Gliding school...The book begins with describing the very interesting aviation history facts that lead to the modern hang-gliding sport, and continues to introduce the the hang-glider itself. 

    When reading this book, there is a feeling as if you are listening to a Hang Gliding fascinating mentor; the author is talking about the items in 1st person point of view, and gets into the finest details of introducing and presenting the Hang Gliding sport by thorough explanations and authentic, personal testimonials. Oh..and there are *plenty* of drawings and original photos with useful commentary. 

    To sum up this short review...I will say that this book will take its reader back to the magical era of the wild and innocent days of old-time hang-gliding.

    Here is a sample, one of many amazing testimonials and flying stories within the book:

    "Then the kite popped upside down, nose first, and the aluminum crinkled and tore. I said, "Oh no," and then I was under it again. Next, I was snapped into a violent spin, and I couldn't find any control bar to hold onto. I tried to reach the cross bar, but I couldn't get my hands above my face because of the G's. I couldn't even recognize my kite....I knew I was dead when the aluminum broke. I guess that I got rather involved with how long I had. I was spinning so fast that I couldn't tell how high I was. Then there was brief hindsight; 'You shouldn't have taken off, you dumb shit; I wish that I hadn't put all of my marbles into one bag; why don't I have parachute?' That's all the time I spent kicking myself. Down below I could see greenery everywhere, but in the middle of the trees was a very large rock - no hope at all. All I could think was, 'O.K., if this is what you've gotten yourself into, it's alright.' If you transgress the rules of the element you're in, then you'll have to make payment. I found myself resigned to this. 'It's alright.' I said out loud three times to try and fortify myself. In a way, I became detached; I got bored with being so helpless. I thought about disengaging myself, so I'd be flung out into the bushes or trees, but I still couldn't tell how high I was. Then I began to make out details in the rock that I was going to crash into."

    Here are a few sample photos (there are also colored photos in the book):