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‘TrikeBuggy Bullet’ take off fail in Bellharbour

A MAN fractured both his feet and one of his arms attempting lift off in a device known as a “TrikeBuggy Bullet”, effectively a flying tricycle, in Bellharbour.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit have just published their report into the incident which happened in June of last year.

It found that the flying tricycle just about departed the ground before quickly crashing into a wall at the boundary of the field it was attempting to take off from. One person watching the attempted take off was almost hit by the TrikeBuggy Bullet.

The report says, ” All three wheels were off the ground for approximately one second and the trike turned further to the left. The engine noise also increased. When the trike returned to the ground, it was travelling towards the perimeter wall, and was almost perpendicular to it. The trike impacted the wall, nose wheel first. The engine noise decreased just before impact.
“The video shows that as soon as the canopy attached to the trike started to inflate early in the take-off roll, the Pilot pulled down on the right-hand brake (his left hand was not visible at this stage). Both canopy brakes appear to have been applied throughout the accident sequence.”

“The Pilot, who was wearing a helmet, remained restrained within the trike during the impact sequence, but sustained fractures to both feet and to one arm. He was removed from the scene by the emergency services and brought to hospital. There was no fire. At least three persons were present in the field at the time of the accident, one of whom had to step quickly aside to remain clear of the trike as it veered towards the wall.”

It found that even though the Pilot had reservations, he had felt under pressure to go ahead with the ill-fated attempt at flying. “The Investigation interviewed the Pilot, who advised that he was ‘unhappy about the wind’ and didn’t feel comfortable attempting a take-off. He said that he felt under pressure to operate, because he had brought along all the equipment. He also said that during the take- off roll, the wind changed and he should have aborted the take-off, and that once the nose of the trike lifted, he lost directional control. He said he thought that by applying full power, he would get over the wall, but that the trike sank.”

While it wasn’t his first day out, he didn’t have very much experience either. “The Pilot informed the Investigation that he had flown three previous flights in the trike, with a total flight time of approximately three hours. He said that he had received approximately eight hours of training from an experienced trike pilot who was not a qualified instructor. He had also flown approximately 10 hours (total time) in a foot- launched paramotor, and a number of years ago had completed 10 hours under instruction in a fixed-wing ultralight aircraft. ”

Of the flying device, the report said, “The TrikeBuggy Bullet V3.2 is a single-seat, steel, tricycle buggy, manufactured by TrikeBuggy Inc. in the United States. The nose wheel is steerable. On each side of the trike, a tubular frame member extends from wheel height at the nose of the trike, to shoulder height at each side of the seat.”

Regarding the damage done, the report says, “The trike impacted a wall which was of dry stone construction, causing a portion of it to be knocked down. This would have absorbed some of the trike’s energy. Notwithstanding that the only restraint harness fitted to the trike was of a two-point design (lap-belt), the Pilot remained restrained within the trike during the impact sequence. The frame of the trike, members of which extended to shoulder height at either side of the trike’s seat, would have assisted in restraining the Pilot. He was also wearing a helmet. These factors, combined with the nature of the wall’s dry stone construction, likely lessened the severity of the Pilot’s injuries.”

Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

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Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.