THE ultralight aircraft which plummeted 200m into the ocean at Noosa was a trike ultralight. 

But what precisely was this aircraft?

The Hang Gliding Federation of Australia said the earlier versions of the ultralights were basically hang gliders with engines, but looked more like aeroplanes with a body and conventional tail. 

Trikes are no longer just converted hang gliders, but are designed specifically for power. 

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The federation's website states the performance of modern trikes compares favourably with conventional ultralights. 

"Cruise speeds range from 60 to 110kmh, and trikes have among the best climb rates of all ultralights," the website states. 

Trike ultralight
Trike ultralight

"Partial enclosures (pods) keep the worst of the wind and cold away.

"In Europe, the trike remains the most common and popular form of ultralight, although it is slightly less popular in Australia."

"They can stored in your garage and still have room for the car, be assembled or dismantled within half an hour and are easily transported on a trailer.

"Once flying, you can do anything or go anywhere a conventional registered ultralight can."

Trikes are not certified for aerobatics.

Loops are not sanctioned by any manufacturer.

"A failed loop which results in the trike stalling upside down will invariably result in a very high descent rate," the website stated. 

The Sunshine Coast Forensic Crash Unit and the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia are investigating the crash. 

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