(Note: these aircraft are featured in the post-apocalyptic action adventure novel HIGH ARENA. To see more about this book, click HERE.)

The name was conceived to become a generic term for any "sky cycle" and, to make an eyecatching logo for advertising, spelled so skycyks backwards is skycyks. Only two models were manufactured, the Harlequin and the Pitbull, both designed by combat pilot and author James Nathan Post during the brief era of the ultralight airplane in the early 1980's. Though the innovative field was expanding rapidly, and great advances in aviation technology were occurring, the encroachment of government regulation in the name of protecting public safety--and the rich potential for liability litigation of unlimited scale--completely stifled the market. The cost to the manufacturer for product liability insurance was the same for an ultralight as for an airliner--which exceeded the cost of the ultralight by many times. Though the new generation of light aircraft could have been built and sold for less than an economy car, the insurance premium charged to manufacturers per unit aircraft went over six figures. This fact put even the major manufacturers -- Cessna and Piper -- out of the light airplane market completely.

Just before the turn of the century, the Tort Reformation Act brought about the conditions which made it possible for this field of aviation to briefly flourish again. As part of the now-infamous Americanist Conservative Revival, individual responsibility for deliberate acceptance of risk was reaffirmed, and Americans were permitted to take chances again. When entrepreneur Robert Castle won the Publishers Clearout $100-Million Dollar Sweepstakes, he decided to invest his winnings to manufacture Post's designs.

The skycyks were set apart from other aircraft by three significant characteristics. One was performance envelope, that is, aerodynamic qualities. The second was experiential, that is, what it felt like to fly one. The third was image--what kind of person flies one? Until the skycyks, the class of people who had been buying airplanes graduated to them from sports cars, and their airplanes were most like flying cars. The manufacturers of small sport planes created sleek birds which had tiny enclosed cockpits, were basically aerobatic, and operated from airports only. Their money-trick characteristic was high top speed. The skycyks were aimed at a market that loved motorcycles, and so were designed to feel and perform like flying bikes. Castle started what certainly would have been another fortune by manufacturing the skycyks in Mexico, and several hundred Harlequins were made before the formation of SUCAR (the Socialist Union of Central American Republics) drove him out of Central America.


The first of the skycyks, the Harlequin was evocative of the long-chopped highway cruiser. Unlike with other aircraft of the time, the pilot sat astride, rather than inside the machine. The experience was like riding a chopper, with feet forward (best for taking high G-forces). The Harlie was basically a sailplane, a canard with a wide wingspan. It had a "fat" wing, for very low takeoff speed, so it could land and take off in a short distance from a rough field. With long camber-tapered wings, it would soar well with the engine off. With the engine at high cruise setting, it would cruise at 100 mph. Since its kevlar-composite structure was strong, but its design "dirty"--that is, with high wind-resistance drag from the exposed pilot and high-lift flying surfaces--it could be power-dived to a top speed of about 140 mph, with full safety and control. That is, its top speed was determined by its aerodynamic characteristics, and it had no "red line" beyond which the pilot was risking structural failure. Though fully aerobatic, the Harlequin's money-trick was range. By using power only to seek soaring conditions, then landing in small fields and camping, a rider could travel cross- country faster, cheaper, and with greater privacy on a Harlequin than on a Harley-Davidson, or by any other means.

Design Parameters: HARLEQUIN

Min flying spd: 30 mph
Max dive spd: 130 mph
Power cruise: 90 mph
Econ cruise: 55 mph
G-loading: +6 / -4 G
Glide ratio: 16:1

Empty weight: 245 lb
Useful load: 400 lb

Power plant:
Csynes MkII 5-cyl. radial, 40hp (not shown)
5-Gal. gas, gasohol
At 90mph, 250 mi.
At 55 mph econ, 750 mi.

Single rider, straddle mounted.
Single engine. 2-blade pusher propellor, direct drive for cruise economy.
Single mid-mounted wing, canard stabilizer. (Span 26 feet.)
Flying drag brakes.

Pitch: elevators on canard stabilizer.
Roll: ailerons on wings.
Yaw: rudders on vertical stabilizers.

Pitch and roll controlled by a conventional "joystick" system, with a motorcycle- chopper-style twin-grip top. (Not a yoke.) The entire unit moves fore-and-aft, and side-to- side.

Yaw is controlled by independent pedal-operated rudders on the outer surfaces of the vertical tailplanes. These may be activated together to provide increased drag braking.

Power control is a motorcycle-style twist throttle in the right hand grip (or an optional helicopter-style twist throttle in the left hand) using a squeeze-to-release setting lock.

The flying drag brakes are mounted on the lower aft sides of the frame, and are operated by a hand-lever on the left side of the frame. A squeeze-lever on the drag brake handle operates the rear wheel brake.

Note: It is anticipated a parachute will be worn when riding in flight.


The Pitbull was the second of the skycyks, and the one which caused the greatest impact on general aviation. Like the Harlequin, the Pitbull was a flying motorcycle, but whereas the Harlie was a powered sailplane for cross-country cruising, the Pitbull was designed for dogfighting --it was most like a big-lunged badass dirt bike. Designed by James Nathan Post before the Tort Reformation Act, it would have been completely illegal to use as intended. Though it is undeniably true that dogfighting, especially at low altitudes, is inherently dangerous, the Pitbull's reputation as a dangerous airplane was not deserved. In fact, by virtue of the airplane's high performance specs, it was a very safe machine if operated in a sane and informed manner. In many ways it was safer than the mainstream general aviation machines of the 20th century--many of which could not be safely inverted, spun, or powerdived without danger of structural damage or loss of control. The Pitbull was unbreakable by manouvering, being made with carbonfiber spars, open-bubble foam, and Kevlar-skin composite structures. It would take many times more G than any pilot would wish to impose on his body. With its fat-cambered high-lift wings, it was extremely agile at low speeds, but the same airfoils created parasite drag which greatly limited its top speed. As a result, it could be safely powerdived without fear of a "red line" speed beyond which lay only the hungry demon. The Pitbull (like the Harlequin) used flying drag brakes for rapid decelleration. These were hand-operated by a lever on the left side of the frame--they had no catch or lock, but were held on manually when used. Known as "boards" by fighter jocks, such air brakes were panels which extended out like another set of rudders from the inner vertical wing-dividers. Though such brakes were standard on jet fighters, they were never put on general aviation machines--probably for the obvious reason that they were easy to abuse, with disastrous results. Like motorcycles and sports cars, these machines, though engineered for safety, were dangerous in the hands of pilots not prepared for their performance capabilities.

The Pitbull was a canard-configuration box-wing biplane with a double-wing span of 17 feet, giving it a very high rate of roll. The rider sat astride the long narrow snout behind a small fairing, gripping the chopper-sytle vertical twin-grips of the control joystick, with the throttle in his right hand, and the control to his variable-pitch prop in the left. By his left side, a handle to be pulled back operated the drag brakes, and the squeeze-lever in its grip operated the wheel brakes.

One conspicuous difference between the Pitbull and the Harlequin was its prop. The Harlie had a fixed-low-pitch 2-bladed prop directly driven by its engine. This was inefficient at low speeds, but most efficient at cruise. The Pitbull used a broad-bladed variable-pitch 5-bladed fan geared down from a high-rpm engine. This produced very high torque at low speeds, giving the airplane the slingshot acceleration rate which thrilled audiences and sent pilots into an altered state of adrenaline ecstasy. It also used gasoline at a very high rate. Like most showplanes, it carried only enough fuel for about thirty minutes of high performance flying.

In addition to the requirements of the Pitbull's mission--airshow dogfighting--another set of factors was considered in its design. It was intended to attract a certain consumer group that Robert Castle thought was being left out of the market. Robbie was always first to confess he suffered from a certain weakness for macho romanticism, and always first to admit the design of the skycyk was overtly phallic in its imagery. This was further enhanced by the fact that the rider sat astride the machine, rather than squeezed into a little cockpit or, worse, dangling beneath the wing. astle, like Post from whom he obtained the designs, was a libertarian maverick with low regard for restrictive laws imposed by the lawless powerful for their own benefit. They both recognized that the Harley-Davidson was set apart in image from all other motorcycles not so much by engineering nor by appearance as by a reputation alleged to its riders. In its most extreme and uncomplimentary form, this reputation produced the outlaw biker; in the most affirmatively moderate form, it produced the fiercely-independent, responsible, hard-working, hard-playing, one-notch- tougher-than-life American with a 1770's attitude about freedom, loyalty, and responsibility to family and one's own people. Castle's market as he saw it would more likely be a Free Trader than a corporate apparatchik, and more likely to fly a Harlie than a Cessna stationwagon or an ultralight kite.

Image was also a consideration in the engine and prop design. When Castle approached Jake Csynes to build him a new generation of engines, he pointed out that the flatulent buzzing whine of many small aircraft and motorcycle engines sounded annoying and twerpy. He was no more enthusiastic about the fact that those engines were effectively muffled to keep the noise down in the sports-car-style airplanes. "He said he wanted a big-lunged three-cylinder radial based on the Harley-Davidson V-twin," Csynes said in an interview just before the world media breakdown. "He wanted it to produce a deep throbbing growl that would shout "Power" and announce the arrival of a machine--and a rider--to be reckoned with." The Csynes engines--especially the largest, the 105 HP Mark V used on the last Pitbulls--were designed to be noisy, and one of the prop blades on the Pitbull even had a special tab mounted on it which served only to produce a particularly deep throbbing sound.

The number of Pitbulls built is unknown. Though its use in North America was almost exclusively for show competition dogfighting and private sport flying, the airplane's capacity for other uses was recognized and exploited in many Third World countries. With few modifications, it found use in close support of infantry in counter-insurgent operations as a pin-point anti-personnel bomber. Many were used for border patrol, substance control, and range monitoring. The most infamous use was made by the Islamic Hadjj Republic, resulting in the sinking of the British Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier HMS Thatcher.

Design Parameters: PITBULL

Min flying spd: 55 mph
Max dive spd: 180 mph
Power cruise: 120 mph
Econ cruise: 85 mph

G-loading: +9 / -6 G
Glide ratio: 11:1

Empty weight: 315 lb
Useful load: 400 lb

Power plant:
Csynes MkV, 5-cyl. rad., 105hp (not shown)
3 Gal. gas, gasohol.
At 120 mph, 80 mi.
At 85 mph econ, 190 mi.

Single rider, straddle mounted.
Single engine. 5-blade pusher propellor, variable pitch.
Box-wing biplane, canard slab stabilator. (Span 17 feet.)
Flying drag brakes, mounted on inner vertical wing separators.

Pitch: canard stabilator.
Roll: ailerons on top wing.
Yaw: rudders on outer vertical box-wing separators.

Pitch and roll controlled by a conventional "joystick" system, with a motorcycle-chopper-style twin-grip top. (Not a yoke.) The entire unit moves fore-and-aft, and side-to- side.

Yaw is controlled by independent pedal-operated rudders on the outer surfaces of the vertical box-wing separators. These may be activated together to provide increased drag braking. The rudder pedals also operate separate brakes on the rear wheels.

Power control is a motorcycle-style twist throttle in the right hand grip, (or an optional helicopter-style twist throttle in the left hand grip), using a squeeze-to-release setting lock.

Propellor pitch control is a twist-grip in the other hand, as the case may be.

The flying drag brakes are mounted on the lower aft sides of the frame, and are operated by a hand-lever on the left side of the frame.

Note: It is anticipated a parachute will be worn when riding in flight.

Copyright © 2004 by Postscript Publishing Company, Albuquerque NM 87110.