*Sailtrike: Three-wheeled wind and man powered vehicle,manufactured by RANS from 1973 through 1981.
Established in 1973 on the plains of western Kansas to build Sailtrikes*, RANS has evolved into a world leader in the ever grow ing recumbent bike and kit plane industries. Setting the standard of innovation in these exciting fields, RANS uses cutting edge technology to produce safe, high quality aircraft and bicycles.
Walk-in tours and bike demos are given daily on demand and begin at our factory location. For flight demos please call one day or more in advance. Normal business hours are 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM week days, and weekends by appointment. Production shift ends at 4:00 PM. Large tours, schools, and special groups require advance notice.
By Founder Randy Schlitter
Since 1973, RANS has be en designing and building innovative products that either sail, pedal or fly. Our history is about as colorful as our products. The following is a brief introduction to our past. The first installment was "Our Early Years". Below is our second installment to the RANS history page. Check this page from time to time for more on RANS history.
FROM HANG GLIDER HILL TO THE FIRST COYOTE UL
Our Sailtrikes were somewhat of a commercial success. The radical idea of sailing the highways of America was shared by a few nomadic souls. We were finding a much simpler machine; a straight landsailer would have better commercial potential. The first one was the Delta SX, a hot little one seater land yacht that could turn on a dime and accelerate like a lighting bolt.
From the Delta SX, a two seater called the Monorai was developed. This was a popular machine, powerful and fun for two.
As with the Sailtrikes, our marketing efforts included racing. The gatherings with the land yachts were much more successful. They were raced in the dry lakes of Nevada and California with good results.
RADICAL TERRAIN SAILING AT WILSON LAKE HANG GLIDER HILL, SUMMER OF 1981
We even took the land yachts to places not typical for their use, like the crest of a windy hill. The hill, one of the few in Kansas, was at the lake at Wilson where we were trying our hand at hang gliding.
I was encouraged by my hang gliding friends to consider building Ultralights. They were impressed with the quality and durability of the land yachts, thinking it would be nice to have Ultralights on the same level.
I had watched them struggle with these gossamer machines, so delicate and under powered, scoffing at the whole concept of powered flight. I was deep into the design of a foot launch sailplane I was sure would take me to the stratosphere. In fact, I recommended they get a private pilot license and rent a Cessna if they wanted to fly like that!
Then I caught myself thinking; why am I so opposed to this concept of flight on such a bare level? I discovered it wasn't the concept I opposed, but the nature of the machines. They were at best contraptions, void of clean design, void of practicality or durability. Yet these folks put up with these trouble-prone machines, revealing just how precious this form of flight was to them.
Soon after my hill top revelation I was at my drawing board cranking out what would soon become known as the Coyote Ultralight. But there was one more piece needed to bring it about…money.
THE RISE AND FALL OF AERO-MAX
An early promo layout shows off the highly advanced nature of the Coyote. What a beauty…eh! Aero-Max came and went but RANS and the Coyote were here to stay.
It began with a simple question…A sketch lay on my counter. "What is this?" asked Ryan, a pilot friend of mine who was a frequent visitor to my humble 40x40 shop. I replied "It's an Ultralight I was designing and hoping to build." "When will it be ready?" "Just as soon as I can afford to buy the stuff to build it." "How much money do you need?"
From there Ryan and I learned about partnerships, or more accurately the failure of partnerships. We learned about friendship and how money changes friendship. We learned in the end, how to survive as friends and to go our separate ways. Despite it all the Coyote was created in short order. Construction started in November of 1982, first flight in March of 1983.
In the span of a few months a corporation called Aero-max came and went. The Coyote, like the animal, was a survivor. My existing company RANS, the builders of the Coyote, became its sole owner.
The mighty roar of the Rotax 277 the Coyote was a legal UL, and flew very well with its 32ft. span wing. Here an early sample motors along on a nice summer day. Note options like brakes, and fancy "paint job".
Early promo for the land yachts, flip side shows the three-model line up at the time.
Ever wonder how the Stratus was named? We were out on a photo shoot, placing the yet-to-be-named bike on top of a hill. We shot at low angles filling the background with sky. After looking over the proof sheets it became obvious what to name the bike! Look at those stratus clouds in the background.
1982, John Schlitter and Brett Thomas put early production models of the Stratus through the "road test". A sleek bike then and an even sleeker bike now! Back then it was tough to get a bike shop to pick up such a "new" idea. Gee, a mere 17 years later the tide changes. Recumbents are hot and getting hotter. Dealers are stocking our bikes, you can actually go down to your bike shop this afternoon and be riding one tonight!