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Popular Science - August 1981 - 180-mph Kit Canard


18O-mph kit canard

gets 40+ mpg, costs under $10,000

by Ben Kocivar
Drawing by Adolph Brotman

The Quickie Q2 may be the smallplane pilot's dream machine as much for what it doesn't have as for what it has. It doesn't have a retractable landing gear; instead, the wheels are mounted on the tips of its canard (forward) wing, which also acts as a shock absorber. It doesn't have spoilers or flaps. It doesn't have a variable-pitch propeller. The engine doesn't have a turbocharger.

"We left out everything that wasn't absolutely necessary," says Tom Jewett, one of the Q2 designers and a former flight-test engineer on the B-1 bomber. "If it's not there, it won't break, and it won't need fixing."

Among the things the Q2 does have are some basic design features that caused quite a stir when they first appeared- on the original one-seat Quickie and on Burt Rutan's VariEze (the "Hot Canard" on our November '78 cover). For example:

  • It has a canard wing up front rather than a horizontal tail stabilizer, giving it two lifting surfaces.

  • The canard wing is designed to stall before the rear wing-a safety feature.

  • The clean design and very smooth skin surfaces reduce aerodynamic drag.

  • The structure has a foam core covered with fiberglass and epoxy resin. Result: a very lightweight plane that is strong, sleek, and relatively inexpensive to build.

Working with Jewett on the Q2 were Gene Sheehan, who had helped with the tooling for swing-wing supersonic F-111's, and Garry LeGare, whose Leg-Air Aviation Ltd. is the Quickie and Q2 outlet outside the U.S. Rutan was not involved in the Q2, though he was on the team that designed the original Quickie.

The Q2 is a micro-sized bird: Its wingspan is 16.66 feet, its length 19.58 feet. Yet the cockpit is 43.7 inches wide (the same as a four-seat Cessna 172) and has room for two maxi-size people (six feet eight inches tall and 250 pounds each). There is also a four-cu .-ft. baggage space that can carry up to 40 pounds. The plane can be taken apart in the middle of the fuselage: Remove 10 screws and roll the two pieces onto an eight-by-17-foot trailer. Tires are big enough to permit the Q2 to operate from grass and dirt runways. Takeoff distance with one aboard: 450 feet; with two, 650 feet. Rate of climb: 1,200 feet per minute with one; 8.00 feet per minute with two. Ceiling: 19,000 feet with one; 15,000 feet with two. Range at maximum cruise speed: 682 miles; at economy cruise: 1,020 miles (both distances leave 45 minutes of reserve fuel).

"We wanted a high-speed two-seater with cross-country capability that would be quick to build, economical to operate, and simple to maintain," says Jewett.

The original Quickie design was their starting place. The porpoise-like shape of the Q2's fuselage is directly descended from its single-seater sister. "That shape was determined by two things," explains Jewett. "First, the tail wheel had to be located where it gets the proper ground attitude for takeoff and landing. And by curving the bottom, we reduced tl1e surface area, which reduces drag-and we also reduced the weight." But despite the similarities, the Q2 is "a whole new idea," Jewett says.

The designers did their "wind tunnel" work by driving up and down the Mojave Airport runway with experimental airfoils stuck on top of a pickup truck. They attached tufts to the wings and photographed them on each run. "We made subtle changes in the airfoil shapes," says Jewett, "and came up with some that worked better than those on the Quickie."

To make the Q2 easy to build at home, the designers decided to prefabricate the fuselage. (It comes in four sections.) "This not only saves time and grief for the builder," says Jewett, "but it also gives him a better chance of coming out with a good-looking airplane. And it saves about 30 pounds." The reason: "We can use advanced techniques here in the factory that the home builder just can't duplicate."

Q2 fuselage panels are constructed in the factory. Each is built up of layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin, with semi-rigid closed-cell foam added for rigidity and toughness.

LeGare built the prototype Q2 at his facility in Langley, British Columbia. Initially, it used a converted Volkswagen engine. "But after eight hours of flying time, we weren't satisfied with its reliability," Jewett explains, "so we decided to go with a more expensive engine, the Revmaster 2100 DQ."

With this 64-hp engine, the 537- pound Q2 zips along at a top speed of 180 mph. "We can go this fast on so little horsepower because we have lower drag than any other two-placer I know," Jewett says. Cruise speed is 170 mph, which burns 3.8 gallons of fuel per hour, for 44 mpg. Throttled back to 130 mph, the Q2 gets 60 mpg. In fact, the plane shown in these photos, which is the second Q2 prototype, has a top speed of185 mph and cruises at 175. Reason: careful building and attention to detail, Jewett explains.

Home builder cuts foam blocks with a hot wire to form the core of the canard and main wings and the bulkheads. Layers of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin will cover the cores.

Next the designers experimented with different propellers, one of which almost proved the undoing of the first Q2. During a flight test last January one blade of an experimental prop separated from the hub. Sheehan, who was piloting, was able to get the prop stopped, but in the second or two before, the severe vibration ripped the bubble canopy off the plane and damaged the pitch and yaw controls. The lIttle plane came down fast-at about 1,000 feet a minute-and landed hard 150 feet to the side of the runway. The fuselage remained intact, though the aft end was damaged; the canard wing snapped at the midsection on each side. And Sheehan walked away uninjured.

"We didn't set out to show the crashworthiness of the Q2, but it's difficult to think of a better demonstration," Jewett remarks. "We asked Gene to do it again so we could get it on camera, but he declined for some reason."

In the cockpit

The control column is a tiny stick between the two seats. The basic plan calls for rudder pedals for only the left-hand seat, but dual controls will be optional.

The Q2 exhibits the flying characteristics typical of canards. The front wing stalls before the rear wing. The elevator control is on the canard and the ailerons are on the rear wing. Result: The plane does not completely stall because the rear wing cannot go beyond the critical angle of attack. And lateral control remains good, even at very low speeds. "Deliberate spins were attempted during flight tests," Jewett reports, "but the Q2 prototype will not spin."

The minimum license requirement for the Q2 is a student pilot's license. But because of the speed of the plane, the pilot must be more competent than the typical novice.

Building the Q2 should take about 500 hours, the company estimates. "First you assemble the four sections of the fuselage," says Jewett, "then you build the two wings. Finally, you put the three pieces together." The entire kit, ordered at one time, is $9,595. An information package is available for $10 from the Quickie Aircraft Corp., Hangar 68, Mojave Airport, Mojave, Calif. 93501.




Mechanix Illustrated - January 1979 - A Plane For Under $4,000


A Plane For Under $4,000

by Wayne Thoms

ODD-DESIGN homebuilt airplane called Quickie costs under $4,000 in kit form. We flew the only completed craft.

FLYING the Quickie is the most fun you can have in the daytime in public without getting arrested. So what's the Quickie?

Among other things, the Quickie is the lowest-cost plane you can buy, coming in at under $4,000. What you get for that price in these days when even bargainbasement cubs run to $16,000 is, of course, a kit.

But that leads to yet another nice thing about the Quickie. The kit represents the easiest-to-build plane in this country if not the world. And it's complete even to the engine, requiring only paint and a motorcycle battery before you, too, can be up there winging with the birds.

Moreover, the Quickie is an efficient craft aloft, able to cruise at 121 mph and, when you back off to an even 100 mph, she can go 85 mi. on a gallon of fuel.

We flew the only Quickie in existence at this writing-the prototype-but in shops and backyards around the country no less than 70 of these little jobs are being stuck together. Many are nearing completion. Construction time is estimated at 400 hrs., which is quite low for a homebuilt.

PLANE is so light (240 lbs. empty) that we were able to lift the tail and push it. Gross weight is 480 lbs. maximum.

We arranged to take the Quickie up early one morning at the headquarters of the Quickie Aircraft Corp. (Bldg. 68, Mojave Airport, Mojave, Calif. 93501), which is located in the desert about 100 mi. north of Los Angeles. The air would be relatively calm at that time of day. There's not much in Mojave except gas stations, a couple of motels and some fastfood stops. Just to the west lie the Tehachapi Mountains. Our cover photo shows us banking over one of its slopes.

This paucity of population makes the town's airport a beehive of experimental aircraft activity. The flight line is filled with everything from ancient warbirds to new aircraft in semisecret development. There's even one outfit that flies surplus jet fighters on brief missions. They test new bombs on a desert range for ordnance makers before submission to the military.

When we learned that we'd be flying behind an 18-hp, 2-cyl. Onan industrial engine in an airplane that weighs no more than 480 lbs. with pilot and 8 gals. of fuel, we were apprehensive at first. However, a look at the plane's graceful if unusual shape helped dispel much of the uncertainty.

AFTER instrument checkout, author Thoms is ready to close the canopy and fly. He says Quickie is ultimate adult toy.

More significantly, the reputation of the Quickie's designers and builders - Burt Rutan, Tom Jewett and Gene Sheehan-is excellent. Rutan, an aeronautical engineer, became well-known in the homebuilt business with his first two composite aircraft, VariViggen and VariEze. Jewett, also an engineer, was a flight test engineer aboard the Rockwell B-1 bomber. Sheehan, a general aviation pilot, did much of the engine adaptation and built the first Quickie. After initial flight tests, Rutan returned to other aircraft development programs, leaving Jewett and Sheehan to market the kits.

The briefing we got at Mojave that morning was thorough. Jewett and Sheehan were anxious to insure the safety of pilot and plane. Once aloft in a single-seater there's little margin for error.

THROTTLE is on left (at armrest), side stick on right. Seating is like that of a small formula race car-snug & supine.

We learned that we were to be the seventh pilot to fly the tiny aircraft, which is a tail-dragger. Virtually all light planes today have a steerable nose wheel and run tail-up on the ground. Going back to a tail-dragger was like regressing from a 747 to a DC-3, though the Quickie at least has its rudder pedals linked to the tail wheel for control during taxiing.

The main wheels literally are in the wingtips. You can't tip the plane over on the ground. In fact, an emergency stopping maneuver is to jam hard rudder and groundloop. It's a bit hard on the tires but stops the plane.

We learned that the 47.4-cu.-in. four-cycle engine can operate continuously at 3,600 rpm, which means that the 42-in. propeller is direct-drive. There's a 15-amp alternator for the electrical system but starting is done by hand-propping.

ENGINE that gets the Quickie up into the blue is Onan 2-cyl., 4-cycle mill. It runs at 3,600 rpm, puts out 18 hp.

We swung open the bubble canopy and stepped over a 34-in.high side-about motorcycle-seat height. Seating reminded us of a small formula race car, snug and almost supine. There was good back support and a comfortable headrest. Controls are in the armrests of the cockpit sill area- throttle on the left and fighter-style side stick on the right. It makes for relaxed flying, but full deflection on a side stick normally is so slight and response of the Quickie was so ... well, quick, that we found it easy to overcontrol.

The Quickie's design is unusual but has a purpose. The front, or canard, wing contains the elevators, while the rear wing has the ailerons mounted inboard .. There's a small rudder on the vertical fin. The wing design means that conventional stalls are impossible. We were told it was impossible to spin the Quickie during flight tests. Both factors mean considerable safety for low-time pilots. What happens in an attempt to stall is that when the canard stalls, the nose drops so that a couple of miles per hour of speed are gained. The rear wing never is permitted to stall.

In practice this is what's called a pitch-buck oscillation. At full throttle, full aft stick the Quickie actually climbs about 150 ft. per min. in its strange oscillation. In fact, we were advised that we could take off and climb in this condition. We didn't try it.

Normal starting means tying the tail wheel, cracking the choke., switches on, and spinning the prop. After a brief engine warm-up, the pilot fastens the canopy, someone releases the tail and the plane taxies to the runway. Because the ignition is single there is little to check before takeoff except for controls free, carb heat off, fuel on, trim in neutral, canopy latched.

Line up with the runway, push full throttle, hold slightly aft stick and the Quickie levitates at 53 mph, flying off more or less level and going up like a slow elevator. Acceleration feels similar to that of a small two-place trainer. Takeoff distance is 660 ft. at sea level, about normal for small aircraft and slightly less than a 100-hp Cessna 150.

Instructed to climb at 70 mph, we lowered the nose shortly after takeoff to accelerate. The idea was correct, but the Quickie is so much more responsive than the craft we usually fly that we pushed too much forward stick, then too much aft. The effect was an interesting porpoise at about 30 ft.-that's right, 30 ft .!-until we worked out the technique of gentle control movements.

Rate of climb is 425 fpm, but there's no gauge to indicate this. The instruments built into the canopy panel are airspeed, altimeter, compass and voltmeter. Tachometer, cylinder-head temp and oil temp and pressure are on the left. Our test plane had a ball to indicate coordinated flight but it did not agree with the seat of our pants. After a while we ignored it and later on the ground were advised that our pants were correct.

Once the Quickie levels off, the speed builds slowly behind 100 mph indicated. The advertised cruise of 121 mph true airspeed can be achieved, but we weren't off on a cross-country trip and didn't try.

The idea of being strapped into a powered flying machine that weighs little more than the pilot and has the ability to respond instantly to the pilot's wishes was mind-bending. Never has this pilot felt more in control of his destiny than with the Quickie.

Approach to landing is made between 70 and 75 mph, adjusting throttle as required to reduce speed and maintain glide angle. Contact is made at about 55, tail wheel first with stick full aft. In theory, at least, this is simple. After all, the main wheels are clearly in view on the wingtips, and with a long runway there is no reason to drop the airplane in. A kiss-soft landing should be within the grasp of even a novice pilot.

We goofed slightly, and were glad that the main gear I canard wing is stressed to 12 g's. Our drop was only a matter of inches but it felt like much more. The canard took up the shock, we steered carefully with rudder pedals and applied the brakes.

There were steep turns to be tried, power-on and power-off attempts to stall, then approaches to a landing with full-power low passes along the runway. The Quickie doesn't have enough power to be aerobatic but it's an absolute delight to fly in every other mode. This, we thought, is how aviation ought to be: no radio, no electronic navigation aids, no controllers- just the pure, sweet pleasure of flight, one person perfectly in tune with his craft. Without question, we'd call the Quickie the ultimate recreational vehicle.

The construction kit for the Quickie is about as complete as anything in this field could be. The engine even includes an hour of dyno test time.

In August 1978, Jewett and Sheehan flew the Quickie to the Experimental Aircraft Assoc. meet in Oshkosh, Wis. Careful fuel consumption records indicate that from startup to final shutdown, the Quickie averaged 65.1 mpg. To boot, the Quickie also won the EAA's Outstanding New Design award.

To sum up, the Quickie has achieved its design objectives: to be an easy-to-fly, easy-to-build, safe flying machine that is low in cost and quite possibly the ultimate adult toy.

FORWARD wings (with wheels at tips) contain elevators; rear wings have ailerons.
Design eliminates stalls and spins.

Why is White so Sacred?

Energy absorption & color in fiberglass


[QBA Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on pages 22 and 23 of the September 1975 issue of Soaring Magazine.  It is referenced in several technical papers, as well as in the plans for the LongEZ, the Quickie, and Q2. It is reprinted here with the permission of the Soaring Society of America.]

Traditionally, glass sailplanes have been produced with a white finish only, and even the limited use of colored trim has been a rare factory option. There are some apparently valid reasons for staying with white and these will be briefly discussed. However, the main thrust in this report will investigate the temperature rise at the skin surface of a colored sailplane resulting from direct exposure to sunlight. Additionally, means will be provided for predicting approximate peak temperatures which might be experienced with different colors and shades, but first, let’s list the major objections to a colored finish. They are:

  1. To detect where damage actually occurred in a professionally repaired ship is practically impossible. This condition will prevail so long as the finish is white. However, invisible repairs to a colored structure are something else again. Acceptable color matching could turn into a genuine nightmare.
  2. The soaring fraternity has long accepted a beautiful white glass sailplane. Primary concern involves things like performance, cost, and availability—not color. So why chance something so new and unproven?
  3. With only a limited market, how could a manufacturer hope to sensibly select colors and shades? To produce a colored sailplane is not a simple task. Ideally, color should be an integral part of the structure. Once again, why change something that works?
  4. We know that a colored surface gets considerably hotter than a white surface when exposed to direct sunlight. Considering the risks of distortion, softening, and differential expansion, there is ample reason for genuine concern. The following quote is taken directly from the brochure of a contemporary high-performance glass ship. “The only available finish is white in order to minimize surface heating.”


But if we choose to ignore this last serious factor, the other objections would hardly be insurmountable. If, in fact, surface heating was not a problem, I believe we would be looking at colored glass today. So now we might ask: “Why the big fuss over color?” The answer is simple. MAKE THAT SAILPLANE EASY TO SEE! Put yourself in the following picture: A hazy sky with a milky white background, a poorly defined horizon, the sun in a late afternoon position to further reduce visibility. Introduce a couple of narrow- profiled sailplanes approaching from different directions and throw in some power traffic or a towplane for added distraction. Quite clearly, a hazardous situation could be developing. In parts of Europe, this danger has been recognized and specific areas of the sailplane are now brightly colored for better visibility. However, effectiveness is limited and something additional might be required—like complete coloring of the total sailplane.

Fundamentals Review

The balance of this article investigates the relationship between color and surface heating resulting from direct, continuous exposure to sunlight. So we might well start with a very brief review of basic fundamentals and a promise to keep the technical aspects of such a discussion to the barest minimum.

Sunlight, a form of energy, cannot be detected until it strikes an object and is converted into useful light or heat. Light-colored and shiny surfaces generally tend to reflect radiant thermal energy (sunlight). Dark surfaces absorb this energy. If a surface did, in fact, absorb most of the sunlight falling on it, the energy gained would manifest itself in the form of heat—the surface would quickly get hot. Now what happens when a pigment is added to color the surface? Loosely defined, a pigment is a substance which absorbs some colors and predominantly reflects others. Sunlight contains all the colors of the spectrum—the total visible band from red to violet including orange, yellow, green, and blue. Each of these colors has its own wave length; different pigments have the unique capability of sorting out these wave lengths—absorbing some while reflecting others. The human eye receives these reflections as sensible color. Very pure white will reflect about 90% of the total light shining on it and there is little storage of heat. The purest black will absorb about 95% of the total light shining on it and the substantial temperature rise which results is hardly surprising. But what about the six colors noted above and all the shades that fall between? What effect will these have on surface heating?

Color Heat Absorption in Foam and Fiberglass Structures

Test Apparatus and Program

To answer these questions, an experimental program was conducted involving thousands of temperature readings with dozens of colored samples. Testing was conducted in New Jersey during the years from 1972 to 1974. To closely simulate conditions that might exist on the skin surface of a real sailplane, samples were prepared from polystyrene boxes measuring 7” x 7” x 5” on the outside dimensions with 1-inch thick sides. One face of each box was removed and replaced with a colored fiberglass panel. A number of these test samples were prepared using different colors and shades in addition to black and white. To complete the construction, a mercury thermometer was inserted through the side of each box with the sensing bulb in contact with the colored panel and secured in place with epoxy resin. (See Fig.1) We now have a tight enclosure with five well-insulated walls and the remaining sixth side as a colored fiberglass panel. Similarity to an actual wing or fuselage structure is quite apparent. Actual testing was conducted as follows.

Test samples were mounted in a simple frame with the colored surfaces aimed squarely at the sun. This frame was continuously tilted and turned to follow the sun across the sky, thus maintaining squareness with the source of energy. Ambient air temperature and surface temperature of all samples were continuously recorded until a peak was reached for existing conditions. This procedure was repeated as often as possible to assure a statistically valid set of recorded values. The term, “ambient air,” always refers to dry-bulb temperature measured in the shade and stated in degrees fahrenheit. Test requirements called for a very clear sky without the slightest cloud formation or haze. The minutest development of high haze, hardly discernible to the eye, would immediately cause sample temperatures to drop and bring testing to a conclusion. Also, the slightest breeze introduced an appreciable cooling factor and tests were conducted only in very calm air. The ultimate goal was to determine the highest skin surface temperature a colored sailplane might experience when parked under a blazing sun with no cloud cover, no shade, not the slightest breeze, and a very high ambient.

After two years of testing, significant data was sorted out and plotted on the curve sheet to develop temperature rise curves for each color and for black and white. Referring to these curves, note that the baseline represents ambient air and the vertical scale represents maximum sample temperature. As might be expected, the curves are bounded on the top by black and on the bottom by white. These finished curves are simply a graphical presentation of the highest temperatures recorded for each color based on a broad ambient temperature range from 30 degrees to 110 degrees.

Color Heat Absorption in Foam and Fiberglass Structures

Interpreting the Findings

Now what does all this mean? How can this data be put to practical use? The curves clearly indicate a black sailplane could achieve a surface temperature of 115 to 120 degrees above ambient air. For example, on a day with a temperature of 90 to 95 degrees in the shade, it is conceivable the skin surface of a black sailplane could reach the temperature of boiling water. Now there is no intention to suggest black as a finish for a sailplane. However, black will absorb more solar energy than any color (black in itself is not a color) and therefore, will indicate the most severe heating condition which could be experienced. However, for high altitude wave work under extremely cold conditions, it would be practical to paint the entire cockpit area and even some of the canopy with a coat of washable black. This would effect some increase in cockpit temperature.

The curve sheet also indicates an all-white sailplane could attain a peak temperature of 45 to 50 degrees above ambient - about 70 degrees lower than the corresponding figure for black. Looking at the color curves, we see that brown shows a decided tendency to absorb heat—not too different from black. Colors like red and green should be avoided if moderately high surface temperatures are objectionable. Orange and tan fall near the middle of the range and orange has the unique property of being very visible. The coolest colors are pink, yellow, and light blue, along with all pastel shades. Note the position of the aluminum sample.

To get an approximation of peak temperature which might be expected for a specific color on a glass sailplane, use the following procedure: Select the color and determine the maximum ambient which might be expected for that particular area. On the curve sheet base line, find the ambient temperature and move vertically to the appropriate color line. From this color line, move horizontally to read peak temperature on the vertical scale. For example, with a maximum ambient of 95 degrees, we might expect an orange sailplane to reach a peak temperature of 175 to 180 degrees under the most severe conditions. This simple iroblem has been worked out (in broken-dash lines) on the curve sheet. It might be interesting to note that during the testing phase of this study, an eclipse occurred which resulted in a 25-degree drop in black sample temperatures and only negligible drop in ambient air temperature.


The reader should treat the values given in this report as an approximation-an indication—of what might be expected. It is more important that the magnitude of the problem be appreciated. For every color, there are countless shades and hues, all with different capacities to absorb or reflect solar energy and it is entirely possible the position of two adjacent colors on the curve sheet could be interchanged simply by deepening one while adding white to lighten the other. Nor is it within the scope of this study to draw any firm conclusions, pro or con, with regard to the use of color as a finish for fiberglass sailplanes. This would require an exhaustive physical testing program to develop reliable data. However, the numbers which appear on the curve sheet clearly suggest that in some parts of the country, with certain colors, overheating from solar radiation (sunlight) could present a serious problem. On the other hand, we might also suspect that any of the pastel shades such as light yellow, pink, or powder blue, could be safely used as a finish for a glass sailplane. But where do you draw the line?



KITPLANES - September 2006 - Las Vegas Quickie

by Ed Wischmeyer

Jean, Nevada, 20 miles south of Las Vegas, is a wide spot in the road with an unspectacular casino right next to the airport. It’s just the place to get a Quickie —or at least a ride in one. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to ignore technicalities, so in the afterglow I’ll admit that this was not just a Quickie but a Q200—a fast, compact, nifty, thrifty, but not shifty cross-country cruiser.

Like many romances, this meeting came by chance. The occasion? The Alternative (Aircraft) Engine Roundup, formerly the tandem-wing fly-in, where attending Q2s, Q200s and Dragonflies outnumbered Cessnas eight-to-three.

Maybe you’ve just come to our part of aviation, so the first question might be: What’s a Q200? In the beginning was the Rutan VariEze, which begat many offspring, such as the single-seat Quickie. The Quickie begat the two-seat Q2, designed by Tom Jewett and Gene Sheehan; Rutan at the time was no longer with the project. At about the same time, the slightly larger Dragonfly came into being. Then the Q2 factory went bankrupt in 1986 after being sued by a builder after an accident, according to www.quickiebuilders.org. Later came the Q200, a Q2 with an 0-200 engine up front and a different canard.

Technically, the Quickie (and Q2 and Q200) are orphaned designs, with kits no longer made and no plans available. However, there is a sizable builder’s group and many kits are in the field—the Quickie Builders group estimates there were 1000 Quickie and 2000 Q2/Q200 kits sold—so keep watching the classifieds.

What's Not To Like?

Then, as now, a principle attraction of the Q200 is speed. How about 165 knots (190 mph) as a cruise figure for a clean one with a mildly tricked Continental 0-200 engine?

Consider, too, that the little engine, so long a mainstay of the Cessna 150 fleet, is burning a bit more than 6 gph to do so.

And the ride in turbulence is supposed to be real good, with only 68 square feet of wing(s) giving a high wing loading of nearly 20 pounds per square foot. Short field and high density altitude capabilities? Well, uh, how ’bout that high cruise speed and good ride in turbulence?

The main wheels are at the tips of the front wing, nav lights and strobes at the tips of the aft wing. “Elevators” are on the front wing. Typical Q200, in other words.

You’ve heard that all airplanes are compromises, and the Q200, as much as any airplane can be, is a point design—great for fast, economical cross-country, but as for short fields, forget it. The speed on short final is a crisp 80 knots, faster than a Cessna 210, and up there with some twins. Why? You can’t have a highly loaded wing with no flaps and expect it to fly at the low speeds needed for short fields. Plus, the angle of attack of the main wing on the ground is only 7°, half the angle for maximum lift.

The other operational point of the Q200 is forward visibility. It’s OK on the ground, fine in cruise, but like many other planes, poor in climb. The seating position is recumbent, and your eyes aren’t that far above the cowling. So, with any amount of nose up, there goes your visibility. And, with the relatively high cockpit walls and no windows aft of the canopy, runways on the other side of the airplane just disappear, like in some other airplanes.

Paying Dues

When the Q2 came out, it was promoted as fast and easy to fly. And all that is true, sort of. If you’ve paid your dues, and if the appropriate mods are on the plane, no problem. If not, well, those weeds off to the side of the runway are licking their little green chops.

Dues? Get time in something like an old AA-1 Yankee to get used to more sensitive controls and higher landing speeds. And, make friends with a Citabria, preferably from the back seat and get weaned from expecting to see forward all the time.

With this kind of flight experience, you’ll be ready, but make sure that your Q2/200 has the appropriate mods. The original Q2 design had a few problems. One was that the original forward wing with the GU (Glasgow University) airfoil was susceptible to surface contamination. With a few bugs or raindrops, it would lose lift, and the airplane would pitch down. Vortex generators fixed that problem, though.

The GU airfoil was originally chosen, says Q200 owner and guru James Patillo, because it had been wind-tunnel tested and its properties were documented. The later Q200 used an NASA LSI airfoil on the forward wing, with lots of camber on the aft undersurface—as a result, it suffered no surface contamination problems and brought 2 knots more speed.

More tricks: Those unusual tabs on the inboard end of each elevator on the front wing are “sparrow strainers.” They keep the elevators from floating up with air pressure and compromising the airfoil shape.

Rudder, What Rudder?

Another design issue was that the rear wing at speeds between, say, 30 and 55 knots, would still be developing lift and keeping weight off the tailwheel, regardless of what you did with the elevators, which are on the front wing. So, you’d enter a regime with no weight on the tailwheel and with the airspeed too low for that tiny rudder to do anything. Hello, weeds!

Lastly, in the original design, the rudder cables went straight to the tail-wheel, and other cables went forward from the tailwheel to the rudder. (Tension on the left rudder cable would pull the tailwheel to the left, tensioning the right auxiliary cable, which would pull back on the right side of the rudder, causing it to deflect to the left.) A clever design, but with a prob-lem—if the tailwheel spring broke, and it was fragile, you’d have complete slack in the rudder cables—no rudder, no tailwheel steering. And, with a center brake lever operating both wheels at once, it was, you guessed it, hello, weeds!

Patillo and Bob Farnam, both longtime members of the Q2/200 community, told me about the “Jim Bob Six Pack” required mods for tailwheel Q2/200s. They include: the AirProducts tailwheel assembly; a new tailwheel spring; toe brakes; a bellcrank to actuate separate cables to the rudder and to the tailwheel; aileron reflex, so that after landing, you can reduce lift on the rear wing; and four-point brake caliper suspensions that don’t bind. With all these mods in place, you can greet the weeds on your terms, not theirs.

Taming ground handling is a matter of using these modifications, but additional checks include the landing gear alignment, and there’s an interesting way to do this. When sighting through one axle, you should see a point 2 inches forward of the other axle. Because the wheels are 200 inches apart, this is a toe out on each wheel of one part

in 100, or about 1.5°. Some Q2/200s also had positive camber on the main wheels, which should be corrected.

Sleek, gorgeous and ready for the Nevada morning air. On the trailing edge of the front wing next to the fuselage is a “sparrow strainer” to keep the cambered elevators pushed down and help the front wing generate lift.

Weight For It

The Q200 has another limitation— weight and balance. The 0-200 engine is so much heavier than the original VW derivative engines that it has to be nestled tight up against the firewall. How tight? If you want to time the mags, you have to pull the engine. That’s why Patil-lo’s plane has dual Lightspeed Plasma III electronic ignition systems.

Patillo’s engine also has Superior cylinders that have been ported, polished, and flow balanced. He has dynamically balanced his propeller virtually to perfection, as well.

Possible alternatives to the Continental include the six-cylinder Jabiru—one is being installed in a Q200—but it’s really not heavy enough. However, the Jabiru’s light weight would allow a con-stant-speed prop, helpful for improved takeoff and climb performance. Trigear Q200s can also handle a constant-speed

prop, because they don’t have to keep weight on a tailwheel.

Hope It Floats

The Q2/Q200 have one novel emergency procedure, however. In case of an engine failure, with that 80-knot approach speed, the preferred forced landing area is water. The tailwheel planes don’t flip over in a water landing, and they float, making a water landing preferable to head-butting rocks and weeds. As we flew over the Nevada desert, where the only water was brown and in artificial rectangular ponds, clustered in threes and sixes, sometimes with patterned aeration bubbles...

But even in an off-field landing, the Q2/Q200 is apparently one of the more crashworthy designs out there. The engine and lower wing absorb the impact ahead of the cockpit and decelerate the airframe, and passengers just walk away.

The tidy instrument panel is set up for cross-country flying with the center stick and trim tab wheel ahead of it. That's the throttle on the far left.

Get On Board

With ground and air-to-air photos finished, we boarded Patillo’s Q200 for a flight evaluation. Boarding the Q200 is graceless, as with some other homebuilts. Take a giant stretch over the side of the cockpit and step on a towel on the seat. Put one hand on the fuselage behind the cockpit, but don’t touch the canopy. Face forward and slither your legs under the panel.

The recumbent seating position is comfortable, and there was enough headroom for my tall torso—just. To turn my head to the right, it helped to move it back towards the center of the plane.

Legroom was abundant with no rudder pedals on my side. There’s enough room on the outside, but the center of the airplane will make you wish for the roominess of airline coach-class seats. Startup and taxi were cooled by the prop blast as Patillo kept the canopy open. It came closed during runup as Patillo followed his laminated checklist.

At the start of the takeoff roll, the engine turned only 2250 rpm. Acceleration was reasonable on takeoff with the good power-to-weight ratio, but the cruise prop and 3000-foot elevation took their toll. We lifted off at 70 knots indicated, having used three times the runway my old Cessna 175 required.

We climbed up to altitude at 80 knots and 500 fpm, with the center stick providing appropriate moderate control pressures, just right. Turns at 100 knots indicated

required obvious back pressure, some opposite aileron, and a little bit of rudder, which I didn’t have. I think that flying the Q200 really well would require just enough finesse to be very satisfying.

Previously, Patillo celebrated the end of the air-to-air photo mission with an aileron roll with a lot of nose up and only a moderate roll rate. It’s better than being stuck straight and level all the time, but yankin’ and bankin’ does not look like a Q200 strong suit.

Patillo's interior is beautifully finished and comfortable. Headroom is OK for the tall-torsoed, but the center armrest is shared space. Play nice.

No Conventional Stalls

One supposed advantage of the tandem wing design is that, properly designed and built, it won’t stall in the conventional sense. Even so, the Q200 stall didn’t seem as benign as my ancient Cessna with a STOL kit.

Not to say the Q200’s stall includes an abrupt break—rather, it’s a pitch oscillation like other planes if you hold the stick back continuously after stall break to let an oscillation develop. However, Q200 stall oscillations have less amplitude than in most conventional aircraft; and second, the start of each oscillation is annunciated with a distinct and obvious rap on the stick as the front wing stall impacts the elevators on the front wing. There were no directional control problems, even though I had no rudder pedals and half power.

The elevator trim was less than satisfactory, however. In Patillo’s plane, it’s set up with a lot of friction to keep it from working lose—and located in the center console ahead of the stick—so you have to reach over with your other hand to adjust it. Watch for this shortcoming on any Q200 you’d like to buy.

As we let the speed build up and the engine revved above 2400 rpm, there was obvious vibration and a sound like being in a twin-engine airplane with the propellers out of synch. Patillo has worked to find a fix but success eludes him. As many do with 0-200s that are carefully tended, Patillo cruises above the 2700-rpm redline to get that 165-knot (190-mph) cruise. If that sounds harsh, consider that it’s still well below the speeds inflicted on this engine design by Reno racers.

Patillo flew the landing back at Jean, reclaiming the coveted center console space. The belly board came out at 95 knots on downwind, and he flew a gentle pattern appropriate to our speed. Nailing 80 knots over the fence, and on through the rollout, Patillo picked up directional cues from only his edge of the runway. Patillo wasn’t working for a short landing, so we used up a good 3000 feet of runway. His personal minimums are 2200 feet of runway at least 50 feet wide.

Patillo’s plane reflects the 4000 hours of construction time and is gorgeous. Part of that long build time is because there was no factory support and no Internet during the construction period. In fact, Patillo and Farnam were only but a few miles apart when building, but neither knew of the other. There is now an Internet support group, and the builders at Jean all seemed enamored of their aircraft.

As with any homebuilt, and especially with a design that has been orphaned for a number of years, you’ll need to be real careful buying one, completed or a kit under way. But if you make the mods and don’t need short field or high density altitude capabilities, the Q200 is one fine little cross-country airplane. +

For a direct link to the Quickie Builders Association web site, visit www.kitplanes.com.


Typical used price.........................................$15,000 - $40,000
(new kits and plans are no longer available)

Estimated build time...................................2000 - 4000 hours

Number flying (at press time)..........................................100+

Powerplant..................................................Continental O-200
100hp@ 2700rpm

Propeller.......................................Cato two-blade fixed-pitch

Powerplant options.................................................80 - 100 hp


Wingspan...................................................................16 ft 8 in

Wing loading......................................................16.40 lb/sq. ft

Fuel capacity....................................................................20 gal

Maximum gross weight................................................1325 lb

Typical empty weight......................................................760 lb

Typical useful load...........................................................565 lb

Full-fuel payload............................................................448 lb

Seating capacity......................................................................2

Cabin width....................................................................43.5 in

Baggage capacity..............................................................35 lb


Cruise speed..........................185 - 190 mph (161 - 165 kt) TAS
7500 ft @ 75% power, 6.3 gph

Maximum rate of climb.............................................1500 fpm

Stall speed (landing configuration)............73 mph (63 kt) IAS

Stal l speed (cl ean).......................................73 mph (63 kt) IAS

Takeoff distance............................................................1000 ft

Landing distance...........................................................2000 ft

Specifications are manufacturer s estimates and are based on the configuration of the demonstrator aircraft. As they say, your mileage may vary.


The Complete Guide to Rutan Aircraft - Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Quickie Line Drawing

The Power to Go On

Reliable, affordable, efficient powerplants have been the goal of aircraft designers since day one. The history of aviation has many examples of fine, innovative designs that literally never got off the ground because a suitable powerplant was not available at the time the design was developed.

There was one notable exception where two designers searched first for a suitable engine and then had an airframe designed to fit it. And this is where Rutan entered the picture.


The amazing Quickie (Fig. 6-1) is the brainstorm of Gene Sheehan and Tom Jewett, two development engineers who searched nearly four years to find a reliable gasoline engine in the 12 to 25-hp range with sufficient power for an efficient, single-place sport plane.

Quickie Prototype N77Q
Fig. 6-1. Quickie in flight near Mojave. Gene Sheehan is at the controls. N77Q is the original prototype and is being used as a test bed for new improvements.

Tom Jewett (Fig. 6-2) was a flight test engineer on the Rockwell B-i bomber. He spent his entire career in flight testing new aircraft, ranging from homebuilts to jets. He was a graduate engineer from Ohio State University. Subsequent to the Quickie project, Jewett was killed at Mojave in the crash of Free Enterprise, a design under development for an around-the-world flight attempt. (See Chapter 15.)

Tom Jewett - Quickie Prototype Fuselage Molds N77Q
Fig. 6-2. Tom Jewett stands beside the original mold used to form the Quickie fuselage. The cabin is large enough for a 66 ”, 220-lb. pilot.

Gene Sheehan had worked in the aerospace industry since 1964 and with homebuilt aircraft since 1973. He was involved with several home- built projects, including the BD-4, a helicopter, a gyrocopter, and a BD-5. A former University of Texas student, he is also a private pilot. Sheehan has continued with the Quickie and the two-place Q2 project since Jewett’s death.

Since engine development is critical to any new airframe, it came ahead of the Quickie’s configuration. Gene and Tom were purposely secretive in their engine project, not wanting to follow the path of some other developers who put plans and kits on sale before the systems had ever flown or been proven.

“This is not the policy of our little skunk works at the Mojave Airport,” explained the developers of the Quickie in their initial brochure. “The development of the Quickie was one of the best kept secrets in aviation. Until its first flight late in 1977, its existence was known only to a handful of people.”

The “skunk works” refers back to famed Lockheed designer Kelly Johnson’s super-secret skunk works that developed the P-80, the famed U-2, and the Mach 3 SR-71 Blackbird. Johnson was noted for a minimum of engineering drawing and a maximum of prototype building to cut time and cost in new aircraft development.

The Quickie story really goes back to early 1975 when Gene and Tom began looking for a small, efficient, reliable engine. The search included two-stroke and four-stroke engines used in chain- saws, garden tractors, motorcycles and automobiles. The search was frustrating because lightweight, powerful engines lacked reliability and the ones that had proven reliability were either too heavy or did not develop enough power.


The search for a suitable engine was outlined by the two engineers in their company brochure:

The origin of the Quickie began with the search for an engine that required over two years. Until it was completed, no serious thought was given as to what the aircraft should look like because the aircraft was to be designed around the engine.

The requirements for the engine were simple enough:

12 hp to 25 hp.
Small size.
Low fuel consumption.
Reliable, reliable, reliable.

Many different types of engines were evaluated prior to making that selection.

Two Stroke: These engines have several desirable features including high power, light weight, and few moving parts. The disadvantages include poor fuel economy, high rpm, high vibration level, poor mixture deviation tolerance, and questionable reliability for an aircraft application. Several small aircraft are using the McCulloch chain saw engine. It is interesting to note that all of these airplanes are either powered hang gliders or powered sailplanes, and not intended for cross-country use. Two- strokes are very mixture conscious; throttle back with the mixture leaned, descend and forget to richen the mixture, and as soon as power is added the engine is likely to seize. Failing to lean the mixture at altitude, however, may lead to plug fouling. Most dirt bikes powered by two-stroke engines have two spark plugs for each cylinder so that the rider can switch plug wires when the first one fouls.

Rotaries: The small Sach’s wankel rotary engine has many of the desirable features of a two- stroke, and it is certainly smooth running. However, these engines have had seal problems when run for long periods at high power settings, and the fuel consumption characteristics are poor in the rpm range necessary for good propeller efficiency. Besides,the engine is no longer produced.

Four-Stroke: These engines are the best ones for aircraft use. They have a good fuel economy and tend to be very reliable. In the low horsepower examples, however, they tend to be heavy, or to require a high rpm, in order to produce sufficient power. One of the four-stroke engines that Quickie Enterprises tested was a Honda CB175 motorcycle engine. Initially, it was too heavy, but after removing the transmission with a bandsaw and deleting all other non-essential parts, the weight was reduced to about 65 lbs. This engine produced about 18 hp at near 9,000 rpm. While Honda engines have a reputation for being very reliable, the drastic surgery required to reduce size and weight could very well have weakened the crankcase and, therefore, reduced the reliability.

One might ask at this point why not use a reduction drive system with a light weight, high rpm, four-stroke or two-stroke engine? There are several reasons not to do this, including complexity, cost, and torsional vibration. Given enough time, money, talent, and luck, these problems can be overcome. Often, however, the solutions only complicate the aircraft further. For example, a clutch is often used to solve the torsional resonance problem, but then the engine must use an electric starter, which adds about 25 lbs. of weight.

Volkswagen Engines: A number of home- built aircraft have flown using VW engines. However, a stock VW typically requires considerably more maintenance than a normal aircraft engine. This is probably because few automobile or motorcycle engines are designed for the type of continuous, high speed operation necessary for an aircraft.

Industrial Engines: These engines tend to be very reliable, but also heavy. Most are designed to run near rated power for extended periods and usually are so dependable that oil temperature and oil pressure gauges are omitted. They have reasonable fuel consumption and frequently operate under extremely harsh conditions. Until recently, they were prohibitively heavy, and the single cylinder models have excessive vibration for an aircraft.

The engine selected is a four-stroke, horizontally opposed, two-cylinder, direct drive type used in various industrial applications at a continuous 3,600 rpm (Fig. 6-3).

Quickie Prototype Onan Engine
Fig. 6-3. Onan engine on a bench at the Quickie factory awaiting modifications.

The Onan Company has made over 1,000,000 two cylinder, horizontally-opposed, four-stroke direct drive engines in the last thirty years for applications from electric generator sets to snow plows. They recently introduced some aluminum versions of their cast iron series of engines. These aluminum engines weigh 98-106 lbs. in the stock configurations, some 50 lbs. lighter than their cast iron counterparts.

After careful examination, it was determined that we would reduce the weight to slightly more than 70 lbs. dry. While this may seem excessive for the produced 18 hp, they are very well built. Further, if the aircraft is carefully designed around the engine as was the Quickie, the results are most satisfying.

Some design features are as follows:

Horsepower - 18@3,600 rpm
Type - 2-cylinder, horizizontally opposed, four-stroke
Bore - 3.250”
Stroke - 2.875”
Displacement - 47.7 cubic inches
Compression - 6.6:1

The manufacturer recommends up to 1,000 hours between major overhauls for a normal industrial application. At this time, there is not enough data to state what the TBO in an aircraft application for a Quickie engine will be. However, it should be noted that in comparison with most industrial applications, the aircraft environment is cleaner and owner maintenance more regular.

Much testing has been accomplished in the areas of induction, exhaust, cooling, mounting, ignition system, and the engine airframe compatibility. The result of all this testing is an engine specifically intended for installation in the Quickie. It is definitely not the same engine one can buy from the local Onan dealer (Fig. 6-4).

Quickie Prototype Onan Engine
Fig. 6-4. Onan engine with Quickie modifications ready for delivery to consumers.

Only after the basic engine research and testing was well in hand did Gene Sheehan and Tom Jewett approach Burt Rutan, an old friend, to develop an airframe tailored around the Onan engine. Rutan was impressed by the demonstrated reliability of the engine and began putting lines on drafting paper. Early attempts were unsatisfactory because a low enough drag in a conventional or VariEze configuration would require a retractable gear with its associated weight and complexity problems. Most pusher configurations had only a narrow range of pilot weights.

Rutan finally came up with a novel tractor canard tailless “biplane” configuration (Fig. 6-5). The pilot sits near the center of gravity (Fig. 6-6). The combined canard and landing gear has low drag and saves both weight and complexity. This compactness lends itself to a “glue together” airplane that saves weight on wing attachments. Full-span elevator/flaps went on the canard with inboard ailerons on the rear wing. Originally the tailwheel fairing was the only rudder.

Quickie 3-view Drawing
Fig. 6-5. Three-view drawing of final Quickie configuration. (courtesy Quickie Aircraft Corp.)

Quickie Cutaway Drawing
Fig. 6-6. Cutaway drawing of the Quickie sideview. (courtesy Quickie Aircraft Corp.)

Once the concept was established, a detailed plane was agreed upon. Tom Jewett and Burt Rutan did the detailed design while Gene Sheehan continued engine development. Most of the actual construction was done by Gene who had no prior experience with composite construction. This was a simple way to prove out the concept that the Quickie could be put together successfully by a first-time builder.

The construction phase took just two months. All three developers, Burt, Tom and Gene, flew N77Q on the first day after completion (Fig. 6-7). Then followed a five-month flight test program to assure that the unusual configuration, coupled with a new-to-aviation engine, would do the job.

Sales of the Quickie kit increased steadily. Shortly after the kit program began, the Quickie received the coveted Outstanding New Design award from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) at the annual EAA Oshkosh, Wisconsin Fly-in. In presenting Quickie Aircraft Corporation with the award, EAA stated that the pioneering of the Onan engine together with an exceptionally efficient aircraft design in order to bring the cost of ownership and the cost of flying down to an affordable level represented a significant breakthrough. As this book went to press, Quickie Aircraft Corp. was no longer in business.


The trip to Oshkosh was described in the newsletter as follows:

Quickie Prototype Flying to Oshkosh
Fig. 6-7. Unusual configuration of the Quickie shows up in this formation photo taken near Mojave, California, with Gene Sheehan at the controls.

The Quickie was the lightest and lowest horsepower aircraft to fly to Oshkosh in 1978. We (Sheehan and Jewett) firmly believe that any aircraft which is not flown cross country to Oshkosh should not be offered for sale to the general public as an aircraft.

Our trip was spread over 2½ days, with overnight stops in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Kansas City, Missouri. The 2,025 miles were covered in about 19 hours (against the proverbial headwinds!) while averaging 65.1 mpg, also a record. That means that the trip cost us about $30 in gas and one quart of oil! The takeoff from Albuquerque was made at a density altitude of 7,000’. The highest altitude reached was 13,500’ west of Gallup, New Mexico. The normal cruise altitude was 7-8, 000’.

The trip was both routine and uneventful. Our biggest problem was minimizing the time spent on the ground when we stopped for gas. Usually we had to spend at least 30 minutes talking to the crowd that invariably gathered. In Dalhart, Texas, we had to wait an additional 30 minutes so that the line girl could go home and get her camera.

For a companion aircraft, we took along a Grumman Trainer. We had originally intended to use a Cessna 150 for the flight, but found that it wouldn’t keep up with the Quickie! The Grumman is about five knots faster than the Quickie and made a good companion aircraft.

We arrived at Oshkosh two days before the fly-in started so we could relax and take a short vacation. Wishful thinking! From the time we touched down until we left, we were surrounded by people wanting to see the aircraft and ask questions.

It was not unusual during the week at Oshkosh to find a crowd four people deep surrounding both the Quickie on the flight line and our booth in the main exhibit building (in fact, some people complained that they couldn’t find our booth).

Gene, Tom and Burt gave forums on the Quickie on both Monday and Friday. The crowd estimate on Monday was over 900 people. As a result, the forums ran long past the scheduled hour.

We were fortunate enough to acquire a flight demonstration slot immediately prior to the air- show on several days. Quickie flight demonstrations were flown by Tom and Burt. When traffic permitted, both flew the aircraft within a box about ¾ mile long by ¼ mile wide by 500 feet high to show off the extreme maneuverability of the Quickie.

Peter Lert (pilot report in June 1978 Air Progress) flew the Quickie for a photo session with Popular Mechanics. After returning, we asked him in front of a large crowd how he liked the aircraft. His reply was, “Flying a Quickie is the most fun a person can have in public during the daytime!”

The trip home from Oshkosh to Mojave, California, was as uneventful as the trip East. The most important news is that we stopped at Ames, Iowa, to test the Quickie off of a grass runway. We loaded the Quickie to 20 lbs. over gross weight and took off at a density altitude of about 2,000’, and a relative humidity of about 85 percent. The Quickie was off the ground within 100’ of what the Grumman Trainer required.

In explaining the role of the Quickie in aviation today, the developers put it this way:

The Quickie is not intended to be an aircraft for everyone. A Quickie will never win the World’s Aerobatic Championship, and it should not be outfitted with wing deicer boots and complete avionics so that it can fly IFR; nor is it the perfect airplane for the pilot that weighs 270 pounds, unless he is willing to go on a strict diet while he is building one.

A Quickie is a fun aircraft; it is a reasonable aircraft for today; it is a creature that brings the exhilaration of flight to individuals unable to afford the machines turned out by Wichita; it is an airplane that a pilot can measure himself against—it does not fly so high that man needs help breathing; it does not require an A&P mechanic to keep it in perfect order, and it does not require a 10,000-hour pilot to utilize its maximum capabilities.

If you can accept the Quickie in this spirit, you will never be disappointed, and you will be hard- pressed to find a sport that will give you more fun for less money.


The developers explained the economics of owning a Quickie very explicitly:

Quickie Prototype Cockpit
Fig. 6-8. Fig. 6-8. Cockpit installation of the Quickie. Round knob in the center is a temporary installation of a controllable pitch propeller drive. This control would be relocated in production planes since it would be a hazard in case of an off-field landing.

Many pilots who may have been considering purchasing or building an aircraft look only at the initial purchase price when considering how much the aircraft will “cost” them. This is a fallacy since the owner will usually spend more on maintaining a typical aircraft than he spent to obtain it in the first place.

Most pilots will agree that it is difficult to find a production aircraft cheaper to fly than a Cessna 150. Let’s compare the cost of fuel and oil for one year of a Cessna 150 and a Quickie. We will assume that each aircraft flies 200 hours a year. Since the Cessna burns 6.1 gallons per hour, as opposed to the Quickie which burns 1.5 gallons per hour, the Cessna uses 4.6 x 200 = 920 gallons of fuel more per year than the Quickie. At current prices, that is over $1,700 more per year to operate the Cessna. In addition, the Cessna uses a quart of oil every 10 hours, whereas the Quickie uses a quart every 50 hours.

To overhaul a Cessna 150 engine will cost about $3, 000; to buy a new Quickie engine will cost less than $1,000.

Since the Quickie lacks complex systems (Fig. 6-8), and since the owner of a homebuilt can legally do all of his own maintenance, a large savings is realized in maintenance cost over the Cessna 150 owner who pays about $25.00 per hour shop rate, and maybe $200 to overhaul the carburetor. We all know about the inflated prices of components with “Aircraft” stamped on them. Remember, maintenance costs are proportional to the initial purchase price, not the market value.


Wayne Thorns reported on the Quickie in Mechanix Illustrated magazine, copyright 1979 by CBS Publications, used here with permission. In a report titled “A Plane for Under $4, 000,” Thorns said, in part, that the Quickie kit represents the easiest-to-build plane in this country, if not the world. “And it’s complete even to the engine, requiring only paint and a motorcycle battery before you, too, can be up there winging with the birds.”

Moreover, the Quickie is an efficient craft aloft, able to cruise at 121 mph; when you back off to an even 100 mph, she can go 85 miles on a gallon of fuel. Construction time is estimated at 400 hours.

“Flying the Quickie is the most fun you have in the daytime in public without getting arrested,” begins the flight report. And the actual flight is described later in the article as follows:

Line up with the runway, push full throttle, hold slightly aft stick and the Quickie levitates at 53 mph, flying off more or less level and going up like a slow elevator. Acceleration feels similar to that of a small two-place trainer. Takeoff distance is 660 feet at sea level, about normal for small aircraft and slightly less than a 100-hp Cessna 150.

Instructed to climb at 70 mph, we lowered the nose shortly after takeoff to accelerate. The idea was correct, but the Quickie is so much more responsive than the craft we usually fly that we pushed too much forward stick, then too much aft. The effect was an interesting porpoise at about 30 feet—that’s right, 30 feet! —until we worked out the technique of gentle control movements.

Rate of climb is 425 fpm, but there’s no gauge to indicate this. The instruments built into the canopy panel are airspeed, altimeter, compass and voltmeter. Tachometer, cylinder-head temp and oil temp and pressure are on the left. Our test plane had a bell to indicate coordinated flight but it did not agree with the seat of our pants. After a while we ignored it and later on the ground we were advised that our pants were correct.

Once the Quickie levels off, the speed builds slowly behind 100 mph indicated. The advertised cruise of 121 mph true airspeed can be achieved, but we weren’t off on a cross-country trip and didn’t try.

The idea of being strapped into a powered flying machine that weighs little more than the pilot and has the ability to respond instantly to the pilot’s wishes was mind-bending. Never has this pilot felt more in control of his destiny than with the Quickie.

Approach to landing is made between 70 and 75 mph, adjusting throttle as required to reduce speed and maintain glide angle. Contact is made at about 55, tailwheel first with stick full aft. In theory, at least, this is simple. After all, the main wheels are clearly in view on the wingtips, and with a long runway there is no reason to drop the airplane in. A kiss-soft landing should be within the grasp of even a novice pilot.

We goofed slightly, and we were glad that the main gear/canard wing is stressed to 12 Gs. Our drop was only a matter of inches but it felt like much more. The canard took up the shock, we steered carefully with rudder pedals and applied the brakes.

[QBA Editor's note: For some reason the Chapter abruptly switches to Burt Rutan's Choice of engine for the LongEZ. I won't include most of the rest of the chapter except for the following paragraph from Burt Rutan that I hear quoted a lot in other sources.]


Now, if you have an engine that looks good to you and you really want to prove it out for aircraft use, here’s what you do: fly it! There is no substitute for flight experience. Not in a homebuilt, though! Get yourself a Cub or Champ that is a very forgiving airplane, easy to land safely in a pasture. You are going to make several emergency landings, so plan on it. If things really get bad and you have to plant your test vehicle in the trees, then for the FAA, it’s just another Cub that crashes—not a homebuilt. Also, you can buy another Cub and get your test program rolling again, quickly. If you had used a homebuilt, you would have to build another airplane instead of getting on with your engine development work.