QuickTalk 5 - ACCIDENT REPORT
- Category: Q-Talk Articles
- Published: Tuesday, 31 August 1982 07:11
- Written by Owen Billman, #53
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(The following is an excerpt from a detailed transcript called "The Brief Odyssey of Quickie N39QB" written by Owen Billman (#53). Owen first flew his plane on June 3 of this year and gained his 40-hour "release" only a week before Oshkosh. The trip in his Quickie to the EAA Fly-In was pleasant and uneventful. On the way back home, he stayed overnight with a sister in Greenville, Michigan. We let his own words finish the story..../
"Conditions across New York were still IFR but were predicted to improve as the day went on. Out at the airport, I found the Quickie dripping wet with a very heavy dew and spent considerable time drying it all off with towels I had brought along for the purpose. The sun was out, not a cloud in the sky; temperature was 68, no wind. I pre-flighted the plane, stowed my small duffle bag and observed I had six gallons of fuel aboard, plenty for the short flight to Port Huron. I started the engine, said my good-byes to my sister and her husband and got settled in the cockpit. At the run-up pad, the oil temperature gauge still hadn't moved off the peg so I waited. As I sat there, I noticed that moisture had begun to bead up once more on the surface of the canard, but it was so slight I chose to ignore it. By then a small group of people had formed on the ramp to watch my take-off. I didn't want to disappoint them so I held my position watching the oil temperature. In another minute the needle moved into the green and I ran the engine up. 2900 rpm. Good! I took the runway and began my takeoff. 3100 rpm. Fine!
"Liftoff was not as expected. The plane seemed very reluctant to break ground and when it did, halfway to the end, it fell back and then got off again. Abort? Too late. I'd surely run off the end of the runway and damage the plane as I ran over the marker lights there...keep the nose down and let her fly...power lines dead ahead paralleling the highway...a bit more back pressure and they were cleared by a whisker...a very short field beyond and then a forest of tall oak trees..."Come on baby! You can surely do it!"...the first of the lower trees flashed by barely under the canard...don't pull up yet...musn't stall...airspeed 65...here comes a taller pair...pull up just a bit and place the prop between them...not high enough...BANG! What a racket those spindly top branches made...we're going down...hit the ignition switch..."Lord.."...CRASH...instant deceleration...falling nose down...falling...canopy disintegrating...duck that limb...nowhere to duck to...VROOM.......silence........Let's get out of here...unlatch what's left of my canopy...it doesn't want to open...force it...standing on firm ground...how come there's blood dripping on my shoes...oh, yes, my forehead is bleeding...funny, but there's my duffle bag lying on the ground beside the fuselage...my sister will be worried. Better hike back and tell her I'm O.K....poor little Quickie! Will it ever fly again? What a terrible thing to do to a nice little airplane! If I had time, I think I'd cry.
"The next two days were spent in Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids where it was found that, aside from some scraped elbows and legs, my only injury of consequences was a compression fracture of a vertebra. Very seriously damaged vertebrae usually result in crushed nerves controlling many vital functions, but I had been lucky! Everything was still in working order. Another two days on my back at my sister's home and I was able to ride the airlines back home.
"In retrospect, it appears I muffed two opportunities to avoid trouble: The first was when I saw the beads of moisture forming again on the canard and the second came when I broke ground and found the Quickie didn't really want to fly. The runway had been long enough; the engine had been turning out enough power. The problem was that the flow of air over those laminar-flow airfoils was disturbed by the moisture destroying the normal lifting capabilities.
"I must say a word about the crashworthiness of the Quickie. Subsequent inspection of the wreckage revealed that the cockpit section was virtually undamaged despite its headlong fall to the ground. There wasn't a hole punched in the fuselage by all those angry limbs; the gas tank remained intact. The canard might be rebuilt. The wing was practically undamaged except at the left tip. Aft of the cockpit the fuselage broke nearly off where the number of plies of fiberglass decreased. I hesitate to think how I would have fared had I crashed in an all-metal or steel-tube fuselage. I am quite sure under these same circumstances I'd prefer to take my chances in a plane of composite construction.
"The Quickie is an excellent airplane and perform in a remarkable manner. What other aircraft can boast the cruising speed and fuel economy on just 18 hp? If the home craftsman could resist temptation and build it without frills, as was the prototype, he could equal or exceed its performance. The trouble is that we have to "improve" it, the way I did. Quebec Bravo weighed 309 lbs. empty and its pilot weighed 180 lbs. dripping wet. No wonder its rate of climb was low, that I never saw fit to fly with a full tank of fuel. The most it ever held was 6 gallons.
"Naturally, I'm extremely unhappy that I lost my beautiful little bird, grateful as I am that I survived the accident so well. I had plans for us - visiting old and new friends, children and grandchildren, airport hopping, commuting to Wurtsboro for more gliding, making that long-wished-for flight to the west coast and just plain fooling around...investigating that smoke on the horizon...Ah, what might have been! But just you wait!
/As a side note, it might be mentioned that Mr. Billman had experimented with flying in light to moderate shower bursts and found the nose wanted to drop and very strong back pressure on the stick was required to hold altitude. An earlier problem with one wing flying heavy was severely aggravated when flying in rain. He notes he was very happy he installed the reinforced QCSA7 bellcrank as required by QAC because of the necessary forces exerted.
It was obvious from Owen's letter that his Quickie held a very special memory for him. We can only believe that we will see a plane with his name on it at some future Oshkosh.-Ed./
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