Q-talk 139 - Letters from Gene Sheehan
- Category: Q-Talk Articles
- Published: Sunday, 28 February 2010 03:01
- Written by Dan Yager
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A couple of weeks ago Leon McAtee sent me a few letters that he found while digging through his old newsletters. These were sent by Gene Sheehan to Quickie builders and dealers near the time that Quickie Aircraft Corporation filed for bankruptcy after an extended legal battle. Some of you may have seen these already, but I thought they might give some perspective to others who hadn't seen them. The full text of each page appears below, with a link to a PDF copy of the page so you can see the letter in its original form.
January 24, 1985
Dear Builders and Friends:
I'm writing this newsletter in order to update everyone on the status of Quickie Aircraft Corp. As you know we lost a lawsuit in Denver Colorado and suffered a judgement of about $212,000. We made a number of motions for a new trial which were denied as we expected them to be. For some reason the judge required two months to make her ruling. Normally these matters only require a few days to resolve. This left us in a position of not knowing what to do in the meantime.
I decided that the safest path was to temporarily close Quickie, layoff my employee's, and move out of the large expensive hangar into smaller quarters still on the Mojave Airport. This way Quickie's assets were preserved. As soon as it was clear that an appeal was our only long term hope we took several steps. First we filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy code. This was necessary because even if we appeal the opposition can still enforce the judgement. Chapter 11 allows us to attempt to reorganize while protecting us from creditors and most importantly from lawsuits. Next, we filed our appeal. Thanks to your support we raised enough funds to file. The battle has just begun though more help is needed. The cost for the official transcript is over $3000.00 not to mention some pay for our attorney. Our chances of winning the appeal we feel are very good. The judge made several reversible errors and was unwilling to set precedence (most trial judges don't). Had the jury been made up of pilots or other homebuilders I have no doubt the case would have been laughed out of court.
Please send your contributions directly to our attorneys:
Ayscough Marar S Parke 22330 Hawthorne Blvd Suite 217 Torrance, CA 90505
I believe it is in everyone's interest to assist in reversing this verdict. As I write this I note that Piper is closing down its Lakeland Florida plant. All of general aviation is down on the mat. If small companies are inhibited from the market place, sport aviation will wither away and die.
I am now ready to reopen Quickie. We have moved to the west end of the Mojave Airport in Hangars 37 & 38. Our overhead has been drastically cut. I will increase our staff as business allows. Obviously filing Chapter 11 will have an adverse effect on our sales but we felt we had no choice if we were to attempt to continue to do business and help our customers. Telephone service will be restored shortly unfortunately we will not have a separate builder hotline at first.
Some of you builders have backorders or undelivered orders coming. We have quite a lot of inventory which was preserved in our hectic moves over the last couple of months. In other cases we have paid for merchandise for our customers. Due to the nature of Chapter 11 proceedings we may have to have court permission to ship some orders. Rest assured I will do everything possible in this regard. In the meantime again I need your help. If you are missing anything please write to us at once describing the items, when purchased, invoice number, etc. Please write backorder on the envelope. I know many of you have been notifying us since our last letter but please do it again as it has been impossible to answer correspondence and some has almost certainly been lost in the move. So help me help you.
Please on all other letters that require a reply such as builder construction questions send a stamped self addressed envelope.
Any of you who need replacement parts, options, etc. again please write us for availability.
Click Here to download this letter as a PDF file.
OUR LAST NEWSLETTER?
Dear Quickie Enthusiast:
Quickie Aircraft has suffered a major setback. We have lost a lawsuit involving a Quickie accident which occured in August of 1980 near Denver Colorado. In this case the builder made several major changes to his aircraft inculding his engine, against QAC's advice and warnings. The builder made his own propellor. His aircraft flew perfectly well with a stock engine and prop borrowed from another builder according to his test pilot. The builder ignored our "Initial Flight Test Guide" regarding recent flight time and checkout in taildragger requirements. In fact, two different pilots who flew with him prior to the accident testified that he was not a competent pilot. With his engine (modified by him) and his own propellor of undetermined performance he crashed and suffered some damage to his heels. Sometime after the accident the builder loaded up the wreckage and junked it. QAC was never given the opportunity to inspect the aircraft to determine if any deviations from the plans other than those that are obvious from photographs.
The builder promptly went out and built a Dragonfly after crashing his Quickie. He also crashed this plane at least twice to our knowledge.
In spite of all this the jury in this case awarded a substantial verdict to the plaintif. This type of result may have a chilling effect on all of sport aviation making small companies such as ourselves and our suppliers reluctant to provide products in such a sue-happy environment.
As you might imagine Quickie has expended an enormous amount of time and resources defending this absurd claim. If this judgement is allowed to stand, Quickie Aircraft cannot continue. We simply cannot afford to pursue an appeal alone, even though both we and our attorneys feel that our chances of overturning this are very good. So I am adking for your help. If you believe as I do that the current climate in this country regarding products liability is unreasonable, please consider donating $25.00 or more to help reverse this travesty of justice.
Please do not send your donations to Quickie. Instead send your donations to our attorneys:
Ascough, Marar & Parke
In the meantime Quickie will be closed until after the holidays. We will attempt to reopen on Jan. 2.
Thanks for all your support.
Click Here to download this letter as a PDF file.
July 23, 1986
Dear Quickie Enthusiast,
As you know QUICKIE AIRCRAFT CORPORATION has been fighting a legal battle to reverse an unjust verdict we suffered in Denver Colorado, and in order to appeal this bizarre ruling we were forced to file for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy code in January of 1985 in order to stay in business.
We expected to have a resolution to our appeal within a few months of the filing but the legal process has been protracted with the appellate court finally hearing the case in May of this year. We should have a ruling within the next 60 days or so and we expect to win. This could not have been possible without your support.
The outcome of this case is very important to all of us in sport aviation not just the designers and kit suppliers. That is why AOPA and EAA, both member oriented, have supported reform in the aviation liability field.
The current situation is affecting everyone. We have talked to many builders who are afraid to sell their aircraft after completion due to liability concerns. New products are not coming to the market and existing ones are being withdrawn for the same reason.
QUICKIE AIRCRAFT'S situation since filing Chapter 11 in January of 1985 was initially not too bad. We had a small surge in sales primarily from existing customers who wished to complete their kits (not an unwise move) but we did not sell many new kits. This is certainly understandable as an aircraft kit is not like other products in that builders need to have some help available after purchase and the uncertainty associated with QUICKIE AIRCRAFT'S legal dilemma would inhibit anyone. We certainly don't blame the buying public for exercising caution, another factor is that QUICKIE AIRCRAFT has been unable to advertize our products due to the uncertainty as an ad in a magazine must be placed as much as four months in advance. Finally the sales climate for our type of product has been in a slump with many different designs available and perhaps some saturation of the market.
The level of business in recent months has made it impossible for QUICKIE AIRCRAFT CORPORATION to reorganize as required by the court under Chapter 11 consequently we have informed the court that we will not oppose them converting to a Chapter 7 liquidation. We see no alternative at this time.
Until the dust settles and we see what can be dome to try and salvage the program you can get in touch with me by telephone at (805) 824-9136 or by mail at P.O. Box 806 - Mojave, CA 93501. If you need a writter reply you must include a stamped, self addressed envelope. I will be going to Oshkosh from July 30th thru August 11th or so.
I will be conducting a forum at Oshkosh which will be on Saturday August 2, at 8:45 A.M. in forum tent #2. I will be on the flight line with my Q200 for the entire show with the exception of the Oshkosh 500 race on Monday, August 4. So come on by for the latest update and whatever help I can be in assisting you in completion of your project. I've talked to a lot of builders who expect to be at Oshkosh with their planes so don't miss this opportunity to visit.
Single Place Experimental
2 Place Experimental
For the Q200 this score was the highest overall in fact the highest score ever by a competi tor in the CAFE Race. Gene also won the AOPA Efficiency Award (Formerly the Chevron Award) as well as the Best Experimental Trophy.
So friends you are still building the most efficient single and two place airplanes a round.
Click Here to download this letter as a PDF file.
As always, I invite your comments below or in the forums.