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QuickTalk 12 - Nov/Dec 1983 - index

NOV/DEC 1983



by Robert Herd

As an editor, I guess it's not surprising that I take more than a casual interest in the newsletters, tip sheets and press releases put out by the composite homebuilt aircraft companies. Together these tidbits form an interesting mosaic of public policy and corporate image. However, unless you have been living in seclusion of mass-media recently, it is rather obvious that the "Big Two" have resorted to Cold War tactics in their public relations with each other.

Want an example? Look at the latest copies of CANARD PUSHER and the QAC NEWSLETTER. The Oshkosh 500 results as written by both sides would do credit to a Pravda propaganda editorial. The long-standing feud between Quickie Aircraft and the Rutan Factory is nothing new. Although neither side likes to discuss the reasons, which caused the split several years ago, it is evident that composite builders continue to pay a price for the lack of communication between the two sides. Until lately, the rift could have been excused as the usual banterings of two competing companies both vying for the same market. Such competition is usually healthy in open commerce as it stimulates new product developments and makes performance claims more accountable. However, when the ferocity of competition clouds good judgment, casualties can be expected (witness the commercial airline business).

Unfortunately, the factional dispute has been filtering down to the level of the individual builder. I have witnessed more than one EAA chapter whose membership consisted of Varieze/Long-EZ builders sitting on one side of the meeting with Quickie/Q2 builders sitting on the other. This "My-father-can-lick-your-father" attitude hasn't really proved much, except the lengths some people will go just out of blind loyalty.

Frankly, I'm getting a little fed up with the amount of time QAC and RAF are spending throwing insults at each other and continually playing one-up-manship games. A look at the accident record of either company's product is not very enviable and it might cause one to wonder what the result would be if a little more time was devoted at the factory to THAT problem. And it doesn't begin to comprehend the possibilities if (heaven forbid) the two should COOPERATE with one another.

It is too easy to get caught up in the present dispute and take sides toward a particular camp. I believe we can no longer afford such politics among our ranks. Homebuilders have, for the most part, been a closely-knit group whose success was due to the single goal of developing better aircraft. If we allow ourselves to become wrapped up in commercial partisanship, then we set the precedent, which stifles creativity and communication. The legendary patent infringement battles of Glenn Curtis and the Wright brothers (canard designers themselves) demonstrated just this point. So much effort was spent by these aviation giants in lawsuits, counter-lawsuits and general mudslinging that neither company made significant engineering advances. The result virtually stagnated the U.S. aircraft industry early in the century.

When I see a fellow enthusiast at the air show or EAA meeting, I'm going to make sure that he receives my hearty handshake as well as a friendly ear, no matter what project he is building. Although I've mentioned it before, each builder is a storehouse of ideas and solutions. To ignore that information is to deny any possible benefit to yourself. Personally, I'm not going to let the squabbles of two companies in Mojave interfere with my construction and learning experience.

It's not likely that the principals of Quickie Aircraft and the Rutan Aircraft Factory are going to have a reconciliation any time in the near future. At least for the rank-and-file builder, we can admonish these two to keep their personal differences to themselves. Both Burt Rutan and Gene Sheehan receive QUICKTALK (I guess we can assume they read it). Well, gentlemen, if you're listening, it's time to start acting as professionals again in the public eye and leave the rest of us to mend a few fences.


Other Articles In This Issue

LETTERS - by Jim Masal
QUICKIE HINTS - by Jim Masal
Q2 HINTS - by Jim Masal
PILOT PROFILE - by Jim Masal
REPAIRING A TAILSPRING - by Bob Owen (#2318)
CLASSIFIEDS - by Jim Masal
ODDS and ENDS - by Jim Masal
WE'VE GOT PICTURES! - by Jim Masal


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