Login Form

QuickTalk 30 - Nov/Dec 1986 - index

NOV/DEC 1986



by Jim Masal


To the question, "How can I know if the performance, time and ease of building statements made by the kit designer are true?" a wag once answered: "Watch the designer's lips...if they're moving, he's lying."

Although not entirely accurate, this quip has the very harsh ring of truth, and most certainly so in the experience of QAC customers. As I close out QUICKTALK for 1986, it seems fitting to review and reflect on the real life history of QAC's designs, and offer some personal opinions.

And speaking about history, QAC is now history. I've heard that notice of a Sheriff's auction of QAC goods was mailed late in August, that the hangars are unmarked and that there is no activity around them. Two sources say that Sheehan has opened a business in his own name now, and that it may have something to do with building up engines for aircraft racing. Such are the rumors, for what they're worth. I've heard nothing encouraging for you guys hanging out there with parts owed. Looks like a page out of the Bede book.

One of my favorite corporate slogans has always been the one from Phillips 66 that went "IT'S PERFORMANCE THAT COUNTS!" When I think about the Quickie and Q-2 series, that slogan keeps coming back to me. These airplanes, like their equally unusual contemporaries the Vari and Long EZ's have just fascinated the hell out of people. The scores of folks who felt they "must have one" have not only sent sales of kits and plans to unprecedented levels. But have done much to swell the ranks of sport aviation enthusiasts. However, unlike the EZ's, kit sales were the only unqualified success of the Quickie stable (unless you include the dubious title "World's Most Efficient Aircraft" gained by sometimes wins in the CAFE races). Builder support after the sale was most often poor, the company newsletter became pathetic and rare as did most other company communications with the builder (except for solicitations for legal defense funds which went unthanked).

Worst of all, in the hands of rank amateurs to whom the kits were hotly marketed and gleefully sold, the planes were generally difficult and sometimes dangerous to handle. Numerous mishaps reported in our surveys of flying aircraft remove this as a point of conjecture. However, there IS a subject for heated debate wherever "born again Quickers" congregate. There are a number of Quickie and Q-2 pilots who are happy and successful with what they wrought. They would argue that if these aircraft are built and flown with care, all the problems with these designs become pilot error. On the other hand, there are those who would argue that the design incorporates some flawed features whose tolerances are so critical that the typical amateur builder using ordinary shop tools will have substantial difficulty completing successfully. That in turn will increase pilot load and skill required and result in frequent accidents. Two examples come to mind: ground angle of attack must be within a half degree + or - and the angle of incidence of wings must be within one degree + or -. Furthermore, let us not forget the implications of a major canard redesign which was not just a minor Detroit styling change.

Are these planes flawed designs, or are their pilots the culprits? Each of us must decide for himself. For me, it's performance that counts, and the most significant part of the performance puzzle is decided at Oshkosh and other major airshow attractions. I like to count tails and I have counted the tails of Quickies and Q-2's at a number of shows over several years and I don't have to use any of my fingers more than once...ever. Together, there must be over 400 of these aircraft flying. Does it seem to you as it does to me that this lack of appearance could just possibly mean a widespread lack of confidence in these designs from the people who have invested so much of themselves to successfully build and fly them?

I believe that the Quickie/Q-2 aircraft will be remembered as a mildly interesting but generally unsuccessful aviation curiosity, and from what I hear lately, many aviation museums around the country will be sporting one of these curios as part of their collection.



Some sad news has come across this desk since last time. Jim Prell reported that Quickie pilot and QBAer James Olivier of Harper, KS crashed and died. He was reportedly seen over a farm field at a low enough altitude to snag a canard tip and cartwheel into the ground.

QBAer Marc Waddelow is dead. I knew him better than I know most others of you, as I was his companion on the long drive to and from Oshkosh last summer. Marc was a creative, curious and resourceful young engineer who was breaking an awful lot of new ground with his Tri-Q??? He had designed and tested a Tri-Q canard without the tube spar and with extended span for it and the main wing; he had rebuilt a Mazda RX-7 for his plane and was in the process of mating it to a prop; he had a beyond-the-state-of-the-art digital screen computerized instrument panel that was already working in his car when I saw it. His was gonna be one hellova bird. Here was a TRUE experimenter. Best of all, Marc was anxious to share his discoveries both through QUICKTALK and by more personal communications. Some of you received much correspondence from his regarding his plans and engineering. In November, he was found on the floor of his home, dead from asphyxiation. A Halon fire extinguisher was nearby. Best guess is that his curiosity led him to wonder what were the effects of discharging a Halon extinguisher in a confined space such as a small cockpit. He paid the highest price, but perhaps this act will save one of you reading this now.

Marc's young wife is anxious to sell the entire project and get on with the rest of her life: tools, half-completed airframe, engine and all. Call me or Charles Mackey (504) 927-7656 or 389-2504.

British QBAer Don Johnson was unable to complete his trip to Australia (story in QUICKTALK #29). He ran into some lousy weather at one point on the route and then sponsorship problems developed.

Other Articles In This Issue

LETTERS - by Jim Masal
Q-TIPS - by Jim Masal
QUICKIE HINTS - by Jim Masal
Q-2 HINTS - by Jim Masal
CLASSIFIEDS - by Jim Masal
QUICKSHOTS - by Jim Masal


You can order a PDF or printed copy of QuickTalk #30 by using the Q-talk Back Issue Order Page.