Login Form

QuickTalk 21 - LETTERS

Please re-new my subscription. I really enjoy the publication, but sometimes those pictures of some of the "incidents" are a little discouraging to us long time builders.

Dennis Colomb, California

ED. NOTE: I agree, Dennis, but QUICKTALK will never be a puff sheet to extol the virtues of QAC and its products without critical examination. They have their own newsletter that does that quite well. I am certain that our information has caused some guys to quit their projects; I am equally certain that it has warned some guys early enough to save them aggravation and grief. It is by now a historical fact that some folks have no business building and/or flying these particular aircraft. Some won't have the perseverance to finish and some won't have the skill to successfully fly. Dreaming about either is great fun, but avoiding the facts will surely hurt. QUICKTALK should always help you calculate your odds of success.

Please renew my subscription. Our Quickie (20 hp), now registered G-BKSE made its first flight this month (Feb.). No serious problems.

M. D. Burns #439, Linburn, Scotland

Enclosed are recent pictures of our N77Q taken from my Cessna 177RG. The Quickie stayed right alongside the Cessna. Due to the age of N77Q we are not pushing for speeds any greater than 150 mph, the approximate speed of the aircraft at the time the pictures were taken. We believe with the proper cowling and a few other minor adjustments we can easily achieve speeds of 160 to 180 mph. N77Q climbs at 1000 fpm and has proven a real joy to fly. As you can see, our Nelson engine performs!

Charlie Rhoades, Sport Plane Power, Inc., Naples, FL

ED. NOTE: Notice (AGAIN) the enthusiasm with which a seller brings HIS product to market. Not unusual. What is unusual is when product performance is up to the marketeers claims/dreams. We'll wait, thank you, to see IF it'll do more than 150. We'd still like to know how many HOURS the engine's been flown on the Quickie airframe, trouble free. We've heard that Charlie only has a few of these engines available and that future production depends on an anticipated government order. Meanwhile, a few facts: the Nelson 4 cylinder, 2-cycle engine was certificated by the FAA a number of years ago. The engine produces 48 hp at 4400 rpm for takeoff, with a continuous rating of 45 hp at 4000 rpm. Weight is 68 lbs including starter and generator. It is 15" high, 24" wide and 20" long and can swing a prop up to 48" diameter.

I've had correspondence from my contact in the U.K. about the Lotus/Eipper/Magnum 2 or 4 cylinder, 4 cycle engines as seen at OSH and Lakeland. He says volume production will begin in August. I learned from other sources they had been having castings problems for production quantities. I should be one of the first to get the 4 cyl., 50 hp, 69 lb engine with electric starter. He told me earlier that the SFC was 1.6 gph imperial at cruise and that it would not be marketed until it would run 500 hrs without failure.

The Pong Dragon people finally admitted at Lakeland that the max they have gotten trouble free was 50 hrs - then major work.

I made a nice 5-inch spinner out of 3 layers of Bid for my Quickie. I gained 3-5 mph, but the surprise was that the CHT went down as much as 35 degrees! I now cruise at 200 degrees or LESS...so I must make the Ray Anderson bottom cowl flaps adjustable. Doug Swanningson has already done it. I know QAC had negative views of the stock skullcap spinner held on by only ONE screw and a bracket. The spinner makes my Quickie look much better.

The spinner was to counter the expected loss of airspeed when I applied the vortex generators Sheehan sent me. I have 4 flights with the generators now and find a cruise speed loss of 5-9 mph, not the 3-5 mph Sheehan told me to expect. I have yet to get to the "bottom line" - rain performance. I'll do so as soon as conditions permit. I saw no reportable difference in climb rate or stall speed.

John Hicks, Mary Esther, FL

I went to Sun 'n Fun for really one reason: to see Scott Swing's tricycle gear Q-2. I came away convinced this is the way for me to go. I couldn't help but notice all the ground handling accidents in the QBA flying roster. I'm a low time C-150 driver with 0 taildragger time. In a Q-2, I'm concerned about being an accident waiting to happen, no matter what Sheehan says about its wonderful qualities. I don't much like the idea of shelling out another $1600 for the Tri-Q kit or the 10 mph cruise speed penalty, but I try to think of it as an insurance premium.

A second decision was more difficult because good ideas die hard. I'm scrapping all plans to put a Duncan rotary engine in my Q-2. I simply cannot find ANYONE with ANYTHING good to say about Dan Duncan or his engines. I spent an afternoon recently with Kevin Budd of Baytown, TX to look over his newly acquired SR-120 Duncan rotary engine...after waiting 15 months for it and then only after he drove to Oklahoma to get either his engine or his money. He's been unable to run it since he didn't get the motor mounts or the turbocharger he'd paid for. I've heard (from you) about the problem with the belts and weight. I met a man in Lakeland who knew someone flying the engine. He said it drank more fuel than an aircraft engine and said Duncan's power and fuel figures were "pure fantasy". I wanted to talk with some of his "satisfied customers" but Duncan simply will not give out the names of anyone flying his engines. I am still convinced a rotary engine would be ideal for our airplanes, but it's not going to be a Duncan Rotary engine.

Am I going to have to settle for an old technology, albeit proven 0-200? I noticed the AED display at Lakeland: a new 1985 Subaru fuel injected, turbocharged, water cooled, flat 4 engine mounted to the front of a Q-2 carcass. The AED rep frankly admitted they weren't too interested in developing it and after looking over the spec sheet I understand why. It's heavy, probably well over 300 lbs installed with radiators and coolant. It's very expensive: $8571 list for the 125 hp version or $9142 for the 160 hp model--PLUS radiators, engine mounts, etc.

Marc Waddelow, Friendswood, TX

I now have my Duncan engine but not yet received engine mount, radiator, idler pulley, belt or prop set. I now understand they are now making a plug for a Q-2 to form a new cowl for the Q-2/rotary engine combo in Duncan's plant. I guess I'll call it a QR x 3 1/2 as it is 1/2 of a RX-7!! They were about to ship me a mount but got a Q-2 at Duncan's and found need for modification therefore held up on shipping mine until it is modified.

Henry Hurd, Belleville, IL


...The Q-2 was transformed into a tri gear in time to complete initial testing and a trip to Sun 'n Fun. It is a delight to fly with ground handling as conventional as the Grumman series of a/c. Takeoffs are made by accelerating to 50-60 mph and rotating to a nose high attitude after which it flies off with no further input at about 70. Directional control is adequate in at least a 15 mph crosswind without differential braking. Landings are conventional: set up a slight nose high short final at 85-90, power off and flare to touch at any speed higher than stall (75-80, lightly loaded). Directional control was adequate without braking in the crosswind. The rudder was deflected full travel on both takeoff and landing rolls with only normal direction change taking place. Reflexer was not needed even though first and second flights were conducted in the rain (old wing with vortex generators installed). Our final testing will be the wing extensions to lower the wing loading. After all testing is final, we will install a complete kit on a Q-200.

Price is $16000 plus $50 crating, FOB Dayton, OH

Duane Swing, Vandalia, OH

After many discussions with Scott Swing over the phone, I have decided to buy his tri-gear conversion and belly flap. Scott has added 18" to each canard tip and 21" to each wing tip so that the angle of attack is reduced at normal cruise altitudes. This lowers induced drag and gives higher cruise speed as well as lower takeoff, landing and stall speeds. He plans to offer a kit for these (GU-25 canard only), but they can also be made from scratch, especially if you can turn the plane over easily. To help builders, I have made some templates, which I will send to anyone who sends me $1 and a 4 x 9-1/2" SASE. I'm still considering adding them to my plane, but with 100 hp and a turbo in the future, I may elect to fly it first and see if the added span is really necessary for Q-200's.

I have negotiated with Randy Komko in Yelm, WA for most of the firewall forward parts for my Rotorway installation. Hopefully, these parts will start arriving soon...

John Derr, Golden, CO

Thanks very much for the kind words and nice pictures in QUICKTALK #18 (tri-gear Dragonfly). We have begun a newsletter and are attempting to develop it along QBA lines. Dragonfly builders, like me, who have no gripes with Quickie Aircraft or Q-2 builder/pilots, but realize similarities of the designs and the potential danger/problem areas want a forum too.

As for my tri-gear - nothing special - this was basically a guesswork approach as to location, angle, etc. I recommend: 1. Slightly narrower tread for easier trailering. 2. Trying spring aluminum instead of glass (probably easier to install, lighter, cheaper. 3. OR one-piece fiberglass bow like the EZ's. 4. Sweep the wheels forward -- this is where the debate starts. We put them rearward. We were concerned with distance from the elevator hinge point. With the canard, when the wheels touchdown, the elevators become ineffective. My mains are probably slightly too far aft, I have approx. 300 lbs on the nosewheel at gross and that has to be lifted on takeoff and lowered gently on landing. In defense of the nose strut, it has held up so far. It LOOKS like the weak point.

Rex (Taylor) stated to many people that it would never get off the ground, but it did a long time ago. He feels the mains are too far aft & since the wing flies first, wheel-barrowing will occur. But the canard carries almost 67% vs. 33% of the lift and we had no trouble "lifting" the nose off the runway. Different landing techniques may be a trying experience however. I'll let you know more.

Nothing is proprietary - I have talked before to 3-4 Q-2 people about the gear. Rex is going to build a retract version, he says.

Mike Quigley, El Paso, TX

Since I live in Jacksonville, FL where the Bendix mag is made, I called the company and asked them about the AD on the Bendix 3000 (re: comment/warning in QUICKTALK #19). They say that both the Bendix 2000 and 3000 are unpressurized magnetos. The following service bulletins pertain to the Bendix 2000:

SB #619: Letter X in upper left hand corner denotes the problem has been corrected.

SB #623: Letter F in upper left hand corner denotes problem has been corrected.

This AD pertains to the Bendix 3000:

AD 82-20-01: SN B000001 thru B000249. Has to do with checking impulse coupling for soft weights. All SN's above have been corrected.

Questions about your Bendix mag? Contact:

Bendix Corporation

Engine Products Division

P O Box 17880

Jacksonville, FL 32245-7880

(904) 739-4000

Jeffrey Cox, Jacksonville, FL


For some months now, a controversy has been percolating regarding certain composite materials being sold at discounted prices by Ira Hale's company, Alpha Plastics, of West, TX. I think I now understand what I believe to be a tempest in a teapot - a case of clashing corporate egos.

Hale formed Alpha Plastics several years ago when, while involved in a Dragonfly project, he saw an opportunity to save some money for other builders while making some money for himself (good 'ol American tradition). Hale bought composite materials in volume and resold them to Dragonfly builders at a discount. Homebuilders are ALWAYS trying to save a buck so the business soon grew to a larger market than just Dragonflyers. Enter problem #1.

Early Dragonfly UNI cloth had the same style number as that recommended by Rutan for his aircraft but was woven by a different manufacturer. By and by, Rutan testing showed this cloth to be about 20% less strong than that of the recommended manufacturer. Hale quickly offered to replace this cloth with the Rutan recommended type (Hexel) free of charge. It should be noted that a manufacturer's cloth style number does not conform to any uniform standards and may denote a cloth woven much differently than that of another manufacturer.

Hale's supplier, Burlington, changed surface finishes to produce a better cloth. Hale had the new cloth tested by an independent lab which reported it equal to or better than the Rutan recommended cloth. Unfortunately, in this arena 30,000 testing labs don't equal the weight of a Rutan approval and so far as I know he hasn't tested this UNI yet. You're on your own here.

By this time, an active rumor mill had developed insinuating that Alpha Plastics sold "suspect" or inferior materials. In fact, Hale began offering both types of UNI, recommended or not.

Somewhere along in here another problem developed. Rutan had tested a new epoxy called Safe-T-Poxy and approved it for use in his aircraft. Aircraft Spruce and Specialty and then Wicks became authorized dealers for this epoxy. But APCO (makers of Safe-T-Poxy) had a good product and they weren't about to make a mint off of sport aviation sales so they had many more dealers in more lucrative markets. Ira Hale found one. He began buying barrels of the stuff, bottling it for a discounted sale to plane builders. The big guys began screaming bloody murder. Hale has taken heat for not selling "genuine" or "aircraft approved" Safe-T-Poxy. What constitutes "aircraft approval" here seems only to be an O.K. from Rutan so far as I can discover, for since his first tests there have been no on-going, batch to batch tests being performed to certify certain barrels as "aircraft approved".

Though Hale buys his stuff from an authorized APCO dealer; neither he himself nor Alpha Plastics is authorized by APCO to use the registered trademark "Safe-T-Poxy TM". I have a letter dated Sept. 21, 1983, from APCO to Alpha requesting that Alpha cease and desist such trademark use. Consider how much epoxy Hale would sell if he called it, say "Irapoxy" instead of Safe-T-Poxy. Soooo...Hale continues to label it Safe-T-Poxy, but whatever he calls it, so far as I know, it comes out of barrels labeled Safe-T-Poxy.

(ED NOTE: The following letter by Don Hewes was taken from DRAGONFILES, a newsletter for Dragonfly builders. Dragonflyers are experiencing very similar problems to ours and Don's advice is very relevant.)

...I have become concerned about the accidents of the Dragonfly and the circumstances surrounding them. We just had a fatal crash at Raleigh, NC and there was another near fatal one there about 3 months ago. The builders of both planes had visited me to see my Dragonfly and I had given them both rides and warned them of the problems that I encountered. I don't know the details of either accident...but this does emphasize just how necessary and how dangerous test flying of homebuilt airplanes really is.

Speaking in general...I do believe that there are too many homebuilders who just do not understand the importance and significance of a well planned and executed flight test program and the need for extra precaution if the airplane is not built EXACTLY like the plans. Seemingly small and minor changes can have very pronounced effects on the flight behavior. When it comes to trying to figure out what happened in an accident, these items are often overlooked and everybody suffers because they begin to have doubts about their own plane.

Test flying of new homebuilts requires the same basic judgment and knowledge as test flying the bigger planes because this is what is required to "put it all together when the chips are down". There are too many builders who think that their bird is going to fly as good or better than the prototype and all they have to do is get in and go. I'm not saying that all the fellows that have had the misfortune to have an accident fall into this category, but there are a lot of Dragonflys out there that are just now getting ready to fly and I would guess that a large number of them are first time builders with low flight time. There were 4 new Dragonfly flown just recently...and 2 were successful and 2 crashed. With statistics like these, I feel that we all need to wave the "yellow" flag of caution. In my case, I had a friend to fly my plane the first time. He is a retired airline pilot and former military test pilot with a lot of homebuilt test flying under his belt. I knew that he was better equipped to handle the emergencies than I was. I dreaded asking someone else to shoulder the responsibility and danger, but he could do the job and was eager to do so.

My plane has over 80 hours of flying and most of it is FLIGHT TESTING. Although I felt the plane was good enough to get it signed off with just over the required 40 hours, I was not satisfied with it and kept testing until I discovered the basic problems and cured them.

The plane was built "very closely" to the plans but there were a couple departures that I really did not think would make a difference. But in spite of this, there were some very bad landing and takeoff characteristics that could get you in trouble if you were not "right on top of it" all the time. I found the source of the problems with a lot of extra testing and it paid off because the plane now handles beautifully. It was necessary to add a set of vortex generators and a horizontal stabilator at the tail.

Now I'm not saying "all Dragonflys need vortex generators and a stabilator". What I am saying is that "all Dragonflys need to be properly and completely FLIGHT TESTED to find out if they need any such FIXES." My judgment as an aero research engineer for over 30 years and as a builder of 2 airplanes tells me that the airfoil of the front wing is very sensitive to many factors and is not likely to give consistent results from one airplane to the next. Unfortunately, there is no flight test manual available for the Dragonfly and I don't know of one available for any other homebuilt that is adequate for helping the novice "bone up" on how to plan a good flight test program much less fly it himself. This is an area where the whole EAA organization and the kit/materials suppliers should be concentrating a lot of effort. Until someone comes up with a suitable document, I feel the best approach is to find someone who is truly knowledgeable (and I don't mean just an experienced pilot!) of the flight test requirements and work closely with him.

Don Hewes, Dragonfly N56DH

You can order a PDF or printed copy of QuickTalk #21 by using the Q-talk Back Issue Order Page.