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QuickTalk 26 - LETTERS

Familiar with the phrase "It would make your blood run cold"? QBA member Mike Quigley wrote this report in Dragonfiles, an independent newsletter for Dragonfly builders:

"I was testing the engine which had just been tuned...3000' altitude, 15 mi. east of Casa Grande, AZ (northwest of Eloy), no maneuvering. Accelerating through 145 mph going to 160 when I noticed the canard tips fluttering slightly. Control system input caused the fluttering to cease (aircraft had previously been flown at 240 mph without flutter of any kind). Rolled into a turn toward Eloy."

Extreme vibration threw Mike against the straps and shook the plane like a dog. Control stick locked up. Oscillations of 5 to 10 per second. Canopy flew open (Mike had flown with the canopy unlatched before), and everything smoothed out. A little control was regained.

Mike noticed white flecks floating up from the forward area in the air stream through the partially opened canopy. Thought he had sprung a leak in the fuel system on the passenger side. They were paint chips. Mike set up a 300 fpm descent rate and executed a wide, curving approach into Eloy. He established an 80 mph approach speed (10 mph above normal), and noticed some loss of lift. Touchdown and rollout were normal except the canard was drooping slightly on the right side (Mike has the only Dragonfly flying with a Tri-gear mod).

Inspection results: A compression fracture running the entire length of the right canard chord just outside the hard points and about 1 to 2 inches inside the fuselage sidewall. Scratched paint on the fuselage side indicated that the elevator had traveled 4 inches above previous marks. Control stick bent back (down elevator). If main gear had been attached to the canard (it fits just behind the seatback) it would have collapsed on touchdown. Damaged area felt like mush.

Possible factors: Previous damage consisted of (1) delamination of top and bottom of the elevator skin when the nose wheel collapsed and just touched the corner of the elevator. Foam had been scarfed out and replaced with micro, possibly resulting in elevator static unbalance. (2) A "sparrow strainer" had been broken off when somebody stepped on it. It was glued back with 5-Min. epoxy and micro. Looked OK but the angle may not have been correct. (The "sparrow strainers" are designed to provide a downward force on the elevator in flight to overcome the natural tendency for top-to-bottom differential pressure to lift the elevators...)

(ED. NOTE: Mike Quigley is an experienced composite builder, having worked some time for TASK Research, a well known supplier of pre-fabbed composite parts for Dragonflys and others. I personally saw this aircraft before first flight and the workmanship looked quite good. As more details on the cause are available, they will be reported to you.)

Mike says the aircraft has never been overstressed, and doesn't know which came first, the flutter or the top skin compression fracture. Beechcraft design engineer Ed Hooper will have a hand in evaluating the cause and correction (on his own time). Beech says that if the skin is injured (say you drop a wrench on it), the possibility exists that 30% of the structural strength can be lost.

Mike's advice: If you become aware of minor damage to the skin, there is probably major internal damage underneath. If you see or feel the tiniest flutter, ground the aircraft and re-align or load test or both.

This next is the last letter that Bob McFarland wrote to me on January 29th, and I typed it up for QUICKTALK along with a response (which gives me shudders now) shortly thereafter:

Dear Jim:

As you may have heard, I stupidly landed at Port Clinton, OH on my way home from Oshkosh with the brakes locked. This made for a rapid nose-over, resulting in a broken canopy, smashed upper fin, damaged turtle-deck behind the canopy, and broken right wing. The tail wheel and spring assembly was pried out of the fuselage when the fin hit the ground because I had put about 7 lb of lead in the tailwheel. I personally had head cuts and broke a small bone in my right hand.

While I was working on it, I installed the belly board and balanced the wheels (which were the root cause of the accident) and removed the lead from the tailwheel since with the new canard it was not necessary. It took a while to get the new canopy, especially since I wanted it tinted, but there was surprisingly little trouble installing it in the old frame. I've got it back flying now; the belly board works fine and allows a noticeably steeper glide and shorter landing (well worth the effort).

My Quickie, which I had left at Oshkosh, is now home and the new canard on it continues to do very well. Coming back, I flew directly over Lake Michigan (as I had with the Q-2 the month before - the difference being that due to winds it took almost twice as long). That's as long a water crossing as going to the Bahamas, and not much shorter than the longest over water hop to the Virgin Islands.

Bob McFarland, Wormleysburg, PA

(ED. NOTE: It's these experiences of McFarland and his pal Swanningson in their Quickies that continually rekindle my faith in a higher power.

Dear Jim,

I have been seeking a different powerplant for my Q-2. I presently have a Revmaster and have discussed the engine with other Q-2 owners. I am not really sold on the engine due to carb/mixture related problems, cracked heads, and overheating. I have been looking at a Rotax 65 hp water-cooled engine. It would save 75 lbs. and might be more reliable. Have any other builders used this engine?

Dennis Colomb, Suisun City, CA

(ED NOTE: I think this engine is still too new to be flying in a Q-2, but any comment from QBAers is welcome. As with any untried engine, you better have some deep pockets, pioneers don't get off cheap (in $ or time).


I was astonished to read some of the comments made by John Hicks concerning the Pong Dragon engine.

COMMENT: "The Dragon looks complicated and in the dream state."

...We have been FLYING Dragon engines for almost 18 months and are quite pleased with...performance.

COMMENT: "They are willing to take your money though."

...the money is put into an interest bearing trust fund for the customer...a performance type, meaning that we can only access these funds once we have delivered the engine.

COMMENT: "The Pong Dragon people finally admitted at Lakeland ('85) that the maximum they have gotten trouble free was 50 hours - then major work."

...at Lakeland, we flew the Dragon on a Hiperlight, and no one said anything of the sort. We have accumulated several thousand hours on various engines...high time engine at over 1000 hrs. Simple maintenance is all that has ever been done.

We also have a Quickie slated to flight test the Dragon very soon...

Daniel Krpan, VP Marketing, Dragon Engine Corp.

(ED. NOTE: I talked to Dan in late Dec. He says the engines will be cast and assembled in Singapore then shipped here. He expected at that time that the first 2 engines would be delivered in Jan. and that production would be 150 units by June or July. So he says, but the job of Marketing VP's is to paint pretty pictures. We'll wait 'n see and suggest you do too. The financial protection sounds quite good though.

NOTE #2: At Sun 'N Fun '86 I was told that the first batch of these engines had been shipped to Original Equipment Manufacturers for trials and, sure enough, one had been installed on a Kitfox in the ultralight area. It looked snazzy under a Cessna 190 type cowl, but I didn't see it fly.)


I am one of the first to jump on the wagon and purchase Duane and Scott Swing's Tri gear conversion. I feel if you are a proficient taildragger pilot, you took extra pains to align your landing gear, and your wt. and bal. is correct, the Q-200 will be handled easily. However, since I'm not the former, there's no sense worrying about any of the latter. So I have the tricycle gear. If people want to say I'm an airplane driver instead of a pilot -- that's OK because I won't be spending my winters rebuilding canards and tailsprings -- I'll take that trade any day.

Would you like a custom designed T-shirt or hat with YOUR airplane on it? All you have to do is draw it.

My job takes me to school at Oklahoma University once or twice a year and on the OU campus, I found a nifty little shop that can make a decal of your black line drawing which they can then transfer to whatever garment you wish (a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend is best). They have T-shirts, sweatshirts, sport shirts, etc., or you can send them a specific garment. You'll have to write for prices, but I found them reasonable ($5.95 complete for a hat I had done). They are a small but busy mom and pop type operation that doesn't normally do a mail order business, but I told them I would write this letter and they welcomed it. Address: T-Shirt Express, 1113 Elm St., Norman, OK 73069 or call (405) 364-0101. You can write me if you have questions also.

Ted Fox #2855, P O Box 23, Mansfield, OH 44901

Dear Jim:

Why could the new Q-2 airfoil not be built like the old GU canard without the carbon spars AS LONG AS IT WAS COMBINED WITH A TRICYCLE LANDING GEAR? The loads would be so much lighter that this construction should be strong enough even with the smaller thickness of the new profile. And as long as one was building a new canard, the tricycle gear could be designed right into the center section. Might Sheehan do this himself? (Don't be silly, ED.)

John Louw, Temecula, CA

ED. NOTE: No question that the LS-1 can be built without the carbon spar (one has already and I'm going to do one myself this summer). I've heard Swing is working on the idea and another composite outfit is looking into it. BUT, no static or flight test data is available yet. There's also a Q-2 about ready to fly with a home-built carbon tube spar. You'll hear more as soon as I do.

Dear Jim,

As a low time pilot, I am concerned about the many reports of ground handling difficulties and resulting accidents with these airplanes (Q-2). I am also very discouraged by QAC's defensive attitude and denials whenever it is suggested that there may be a problem of this nature. Anything that leads to safer ground handling and lowers the level of required pilot skill can only serve to increase the attractiveness of QAC products.

I'm afraid that Rutan's concept of placing the main wheels at the ends of a full-span forward lifting surface may just be one of those things that "seemed like a good idea at the time."

I AM very encouraged by developments with alternate landing gear arrangements for the Dragonfly and (blasphemy!) am seriously considering jumping the fence. With its greater wing area and resulting lower landing speeds, along with the promise of better ground handling, it is probably more in line with my current abilities. (It STILL gets the old blood boiling, though, every time I read a QAC ad or an account of Q-200 performance in this or that race.)

Jerry Briner #2123, Ballwin, MO

Dear Jim:

...QAC's summer 1985 newsletter...contained more solid and useful and interesting information than some of the other recent issues, but it also contained a considerable amount of unnecessary gunfire. I think that most of us feel that QAC diminishes itself in direct proportion to the degree that it runs down the "competition"...for the benefit of Quickie people who will not have access to any RAF (Rutan Aircraft Factory) rebuttal--without passion, please--let me offer a few observations regarding some of the bullets, while demurring from any claim for expert status:

QAC gives RAF a hard time for coming up with a replacement canard airfoil for the Long-EZ to "eliminate the trim change with rain which the aircraft supposedly didn't have, however, the stall speed is said to still be higher and nothing has been done for the Vari-EZ or is planned." QAC is on shaky ground here!...the Long-EZ apparently has experienced a greater trim change problem in the rain than the Vari-EZ, and this wasn't clear until the fix was announced. But...the Vari-EZ apparently hasn't had a significant problem; I know a Vari-EZ owner flying out of a nearby airport who reports zero pitch trim change in the heaviest rain shower...and I don't believe any Quickie or Q-2 pilot claims this...the effect of any pitch trim change is apparently much smaller for the EZ's that show it because their canards are less heavily loaded and because of their tricycle gear. (If I were a clown, I'd love to hear the thousands--yea, millions--of laughs--or sobs--that an Oshkosh rain landing in our Quickie would generate: bump, Bump, BUmp, BUMp, BUMP, BUMP!!!)

Will Hubin, Kent, OH

ED. NOTE: For his lack of training, QAC's Sheehan can distort history about as well as the Soviet Propaganda Ministry. Remember that what we have here is a former tool and die maker who is trying to fence with a recognized aeronautical genius...roughly equivalent to an annoying fly on a horse's rump. Rutan has better to do than rebut. Even before the Q-2, QAC denied and POOH-POOHED the rain pitch changes on the Quickie. The rain problem is first noted by QAC in their Quickie Newsletter #6, dated Oct. '79. Quickie owners got the solution some FIVE AND A HALF YEARS later (now somebody else write me a letter and tell me how unfair I am to QAC!). The Q-2's got the fix earlier, but not until AFTER the problem was splashed all over the popular aviation press, presumably affecting QAC's coffers adversely. Meanwhile, over at RAF, the rain effect was observed and carefully checked out in SEVERAL builder's Vari-EZ's. The effect was determined to be minor and variable: some pitched slightly up, others down and still others none at all. It apparently was due to differences in how the craft was built. Now, after months of flight-testing several different canards (and continually INFORMING their builders in the Canard Pusher newsletter), RAF comes up with a new canard designed by the most respected airfoil whiz kid in sport aviation, and Sheehan, like a ruffian tomcat pounces on it to add to his own self-importance. It figures. After all, he hasn't had a good dose of inflated ego since many of you paid him to single-handedly defend sport aviation's existence last year. Let me clarify a position: I am not building, don't desire to build and have not even flown in a Vari-EZ or Long-EZ. They are, to my taste, nice, interesting (even amazing), but very aptly described as flying pickle forks. I prefer less exotic designs. I, however, very much admire Burt Rutan's genius, especially his ability to put together an organization that inspires confidence, admiration and, yes, even reverence in his customer/builders. Three years ago, for example, over 43 EZ-type aircraft flew in to Mojave for Burt's birthday. That says it all. You will wait a million years to see that happen for Sheehan. RAF is, correction, WAS, the best in the business (though not perfect), and should be the standard that others seek to better.

Dear Jim:

Again the newsletter is great. J.P. Stroud's upbeat and informative letter is terrific. We still must not divorce ourselves from QAC completely.

I am a guy who tested his 18 hp Quickie at the ripe old age of 73 years. No problem except low rpm. Then after the 20 hp conversion I developed a bum aorta and was grounded. Someone should fly my N317Q since it now pulls 3600-rpm static instead of barely 3100. Thanks for everything.

Vic Schatz, Athol, ID


Q-2 builder Anan Schaffter has sent QBA periodic and lengthy correspondence indicating that he has done just about everything possible to get a COMPLETE engine except for doing a minstrel tap dance on top of Dan Duncan's head with football cleats on. BEWARE. He is not making any progress. Those of you who abhor the legal options are welcome to suggest alternatives now cause that ain't working either.

From Henry Gardiner

To those who would intentionally color the news in this newsletter, an ancient proverb: "Where all men think alike, nobody thinks very much."

QBA BUILDER ROSTER - At the end of each year our roster is as fat as it gets. Still available for $5.00, our roster now contains over 600 names, addresses, and phone numbers of fellow QBA members. Now is the time to have a list of contacts to further discuss a creative idea or flight experience that you read about in QUICKTALK. $5.00


Let me start by saying that this is not an advertisement for anyone. I will try to give a factual account of my experiences with a company associated with our hobby. You can form your own opinions. However, I will give my conclusions and opinions in the last paragraph.

Back in September of '85, I realized that with my schedule, my dream of completion by late 1987 was not going to be realized. In an effort to speed things up I began looking for things that would take me a fair amount of time that I could hire out at a reasonable rate. Making templates and hot-wiring cores came to mind first. I fired off a letter to a number of "composite companies" I had seen advertised here and there. After a week I received a phone call from Tom Wright at Custom Composite Components in Friedens, Pennsylvania. He would hotwire a complete set of cores for shop rate. He said he could do them in about half a day. That came to $80.00 - $100.00, which was about $150.00 less than other quotes I later received. DONE!

I am building a Tri-Q and during our conversation Tom mentioned that if I were going to build a canard without the carbon spar that he would like to have the spar. I didn't think much of it at the time but I later remembered Duane Swing mentioning that such a canard was in the planning/development stages for the Tri-Q. A quick check of the value of the spar and a crosscheck to CCC's price list led me to call Tom back. "You build me a canard and you can have my spar." DONE AGAIN. (This was getting fun!)

During that conversation it came up that he has an 0-200, with logs, freshly overhauled by a gentleman who has been in aviation since ragwings and support wire and who, is also an A&P and IA. $2500.00!!! "Now wait a minute", I says. These things go for four to seven grand in Trade-A-Plane and I smell a rat in the woodpile. Ends up Tom don't think they get those prices. He knows he'll sell at this price. I'm still a doubt'n so I say I want to see it run. They don't have a 150 but I'm still persistent. So, he builds a test stand.

January '86 I pack up the foam core billets, spar & drive to Pennsylvania to see the engine run & deliver the goods. Engine runs great and I swing a deal for 100 octane valves & seats for an additional $400.00.

While there I had the opportunity to talk at length with Tom Wright and his partner, Bill Forest. Tom's background is in marketing and sales for coal mining equipment. Coal mining in western Pennsylvania went belly up so Tom's out of a job. He has a Long-Eze so other folks started asking him to make a canard here, a winglet there and since supper must still go on the table, Tom starts Custom Composite Components. He is later joined by Bill who had just the opposite problem. He worked for a major corporation in industrial fiberglass and spent so much time away from home, the kids wanted to know "who's that" when he was there. He was native to the area and joined Tom. They have expanded by adding a few employees, lining up other industrial work (we all know composite airplanes are a flash in the pan) with such companies as Coleman. They have received some help from the local banker and hope to be in their new facilities located at Somerset Country Airport by the end of summer.

In their shop they have a Q-2, a Turbo Q-2, Tom's Long-Eze and a Defiant project for a gentleman in North Carolina Along with another kit which is to be their Tri Q. Some of the innovations they have come up with on the Turbo Q-2 are more than interesting. An oxygen system under the pilot's side main wing with reinforced sides. Elimination of the center stick replaced with dual side sticks and dual rudder pedals with a center console pod for throttle, mixture and carb heat. A Long-Eze fuel filler eliminates the long tube-like filler neck. The customer told them what he wanted and they figured out how to do it.

Despite the tone of this report, it has still been a factual account of my experiences with CCC. I am not saying that they are any better than any other composite organization because I haven't seen the competition. The only head to head comparing I've done is in the $$$ area and here CCC has a definite advantage. By the way, CCC didn't know I going to write this until I was leaving. (They asked if I was a Masal spy.) I'll finish with a quote from Bill Forest of CCC, "We're both old enough to know that we're not going to get rich doing this. We just want to make a decent living working with what we like. We many not always be the least expensive or the fastest but we're striving to have the best quality because with the liability in this business, you can't do it any other way."

You can order a PDF or printed copy of QuickTalk #26 by using the Q-talk Back Issue Order Page.