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QuickTalk 22 - Jul/Aug 1985 - index

JUL/AUG 1985



by Jim Masal



Saturday, June 29, 1985, will go down in my life-diary as one of the most memorable days. Nope, it was not the day of my first flight; it was the 18th since the first one in the rapidly failing light of June 4th. For 25 days as I tinkered, fiddled and flew Quickie N44QC, I had been having a repetitious conversation with onlookers: "Gee, it must be a fun plane to fly. I don't know. It hasn't been fun for ME yet." I had approached test flying like I imagined Navy test pilots must: I went out with a clear idea of what "numbers" I wanted to get and I flew for that data and nothing more. It was just another job to do. Excessive engine heat and a faulty charging system demanded and took all my attention except watching for other traffic. Most flights were scarcely 20 to 30 minutes long, ending in frustration.

On Friday evening the 28th, still struggling with 400-450 degree CHT readings, I was working on a hot ramp while expecting a visit from Mike Conlin in Quickie N60JW from the Houston area. Mike was coming for moral, technical, and/or any other kind of support. When I finished my work, I called a bureaucrat at Flight Service who advised me that N60JW had gotten off and was currently 6 minutes past his ETA. Aha! He MUST be in the area. I raced to my plane and wasted no time getting airborne in hopes of escorting him in. After 45 minutes of stooging around along his arrival route, I returned disappointed thinking he had had to turn back (on a previous trip a month earlier I provided search and rescue when he was forced down on a Ft. Worth roadway returning home - garbage in the fuel). I was further annoyed to note that my CHT had just gone belly up to boot. Damn! I taxied in, then with Ron Gowan's help I unscrewed the cowling for about the 30,000th time and probed and poked for the fault in the setting sun. Just then, a curious but quiet onlooker observing our ministrations commented: "Could this be him?" and there above was Mike, racing the setting sun to the runway.

There followed a constant and animated flow of conversation for 3 hours until we hit the sack at midnight. It resumed promptly at 8am after I alerted friend and Mooney driver Bob Owen and Quickie builder Henry Gardiner that a photo mission could be a "go" around 10am. Everyone and everything was assembled by 10:30 EXCEPT N44QC. The "crew" paced as I finished my wrenching, screwing and fixing with the aid of my indispensable "Workshop In A Toyota". Just after 11am, all was (most likely) ready. Two Quickies yawned to life while a Mooney grumbled scornfully.

The first thrill of the day came when Mike radioed "Wanna share the runway?" and I rolled to a stop beside him for a formation take off. I felt in all the world like two F-4's ready for a scramble. F-4's never climbed so slow yet felt so intoxicating as flying beside another ship of the same unusual type (When my wife told a Saturday morning caller that I was out flying formation with another Quickie, he said that he thought a formation of Quickies was what it was called when 2 Quickies flew over the same place going the same direction in the same month).

As we rolled into a right turn after take off, we made a fumbling attempt at a formation while our photo Mooney, trying to get into position, wallowed around at the edge of a stall with everything hanging out: gear, flaps, arms, legs, camera bags. As the cameras focused and snapped, we began to hold formation a little bit better. Soon the "modeling" was over and we loosened up to climb and chase each other's tails for a bit (or as I like to say: play aerial grab-ass). Gone for the moment were my considerable apprehensions of days past (in spite of the fact that my CHT fix didn't work). Sharing airspace with a pal in another Quickie was comfortable, like the reassuring breathing of a bedmate on a spooky night.

I had been feeling like an outcast, having had to trailer N44QC 12 miles north to Denton Co. Airport for a safer, wider 5,000 ft. runway, and though I had been over-flying my home 'drome' for the last 5 days, I hadn't really announced the plane's "hatching". I wanted to drop in for a visit - the kind I had been watching 2 yellow resident AT-6's make weekend after weekend while I toiled tediously on the final 2% of my Quickie, jealous of their cavorting. I suggested a good buzz job, Mike agreed and we set course. Mike was into the pattern first for a touch and go and I warned him of leading traffic. He had trouble seeing it. Of course! That's what camouflage paint is for - I soon recognized it as the local CAF Fiesler Storch (a S.T.O.L. WWII German observation craft). No way was Mike gonna be able to slow down behind the Storch, so I hung back high on final while the steep "S" turning of Mike's hapless white dot in the sky attracted the attention of a considerable crowd of the grounded Saturday morning aviation community. As the Storch trundled its way down and to the turnoff, Mike had to add power for a go around. The onlookers, surprised by the sight of the Quickie followed its path like a tennis audience down and out of the south end of the runway. Meanwhile, the "home town" boy was comin' home.

I had N44QC smoking down the chute at 130 mph for a low gun run on the Storch which appeared dead ahead, broadside, on the crossing taxiway. Never expecting TWO Quickies, I felt the crowd do a double take as I flashed by in a white blur just off the deck, feeling like the solo jet in a Blue Angels air show. I finished up in a sharp, tight climbing right turn (the kind that Quickies do well!), to give the crowd a good view of the plan form (the Storch, I imagined, was in flames. Take that, Adolf, you slimy scumbag). I'm tempted to say that the thrill made all the years of building worthwhile. It wasn't NEARLY enough...but at that moment it was one glorious installment and we had only just started beating up the area for the day!

What a day! But success has its price, and I paid mine up front and in cash. Here's how much some of it cost, and not really the fiscal cost either.

I was never the guy who worked on cars or built furniture or even repaired appliances with gusto. Mechanical things didn't interest me (unless they were keeping people alive in an Intensive Care Unit. I'd been a Registered Respiratory Therapist for 12 years). I bought kit 457 just as a challenge to see if I COULD build a real flying plane. It was a struggle that would last 4 years and 8 months. For the first three and a half, I ran neck and neck with Daryl Rodgers, a buddy building a KR-2. We inspired and labored with each other, but last May Daryl saw the end, put on a burst of speed and flew in June or July. I was close too, but I hit the skids after he flew. Q-2 builder Ron Gowan encouraged me to move the ship out of my yard and to a distant airport hangar. I thought that that might help my motivation, so a crowd was gathered and a trailer was loaded.

The tow car that day was driven by a Q-2 builder who had experience trailering his own beautiful Q-2. Just blocks from my home, I signaled him to pull over so I could check some ropes, then watched in my rear-view mirror in horror as he neatly splattered the right wingtip and trailing edge of the main wing on a telephone pole located unusually close to the curb of Walnut Hill Lane. How do you strangle a guy whom you like very much??? I felt rage and despair all at the same time...and with no way to vent it. I would not be persuaded to continue on to the airport. Returning home and unloading are only dimly remembered. My mood and the general gloom chased off everyone very quickly but as I turned toward my back yard in disgust to look at the damage, I found that one man still remained. Daryl would not be run off. With the quiet resoluteness of a determined man he carefully prodded me to begin the repair, even while tears tried to well up in my eyes. Where do we get such friends? How do we deserve them?

Bob, who drove the trailer that day, ran smack over and through his mailbox on the way into his driveway and never explained his curious mood to his wife. I did, much later. Humor gets us through many of life's tragedies. We have never found anything to laugh about in this one, but we are even closer friends.

The repair took an intense 10 days.

The plane got to the airport one Sunday thereafter with me driving the trailer on the edge of my seat for 32 miles, but the psychological wound went deeper than I thought. I can show you claw marks in the entire 32 miles of pavement from my home to the airport made as I dragged myself under protest to the airport as often as I could. Even as I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I was not spurred on. If it weren't for my "little buddy" Ron, who constantly bugged me to crank it up and taxi it a bit, I might still be slogging around, earthbound.

If it weren't for a lot of guys in the last 10 months...They'd love to see their names in print but it'd only be important to them and me and only an Academy Awards litany to you. Bless them all, the long the short and the tall. If it weren't for a lot of guys...

My experience is a testimony to the notion that so long as you don't quit your project altogether, so long as you do one small piece each day or each week, you WILL prevail, just as surely as the rockiest coastline will be worn away, relentlessly, one wave at a time.

As Mike and I returned from a lunch break between flights on that magic day, Bob Giles who had driven us and whose own Quickie got a successful sign off by the FAA that day, remarked "Boy, what a GREAT day to fly. What am I doing here, I should be up there with you guys!". Bob, your time will come, and when it comes, some other poor soul will be watching YOU from the ground with the exact same words on his lips and the cycle will continually repeat itself. It's only a matter of time, your time, too, will come."

As many who have helped me, I am glad my work with QUICKTALK is helping to bring you all inevitably closer to the thrill I have just enjoyed. You too will have your moments...you will have your moments.


OSHKOSH, BY GOLLY! (fooled you)

July 27, Saturday evening at 8 pm in FORUM TENT #2 the QBA will hold its annual forum. We will have general discussion as long as it takes, then break into groups with the Quickie builders moving to FORUM TENT #6 for special interest discussions. Due to a lack of response to my request for your opinion on the value of our usual wine and cheese party at the University, we will not have one this year. Perhaps we can arrange something "Dutch treat" on site for the few who might be interested at a pizza parlor or pub close by. Think about it.

If my Quickie is not equal to the 10 hr task and I land short of OSH, I have alerted a couple QBA'ers to grab the mike and either cancel the show for me or try to elicit the crowd's help to make as much out of the forum as they can. Please jump in and help. Hope to arrive Friday about noon.

GETO. High hopes are fading fast. 3 of the 5 coming out of my area didn't finish in time and now my expected wingman has told me he's elected to go "spam cam". Similar dramas have occurred countrywide. If nothing else, we believe the GETO effort got some folks working more intensely on their projects even if the goal was not met. Robt. Herd tells me he can't reserve a line specifically for QBA fliers but John Touchet of Fond du Lac will try to have a sign on the line so we can collect as many at one location, first come first served, as possible without incurring the wrath of the EAA or acting pushy. GOOD FLYING.


Other Articles In This Issue

LETTERS - by Jim Masal
Q-TIPS - by Jim Masal
QUICKIE HINTS - by Jim Masal
Q2 HINTS - by Jim Masal
CLASSIFIEDS - by Jim Masal
QUICKSHOTS - by Jim Masal


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