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Don Johnson's 90th Birthday

Don Johnson's 90th Birthday Bash!

written by Gary McKirdy

I just returned from Don Johnson’s 90th Birthday party which was held on Tuesday, December 27, 2011.

The venue for Don’s Birthday bash was a converted DC6 (of course) that is now a fully licensed restaurant on the Coventry airfield.

Don Johnson, with the assistance of his wife Norma and his sons Mark and Ian, built and flew the first UK Quickie in record time back in the eighties.

Before he could become European (and S.African) dealer he had to convince the then PFA head of engineering to accept the Q2 as a UK approved kit.

This dealer demo Q2 flew to Venice in Italy.

That was not without difficulty of course but the PFA were to be no obstacle for Don. He later acquired sponsorship from ICI who were making resins and the aircraft was registered G-OICI with the Fuselage logo painted along the side.

I have had the unique privilege to read some of Don’s correspondence with regulators, so please understand that, without Don's vision and dogged determination, there would very likely have never been the option to build and fly a Quickie in Europe and S.Africa.

Don next to a Spitfire, years after he had the undignified task of flying
two of them to the breakers [junk] yard in the far East. Now
each would be worth 1/2 million pounds or 3/4 million US$!

Don flew Hurricanes amongst other types in World War 2 and spent time in the far East. He has been an active supporter of Coventry flying club for many years and appeared on TV last year when, at 89 years of age, he got to fly an aircraft in Britain again that he had first flown and logged time in during WW2.

The plane was an Auster 3 seat reconnaissance aircraft used in Burma. He took off (once) and landed (by his own admission a few times) in front of the cameras during Air Atlantique's open day. Belinda, my partner for 17 years (who now has her PPL), and I flew in from Wellesbourne to see Don in the newly opened DC6 restaurant having lunch with the Mayor of Coventry and other dignitaries.

He still enthusiastically collects a stills and video archive of all the Q kits that have hatched.

If anyone from either side of the pond would like to pass a message to Don on his 90th birthday please send them to me so that we can have them posted on the QBA website for everyone (including Don) to enjoy. We wish Don a hearty THANK YOU and the very happiest of Birthdays ever!

Don with a representative of Airbase, part of Classic Flight and Air Atlantique.
Instead of presents, Don requested donations to help keep them going.

Don's invitations rule out personal presents of any kind but he wants everyone to know that he supports the Classic Flying Club who keep old, mainly British designs, in pristine flying condition regardless of cost.

Don with his new wing man, son Mark.

They are centrally based at Coventry airport where visits can be arranged. There is an indoor and outdoor museum including a Shackleton amongst others. Anyone can join and even fly their historic piston and jet aircraft! You can visit their website and donate to the cause in Don’s honor at http://www.classicflightclub.com

Don "Curly" Johnson at school circa 1932 front row extreme right.

The Coventry Telegraph Newspaper also attended Don's Birthday party and did a nice write-up here.

Paul Buckley, a U.K. Tri-Q200 builder, sent this Birthday Remeberance:

I used to build large scale, competition standard, r/c models.

The last one I built was a Cessna 120 with an aluminium skin and all the rivets faithfully replicated. It had opening doors and cowling, and the Cessna name was incorporated in the foot step. It took me two years to build and shortly after it was finished I attended the World R/C competitions at Cranfield.

There was this little cute looking, but rather odd, airplane there, and I crawled all over it. The owner turned out to be the importer, Don Johnson, who told me that it had taken him two years to build!

'WOW' I thought, what the blazes am I doing building scale models when I could be building the real thing, and not that much bigger, either!
So I bought a kit from him and here I am, 25 years later, still building!!

The main problem (but I admit, not all the problem) was that he didn't tell me that :-

  1. He worked at it full time for that two years.
  2. He had the help of his son, Mark, full time.
  3. He had the help of his son, Ian, full time .
  4. He had the help of his wife, Norma, full time.

But, you know what, I just love it, and all the friends I have made on the Q journey......frustrating sometimes but very enjoyable and fulfilling.

Please give Don my best wishes on his 90th, and say Hi to Mark and Ian for me.

Paul Buckley
Ok Ok ......still building!

PS I never returned to building models!

Richard Kaczmarek also noted that there is a photo of Don and his family in Quickie newsletter No. 21 fall of 1983, and a pilot profile in Quicktalk issue #29 page 6 Sept/Oct 1986.

Is it Level?

Currently I am working on re-building the main fuel tank on my Q-200.  In order to accomplish this I have to ensure that the fuselage is level both laterally and longitudinally.  This will allow me to put the rebuilt tank back in level. To accomplish this, I purchased a few small bull’s eye levels on amazon.com, and I intend to stick them to the canard and turtle deck with bondo once everything is leveled out. 

The first problem I had was figuring out how to level the fuselage fore and aft.  I remember reading on the Q-list, that the arm rests were supposed to be put into the fuselage, leveled front to back.  However, after reading the plans more carefully, it seems the top of the arm rests are supposed to be leveled across the tops from side to side.

This explains why the following pictures didn’t really add up for me.  I was hoping that once I leveled the armrests in both directions, that the firewall would be plumb vertically, but as you can see below this is not the case.


When the tops of the armrests are leveled laterally. . .


. . . and leveled front to back. . .


. . .the firewall was about 5 degrees from the vertical.


So to make a long story short, it looks like I should be using the firewall, and vertical bulkheads as my guide instead of the arm rests for longitudinal leveling. 

I should be able to level the fuselage laterally, by placing the larger four foot level across the top of the arm rests, and then ensuring that the firewall is plumbed vertically.  I can then check the rest of the vertical bulkheads to ensure that everything was originally put together according to the plans.

(Then attach my bull's eye levels.)

For further reading check out page 8-2 and 14-7 of the Q-2 plans.

At least this is the way I intend to proceed, unless I hear from more experienced Q-builders telling me I'm an idiot!  Embarassed  So, as always I invite your comments below or in the forums.




Q2 First Solo Flight Dr. Steve Kulczycky


The above video was shown at Dr. Steve Kulczycky's Memorial service on November 13th, 2010.  Dr. Steve passed away on October 27th, 2010, but I decided to bring the video over to the QBA website to celebrate Steve’s life.  Although the video shows a bit of a rough start for the relationship between Dr. Steve and his beloved Q2, he became the highest time Quickie pilot in the world with 2369 total flight hours logged.  This record will probably stand for quite a few more years, but it is a testament to Steve’s life and love of the Q design.

Several pilots are starting their taxi testing and I hope each of them will watch this video before first flight.  Many new Quickie pilots are surprised by the amount of space required to slow the Q down on final.  It is a really efficient and low drag design.  That “slipperiness” means that the glide angle on final will be much shallower than the Cessnas most of us are used to flying.

On first flight, stay close to the airport but don’t be afraid to practice that final glide at altitude before trying it “for real.”  Before any of this, you should have already taxi tested your Q until you want to puke.  In addition, you should get out to the Quickie fly-ins, and shoot several landings with more experienced Q pilots in their planes.  Get that “sight picture” stuck in your head before you attempt to land one on your own.

If you’re interested in seeing the original video, you can check it out on vimeo by visiting here: