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What were the reasons for Quicksilver to be where they are today?

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MadProfessor8138

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In all my years of flying ultralights...the only rules that I ever really saw broken were :
1. Some of the single place aircraft were "fat" due to fuel/brakes/bigger engine...etc.
I was guilty of that,myself, on several aircraft.
2. Some 2 place aircraft were being flown by non-BFI's due to a pilot weight issue.

I cant recall ever seeing a 2 place being used to haul passengers by someone that wasnt a BFI giving instruction.

Everyone did a pretty good job of policing and enforcing the Part 103 regs. themselves.
They didnt want attention drawn to them so they did their best to stay under the radar.

Kevin
 

Dana

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I'm not sure I ever saw a 2 seat ultralight flown legally. Sure, the pilots may have had BFI's, and the flights were wink-wink-nudge "training" flights, but...

The original intent of the sport pilot rule wouldn't have been bad, but then it got taken over buy the rule writers and the manufacturers of faster planes who saw an opportunity for low cost certification.
 

Dana

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I'm not sure I ever saw a 2 seat ultralight flown legally. Sure, the pilots may have had BFI's, and the flights were wink-wink-nudge "training" flights, but...

The original intent of the sport pilot rule wouldn't have been bad, but then it got taken over buy the rule writers and the manufacturers of faster planes who saw an opportunity for low cost certification.
 

bmcj

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In the 80’s, our intro flights were billed as introductory lessons and treated as such. Most turned into return students who came back for more lessons and solo rentals.

Most (but not all) of our 2-seaters at that time were N-numbered because most of our instructors were also PPL or even CFI. Our planes flew all day and had plenty of people waiting to fly.
 

TFF

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European Union was pressuring the FAA to have a Micro Lite license crossover because there was a treaty that said all licenses could be reciprocated. US did not have one. Essentially the real rub was Commercial pilots trained in US getting a free pass in the EU for a license. Treaty said all licenses. FAA and US companies would loose more than adding a LSA license. Just so happens we the US had a runaway 2 seat trainer problem. Add them together.

In the beginning 103 was novel so lots of adventure seekers jumped in. In the end it was the two seaters is that people were buying. One guy with a Challenger II said to me he picked it so he and his wife could fly. He knew he was breaking the spirit of the rule. Another guy told me he had a two seater because if he had to sell it, he would loose less money.

Sometime in the mid 80s at the big city park, they had a UL fly in. It was like a picnic. It could not be done today. 20-25 aircraft. Some were homebuilts like two seat Fishers. There were more two seat than single. Ideal but short space, no one flew in or left with two aboard.
I remember seeing at another fly in, a two seat give a ride. 3500 ft grass strip and I did not think he was going to make it. Barely made it around pattern too. Side by side seats.
 

BBerson

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I'm not sure I ever saw a 2 seat ultralight flown legally. Sure, the pilots may have had BFI's, and the flights were wink-wink-nudge "training" flights, but...

The original intent of the sport pilot rule wouldn't have been bad, but then it got taken over buy the rule writers and the manufacturers of faster planes who saw an opportunity for low cost certification.
Where do you get "legally". They had exceptions to the law from the FAA. The FAA monitored what was happening.
The owner of the ultralight ride business was a FAA Safety Counselor. And yes 9 out 10 flights were "rides".
So what? Where was the safety issue?

What we have is a constant overreach from the FAA. Rides are not even allowed by a Commercial Certificated CFI in a Cessna 150 without special FAA authorization and oversight. A C-150 ride/tour business requires a letter of authorization from the FAA.
 

Dillpickle

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hmmmm....Lots of reasons for the demise of ultralights listed here, and most are pretty valid. But I'd like to add to the story. Financing. My 19 year old is a student and has a job at McDonalds making $12.50 an hour. He has a 1985 Honda Rebel, a 2002 Harley Sportster, and an older mid 90's honda accord, all paid for. He's planning on selling the Bikes and buying a new $10,ooo Yamaha. He should net $4500 for his two bikes and have to come up with $6500 out the door. He has little credit, a Large down payment, no bad credit, and can't get financing (a good thing.) He's got 5 grand in the bank. Almost there, but he is an EXCEPTIONALLY good money manager. BTW, he has lived on his own for two years, no help from us. In five years he will have credit enough to finance something like a bike or jetski. BUT...the airplane market isn't "really" finance friendly for the average ultralight enthusiast. And a Quicksilver kit with all the bling was pushing 15-20 k when they folded. Boats, motorcycles, JetSki's, Atv's are all finance friendly, and ultralights are not. Plunk your 15 to 20 down, or 10-12 for the stuff to complete a 400 hour kit--or put down the 5 k my kid has on two Snowmobiles. Which option do MOST people have?
 

Dana

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Where do you get "legally". They had exceptions to the law from the FAA. The FAA monitored what was happening.
The owner of the ultralight ride business was a FAA Safety Counselor. And yes 9 out 10 flights were "rides".
So what? Where was the safety issue?
I didn't say it was a safety issue, it wasn't, in most cases. But rides aren't instruction, which is all that was legally allowed. I knew one guy who had a sign advertising "ultralight airplane rides" on the side of his car, and he (we learned later) wasn't even a BFI. Don't get me wrong, the FAA indeed screwed over the ultralight industry with SP/LSA as it ended up, but the violations were becoming so blatant that they couldn't ignore it any more.
 

Bille Floyd

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My first flight in a quicksilver, was the E model ; weight
shift pitch, and the rudder was attached to the sling-seat.
The flight occurred, in the early 80's behind the Delmar
race-track , about an hour before sunset. I was good friends
with the owner, and we had both bin flying Hang gliders since
1977 ; and he knew fore sure that i could handle flying his machine.
The owner's name was Paul ; he died testing the Mx for
the factory, a few years later.

My fascination for that type of flying , never went away ; i
sold near 3,500 HG lessons , at Torrey Pines, north of San Diego
from 1980 to 1990 , then the FAA stepped in, and said no more
rides ; two-place operations could only be done for training
purposes, in a non motorized hang glider.

Another friend wanted to give me a Mike Sandlin, Goat glider
but it didn't fold up very fast , so i stayed with my Rigid-wing
HG instead ; it folds up in 20-min, and fits on top of my Sienna.
I own two of those gliders ; one i fly , and another one for parts.

Question :
If instruction , (Not rides) is still Legal in a Hang glider , under
par-103 ; why isn't the same for ultralights with a motor ?

Bille
 

Dana

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Question :
If instruction , (Not rides) is still Legal in a Hang glider , under
par-103 ; why isn't the same for ultralights with a motor ?

Bille
The USHPA still has an exemption for training. The reason is that the LSA rules don't include foot launched aircraft, so hang gliders and paragliders can't be registered.

There was a lot of debate about whether USHPA would request the exemption to include motors. In the end, the non motor purists won out.
 

BBerson

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I think the hang glider association still has an FAA exemption for two occupant.
The powered parachute (PPG) has an exemption also, I think. Even some with wheels now. At least that is what one instructor I talked to at Arlington Fly-in told me.

I don't know why fixed wing was excluded.
 

radfordc

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I was offered intro lessons by only two BFI. No one else ever offered an ultralight flight lesson or ride to me. So I didn't witness any unsafe activity at my business which was across the runway from the states largest ultralight school.
I didn't say unsafe...just not completely in accordance with the exemption rules. Most commonly owners flying the plane for their own enjoyment and taking people for rides. I recall the FAA said essentially this when they were touting the new Sport Pilot/LSA rules.
 

BBerson

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Most or many of those (usually older) pilots giving rides had private pilot certification. I don't see reasonable pilot training rules as burdensome.
The burdensome aircraft certification rules of LSA have killed the industry.
 

Bille Floyd

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The USHPA still has an exemption for training. The reason is that the LSA rules don't include foot launched aircraft, so hang gliders and paragliders can't be registered.
...
OK then ; here is a business Loop-hole that could work, for
training people how to fly a motorized ultralight :

Tow it up as a two-place glider instructional flight , (Air or ground tow)
and don't start the motor with it's folding prop . When the student can fly
the thing as glider , then crank-Up the motor, and let him fly off
"Alone" !!!

Bille
 

Dana

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I'm pretty sure that all the remaining exemptions are for foot launch only.

Absent an "ultralight like" SLSA (which do exist but are expensive, like the M-Squared Quickalike), the are potentially two ways to train: One, obtain a Letter Of Deviation Authority (LODA) for "transition training" in a experimental, which would require a cooperative FSDO. Or two, form an equity flying club around an experimental, with members owning shares... it's legal for a CFI to be paid for training in an experimental owned by the student.

Getting a LODA requires a complete training syllabus. I think USUA and ASC (owners of the old training exemptions) missed the boat here, their income from the exemptions is over, but they could still be selling the training materials.
 

radfordc

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Most or many of those (usually older) pilots giving rides had private pilot certification. /QUOTE]

Even if they had an ATP they still had to abide by the rules of the Part 103 exemption if flying a UL trainer (no N number). Giving "rides" not allowed, only instruction.

In this area almost no UL trainer owners had a PPL, most weren't BFIs. Even the BFIs stretched the rules.
 

BBerson

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The reason Quicksilver and others went out of business was not just pilot certification. The exemption allowed selling of two place aircraft without an airworthiness certificate. And without the 51% rule of EA-B kits. So the factories were selling Ready to fly or fast build kits that needed only about 100 hours to assemble.
The end of the exemption caused the collapse of those light two seaters, which were what the market wanted, even if only flown solo.
I don't know if a "student" was allowed to fly solo in a two seater? But I assume the heavy students wanted a two seater to fly solo.
 

Bille Floyd

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I'm pretty sure that all the remaining exemptions are for foot launch only.

...
Places like Quest-air in Florida ; they do a lot of business
, towing up tandem hang gliders, with students and instructors.
They use The Bailey-Moyes Dragonfly , as a Tug. They take-off
on wheels, and land on wheels. A guy could build a two-place
glider like a Goat looking apparatus, with 3 axis controls
and tow it up easy. I watched the Goat roll off a mountain
launch with ease , and then thermal away ; adding a legal
student passenger wouldn't be much of a problem.


Check out this shot :

https://www.theledger.com/article/LK/20060105/News/608140842/LL/

Bille
 
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Dana

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The dragonfly isn't an ultralight, it has to be registered E-AB. The ultralights it tows may be one or two place hang gliders, though I'm sure it could tow very light sailplanes or Goat type aircraft. I don't think the USHGA training exemption covers anything that's not foot launchable, but I could be mistaken.
 

pictsidhe

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I think you could fill in the missing 2 place trainers with something we have now but nobody really had back then... realistic flight sims. That is how quadcopter pilots learn to fly - or how it's recommended they learn to fly - they do all their crashing and getting use to things in a simulator where it costs them nothing in damaged parts, before they fly a real quad.

The real problem is few flight simulators support all that many ultralight models, if any, and none of the cool ones from the 80's that you can pick up on the bottom of the market.

If you are really convinced the lack of 2 seaters is what's killing an ultralight resurgence - you could totally step around it with a training classroom with a decent flight sim with legit flight sim controls. It's nowhere near the same exact feeling, no more than driving a motorcycle sim is anything like driving a motorcycle in real life is (*it's not, at all)... but you can master the basic principals in one and learn a few of the gotchas when set to ultra-realistic mode (i.e, for motorcycles, slow down before curves, lean in to curves, shifting, braking, following the road with your eyes, use both brakes, etc).

The real death of aviation is the rise of the internet and mobile phones and tele-presence. The computer revolution in the 80's and 90's killed ultralights - computers were just way more useful, accessible, and fun to play with and the new hot hobby. They actually delivered (it took them a long while in development by die hard enthusiests and evangelists to get there, but they finally did), and opened up a whole new world of exploration and adventure and information. Flying - not so much so. Today, I can build a PC in an afternoon and reap all the benefits of it. Five+ years later, I'm still nowhere on finishing a plane. It's a money pit with no payback. I haven't gotten the first single flight out of any of my airplane projects yet. Meanwhile, by comparison, in the same amount of time... I've surfed billions of webpages...

The proof in the pudding or nail in the coffin, so to speak, is right in front of you - we can all be here and swap ideas and communicate with each other because of computers - not because we hopped in a plane and all flew somewhere to meet and chat.

Except for long haul flights... there are very few compelling uses for an airplane any more - the cost, complexity, maintenance, and storage problems associated with airplanes is staggering.

But, from my test post of giving away a free project ultralight, tons of people would love to fix up and fly an airplane... for no practical reason at all, just because they want to fly.

The real death of ultralight besides OTHER THAN that computers and just about everything else out there you could do has a far superior ROI... is that very few people I imagine have a 40ft x 25ft x 10ft high place to store a plane indoors out of the UV sunlight, with a 700ft x 50ft empty flat field right out side said storage space. Even I am still grappling with that one. How the heck am I going to solve that at $10/hr? Such land plus hanger on scrub land would cost $25K (probably way more where you live), and take me 5 yrs just to get to an airplane garage and empty field.

Because of that last one, everyone moved to gyros and trikes (powered rogollo hang gliders with wheels) and powered parachutes . Those markets bloomed and stabilized into new communities that continue to exist, because you can stuff them in a common car garage.

Ultralights are just too... big..! with too big of a footprint requirement (runway, legit hanger, etc).
This post has had my cogs whirring.

Realistic flight sim? Well, how about and add on for your partially built fuselage to give a force feedback flight sim? A manufacturer could rent/sell/plan the unit to builders. Builders could learn to sim-fly while building the wings. A set of steppers varying the spring feedback force onto the stick with IAS should give a fairly good experience.

Ultralights that will fold onto a trailer and fit in a single garage seem like a good idea. I'm already working on one...
 
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