“It’s still the best,” is a phrase I could use referring to Quicksilver’s most-popular-of-all ultralights in general, the Sport 2S. Indeed it remains a delightful aircraft and the strutted construction appeals to many pilots. Or, I could be referring to flying an ultralight on floats, that being one of the very best ways to enjoy an ultralight. Or, I could be talking about both. You’ll want to read on and see. I might also be talking about the strutted version of the venerable Quicksilver model being the best of the design series. Or, I might be talking about the innovative company representing the Quicksilver 2S on floats in central Florida. Every one of these statements is accurate in one way or another. It was my pleasure to fly the Sport 2S on Full Lotus floats and it surely was a dandy experience. Is it the best? Well, it might be for you.
Strutted Quicksilver on Full Lotus Floats
|Empty weight||430 pounds 1|
|Gross weight||1,000 pounds|
|Wing area||170 square feet|
|Kit type||Assembly kit|
|Build time||50 to 75 hours|
|Notes:||1 Normal empty weight; with Full Lotus floats, weight is 130 pounds additional for floats and all hardware, according to Float Planes and Amphibs.|
|Standard engine||Rotax 582|
|Power||65 hp at 6,500 rpm|
|Power loading||15.4 pounds per hp|
|Cruise speed||64 mph|
|Never exceed speed||80 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||850 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||325 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||125 feet|
|Standard Features||ASI, 65-hp Rotax 582 engine, full dual controls with dual rudder pedals and steerable nosewheel (flown with Full Lotus inflatable floats with nosewheel removed), dual throttles, mechanical brakes (not as tested), in-flight adjustable trim (see article), 4-point seat belts, double-surface presewn wings, 2-blade wood prop, and extensive manuals.|
|Options||Three-blade composite prop (as flown), ballistic parachute, Full Lotus floats (as flown), instruments, electric starting (as flown).|
|Construction||Aluminum airframe, 4130 steel pilot cage, presewn and full-color wing, Dacron coverings, all AN hardware.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros - The most widely used ultralight trainer is now available with struts and Full Lotus floats. Manufacturer has a fully certified quality control systems and enormous in-house machining capability. Dealer support is good throughout the world. Float Planes and Amphibs is a well-organized dealer ready to help you in central Florida.
Cons - This strutted Quicksilver is significantly heavier than earlier models; changes flight characteristics somewhat (though still very pleasant). Open cockpit won't be desirable in some climates. Some buyers who view the design as dated, even with the struts and other changes, which may affect resale.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - A benefit to Quicksilver's MX series is simplicity; few systems to manage. FP&A's Stuart Fuller has created an aerodynamic trim. Easy repair access. Brake lever is on front of stick where each occupant can use it. Test Sport 2S was equipped with electric starting. Test aircraft also had effective water rudders.
Cons - Those looking for bells and whistles must look elsewhere. Center stick won't please all pilots (though dual throttles will). Pull starting from seat has been challenging in earlier tests. Brake lever demands a broad grip for best stopping power (no brakes on float aircraft, of course).
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros - Completely unenclosed cockpit is perfect for warm weather float flying. Entry/exit doesn't get any easier. Side-by-side seating is often considered optimal for training. Test aircraft was equipped with 4-point belts. Instruments mounted out of the way but very visibly near leading edge.
Cons - Land version sits on its tail until occupied; some pilots don't care for this. Quicksilver's charm is also its vulnerability; many modern buyers don't seek open cockpit designs. Control stick and throttle have no arm rest points. Seats don't adjust easily. No cargo area.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros - Water rudders proved quite effective for water taxiing. Visibility is open in all directions except overhead. Full Lotus floats provide great absorption. Fourteen-foot-long floats had excess buoyancy. Quicksilver's powerful rudder helps in speedier water taxi operations.
Cons - Floats as fitted were actually large for the plane and required some technique on landing. Taxiing any floatplane downwind is an interesting and potentially challenging operation. No oar was provided for a possible stalled engine situation.
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros - Very straightforward takeoff; just add throttle and hold the stick full aft until the plane lifts off the water, then neutralizing. Water run and landing distances are very short. Improved roll control helps in crosswinds (though that is rarely a problem in float flying). Slow approach speed allows landing in smaller lakes.
Cons - With such long floats, I was advised not to flare to a landing (requiring me to not follow established habit). No flaps to help approach control (though hardly needed). Modest splashing occurred during one touchdown. No other takeoff or landing negatives.
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros - Quite responsive roll control thanks to changed airframe on Quicksilver 2S. Pitch is quite light. Full-span ailerons work well without excessive adverse yaw. Rudder is as powerful as ever. Handling remains very respectable even with weight of Full Lotus straight floats and hardware.
Cons - Pitch is light enough that new pilots could over-control. Rudder remains a significant control on Quicksilvers, which experienced ultralight pilots may actually prefer but conventionally trained pilots might not. Stick pressure is heavier in roll than pitch, causing some reduction in harmony (though my Dutch rolls went well immediately).
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros - Climb is robust with Rotax 582: factory states 850 fpm for the land plane. Cruise speed was a respectable 60+ mph. Quicksilver 2S remains very tolerant of flying techniques, part of what makes it a good trainer and starter aircraft. Short water runs is a performance attribute.
Cons - Engine endurance is not good because the shape is fairly high drag, especially with large Full Lotus floats. Glide is weaker than many cleaner, faster designs. Unable to measure climb during evaluation flight. No other negatives; this popular design does what many buyers want.
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros - Stall recovery is nearly immediate and a nonevent; minimal altitude loss. Prior experience says stalls are even more docile with two on board. Good spiral dampening. Push/pull-release test produced excellent results. Adverse yaw surprisingly low for a full-span aileron.
Cons - Pitch is fairly responsive due to short coupling of wing to tail; some beginners may prefer less (though training would answer this easily). The Quicksilver design is one of the best-engineered, most reliable designs in ultralight aviation. No other negatives.
Addresses the questions: "Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?"
Pros - Priced fairly for a durable floatplane that will answer most recreational pilots' needs. Good choice for instructors. Structure is one of the most proven in ultralight aviation. Superior support; many dealers stock parts and offer full services in nations around the world. Company's assembly, flight, and maintenance manuals are among the best available.
Cons - Priced well above $20,000 (though this isn't bad for a floatplane). Design appears dated to some buyers, even with the strut fittings and cleaner upper surface. Though open-cockpit float flying is superb in warm climates, may not meet the need in some locales. Glide and sink rate performances are modest.