In this video we meet the new owners of Quicksilver, now called Quicksilver Aeronautics. This storied company based in southern California, has built more than 15,000 aircraft and in 2002 and 2003 delivered more aircraft than Cessna, Piper, and Beechcraft combined! Such an achievement suggests this company is around for the long haul and we’ll hear more about their plans and aircraft in this video. (We recommend you turn up your sound volume due to background noises.)
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MIDWEST LSA EXPO 2012 — One of our series of many short videos from the fall show, this one on the MX Sprint. We look at an homebuilt version and that means it can be modified by the owner as this one was. This short video (3 min) give you some basic info and leads you to more about Quicksilver Aeronautics, now under new, motivated management. Take a part of the Midwest LSA Expo tour.
Quicksilver is arguably THE most successful light plane manufacturer of all time. More than 15,000 have been delivered to more countries than any brand. Still available for around $20,000 the 40-80 hour kit may be the best organized of any kitplane. The company also makes the GT series and the GT-500 was the first-ever Primary Aircraft to be certified. For open cockpit fun flying at a low cost, Quicksilver is nearly impossible to beat.
Quicksilver has a simple enough product line composed of single seaters and two seaters for an MX line and GT line. Each has been highly successful and all have an enviable safety record. They also don’t cost much. All are kit aircraft like this one built by Steve Watt. The hours are low as the build manuals are some of the very best in the business. More than 15,000 Quicksilver models have been sold.
Coming up soon — September 8-9-10, 2016 — is the Midwest LSA Expo. Videoman Dave and I will be present to report on around 50 aircraft on display. I hope you can join us. Get more info: Midwest LSA Expo.
Many times I’ve written that Quicksilver is arguably THE most successful seller of kit aircraft in the world. Some aviators might retort, “No way! Van’s Aircraft is the largest kit builder.” In total kits, at least portions of kits, that’s surely true. Van’s reports more than 20,000 tail kit-type deliveries have been made. Even more impressively, their completions — aircraft fully built and registered with an N or other number — now exceed 9,460 and I would never take away from their success with multiple designs nor would I diminish their highly-regarded business integrity.
Nonetheless, with Quicksilver having delivered more than 15,000 full kits, the vast majority of which were built and flown, they may be the most successful deliverer of complete aircraft kits in history.
Aviation news outlets and social media are buzzing with the news that Quicksilver Aeronautics is closing its factory. For example, Aero-News Net — always a quick reporter of such news — is calling the event a “dissolution.” This is not incorrect; it comes directly from a document previously issued by Quicksilver’s lawyers (see more below). However, letters from lawyers often portray things in very black and white terms and the situation is somewhat more nuanced than that.
For several years, I have known the principals of the company — Will Escutia and Daniel Perez — and spoke with both of them this morning (Tuesday, October 20th, 2015). What follows is directly from the horse’s mouth, as they say.
In any such fluid situation, the news is more difficult to accurately report because not every decision is made. For example, if the company was bankrupt and going completely out of business (which phrase was used by another aviation reporter), the predicament might simply be reported as such.
You could say 15,000 aircraft buyers can’t be wrong and you’d be right. Quicksilver, in several various corporate iterations, has indeed sold 15,000 aircraft kits for its whole line including what they call the MX series and the GT series. Going back to the early 1980s — or even earlier when the company was a hang glider producer under the namer Eipper Formance — the company has made so many models I could nearly fill a post with the names, so I won’t try to list them all. Suffice it to say this is one of the most prolific airplane companies since the Wright brothers first flew.
Today, the line up includes the aircraft in the nearby photos called Sprint. It’s a single seater, now positioned as the MX-103. As the company notes on their slickly upgraded website, “[We are] launching the MX 103 a legal ultralight with 50 horsepower engine for $18,900 fully assembled.” They note that MX 103 is based on the MX Sprint that has a long track record of safety and ruggedness in an open air flying machine.
Plenty of longtime light aircraft enthusiasts have wondered when Quicksilver would enter the SLSA sweepstakes. “On June 26th we received the airworthiness certificate and the operations limitations document for our Sport 2SE Special LSA after a three-hour inspection from the FAA,” said Quicksilver Aeronautics President and CEO, Will Escutia. Earlier the company reported successfully passing an intensive FAA audit, but a final aircraft inspection by FAA personnel was still needed. Aviation Safety Inspectors, John Soltis and Kym Robbins, provided the pink airworthiness card at the French Valley Airport (photo), approximately 10 miles from the company’s factory. Soltis expressed his congratulations saying the airplane “looked very good.” At near the industry’s lowest cost — $39,999 for a fully built Sport 2SE — those Light-Sport fans who fret about the high cost of some (exceptionally well equipped) airplanes now have a very affordable choice. If $40 Grand is still too much you can buy a Quicksilver ELSA or Experimental Amateur Built for even less.
“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.
Once upon a time, a couple years before the SP/LSA was announced at AirVenture 2004, I thought the odds were high that Quicksilver would be the very first Special LSA to hit the market. Several other industry veterans agreed. Their GT500 was the very first to earn FAA’s Primary Category approval, back in 1993. This was a costlier effort than achieving ASTM compliance and so it seemed a done deal that Quicksilver would gain quick approval. I was wrong. Indeed, I was wrong by a dozen years. However, that’s over now as the Temecula, California company earned FAA acceptance for their Sport 2S side-by-side open-cockpit aircraft. In mid-April, FAA sent a letter saying all was well and the company can go forward with manufacturing. With their approval earned, Quicksilver’s S2SE is number 135 on our list of SLSA.
Will Escutia, president of Quicksilver Aeronautics, explained that the California company used “L-S2S” (the Light-Sport version of their strutted 2S) as the model name during the certification process.