Friday, May 2, 2014

Another Quicksilver back in the air!‏

A letter from Mark Higginson

I just had my first solo flight in my restored 1981 Quicksilver MX. I wrote a short little note for my Quicksilver Ultralight Owners Yahoo Group:

Well, I may now officially have the record for owning a Quicksilver MX without flying it. I bought a 1981 “basket case” MX in 1986. I didn’t know anything about ultralights at the time but saw a brand new MX hanging up in the ceiling in a sporting goods store in Southern California. I fell in love. Couldn’t afford a new one so found mine used in the classifieds. Had to drive 400 miles round trip to get her. I disassembled her to get her into my truck with the wings on top. The sails shredded on the way back home. My first lesson in what to look for in a used ultralight. She originally had the Cayuna 440 and after all my research she now sports a Rotax DCDI 503. I have spent so much time and money on the project when I could probably figgered out a way to finance a new one and been flying all these years. My MX was most of the time a dream on the backburner since I have lived a very full life filled with many adventures and other projects that seemed more important at the time…….

 So yesterday, 28 years later, my MX is finished. She has been christened “Tinkerbell” since I’m one of the “Lost Boys” and live where I believe is Never Never Land, (Baja California, Mexico). If you’ve ever been here you know what I mean. It has been an epic adventure trying these last years to find parts and information down here to restore “Tink” to flight status.

 I had taken two lessons about six years ago from an instructor in So Cal. Just this year did I find out he had died in an ultralight crash a couple years ago. I was limited in time and money and he was willing to give me the condensed version of flight school. I studied everything I could find on ultralight flying, bought all the books. I even have the original Eipper Quicksilver flight course. I did the Microsoft Flight Simulator thang complete with adding an MX to the planes I could fly. I studied everything I could find on the internet and joined this group many years ago to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge from all of you who have gone before me into the sky with the Quicksilvers. Gawd only knows how many times I’ve had to call Bever and Mark with questions.

 Part of my internet research turned up an article written with an instructors view of how to solo an MX. After all my research, his version, condensed down from many years of his and his fellow instructors experiences were to be my guide to soloing. After making a 1000ft runway in the sand/dirt arroyo next to my home I followed his instructions about starting with slow taxis and progressing to fast taxis with S turns and powered turns at the end. Then I came to the crow hopping stage…….

I had planned to do a lot of crow hopping, progressing from just getting the wheels off the ground to several seconds of low level flight. That’s when the runway SHRANK! About three quarters of the way down the runway my wheels left the ground and I suddenly realized there wasn’t a chance in HELL I was gonna be able to land without running into the three foot sagebrush bushes at the end of the runway. Without thinking I pushed the throttle all the way forward and there I was FLYING! About a gagillion thoughts, from holy shit to this is frickin AMAZING went thru my head in less than a nanosecond. As the adrenaline started freeflowing thru my body, the next rational thought, besides trying to just plain fly was, I gotta land her. C’mon Tink, I BELIEVE! I made two passes of my airstrip and at the end of the second pass I put her down. It wasn’t soft but wasn’t hard and it was safe! It seemed like I had been in the air for a lifetime but after watching the footage of the camera I had mounted on the wing I realized it was just under 3 minutes. 

Still, longer than the Wright Brothers “first flight” so I consider myself having soloed. I had planned on doing a couple crow hops to end the practice session and then dismantle Tink before the wind came up with plans to continue later in the week when the winds died down. I really wanted to fully fuel Tink and head back into the sky to start practicing flying but
 had already made the decision to shut down soon. I have found my first instincts are usually correct….

So, with a huge smile on my face I packed Tink up and my dog Moki and I headed for home.
I could not have done all this without the help of many of you in this group. I was able to get parts, advice and I have sure benefited from all of your collective experiences. Thank you all. A huge thanks to Mark and Bever!

A lot of you have been flying for a very long time. Do you remember after soloing that warm, fuzzy feeling you had in the pit of your stomach and the smile that nobody could wipe off your face! I have em both!
Bets regards!

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