Rutan Quickie

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Quickie C-GGLC 02.JPG
Quickie in the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.
Role Single seat aircraft
Manufacturer Homebuilt aircraft
Designer Burt Rutan, Tom Jewett, Gene Sheehan
Status kit production completed
Number built 350+
Variants QAC Quickie Q2
Viking Dragonfly

The Rutan Quickie or Quickie, sometimes Q or Q1, is a light, single-seat homebuilt aircraft that was mainly designed by Burt Rutan[1] to a requirement for a low-powered but highly efficient aircraft. The original Quickie (Model 54 in Rutan’s design series) is one of the dozens of unconventional aircraft penned by Rutan for the general aviation market.[2]

The Quickie is a tandem wing design, having one forward wing and one rear wing (instead of the more usual main wing and horizontal stabilizer). It also features unusual tailwheel landing gear with the main wheels located at the tips of the forward wing. The Quickie is of composite construction.

The Quickie Aircraft Corporation was formed to produce and market the Quickie in kit form after 1978. Two years later a two-seater variant of the same layout followed as the Q2.

Design and development[edit]

The Quickie followed from Jewett and Sheehan's intention in 1975 for a low-cost, low-power, single-seat homebuilt aircraft. The first element to be found by Jewett and Sheehan was the engine, which – although low-powered (they had anticipated 12 hp) – had to be reliable for aviation work. With the help of Onan, a manufacturer of industrial four-stroke engines, they were able to procure a 70 lb (32 kg) engine that would deliver 18 hp (14 kW) at 3,600 rpm.[3]

Rutan was then involved with the design; Sheehan and Jewett suggesting a scaled-down Vari-Eze. After a preliminary pusher canard configuration design (Rutan Model 49) had been discarded,[2] his solution to the design issues of low drag without retractable undercarriage and a workable centre of gravity travel, was a tractor engine/tandem wing layout.,[4] Conversely to canard layout, the conventional front engine location put the pilot close to the centre of gravity, a key point for a light aircraft. The wheels were incorporated into wingtip fairings without much drag penalty and the tandem layout gave safe stalling characteristics.[3] Rutan produced the first drawings in May 1977 and thereafter the three of them worked on the design drawings over the next two months with construction beginning in August [5] After the first flights, Rutan spent more time with his Defiant design and other projects, and it was Jewett and Sheehan who continued development of the design and market it for home-build use.[6] An agreement was reached that Rutan would fund the development and testing and once the design was complete they would pay Rutan back from future sales of the designs and kits.[7]


The Quickie is a tandem wing design, having one forward wing and one rear wing (instead of the more usual main wing and horizontal stabilizer). According to Rutan this dual-wing with a single rudder layout was not new, having previously been used in aircraft such as the Mignet "Flying Flea".[2]

The full-span elevators/flaps are fitted to the forward wing so that all pitch control comes from the forward wing, similar to the canard configuration.[citation needed]. The forward wing provides about 60% of the lift. The ailerons are located inboard on the aft wing which is shoulder mounted centrally just aft of the pilot. The tandem layout[8] provides positive lift from both pairs of wings, whereas a conventional tailplane supplies negative lift.

The Quickie is a "taildragger" with fixed (non-retractable) main wheels faired into spats located at the tips of the forward wing, acting like end plates (increasing effective aspect ratio). The absence of separate landing gear reduced both weight and drag.[3] The brake system is crude : a cable connects a pull handle in the cockpit to steel tire scrubbers on each main wheel.[9] Such aggregated weight savings allowing a smaller engine and a smaller fuel tank.[citation needed] However, propeller ground clearance is limited and the Quickie is rather vulnerable to prop-strikes.[citation needed]

Pilot controls include a sidestick on the right and a throttle on the left. The rudder pedals are linked to the steerable tailwheel.

Construction and flight tests[edit]

The airplane is constructed of glass fibre and resin over a foam core as with other Rutan designs; the wings being foam blanks cut to shape with a hot wire before covering and the fuselage made up of 1 inch-thick foam slabs. Construction of the prototype commenced in August of that year at the Rutan Aircraft Factory;[2] Gene did the majority of the construction work and the prototype was completed in about 400 hours of work.[6] The prototype Quickie registered "N77Q" (77 for 1977, Q for Quickie.) started its flight test program on November 1977. All three of the designers flew it on the first day. The prototype was modified during its test program. The span of both the canard and main wing were increased to improve lifting ability. These reduced stall speed and shortened takeoff and landing distances;[3] its attitude on the ground was also adjusted for optimal takeoff and landing.[10] Originally designed with a fixed fin and only the faired tailwheel acting as the rudder, a conventional rudder was added. The steerable tailwheel allows directional control up to the point of liftoff as the Quickie does not lift its tail during the takeoff run. Although it takes off at around 55 mph and has a good maximum speed for its engine power, the actual rate of climb is "modest".[6] The flight test program was completed in mid-April 1978 (five months after its first flight).[10]

Recognition and records[edit]

In June 1978 Jewett and Sheehan flew the airplane to the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual gathering at AirVenture, Oshkosh Wisconsin, where the Quickie drew intense public interest and won the Outstanding New Design Award.[11]

In July 1988, Norm Howell set two FAI C1 a/0 Class (less than 300 kg) records: Speed on 15/25 km course at 235 km/h (146 mph) and Time to climb to 3000 m (9,840 ft) in 18 min 5 sec. The aircraft for those records was powered by a two-stroke Rotax 503 engine.


Rutan hoped that the Quickie would make an attractive and an exciting aircraft for a first-time homebuilder. In June 1978, only two months after the prototype's first flight, Jewett and Sheehan formed the Quickie Aircraft Corporation to produce and sell complete kits to build the aircraft. Kit production commenced in June 1978. By 1980, the Quickie Aircraft Corporation had sold 350 kits. Quickie Aircraft Corporation closed its doors in the mid 80’s. Other firms acquired the rights to market the 'Quickie' ; in all, various organizations sold approximately 1,000 Quickie kits.

Aircraft on display[edit]

Specifications (Onan engine)[edit]

Data from Flight International[6] The Canard Pusher No. 16

General characteristics

  • Crew: one pilot
  • Capacity: 20 lb (9.1 kg) luggage
  • Length: 17 ft 4 in (5.30 m)
  • Wingspan: 16 ft 8 in (5.08 m)
  • Height: 4 ft 5 in (1.35 m)
  • Wing area: 53.8 ft² (5.00 m²)
  • Empty weight: 245 lb (112 kg)
  • Useful load: 240 lb (108 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 485 lb (220 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Onan opposed 4-stroke piston engine, 18 hp (14 kW) at 3,600 rpm


See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ Tom Jewett (Nov 1981). "Point CounterPoint". Sport Aviation. 
  2. ^ a b c d Burt Rutan (Oct 1981). "Quickie-Type Aircraft Design Origins". Sport Aviation. 
  3. ^ a b c d Flight International p1161
  4. ^ in "Quickie-Type Aircraft Design Origins", Rutan wrote : "While the Model 49 appeared feasible, it had potential shortcomings : very low Reynolds number on the fins and canard wing and excessive CG travel with pilot weight variation."
  5. ^ The Canard Pusher N°15, page 11
  6. ^ a b c d Flight International p1162
  7. ^ Rutan Sport Aviation p63
  8. ^ "Canard Advantages and Disadvantages". Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  9. ^ Twombly, Mark, Quickie,
  10. ^ a b The Canard Pusher N°16
  11. ^ Canard Pusher n°17, page 2
  12. ^ "Quickie – Canada Aviation and Space Museum". 1977-11-15. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  13. ^ Deutsches Museum (January 2013). "Liste der auf der Museumsinsel in München ausgestellten Luftfahrzeuge" (PDF). Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Rutan-Herron Quickie". Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  15. ^ "Aircraft Collection". NEAM. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 


  • "Quickie", The Canard Pusher (Rutan Aircraft Factory) (16), April 1978 
  • "RAF Activity", The Canard Pusher (Rutan Aircraft Factory) (15), January 1978 

External links[edit]