Quicksilver aircraft basically fall into two categories. Open air, and enclosed cockpit. The first step in considering what Quicksilver is right for you is to decide what type of flying that you really enjoy. Many people fall in love with the open cockpit, low and slow, bugs in your teeth, flying lawn chair type aircraft. There simply is nothing like it! Another feature that attracts many to these models is the extreme short field takeoff and landing as well as the steep angle of climb and decent. This makes it possible for many people who live in rural areas to actually fly from their own backyard! Other people who really enjoy light airplanes, but would like to go a little faster and farther and be out of the wind might opt for the enclosed cockpit GT series. While you can still fly with the sides wide open and your arms out in the breeze in the summer, you can also enclose it and turn on the heat in the winter! This makes for a very versatile aircraft and greatly extends the flying season for us up North. Once you decide between those two, then you can narrow the search a bit. The next decision to make is single seat or two seat? For many people who want to simply fly under part 103 ultralight rules without a pilot’s license, the single seat open air models are just the ticket. But flying is a lot more fun when you can share the experience! A two seat model does require at least a sport pilot license, but we are here to help with that as well. Please see the “Flight Training” menu for more on that topic.
Open Air Models
The open air models are the Sport and Sprint single seaters, and the two seaters, the MX2 Sprint, and the Sport 2S/Sport 2SE. The Sport and Sprint models are both capable of making Part 103 and can be flown as legal ultralights with no pilot’s license or medical, and no maintenance requirements. Although, training is still necessary to be a safe pilot, the FAA does not regulate any. It may be wise if considering a Part 103 model to start with some training. Since all training counts toward a Sport Pilot rating, you may find that by the time you have enough training to be safe in an ultralight that you are very close to getting a Sport Pilot rating. With just a little more training you could fly a two seat and take someone with you. The single seat models are a little more fun to fly around solo though. If taking a passenger is not a priority for you, the single seat Sport and Sprint are a blast to fly. They are also have a considerably lower price tag. The main difference between the Sport and Sprint is the airfoil. (cross section of the wing) The Sprint has what is referred to as a “single surface” wing. The wing fabric in only on the top of the wing, not the bottom, giving the airfoil a concave shape. This shape creates a lot of lift as slow speeds, but also does increase drag. This gives the airplane the characteristic of flying very slow. It takes off quicker, lands shorter and has a slower stall speed, and a slower cruise speed. It is also slightly lighter weight. The Sport has a “double surface” wing. It has fabric over the top and the bottom giving it the traditional flat bottom airfoil shape. This increases the cruise speed and stall speed slightly, and also gives it better aileron response, or faster roll rate. Both of these models have incredible performance with a 40 hp engine.
The MX2 Sprint is the two seat version of the Sprint. It has the single surface wing, although it can be upgraded to a double surface. It maintains the traditional cable braced wing design like the single seaters, but with two seats side by side. This is probably the least expensive two seat aircraft from any reputable manufacturer, and quite possibly the safest as well! The Sprint 2 performs well on a 50 HP engine, but with a 65 HP, the performance is breathtaking. But, as always, there was still room for improvement. So along came the Sport 2 models. The Sport 2S is similar to the Sprint 2, but it has traded cable braced wings for strut bracing. This reduces drag and gives the airplane a more rigid feel. Also incorporated into the Sport 2 is a double surface wing, slightly increasing the stall and cruise speed as well as the roll rate. With a 65 HP engine, a deep reduction gearbox and a large three blade prop, the thrust is greatly increased giving it amazing climb performance. And they didn’t stop there. To make it more comfortable for the average American these days, the cockpit was made wider. More rugged landing gear was also incorporated into the design. The Sport 2 is the top of the line in open cockpit two seat aircraft.
The next step in the open cockpit evolution was taking the Sport 2 through the process of ATSM certification in the Special Light Sport category. Now that it has passed through 19 months of testing and refinements and obtained SLSA certification, the Sport 2SE can be factory built, tested, and delivered to the customer turn key and ready to fly. Not only that, but it can be rented and used for flight instruction. While the price is significantly higher, the benefits can be priceless. If you are looking for an airplane that you can buy brand new and don’t have to build, but have no intention of using it for hire, the ELSA Sport 2SE is the just the airplane for you. It can be fully built and tested right here at Heavenbound Aviation and receive an Experimental Light Sport Airworthiness certificate. This makes it significantly less expensive than an SLSA, but still gives you a turn key airplane, ready to fly. Also, in the ELSA category the maintenance requirements are much friendlier. This is an exciting new option that has never been available in the past.
The GT400 and GT500 are the Quicksilver models that can be equipped with an enclosed cockpit. The GT models are considerably faster than the open air models, with a comfortable cruise speed in the 70-80 mph range. Also, the GT models have a much greater fuel range, up to 200 miles. Tandem seating is another feature of the GT500 which gives the pilot excellent visibility to both sides. While the GT500 can be purchased without doors, it is the ability to be enclosed that attracts many people to this model. In many ways the Challenger is a very comparable aircraft to the Quicksilver GT series, and having the ability to fly it open or enclosed is feature they share. However, the GT has an advantage here in that you can open and close the window/door in flight. Or if you decide while you are out that you would like to remove the doors, you can, and store them inside the airplane. In a Challenger you might really want doors when it’s cool in the morning, but in the middle of the day it’s like a green house in there with no way to open a window. Being able to open the windows in flight is a really nice feature of the GT. Another feature of the GT is having true flaps to allow steeper approaches and shorter landings. While the GT is considerably more complex to assemble than an open air model Quicksilver, it is still one of the quickest build models on the market. Since the entire fabric system is sails, no painting or gluing fabric is necessary. One other feature that attracts many people to the GT500 is the ability to use a four stroke, Rotax 912 engine. Although it performs very well on a Rotax 582, some people prefer a four stroke as that is what they are familiar with. For those who want to fly a light airplane at a reasonable price, but want a four stroke engine, the GT500 is an excellent option. Coming soon I will write a page with a full comparison between the GT models and the Challenger line. Both are excellent airplanes, and very comparable in many ways, but they also do have some notable differences.
For information on what engine to choose, please see the “Engine Selection” page.
Regardless of what model you choose, if you buy a Quicksilver you can buy with confidence from a company that has been building high quality and safe aircraft for over 42 years, and they keep getting better!