Kodak moment for Quicksilver

Among all aircraft producers in the world, a very limited number have exceeded the daunting barrier of delivering more than 10,000 airplanes. Those in this exclusive club include manufacturers of major aircraft such as Boeing, Cessna, Piper, and precious few others. While Van’s Aircraft is approaching this number with its RV kit-built aircraft series (itself a rather incredible achievement), no recreational aircraft company has passed the 10,000 unit mark…except one: Quicksilver.

For many pilots Quicksilver makes “ultralights.” Indeed they do, in that some models can be built to stay within FAA’s Part 103 rule. Quicksilver also makes two seaters in two model lines — the MX series and the GT series — and those are now considered Experimental Amateur-Built aircraft.

Except for dealer-built Part 103 Quicksilver aircraft, er… “ultralight vehicles” to use the preferred FAA term, all the California company’s aircraft have been constructed from kits. That means the company and its dealers gave lots of builder support because Quicksilver has delivered more than 15,000 planes.

The longtime producer goes back into the 1970s and over all those years has one of the best safety records of any brand. The support was easier and safety good as Quicksilver invested heavily into making what may be the best assembly manuals in the kit aircraft business. Then they further proved their aircraft with thorough testing, enough so that the GT500 model (pictured) was the very first to win FAA’s Primary Aircraft approval.

Quicksilver has had a few owners over the decades but for the past 13 years it has been known as Quicksilver Manufacturing lead by Carl von Hirsch and partner Manuel Perez. Running the operation were Carl’s sons Richard and Robert. Sales have been handled nationally by Todd Ellefson, also with the team for many years.

They’ll all continue, but new leadership and ownership was recently announced. Taking over as president is Guillermo “Will” Escutia and running the operation is Daniel Perez. Both men worked at Kodak for many years before that American icon fell upon difficult times.

Escutia and Perez moved on to new challenges, but both bring solid corporate strengths to the aircraft builder. Each man also has extensive international experience.

Dan co-founded Flying Spirit Aircraft with Will, building on a 30-year friendship that began in their first year of college. A 10-year pilot of ultralight and general aviation aircraft, Will is also an aviation mechanic. He stated, “Quicksilver will continue to provide our customers with excellent quality and fairly priced kit planes in a minimum of time.”

Outgoing CEO Carl von Hirsch said, “I am excited about the future for Quicksilver. This change to a younger and more dynamic leadership team provides for a stable growth oriented organization that should ensure ultralight type and light aviation enthusiasts continue to receive excellent quality and service for many years.”

For more information: ByDanJohnson.com



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  1. Stu Tracy says

    Glad to see Quicksilver is still in business.  I bought a new Eipper Quicksilver for $3000 in 1980 and learned to fly it by watching others who had gone before me.  There were no two-seaters then…your first flight was a solo!!  It was powered by a 15 hp Yamaha Go-cart engine.  The pilot hung in a harness from the keel and control was weight-shift.  The only moveable control surface was the rudder, which was controlled by moving your body from side to side, setting up a sloppy yaw followed by banking.  My fourteen-year old son quickly became one of the better pilots of our group in Phoenix.  When he went off to college a few years later,  I sold the craft and graduated to Cessnas.  He eventually graduated to F/A-18 Hornets in the US Marines!

    The “Quick” was a little scary, but in 32 years of flying I’ve never had as much pure fun as I had in that ultralight.

    Stu Tracy
    Phoenix, Arizona

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