Considered by some as the best Rutan design ever, this successful kitplane looks as odd and futuristic 30 years on...

A bit of a biplane and a lot of Star Wars in this front end view.

The Quickie caused quite a stir when it appeared in 1978.

The original Quickie can be recognized from its squared
fuselage section and narrow cockpit seating only one.

Customers:  Tom Jewett and Gene Sheehan (later as Quickie Aircraft Corporation)

Type:  low-cost canard lightweight kitplane

Powerplant: 1 x 10 kW Orion, or 1 x 20 horsepower (15 kW) engine
            or 1 x 18-25 hp modified Onan two-cylinder engine

Significant date: 1978

In 1974, Tom Jewett and Gene Sheehan decided to begin designing an airplane that would provide "more flying enjoyment for less money" than other homebuilt aircraft designs popular at that time. Burt Rutan assisted Jewett and Sheehan in the design work, first as the unbuilt Model 49, then as the Model 54 Quickie, a canard lightplane in the same vein as the previous Vari-Viggen and VariEze models. The first Quickie was finished, tested in flight, and ready for a public introduction by April 1978.

The Quickie was a single-place, single-engined aircraft with a unique configuration, which almost qualified it as a biplane with tremendous negative stagger between the upper and lower wings. . In fact, the Quickie was a tandem wing aircraft; both the front and rear wings were full airfoils. The forward wing was technically a canard, fitted with elevators, but it provided about 60% of the lift. The design had no horizontal tail, as all pitch control came from the forward wing. Highly efficient, and of composite construction, the Quickie was a typically radical Rutan aircraft..

Construction methods remained identical to other Rutan designs. The airplane was constructed with glass fibre over a foam core. A builder cut foam cores for the various components and covered them with resin and fiberglass cloth. Rutan envisioned powering the Quickie with an Onan industrial generator engine that developed 22 horsepower. The Onan engine installation was eventually offered by Gene Sheehan, but many builders found this motor too weak and few used it.

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. They flew the airplane in June to the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual gathering at AirVenture, Oshkosh, Wisconsin (the Mecca-like event of Recreational Aviation and Experimental Homebuilt Aircraft), where the Quickie drew intense public interest and won the Outstanding New Design award. By 1980, the firm had sold 350 kits. Other firms acquired the rights to market the 'Quickie', such as Leg-Air of Surrey, British Columbia, which was responsible for the Canadian Quickie. In all, various organizations sold approximately 1,000 Quickie kits and 2,000 Q-2 and Q-200 kits. Other versions such as the Dragonfly or the Super Quickie were also offered, and the experimental Model 68 Amsoil Biplane Racer, a racing version of the Quickie which Rutan designed for the biplane class, was also derived from the same basic design.

Leighton “Lee” Herron constructed the first “plans built” Quickie in 1979. The airplane was inspected and signed off in the summer of 1980. However, Lee already owned a Cardinal 177 RG and a Cessna 150 and had plans to build a Super VariEze in cooperation with Burt Rutan, so he decided to donate the Quickie. With only 45 hours of flying time on the airplane, Lee donated the Quickie to EAA in 1979. As for the prototype Quickie is now hanging in the Future of Flight Center in Seattle.

While the Quickie was extremely stable in flight, due to the canard design it required a much higher landing speed than most pilots were accustomed to. So in 1998, the Experimental Aircraft Association (or EAA) sponsored a research program by the Illinois project to investigate the potential for increasing the aircraft's performance, and reducing the landing speed by improving the lift characteristics of its wings. This was to be accomplished by studying the aerodynamics of the aircraft, reviewing the associated literature and web-based information about this aircraft, learning first-hand from pilots who fly this aircraft, developing design modifications, creating simulations that demonstrate the performance characteristics of new design approaches, and testing scale models in IIT's wind tunnel. Students with a variety of backgrounds were invited to join this project team, including: mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering and materials engineering; students generally interested in applying computers to design and simulation; and others interested in the field of aviation. It is not known what eventually came of this interesting research program.

Population: 1 prototype [N77Q]
                   about 350 kits sold [N2WX, N169H, etc.]

Wingspan: 5.1 m (16 ft. 8 in., also found as 16' 10'' and 15' 8")
Length: 5.3 m (17 ft. 4 in.) (also found as 17' 5'' and 19' 10'')
Height 1.2 m (4 ft.) (4 ft. 6 in?)
Start mass: 220 kg
Empty weight: 111.8 kg (240-250 lb.)
Loaded weight: 520-550 lbs. (Onan version)
T/O weight: 1100 lbs.

Top speed: 203 kph (or 130-180 mph with Onan engine)
Cruise speed: 195 kph (
Cruise speed (Onan engine): 120-130 mph
Cruise speed (Q-200): 165 mph
Ceiling: 3750 m
Range: 1320 km (or 550-820 miles with Onan engine)

Crew/passengers: 1

Main sources:

Quite a few Quickies have wound up in museums, such as the Rutan-Herron Quickie (the first homebuilt) at EAA's AirVenture (top) or the prototype N77Q at the new Seattle Museum (bottom).