Twenty-something years of ultralight flying have seen many changes take place in our ultralights. At the beginning of the ultralight industry we had craft such as Eagles, Weedhoppers, and Quicksilvers powered by engines like the 15-hp Yamaha, Mac 101, and Chrysler. Of these, only Quicksilver remains vibrant.
Here in 2004, we have aircraft like the Breese DS with its 60-hp HKS 700E 4-stroke engine. It may look like a Quicksilver but it’s a different flying animal. M-Squared’s Jay Stevens gave me a checkout in the single-seat Breese with its Japanese 4-stroke powerplant and it proved to be a very satisfying experience.
Strong and Powerful
The resemblance to Quicksilver, especially the California company’s strut-braced model, is obvious to most ultralight veterans but Breese manufacturer M-Squared has steadily changed their design. Looks, therefore, can be deceiving.
The use of struts first set apart the designs of Paul Mather, proprietor of M-Squared. A tailplane that uses no cable bracing added to the different appearance. And all airframe tubing was reexamined and larger diameters often used.
Twin welded stainless steel structures that wrap around under the seat form the pilot cage. Stainless steel is also used for the nosewheel assembly. These are part of M-Squared’s lower structure stainless option for use on saltwater-borne float aircraft. Since the M-Squared designs work well as floatplanes, this stainless choice will be valued by anyone operating near an ocean.
The stainless steel imparts a feeling of great strength. When the same size steel is painted, you are less aware of the strong structure, perhaps mistaking such tubes for aluminum. In the case of stainless, the metal number still showed and therefore I found it more convincing.
The M-Squared designs like the Breese show Mather’s long experience with Quicksilver, the West Coast originator of this design shape. This Breese DS showed an attention to detail that I found pleasing. I especially noted the clean arrangement of a number of devices above the pilot’s head. Though you have to look up fairly sharply to see the engine gauges, they are readable and stay well out of your way when entering the cockpit.
HKS engine importer Tom Peghiny was very complimentary of the700E’s installation on the Breese DS and indeed the fitting looked very sanitary. You have several components to mount along with the powerplant itself and these were neatly secured to the underside of the wing, with some parts located up inside the double surface.
As with some other 4-stroke engines, the HKS comes with electric starting that proved extremely effective. At first, I didn’t give enough throttle so starting was not quick. But when I added the correct amount of throttle, the Japanese engine almost instantly kicked into action.
The sound of the HKS is easier on the pilot’s ears as it is for neighbors. The whine of a 2-stroke is replaced by a throatier noise that nearby spectators will find less intrusive. As we confront noise issues more directly here in the USA, such engines should find greater favor.
Some say the Breese has no cockpit but that isn’t true. While wide open – a fact many ultralight pilots will prefer – the seat is comfortable, our test ultralight had 4-point seat belts, and instruments and switches are located at fingertip range. Admittedly, you must know the switch positions to use them effectively, but these actions would become mechanical.
In the switch panel aft of your head, you have a big rubber start button in the center. To the pilot’s left are the dual magneto switches, while a master switch is next to the starter and an accessory switch to the extreme right of the pilot. All switches are “up” for flying, an intuitive choice that most pilots will understand immediately.
As you prepare to seat yourself, you may want to lower the nose with your hands then add your weight to the seat. The Breese DS rests on its tailskid when no one is in the cockpit.
Built for Duty
As soon as you begin rolling in the Breese DS, you notice those large tires. The ride is surprisingly smooth. Without such tires, this type of airframe depends on tubing flex for suspension. When the early models were light, this proved no problem. But as aircraft got heavier, the unsuspended airframe could experience permanent deformations of tubes that got overloaded on hard landings. The same will happen on rude touchdowns in the Breese but it can absorb more impact force with the large tires.
Steering was conventional and quite responsive. You can swivel the Breese around with a juice of power and full deflection on the pedals. What you can’t do is use differential braking; both drums grab uniformly.
The joystick-mounted brake handle was a very wide grip. I had to initially use a second hand to secure a grip with one hand and then I found the brakes on this particular Breese were not particularly strong. This may be nothing more than a need for further adjustments but fortunately this design doesn’t rely on brakes too much. Approach speed is suggested by the factory at 31 mph.
The right wheel spun freely after liftoff where the left one would slow quickly. This didn’t affect ground handling but did give me some measure for brake effectiveness. An old general aviation flying practice (standard procedure before retracting gear into wheels wells) is to apply the brakes after liftoff. When I got on the brake handle as hard as possible I also saw less result at the right wheel. Back on the ground, once the brake was activated firmly, the aircraft did slow noticeably but not quickly.
You’ll mainly use the brake for taxiing on hard surfaces. I made several grass runway landings and only tried the brake once. Designs that can land in 60 feet simply don’t need much else to stop them. Imagine only 60 feet of landing area and compare it to any number of speedy ultralights. Going slow has many attributes, one of which is being able to land in very small
On my first landing I touched the tailskid by flaring more than necessary. I have an instinct to do full stall landings and the Breese can hit its tailskid before you reach this point. I cured the problem by waiting a couple seconds longer when the Breese will settle nicely on its main gear. The huge 15-inch main tires on the HKS Breese can do very well cushioning your arrivals. Even the nosewheel measures 13 inches.
All my landings were good. This is an easy airplane for this critical phase of flight. And takeoffs… well, the entire prescription is to add power and wait, briefly. The Breese will fly herself right off the runway in a short time; the factory quotes an 80-foot takeoff roll with the HKS. You can pull the joystick aft if you like but you won’t noticeably hasten takeoff and your initial climb might then place the nose too high.
An HKS 700E may seem like too much power for a single-seater, but the Breese DS with the Japanese engine feels right. The airframe is a beefy 400 pounds empty, again showing this is not the Quicksilver of ultralight flying’s early days. Given such a sturdy airframe, the HKS engine supplies the right amount of push.
Probably owing to the P-factor from a potent 700E and large prop, the Breese DS required a bit of right rudder all the time. A fixed trim on the rudder might soften this tendency, as might some asymmetric linkage adjustment. I wondered how an angled nosewheel might look in the air-to-air photos.
I found the pitch to be a bit more sensitive than I remembered on M-Squared’s Breese SS.1 Though I can’t explain the difference, this quality is surely due to the relatively short coupling of tail to wing. It may also have something to do with a significant prop-induced airflow over the tail surfaces. However, I generally enjoyed the flying characteristics more than that previous Breese. The ailerons were indeed quite responsive; roll control was quite effective and quite light.
I found some weightiness in the controls, very possibly a function of the heavier tubing used widely on M-Squared models. If I threw the controls from one side to the other, the airplane would yaw around in a lazy fashion. But even my experimenting with controls in such an abrupt manner, the Breese DS remained well-behaved, quickly returning to normal flight when I stopped horsing around.
Steering by rudder only worked surprisingly well, as it did in early Quicksilvers that used rudder as the primary turn control. (Spoilerons helped coordinate the turn but you lead with the rudder; conventional ailerons came much later.)
Still, this Breese DS felt differently doing rudder-only turns. Such handling yawed the airplane as expected but if I once thought that form of steering was satisfactory, I now recognize ailerons are a significant improve
ment to this type of design. This may be one reason why Weedhoppers have all but disappeared from the scene – they steer solely by the rudder.
When you feel the 700E surge after applying full throttle on takeoff, your wait won’t be long before you are climbing at close to 1,000 fpm. I always felt I had plenty of power in reserve. Additionally, the HKS torque curve keeps the engine from loading up on steep climbs. A 2-stroke engine will labor while the 700E simply climbed with hardly a protest.
One of my favorite “performance” maneuvers is to get low over Florida’s wide-open, perfectly flat agricultural fields. Here’s an airplane that is a joy when flying in such a manner. The Breese DS speed ranged from an easily held 30 mph to as high as 75 mph showing on the always-trustworthy Hall airspeed indicator, though this came with a very slight dive suggesting top speed is around 65 mph at near full power. The DS, or Double-Surface, model has a clear advantage in speed range over the single-surface model, though that version wins the low-over-the-field performance category because of its ability to fly amazingly slowly.
Contrarily, the Breese DS moves out in a lively manner. I found it no great challenge to keep up with the mostly enclosed Flightstar that is our regular photo plane.
The oil temperature gauge was not working so I could not monitor this important function but Mather had assured me it was running “nice and cool,” a further confirmation of his precise HKS installation.
Commonly, I was climbing at 6,000 rpm, the same as used for the highest speed flying. Operations where extra power is often needed in aircraft, such as steep turns, could be done at about 5,000 rpm, substantially under peak power. I was also able to fly the Breese with as little as 4,000 rpm, at which time the HKS is remarkably quiet.
When I was flying low over the fields, I was usually at 40 mph although it was easily possible to slow down into the 30s even in this double-surface model. This kind of low-speed, low-altitude flying is a range available almost exclusively to ultralights. Pilots of general aviation aircraft rarely get to experience anything like this and they don’t know what they’re missing.
Stall in the Breese DS was an absolute nonevent, power-on or power-off. The stall indication was very clear. As the separating airflow over the wing hits the large prop, the sensation was easily felt… and heard.
Who Wouldn’t Like a Fresh Breese?
Even though the Breese DS with the HKS is a single-seater, it is too heavy to fit the qualifications of Part 103. M-Squared makes several 2-seat models that can qualify under Part 103’s exemption for trainers.
Buyers who like the Breese DS HKS as much as I did will follow a different plan. M-Squared features a fly-away program that will appeal to many buyers. You can have the Breese DS with HKS for $19,995 and you’ll be able to fly it home (though more distant buyers may trailer or ship their field-disassembled airplane).
When FAA’s proposed Light-Sport Aircraft becomes law, new opportunities will arise regarding fully factory-built aircraft. But you can obtain a ready-to-fly Breese by going to the factory and participating in M-Squared’s builder-assistance program. For more details on how this works, contact boss Paul Mather.
Our test aircraft had only one option not included on the standard Breese DS HKS model. For those who want the stainless steel cage surrounding the pilot, add $500; without the option, you still get steel but it will be painted. Otherwise, electric starting and 16-gallon long-range wing tanks are standard for $19,995. Some buyers may want to add the pilot enclosure M-Squared offers for $1,500, and the instrumentation package including the EIS digital gauge panel for $995.
Last year, a trio of FAA men came out to check M-Squared’s operation. After spending several hours over a couple days, they “found it clean and proper,” says Mather. “In fact, they said my shop looked better than some general aviation repair stations in the region.” Two of the three are pilots and both came back later to take a flight. They were very keen to experience the float version of M-Squared’s airplane. The local office has told Mather that they are looking forward to working with him as Light-Sport Aircraft is introduced. “These fellows need to learn the new rule as we all do,” Mather adds.
In a time when the average price of a new car now exceeds $20,000, here’s a dandy ultralight with beefy airframe and popular 4-stroke engine for under that figure. It sounds like a refreshing “breese” to me.
1See “Pilot Report: Getting Up On A Breese,” December ’99 Ultralight Flying! magazine.
|Empty weight||400 pounds|
|Gross weight||750 pounds|
|Wing area||168 square feet|
|Wing loading||4.4 pounds per square foot|
|Height||7 feet 10 inches|
|Kit type||Fully Assembled 1|
|Build time||40 hours 1|
|Notes:||1 Builder-assistance program offered by M-Squared, as required for N-numbered aircraft like the HKS-powered Breese DS. Contact factory for further details.|
|Standard engine||4-stroke HKS 700E|
|Power loading||12.5 pounds per hp|
|Cruise speed||65 mph|
|Never exceed speed||74 mph|
|Rate of climb at gross||925 fpm|
|Takeoff distance at gross||80 feet|
|Landing distance at gross||60 feet|
|Standard Features||60-hp HKS 700E engine with electric starter, Powerfin prop, EIS info system, 15-inch main tires on aluminum wheels with 6-inch drum brakes, 13-inch nose tire and aluminum wheel, hand brake, steel cage surrounding pilot, adjustable strut fittings, high-lift airfoil with 14-inch rib spacing, wing-mounted fuel cells.|
|Options||65-hp 2-stroke Rotax 582, electric starter (standard on HKS), pilot enclosures, additional instrumentation and EIS with digital gauges, ballistic parachute, 16-gallon wing-mounted fuel cells, stainless steel main frame.|
|Construction||Aluminum airframe, Dacron wing and tail coverings, steel components including pilot cage. Made and distributed in the USA by American-owned company.|
Cosmetic appearance, structural integrity, achievement of design goals, effectiveness of aerodynamics, ergonomics.
Pros – The Breese DS with an HKS is an upgraded single-seat design using M-Squared’s fully strutted construction preferred by many pilots. Useful load is 350 pounds; great for large pilots. Sturdy, tubing- braced design helps the Breese DS to be more durable. Four-stroke power is popular with most pilots.
Cons – Builder-assistance program required to qualify for N-numbers as required on this slightly heavy model. Open cockpit will appeal to some but not all pilots, possibly affecting resale. One-hour field assembly required, as wings don’t fold. Qualification for proposed Light-Sport Aircraft still being investigated.
Subsystems available to pilot such as: Flaps; Fuel sources; Electric start; In-air restart; Brakes; Engine controls; Navigations; Radio; (items covered may be optional).
Pros – Electric starting comes standard with the HKS engine. Also standard with the HKS-powered Breese are wing fuel tanks holding 16 gallons. Optional systems can be added, as the Breese DS HKS must be N-numbered. Payload remains more than 250 pounds even with full fuel in long range tanks.
Cons – In-flight trim is standard on 2-seat M-Squared models but not available on the single-seat Breese (though it’s hardly needed). Airframe is a weighty 400 pounds. I had enough trouble initially gripping the brake lever that two hands were needed.
Instrumentation; Ergonomics of controls; Creature comforts; (items covered may be optional).
Pros – Stainless steel (optional) pilot cage in tandem sets of pilot-surrounding structure. Four-point seat belts are standard. Side stick is comfortably placed. Optional pilot enclosure is available for those in colder climates. All switches were easily reached (though you can’t read their purpose when fully belted).
Cons – Wide-open cockpits aren’t for everyone, possibly affecting resale. Seat is angled back generously, perhaps too steeply for some pilots. No radio or GPS locations available; must use tube clamps or innovate your own panel. Seat not adjustable (nor are the rudder pedals) for pilots of different height.
Taxi visibility; Steering; Turn radius; Shock absorption; Stance/Stability; Braking.
Pros – Very large tires on big aluminum wheels (13-inch nose and 15-inch mains) provide a nice taxi ride. Suspension is air in the tires and tubing flex, but it felt sufficient. Steerable nosewheel is standard, also built from stainless in the test Breese. Drum brakes are standard. Responsive ground steering.
Cons – M-Squared models have no bungee or other suspension, just air in the tires and flex in the tubes. Nondifferential brakes (though steering is quite good). Brake handle was difficult for me to grip (though some adjustments may be possible).
Qualities; Efficiency; Ease; Comparative values.
Pros – Ease of takeoff can’t get much better. Ground roll is only 80 feet at gross weight. Powerful acceleration with HKS engine. You only need to set a modest pitch angle and the Breese DS will fly off the runway. You can make approaches at speeds down close to 30 mph for very short runway capability.
Cons – The Breese DS bleeds energy quickly so you must keep up your speed before touchdown. Open cockpit aircraft suggests a full-face helmet to ensure no bird or insect distraction. Slips are largely ineffective in this type aircraft (though slow approach speed makes this a small concern).
Quality and quantity for: Coordination; Authority; Pressures; Response; and Coupling.
Pros – The Breese DS controls are quite responsive, thanks to well-sized ailerons, lower dihedral, and stiffer airframe, which offers a more secure anchor for the control surfaces. Precision turns are easily achieved. Responds quickly to rudder-only input. Good crosswind capabilities.
Cons – Pitch was more sensitive than I recall, perhaps due to a closely coupled tailplane and powerful engine. Due to the rudder’s influence on controls, you use the pedals significantly in coordinated turns. Adverse yaw is clearly present on the Breese (though perhaps less than similar higher-dihedral designs).
Climb; Glide; Sink; Cruise/stall/max speeds; Endurance; Range; Maneuverability.
Pros – The Breese, even with its double-surface wing, excels at low-over-the-field flying. Flying from water or ground, you won’t spend a long time earthbound. With the HKS, climb is close to 1,000 fpm. Despite solid performance, the Breese DS is appropriate for beginning pilots. Cruise at 60 to 65 mph is very achievable.
Cons – Speed range, though perfectly acceptable for the type, is only about 2.5:1 (4:1 is considered excellent). Top speed is only 74 mph, not too fast for a cross-country flight. Consumes fuel at a faster rate than more enclosed aircraft (though an optional enclosure may improve upon this).
Stall recovery and characteristics; Dampening; Spiral stability; Adverse yaw qualities.
Pros – Stalls were all highly predictable nonevents. Steel (stainless on test Breese DS) surrounds cockpit to better protect pilot – and makes for a strong structure. Test plane was parachute equipped. Four-point seat belts were appreciated as well.
Cons – Adverse yaw is significant. Misapplication of controls can cause some wallowing at lower speeds. With the high engine and thrust line, the HKS-powered Breese DS noses over on rapid throttle movement.
Addresses the questions: “Will a buyer get what he/she expects to buy, and did the designer/builder achieve the chosen goal?”
Pros – A proven design, made even stronger with larger tubing, with 4-stroke engine and popular accessories (such as electric start) for $19,995 for a fly-away aircraft is a very fair price. Strutted look is what many buyers seek. Long- range fuel tanks also standard.
Cons – You’ll have to N-number a Breese DS HKS (but factory has a builder-assistance program). Buyers in cold climates won’t much care for the wide-open cockpit (without optional enclosure). This open, simple type of design may cause more challenges at resale time.