One of the major stumbles in the light aircraft world was the closure of Quicksilver Aeronautic’s southern California factory in Temecula. That ended a long-running era dating back to the 1970s. See articles here and here. Plenty of folks expressed concern.
Their worry was warranted. As a kit supplier, Quicksilver was one of the most prolific in aviation history with more than 15,000 kits delivered, nearly every one of which got airborne after the short build time. Some have been retired due to age, accident, or neglect, but many thousands continue to fly.
What happens when that large fleet can no longer buy parts? With the factory closed, are all those owners orphaned, having no factory-fresh parts available?
Don’t worry, be happy (so the song said).
“We currently have all the Quicksilver parts in stock and are shipping mass quantities daily,” said Gene “Bever” Borne, of Air-Tech, Inc. In case you don’t know him — almost impossible to believe for any Quicksilver enthusiast, though new Quicksilver owners may be unaware — Bever is arguably the most experienced supplier of all-things Quicksilver since… well, since the very beginning of the powered Quicksilver aircraft. * (See a video interview with Bever.)
Bever, his family (wife Kim and son Ken) have operated the Louisiana company for decades, in fact, they can celebrate their 40th year in business in 2017. I doubt anyone in the world knows more about Quicksilver products including all their history. If the Bornes tell you something about the former California company’s aircraft, you can accept it as gospel.
“We’ve been shipping kits and are always packing more,” Bever added. “We have a great crew.”
Given his reputation and long time in the business, Air-Tech needs to do little advertising. Everybody who needs to know already knows how to reach them. “Our time is spent on the appropriate media forums and those with needs are being helped,” Bever clarified. Keep up with Air-Tech on Facebook.
When Quicksilver was about to close their factory, Bever traveled west to negotiate and eventually acquired all the inventory and some of the (more modern) tooling and brought it all back to Louisiana in a caravan of semi-trailers. It was a massive undertaking but assures all the right components remain available.
Therefore, if you need factory-original parts, you can still get them (“Whew!” …for many owners). Yet what if you want a kit?
Air-Tech can supply them but as Bever cautioned, “I have absolutely no desire to produce 100 kits per year.” After many years in the business, the Quicksilver expert prefers “a comfortable pace.”
Apparently only one exception to parts supply remains outstanding. “The GT500 is a little bit different as I am lacking the aft boom tube drill fixture,” reported Bever. I’ll bet if the need arises, he and his team will figure something but the good news is that would be a rarely needed part.
He added, “I stay close with the Von Hirsch family [that ran Quicksilver Manufacturing for many years before selling it to Quicksilver Aeronautics].” Bever also noted that original design engineer Dave Cronk, presently enjoying his own slower pace in Moab, Utah, is still available for technical details. “He’s an endless wealth of knowledge,” said Bever.
In December 2016, Bever was contacted by the current owners of Quicksilver Aeronautics. “They have been going back and forth on a plan,” he said. “If something develops, fine. If not, that’s fine as well. We’re busy.”
Quicksilver owners can breathe a deep sigh of relief. Air-Tech is on the job! Those visiting Sun ‘n Fun 2017 can find Air-Tech in Paradise City.
* Quicksilver was once a supplier of hang gliders before anyone ever heard of anything called an “ultralight.” The company, originally called EipperFormance, made delta-wing-shaped hang gliders, which they sold by the thousands. A slightly different hang glider was an unpowered, foot-launched, wing-and-tailplane glider to which a small engine and landing gear was later added yielding, after much evolution, the Quicksilver you see in the lead photo.