Lionheart Quickie Q2 Dragonfly
[P3Dv2.4] The Answer: Because no one else really is. And those that kind of are? Are not really hitting the mark. The Question: Why? Why what you ask? Well it starts with imagination. Imagination with a inherent and continuous ability of achieving fruition through focus and determination with the impetus of implementing high quality and ascetic value on a grand scale. Now don't get me wrong, every developer we respect and hold to the highest of regards accomplishes this masterfully. They meet our expectations gracefully. They deliver a virtual rendition of reality that is so incredibly real, we at times almost forget that it's not. This is a very good thing. But not always. Because let's face it, what the majority of the flight simulation community truly desires in their virtual form is whats real. Not what's fictional. Not what's... Imaginative. And there is your real answer. Virtual replication of reality is what the masses desire. But there are those of us, that while having this same wants and needs, also desire something more. Something, different. Venturing out into the unknown is something most all developers stray away from. It's risky in this business. And end users might not be so inclined to accept it when it comes to putting dollars on the line. That said, someone has to step up and try. To innovate and deliver upon such conceived innovations. They must believe in themselves whilst also believing in their craft regardless the outcome. If you build it. They will come. That was the half of the complete answer to the question. Now the complete question: Why bother building fantasy and fictional aircraft for flight simulator? Now go back and read the first answer at the beginning of this paragraph.
It takes a person with great imaginative ideas and intuitive insight to truly respect and have the ability to see the scope of imaginative ideas in others. To admire and be inspired. let's take a man named Burt Rutan for example. Here lies a strong minded individual who not only possessed some very unique and imaginative ideas great in scope and broad in functionality, he also knew how to manipulate logic and physics by means of artistic creativity thus implementing ideologically that defied the convention in aircraft design to great lengths. You could very well say, Burt has transformed the aviation community and has truly shown world what's possible when you substitute conventional designs with imagination.
Another like minded individual? William Ortis. Someone else who possesses such personal intuitive insight in what's possible for things that can fly. Someone who not only truly respects and has the ability to see and understand the scope Burt Rutan's ideas, but sought to deliver one of his ideas to the flight simulation community that is not only imaginative, it's also very real. 2 birds, one stone. Realism and imagination. But in looking back at Bill's earliest of works, I can't help but feel that it was the depth of William's imagination that led him to flight simulation development in the first place. When I look back at some of his earliest works, it's so obvious to me. It wasn't the conventional aircraft designs he was so inspired to develop. It was the unconventional. The unusual. The... imaginative.
[Note: For format purposes, many images throughout this review are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview where desired.]
Notice any C172's in there? Any... Piper Cherokee's? Now don't get me wrong. Bill has delivered many conventional, unconventional, and classic style aircraft over the years. But it's very clear to me where Bill's passion truly lies. The unusual, the futuristic, the possible. And usually, imagination at this depth, defies convention. Ergo:
Now here is Bill's passion screaming loudly and there is no aircraft in the history of flight simulation that makes itself more clear about Bill's imaginative ideology than the Lionheart Avelina. If you own one, then you are fully aware it's like nothing else ever created for our virtual world. As fictional as it is, it posses a quality that seems to say, this unique imaginative design is possible in the real world. Here comes that question again: Why build an aircraft like this? Because no one else is. And here is another: Because it's about bringing great ideas to fruition. Without imagination, as a species, there is no growth. And many great ideas in our human history have never reached fruition because they were either outright rejected as being so different or by means of fear for representing the unknown. Or shall I again say, unconventional. Leonardo Divinci's many fascinating designs come to mind. And for those who strive to to make their dreams come true despite rejection or the notion of negative reception, my heart goes out to them. Burt Rutan and William Ortis. 2 bright minds that have delivered amazing products. So just how unconventional was the ideology behind developing something as odd and unusual as the Quickie? Well...
First off, it takes a great mind to develop a great idea no matter how unusual. And Burt was no stranger to the unusual. If you know who Burt is, then you already know this. But if you don't, let me tell you this: First, his last name should ring a bell and if it doesn't, you still know of the results of his imagination. And the further results by those inspired by his designs.
Ringing a bell now? These are just a few examples. But the thing they all have in common? They are not conventional aircraft by any means which brings me to the reason why we are here. I myself like to think I have quite an imagination. The overwhelming majority of my ideas however, never leave the cranium. That said, I have a profound respect for those with the ability to create and bring to fruition such highly unusual yet highly useful ideas. So when someone comes along and says: "Picture this: I am going to build a taildragger aircraft that puts the elevators in front of the pilot and the ailerons behind. My design will not have wings per se so I will just pop the main gear onto the elevator support structure. Oh and as the elevator is in front of the cockpit, it will need to operate reverse order than a conventional elevator. Oh yeah, and I am going to power it with a Volkswagen engine." You might respond with something like: "What the heck??" followed by: "Where are you going to put the flaps since there are no wings?" "Screw the flaps." The guy replies. You don't even bother asking how such an idea is going to generate lift. Would you fly in this unconventional idea? And what the hell would that look like anyway? I'll say this, either really cool or extremely stupid. Luckily for us, that guy was Burt Rutan one of America's most well known aerospace engineers and the founder of Scaled Composites . If he designs it by some crazy description, i'll fly on it. Hey, the man delivers right? Much respect. And yes, the original models were powered by VW engines. Hows that for an airplane?
So what was the point in developing the quickie anyway? Was it just an idea to see if the design was possible for some future concept? Well. No. In fact, the idea was not even new having been implemented on the French built Mignet Pou-du-Ciel back in the 30's. That said, great ides are never without a bit of inspiration. The Q2 was actually designed for average blokes like you and I to build and fly right out of our garages. No joke! Now the original idea Burt had in mind is not exactly what came to fruition and many variants including a fixed tricycle gear version were developed and sold between 1978 and late 80's including the Viking Dragonfly being one notable variant. Close to three thousand kits had been delivered during that time. Now that might seem like a high number. But till Bill introduced the first renders, I had never even heard of the Q2. In fact, in the beginning, I thought it was Bill's own concept as I have become accustomed to his rather unusual ideas. Great minds think alike. Now I should be clear, this variant of the Q2 Dragonfly we are going to experience today is not the version delivered to customers back in the 70's and 80's. Not is it an exact replica of anything flying now.
Now as it pertains to us flight simulation enthusiasts, this where the imagination returns. This variant delivered by Lionheart Creations is a fictional 2015 model year variant packing upgraded avionics and power. I just bought mine and if you don't mind the weather, i'd like to invite you out onto the ramp here in Twentynine Palms California. It's winter season out in the high desert so its cold and windy but free of frost. The sand is whipping up so be sure bring your shades. Before we go out, there is one more thing I want to overview. A Lionheart favorite of mine: The themes.
One of the many attributes I really admire about Lionheart Creations is the effort that goes into the "themes" variations of each product produced. One of the things I have always found lacking in Carenado and Alabeo aircraft for example is the fact that no matter how many different liveries they create for a particular model, it's almost always the same interior. The purpose of creating separate liveries is to give the impression of operating different models of the same aircraft. Even for multi-role aircraft like the Pilatus PC-12 and Cessna S550 which are used for medical, surveillance, and cargo use among other roles, the only variants delivered are the executive interiors. Perhaps they plan to sell the other variants in the future for an additional price like with the 3 versions of the Carenado Cessna Caravan. With Lionheart's own Lear 24B, among the various interior sets was the inclusion of the cargo model. With Lionheart's Kodiak, the pax, cargo, and medical versions were all included in one single package. Sure, adding all these features add's an extra volume of workload to the development process, but the end results always pay off nicely and offer something just a little bit more the others don't making Lionheart Creations a bit special in my book.
Another notable developer is Iris Simulations with their Jabiru and like the Jabiru, the Q2 comes with standard, wood trim, and carbon fiber panels along with multicolored interiors. As you can clearly see below, the interior work makes all the difference. And if you don't like a certain interior/exterior match, just swap the image files from each aircraft's cosponsoring texture folders. I'll admit, I don't always like the options given, but I can always mix and match the texture files till I am happy. With the Avelina, I really love the black leather interior option with the African cherry wood trim. Oh yeah! It's like choosing options right on the showroom floor. More developers should adopt this principle. It's imaginative and gives the impression of actually owning the aircraft. Each having it's own personality and unique likeness. A rarity in virtual addons. Get to know the Quickies. Click each image to see the interiors.
Blue Stripe is a white Q2 with a rich pastel blue 'speckle painted' interior with tweed cloth seats. The dove gray instrument panel was created by a specialty panel shop that creates precision machined/cut metal panels and is nearly flawless without wear. (Nearly new). The exterior features a wild automotive decal (available in the real world) as well as a checkered rudder that has some deep metallic blue sprayed on the leading edge.
Lamborghini Orange is a bold exterior paint scheme. Done in thick flakes, she is very much a metallic paint scheme. Trimmed with grey stripes along her sides and also sporting Dragonfly graphics on her exterior.The interior is a bit radical, as like the exterior 'Orange' color. The seats are done in Reddish Orange leather, with a charcoal inner cushion color scheme. The arm rest pads, joystick leather boot and trinket tray are also in this wild reddish orange paint scheme. The instrument panel is in beautiful carbon fiber and sports an orange 'Q2' emblem on it. The inner aeroshell color is painted in charcoal gray with slightly visible speckling work on it.
Midnight Blue is a sharp plane. Dark colors are usually not done on composite planes, but this model features a carbon fiber hull that the owner was able to have custom made. The paint is Lamborghini dark blue Metallic and features a white set of pin stripes running along her sides. A neat Dragonfly graphic is sported on the exterior. The interior of the blue ship is done in white with speckling finish and has brilliant seat leather done in black with blue in the inset cushions. The instrument panel is a dark gray color and the joystick leather boot matches the leather seat sides.
White Plaine (pardone the pun). This is the 'blank' body-in-white version which can be used as a template for creating your own custom paint schemes on. Just be sure to copy/paste into your own version keeping this as your template. She is really sharp looking, even in basic white. Her paint is low gloss, nearly a dull white color. Her interior is white gray with speckling paint finish and she is fitted with sky blue seats in tweed fabric and has a sharp dove gray metal pro-finished instrument panel. This is the most closest of all to the actual looks of the early, original 'standard' Q2 aircraft.
Yellow Racer is a hot little number with some special features and modifications. The Exterior features a high gloss Daytona yellow coat with radical checkered flag graphics. This Q2 is fitted with a racing fuel cap on the top of the fuselage in front of the perspex bubble. She is also fitted with a chrome spinner. The Interior reflects the wild exterior. Everything is basically a charcoal black: Black leather seats, carbon fiber instrument panel, dark gray speckled finish paint on the fuselage inner shell, and topped off with a cool glossy trinket tray in 'yellow' matching the exterior.
OX or November Zero X-Ray is named after 'NOX' (Nitrus Oxide) and is an air racer. She has a brilliant metal flaked Metallic silver paint job with flying checkered flags graphics in the center area's of the paint work. A sky blue stripe skims over the center of the racing flags. Her lettering graphics are a wild, futuristic font. The interior of NOX is dark, like a new Corvette. Leather seats are fitted in the charcoal gray 'speckled' aeroshell. The instrument panel is carbon fiber, the texture clearly visible. The pilot who has had the trinket tray and circuit breaker graphics changed to bright sky blue to match his racing stripe.
Gold and Tan is a rich metallic flake with large flake grains in the paintwork. The paint is very high gloss and features a sort of ripple stripe down the sides, having a wave in the middle. The owner has proudly put USA graphics on the rudder. The interior is really rich looking. Having a beige color for the interior aeroshell with speckled finish, it matches the exterior. The seats are a reddish brown leather, almost orange. The instrument panel is sort of a tan color similar to the new Mooney aircraft range and is a nice metal panel professionally done with nearly zero wear and scratches. The owner has also covered and color matched the trinket tray and joystick boot to match the seats and arm rests.
Blue Striped Britain is nicknamed the'Berkshire Cross Fire the pride and joy of one Englishman who has put a lot of himself into this plane. The exterior is done in a light coat of bright white, is not a super gloss paint scheme but rather a very slightly dull coat with a bit of 'shine'. Her stripes are sky blue color resembling birds wingtips at the front, and features a neat racing fuel cap from one of his old race cars which he has mounted on the Q2. She also boasts proper English country badges under the rear wings. The interior of the Berkshire Cross Fire is light dove gray (almost white) with speckling and cloth tweed seats in a similar color of blue to the stripes on the exterior. The instrument panel is a unique spruce laminate of wood, nicely cut, no super gloss finish, but a simple, strong, nice wood panel that is nice to look at.
Yellow and White is a unique plane. Yellow on the top with a white belly and white on the undersides, having a black belt line stripe along her sides. She is a high gloss finish, non metallic paint. She sports a racing decal on her rudder from the early 1930's. Her interior is sort of like a hot-rod would be done, with the instrument panel painted with the same yellow paint as the outer aeroshell. The owner has even painted his F-16 joystick the same color, (a bit radical). Dragonfly graphics run along the inerior arm rests area. The interior area of the aeroshell is done in a grayish white with speckle painting and the seats are a dark gray tweed with yellow 'Q2' logos stitched into the head cushions.
The Red and White paint scheme is very similar to the Yellow and White. This has red on the top and white on the belly, also features a exterior paint color on the instrument panel like the yellow plane, even down to the F-16 flight control joystick. The red color is from Porsche, Guard's Red, a very bright, almost orange color of red, brighter then Ferrari's famous red color. The interior aeroshell is also the same color layout as the Yellow and White, but with red insignia on the headrests. The owner has his EAA decal on the sides of his bird just under the secondary wings and a Japanese looking logo of a Dragonfly are painted into the exterior scheme.
Black Carbon Fiber this little gem burred deep in the hangar is an all exposed carbon fiber frame variant. But here is the thing. You need special permission in order to get access to the hangar to see it. As to how you get this permission, I am not at liberty to say. And don't bother asking Bill, because I assure you, he is either not going to respond or he will deny all knowledge that this variant exists. Besides, the exposed black fibers "black" being the operative word here, should never be exposed on composite aircraft. So it's kept back here. It's by far the best looking version of the bunch though. I wanted to conduct my tests in this bad boy for the review but didn't want to risk getting my Armchair pilots license suspended.
- Typical used price: $15,000-40,000 (new kits no longer avail)
- Est. kit build time: 20,000-40,000 hours
- Powerplant: Continental O-200 100hp @7200rpm
- Prop: Hartzell two-blade fixed-pitch
- Wingspan 16ft 8in
- Wing loading 16.40lb/sq.ft
- Fuel capacity: 20gal
- Max gross weight: 1325 lb
- Typical empty weight: 760 lb
- Typical useful load: 565 l
- Full fuel payload: 448 lb
- Seating capacity 2
- Cabin width 43.5 in
- Baggage capacity 35 lb
- Top speed: 200 mph / 175 kts
- High cruise: 180 mph / 155kts
- Stall speed: 70 mph / 60 kts (no flaps)
- Cruise: 140 mph / 121kts / 75% power
- Range: 400 nm
- Weight, empty: 550 lb
- Weight max: 1200 lb
- Climb rate: 1,200 ft/min
- Service ceiling: 15000 feet @1200 lb 19000 feet @ 750 lb
A very early model Quickie at rest in a museum. Not quite as sleek & sexy as our simulated variant but no doubt turned heads back in it's day.
The Quickie Q2 is a owner built kit. A tandem wing design constructed out of glass fiber and resin over a foam core with the wings being foam blocks till cut into shape with a hot wire before covering. The fuselage made up of 1 inch-thick foam slabs. The first prototype was about about 400 hours of work. I wonder how many hours Bill spent developing the digital variant for flight simulator. Now as these "wings" appear as anything but wings in my opinion, I almost prefer to only refer to them by their appropriate control surface designations. On typical aircraft, the elevator and ailerons are attached to the wings making them components. An exception would be if your aircraft is equipped with a rear stabilator in which case it is the wing. Nevertheless, the horizontal control surfaces double as the wings and support for the gear in leiu of the typical main wing and horizontal stabilizer. The forward "wing" or canard (still don't like calling it a wing) provides about 60% of the aircraft's lift while the aileron "wings" which are inboard shoulder mounted centrally just aft of the pilot provide the rest of the lift.
Now just standing out here and looking at the the Quickie all decked out in the native P3Dv2 optimized 4096 textures, I have to say it looks like a cross between 50's american HotRod and a modern Ferrari. The fact that she is an assdragger gives her that classic look while the Star Wars X-Wing appearance wings gives her a futuristic feel. Just looking at it as I walk around the aircraft taking my pictures, I am perplexed at the imaginative design processes that went into the concept of the real aircraft. The fixed gear is faired into spats located at the tips of the forward wing thingies (canard) giving the aircraft a very convenient means of including the wheels while effectively concealing the wheels without having to actually make room for them. Genius. Designing the aircraft in this way greatly reduces both weight and drag, the 2 worst issues to deal with when designing an aircraft making me wonder just why this thing is no longer in production. It's a genius design.
Now the operational version was a good ole classic steam gauge cable & pulley design. But I get the feeling this new Lionheart version is fly by wire. At least, that's the impression I get from it. Let's peak in.
Upon popping my canopy, I notice some bloke is already sitting in my aircraft grabbing my control stick. But before I can roll up my sleeves, my wife stops me. Apparently she thinks he is hansom and nicely tanned. Bruising his face was not an option. Alright fine. He can stay. In fact, this is the best looking figure Bill has designed to date. Sadly though, there is no option for a female companion which is a typical option in Lionheart's Creations. Besides, this good looking guy could use a girl to fly with him. Maybe i'll introduce him to that cute single digital chick that comes with the Baytower Studios Vans RV/7.
The external model is very fine crafted. This aircraft has a lot of curves and each of them are displayed prominently. The aircraft is a very interesting and unsusal shape as it is quite rounded and plump near the cockpit and begins to narrow itself to a fine thin point as I move my eyes aft. Crafting this beauty with real world materials is one thing. But doing so in 3DSMAX is an entirely different animal. I always find it so amazing how developers do this stuff. Obviously, the effort and passion truly shines throughout the model. I find the visual representation to be highly accurate. But besides this, it's a damn fine sexy looking airplane. It's no wonder why everyone I have come across online refer to it as her and I wonder if naming her "Quickie" was an intended pun of sorts... Giggity.
There is just something about it that I find to have a very feminine quality and yet, as I continue to stare, there is a sense of oddness that just won't quite go away. Things are just not in the right place here. This is not how we were bred at the early age believe this is how airplanes are supposed to look. As a result, I keep feeling as if something is missing... like an uneasiness hanging over me wondering if this thing will actually fly and yet, my excitement continues to build the more I look at it. Because I know fully well that not only will it fly, she flies very fast. And I like to go fast. I have a habit of thinking about my entire aircraft collection whenever I get a new toy, mentally imagining what it would look like having them all in the same hangar similar to Jay Leno's garage. The aircraft I would park the Q2 right in between would no doubt be RealAir's Legacy and BayTower's buttdragging RV/7. Ahh seeing those three together... How I wish such a virtual FS garage existed. Instead of an aircraft selection menu, you walked through a massive customized hangar and picked your aircraft. I'd just pull up a chair, grab a beer, and look at them all. Hehe. I love my toys...
Now in the drivers seat, I find my heart racing. This aircraft just looks fun to fly. Now as stated earlier, the variant provided to us by Bill is entirely fictional. The old Quickies still flying today (many are as old as I am) do not look anything near as good as this does. Bill, in an effort to make this aircraft more exciting to enjoy for us FS folks, elected to enhance the cockpit experience by truly making this a modern version of the classic. A metallic racing style rudder pedal set decked out in full chrome was added along with (my favorite feature) a F-16 Viper flight stick installed and purchased from the local military surplus. In 2 models, the sticks are painted. This one is red to match the aircraft's interior/exterior theme. It is remarkably similar to my own Warthog flight stick further assisting me in forgetting the fact that none of this is real.
Also added is the Garmin GPS500, Bendix KX-155 radio stack (Nav 1 Com 1 only), the Bendix KT6 transponder and, the Century NSD-360 HSI NAV compass. Now whereas I personally really like the modern panel and gauge layout, as long as we are going the "dream" route here, I would have really, really liked to have had an option to include the Dynon EFIS-D100. It would no doubt de-clutter the panel a bit and add just a bit more of a modern feel to it. But don't get me wrong, only as an additional option. I am aware that for the sake of not over complicating the production time, Bill elected not to include multiple aircraft panel options which also keeps the production time down. However, another option I would have preferred is inclusion Flight One's Garmin GTN series avionics on the panel's center section. I really hope Bill makes efforts to include this option in future aircraft. Something Carenado and Alabao are now optioning in their various upcoming offerings.
The gauges are sharp and easy to read. I really like the switches used for various functions such as lighting and activation the battery and avionics. Everything just screams brand new and modern which is in my opinion, the way to go with this. Had Bill elected to do an actual 1981 kit (the year I was born) I just don't think this would be anywhere near as exciting. Now I should also note that this is a hands-on aircraft. She wants to be touched and as such, there is no standard autopilot system. For those longer flights, Bill has added some options to help you keep your hand off that trim lever. The "Z" key activates a phantom autopilot functionality. "/Z" gives you automated altitude hold and "/H" will maintain your heading. There is also, believe it or not, a 2D panel. I won't be covering that however. Use of a 2D panel for a small and simplistic aircraft like this is in my opinion, a complete waste of all the talent and effort that went into the VC. It's like buying a Pagani Huyara for the sole use of driving it to your mailbox.
As for the internal texturing, coloration, and shading, all represents Bill's signature talent for attention to detail and visual ascetics. Very nicely done in the Q2.
Engine Start & Taxi
I close the canopy and hit the battery switch. Immediately the battery powers up with a sound that seems to make me feel as if she is excited to see me. Like she is getting ready for action. I really loved the sound. I then decided to switch the battery back off and the sound that followed was if I had just somehow broken her heart. Like she was slowly dying. Tears streaming down her face. She was saying goodbye. I Just could not stomach this. I flipped the battery switch back on and instantly she was happy to see me again like the dog that greets you when you are returning home after after a year away even though you have only been gone for ten minutes. Now fully powered up, she sits quietly humming as if to say: "I'm ready when you are baby." I flip on the avionics switch with a nice "click" audio followed by the navigation lights. The GPS500 screen comes to life along with the radio stack awaiting my instructions.
Now here is an odd thing. I have not yet started the engine and yet, the VC is rocking side to side as if the engine was running. I can also hear the tries bumping the pavement as well. Looks like I found a bug. This is annoying me but fine, i'll let that go for now. Okay I am ready. I hit the strobes switch, push the mixture control lever to 100% and turn the key. The starting sounds activate, a puff of black smoke, and she roars to life. She is really shaking now as the 100hp Continental O-200 powerfully spins the attached two-blade Hartzell prop into action. I fiddle with the throttle a bit back and forth getting a feel of her listening intently to the engine sounds. Very good sound packs here. After a quick check, I reach for the parking brake beneath the panel and push it forward. She is in my hands now. I switch off the strobes and very slowly push the throttle to 23% and she is rolling with ease. I taxi her past a fellow performing routine checks on his Cessna. As I pass, he immeadely stops what he is doing fixing his gaze on the very irregular aircraft. Yes she is a head turner and looks like nothing else on the ramp of any airfield. I imagine him jealously thinking: "His toy looks way more fun than mine".
Okay on a quick serious note here, as I taxed up to the static Cessna for a overhead screenshot of the comparison difference between the conventional and unconventional aircraft, I kid you not, the animated guy really turned around watched. It was almost eerie.
I exit the ramp and onto the taxiway. I find that at appropriate taxi speeds, she follows my direction with ease. This was a primary concern as I had heard surface movement with this aircraft could be quite difficult. As the gear is located on the tips of the "wings" (again, very unusual) you have to be careful braking. And if you have differential toe breaks assigned to your pedals, you really need to ensure both toes are breaking equally or you could have a very tough time maintaining directional control and at worst, send the aircraft into a spin. I found that as long as I kept the taxi below 10 kts and made my pedal movements subtle, she was okay. The huge bubble also afforded enough view over the glareshield preventing me from having shove a phone book under my butt or sticking my head out the window like I have to do do with most taildragons.
Another notable feature is the smooth animation of the F-16 Viper flight stick. Why am I pointing this out now as this is obviously not an ample time to have my on it? Because as I operate the rudder pedals, I notice the control stick shifting left and right like a typical Saitek joystick with a twist rudder axis. This is indeed an interesting feature. Unlike many GA and lite sport aircraft with control yokes/sticks and rudder pedals. The Q2 places it's singular control stick onto the center column allowing the passenger to take limited control of the taxi and flight while the pilot maintains complete control of the mixture, throttle, and trim with feet on the pedals. But as to why the stick twists at all baffles me a bit. What is the real point of this? Whenever I sim on my laptop for example, I use my Cyborg X joystick with the twist axis. Taxiing is simple enough with it but landing and departing in strong crosswinds is extremely difficult while maintaining directional control and ruddering against the wind at the same time. The twist of my wrist almost always affects my ability to maintain heading. I simply can not imagine flying with a twist rudder in a real aircraft for any reason. Nevertheless, the animation is cool to watch. The only reason I can think of is for better control during taxi given the aircraft's unusual position of its wheels. But I digress.
Now finally ready to depart and heart racing, I activate the strobe and landing lights. I take a deep breath and begin to push the throttles forward but then I stop short remembering a key notation about this aircraft. Up till now, the taxi over was nice and smooth allowing me to put a little trust in her. I now realize this is not wise. As a wise man one said: "Never let an aircraft take you someplace your brain didn't get to five minutes earlier." Smooth taxi or not, it's time to see if Bill coded the FDE file to do what he says the real aircraft will do if you make the mistake of trying to depart like a conventional aircraft. Rather than a gradual increase of throttle power, I push it forward and in seconds, the aircraft got away from me and took me right towards the left edge of the runway. For some reason, the aircraft violently jerked left forcing me to quickly counter the action putting me in this now very bad situation towards the opposite side of the threshold and into the dirt. Trying to regain control by breaking the right toe to counter again made matters even worse forcing the aircraft to spin into a circle. From the exterior, an air vortice animation emitted from the tip of the left aileron as the aircraft went right. After the spin, only then did the aircraft finally come to a halt. Well. It does what it's supposed to do indeed and I don't want to experience that again. Let's now go back and do this the right way.
This time, I get myself together, shake off the dust and lick my wounds. Let's get this right. I cautiously make my way back to runway 17's threshold and line up for departure again. This time, I move the throttles forward careful not to get her all excited again. Steady on my toes as I push for speed. Even now she wants to get away from me and head for the weeds. But I remain firm and let her know who's boss. She doesn't need much pavement to get her ass off the ground and I feel it raising after a very short period. Once the ass is up, I rotate softly to ensure I don't strike the tailwheel remembering how it's angled downward. Rotating upwards at the wrong time resulting in a tailwheel strike could make this a very short trip indeed. I allow for the alt to read 70 ft before I aim her skywards. She is quick. REAL quick. Leaving me to wonder who would win in a drag race off the line. The Quickie? Or the Legacy? Well, no doubt the Legacy would win as you just cant go full power on the pavement with the Q2. Which reminds me, I can stop holding my breath now.
Now one of the things Bill makes clear is how the Q2 is known for it's control sensitivity while airborne. Poor stickwork can quickly get you into trouble at worst and at best, you are pulling maneuvers only Patty Wagstaff should be doing except yours are unintentional. The Q2 is like a fighter jet with a propeller and is extremely responsive. Now given the fact that I did not read anything about not conducting acrobatic maneuvers, I go head and to so. The result? Pure fun! Great responsive flight dynamics. Okay enough fooling around. I actually have a destination today so up we go to 10,000. Once there, I quickly decide on conducting a stall test. After all, with those small "wings", I am really curious to see how it will react. The result was not at all what I had expected. After a 90 degree pitch up tail stall, the nose drops down rapidly as it enters a very marginal spin. Recovery was far too easy and the aircraft far too forgiving. Not at all what I expected. Does the real aircraft behave this way? I'll say this, given the fact that the Q2 was designed as a home built kit, it's a bit of heart warming to know that it is indeed forgiving if and when stalls occur.
My destination today is Monument Valley near the Utah Arizona border perfectly within the Q2's range from Twentynine Palms. I chose this destination as the large bubble canopy should afford incredible views across the landscape and I just can't think of any place better to tour the Q2 over the desert landscape.
Speaking of that canopy. Bill notes he elected not to add any interior reflections on the glass allowing the pilot unobstructed views. Whereas I like this idea, what I did not like is the default FSX "Yosemite" image that reflects on the exterior of the canopy glass. I have been getting on scenery developers about doing this on terminal buildings. There is nothing worse than looking at a mountain reflecting off a window in a place where there are no mountains. Same case here. I would have much better preferred a cloud image in the reflection. There are no mountains or trees up here at 10,000 feet.
As I cleared the California / Arizona boarder with quite a while still on the clock, I decided the only way to get off my butt and effectively remain on track was with use of an autopilot. Now as I said earlier, the Dynon EFIS would be the perfect addon for this gem. But as none exists here and my keyboard commands wont work anyway with the included AP keystrokes (everything on my keyboard is separated from FS and reassigned via FSUIPC) I elected to go with my RemoteFlight app externally on my iPad Mini. This is my go to option for aircraft like the Alabeo Staggerwing which leaves me with little options on long flights. Even when flying between VOR's, the iPad is still most useful to carry around and still know my position with the ability to make corrections when AFK for long periods. After a steady flight, I descend out of the weather and approach Monument Valley just before sunset. The results are simply beautiful. I'll shut up and leave you with some tunes while you enjoy the view and I fly.
Sunset Tour Of Monument Valley
Approach & Landing
In my immense aircraft collection there lies a corner of the hanger a certain select group of aircraft I exclusively use for surveying sceneries. These aircraft include helicopters and aircraft with large and almost completely unobstructed canopies offering the best views of the virtual landscape. I can honestly say, the Q2 also belongs in this group. In flight, only a very small part of the tip of the left canard is viable from the VC. And where the terrain is obstructed, only slight imputs on the stick rotates the aircraft bringing blocked areas into view with ease. The Q2 and Orbx Monument Valley are perfect companions in the world of FS. Her speed and agility allow me to get extremely close to the rock formations while climbing over them at 90 degrees, barrel rolling over the tops, and nose diving off the opposite end. And when I need to slow things down for a more careful observation, I can slow the aircraft down to 70 knots without any flaps. The thought of dog-fighting out here against the LancAir Legacy is very appealing...
I could honestly stay up here forever. But sadly the burning daylight and fuel brings reality back to the forefront. It's time to land. I make my way to the single airfield serving the valley and prepare and aircraft to land. As the runway comes into view so does the massive Box Canyon rockwall looming over it. It's a really odd feeling approaching such a vertical face like this. Reminds me of approaching Altiport de Megeve with Aiguille Croche looming above with it's 8,000ft peak. And like Megeve, there aren't any provisions for go-arounds. With the Q2, I don't need to nail this on the first shot. If I screw up, she has plenty of power to clear the obstacle. Given her potential behavior while on the ground at high speeds, my bigger concern is right after touchdown.
As the runway gets closer, and the airspeed drops below 90 I instinctively reach for my flaps lever on the warthog but am quickly reminded this is pointless. It's just so odd slowing such a fast bird like this with no spoilers or flaps. I get her down to 70 knots on the final and flare as long as I can careful to touch down as lightly as possible. As with the flaps and sopilers, there is no suspension either so you don't want to do any stall slamdowns like you might do in a Piper Arrow or C172. I pop her down as gently as possible with a little bounce and then focus on the even braking with both toes working in unison. She still drift's a little to the left but nothing I cant handle. She slows to a stop, drops her butt and I begin breathing again. I taxi her onto the ramp next to a ststic Cub and settle her down. This has been a great day. I play a bit with the dome and gauge lighting. The gauges do not really light up with proper backlighting methods the way they should. I also noticed this with the Lionheart Lear 24B. This is an area needing improvement. The dome lighting on the other hand, lit the interrior quie nicely. I switch off the lights, avionics, and finally... hesitantly...the battery switch. I wait as she says her long goodbye. Until our next adventure sweetheart.
The Answer: Because no one else really is. The question: Why does Bill Ortis insist on delivering unusual and fantasy aircraft like this? Those others that kind of are? Are not really hitting the mark. AFS Design comes to mind and they continue to miss the mark. If you are going to introduce a new concept to the flight simulation community, doing it right is important. It starts with imagination. Imagination with a inherent and continuous ability of achieving fruition through focus and determination with the impetus of implementing high quality and ascetic value on a grand scale. And this ability must also come with a strong passion. This is my overall impression of Bill Ortis and the work he has delivered to the flight simulation community over the years. He has an incredible imagination and a unique ability to make his ideas come true just like Burt Rutan. In the real world, Burt strives to deliver upon the unusual. The unconventional. And in the world of flight simulation, this is something Bill excels at. As you have seen earlier in this review, Bill earliest works were of the unconventional and abstract. But in recent years, he has put more focus on the types of aircraft many of us grew up admiring.
Sure, spending long amounts of time and effort on something no one might accept or buy is indeed a risk. But it's the fact that Bill takes the risk at all that gets my highest of respects. The concept of the Avelina was bold. It's an aircraft that does not exist and was indeed a risk to develop in this market. Obviously it was driven by passion and not money. Why would anyone want to spend time flying something in the simulator that does not exist in the real world? The answer is simple. If the simulation in and of itself is not real, why should it not encompass addons that are not real as well? I for 1 am all for developers going above and beyond the status-quo and Lionheart Creations does and has always done this perfectly. The Q2 in this review is not something that exists in the real world and yet, it feels very real to me. A great imaginative idea brought to fruition. So why should you buy one? Well in Bill's own words, "If you want a new aircraft that is a little feisty, needs attention, isn't too boring, and adds some spice to your normal flying adventures, the Q200 might be for you." In my opinion, Bill's idea had paid off perfectly and describes this addon accurately.
Inspiration. Where Burt Rutan received the inspiration to develop such an aircraft is beyond me. But it inspired Bill to create a variant of his own imagination. Bill's magnificent creation in turn inspired me to compile this review. And now I hope my efforts inspire you. To take a leap of faith. To venture off the path of convention and experience something different. And who know's, maybe it may bring you an inspiration of your own. Either way, give the Q2 a chance, it just might change the way you perceive the experience of flight simulation.
As for what innovative unconventional design Lionheart may deliver next? Well let's just say the future is already looking bright.
For more information about the Lionheart Q2 and where to purchase, visit the product page @ http://www.lionheartcreations.com/Q200.html
Other Products used in this review: