Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MONTANA: Billings Man Constructs Airplanes

By Gillette Vaira

BILLINGS - Mark Curtiss has enjoyed aviation his entire life, and now he builds planes of his own. "Because I love building," he said. "I love building them. So this is my third one. This is it. I'm done. Now all I want to do is fly." He serves as the Montana dealer for Quad City Ultralight Aircraft Corporation, an airplane manufacturing company. He helps Montanans buy parts and build planes like his, called the "Challenger."

It's an experimental aircraft and people need training and a license before being able to fly it. The two-seater can hold up to 500 pounds and 10 gallons of fuel. It cruises at about 70 mph. "Just a low and slow flight, flying time. Very fun." The plane is made of tubing and fabric, and it costs about $20,000 to construct. "It's got a door here, there's another door here.

Then there's going to be a windshield right here and totally enclosed. Plenty of room. I'm (6 feet 1 inch tall), and a lot of room. Plenty of room." He plans to complete the project this summer. "And to actually see something fly after you built it, it's just, awesome feeling. Just a kick." In addition to his three planes, Curtiss has also built two gyrocopters. When he's not building planes, he loves to fly remote control planes at local outdoor recreation areas.

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