The Quicksilver Story

By Rita Butteri

On March 9, 2022, The Spirit of Teamwork Quicksilver ultralight opened its flight plan at 11 am with a destination of its new home with the Illinois Aviation Museum, in the care of Jerry Czupryn, Curator.

The bright pink and blue Quicksilver Ultralight, known as the Spirit of Teamwork, was suspended from the ceiling in the Pioneer Air Museum from July 1994 to December 2021. For 27 years this aircraft was admired by visitors of all ages. Dr. Jess T. Ellis donated the ultralight with hopes of preserving and sharing a small piece of aviation history about a young and determined aviator, and his daughter, Bridgette Ellis, with all who visited the museum.

Bridgette learned to fly a Cessna 152 at Illinois’ Lansing airport. Later she broke the record for the Youngest Pilot to Solo an Aircraft, on May 11, 1988. She was 9 years 9 months and 3 days old, a record recognized by the National Aeronautic Association. Although Bridgette intended to solo the Spirit of Teamwork, it had not yet arrived on the day conditions were just right to make her record-breaking flight. Instead, she took off from the grassy airstrip at the Fox Valley Flying Club in Montgomery, Illinois, in a similar ultralight. Later that summer, Bridgette was presented with her award for the Youngest Pilot to Solo an Aircraft, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She was extremely honored to have her award presented to her by legendary aviator, Jena Yeager. Yeager had been a big supporter and mentor, encouraging Bridgette while working to set the record.

Listen to Bridgette describe that day:

​The Pioneer Air Museum Board of Directors decided to deaccession the ultralight, along with several other experimental aircraft, to make space for and to focus on aircraft that are more relevant to the Museum’s mission. Following museum-industry ethics, we contacted the original donor, and after working out complicated logistics it was agreed that the aircraft would go back home to Illinois.

A team of 12 volunteers lowered the Quicksilver from the ceiling in Fairbanks, and volunteer James Trizzino assisted to disassemble it. Then Pioneer Air Museum volunteers Bill Green and Dave Williams securely packed the craft in a crate. On skids over snow and ice it was pulled to the gate where Robert Lumsden was waiting with his truck to load the precious cargo. Covered and safely tied down onto the flat bed it soon started its six-day journey, through one country, four states, and a total of 3,700 miles. 

Bridgette Ellis and her family are incredibly thankful to the Pioneer Aviation Museum for giving the Spirit of Teamwork a home for so long, allowing Bridgette to share her and her family’s story and a piece of aviation history.  She is also extremely grateful to Lynden Air Cargo for their incredibly generous gift in shipping the Spirit of Teamwork to its new home, at the Illinois Aviation Museum in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Lastly, Bridgette would like to thank the many wonderful individuals who generously donated their time and energy to make this new home a reality: Richard Zerkel, Jess T. Ellis, Rita Butteri, Bill Green, Dave Williams, Chad Carlson, and Jerry Czupryn.

One response to “The Quicksilver Story”

  1. Larry Greenwich Avatar
    Larry Greenwich

    As the current President of the Illinois Aviation Museum, we are extremely happy to display this historical piece of Illinois aviation history. Thanks to all involved

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