We have just received the terrible news that Stelio Frati died last night. The photos here are from Eduardo Letti who visited with Mr. Frati on April 10, 2010. We have a Falco Builder Letter coming out shortly with an article by Eduardo, and I'm copying it below now.
I will be happy to post here any emails you would like to send.
Eduardo Letti with Stelio Frati
From Eduardo Letti
I visited Mr. Frati today. I wasn’t quite sure how far my hotel was from his home. A quick look at Google map showed that I was just five minutes away in a taxi. It was beautiful spring time day in Milano with clear skies and 21 degrees C. I arrived at Via Enrico Noe 1 around 9:30 am. Our meeting was arranged in the morning because I had a scheduled flight in the afternoon. I pressed on the intercom key with the name Frati besides it and after a few seconds he responded. I identified myself confirming that I was the Brazilian pilot, Falco owner that had called him the day before. “Bene, bene, terzo piano” he said in Italian. He came to greet me at the elevator door and we went to his office. The latest issue of the Italian aviation magazine Volare was on his desk. We sat down, and I told him how glad and happy I was to be able to visit him. He was very friendly. I sent him regards from Giovanni Nustrini whom I had recently visited in New Zealand and from Alfred Scott. He promptly handed me a picture of the whole Nustrini family that he keeps in the bookshelf behind him. During the two and a half hours of our visit we talked about a lot of things, mostly people and airplanes.
I showed him pictures of my recently purchased Falco built by Alvin Dubiak and also the new X-plane simulation that is on the Sequoia website. He watched the presentation on my little Sony notebook with interest and added he would never have imagined that his little Falco would get this far. He summarized the story of Sequoia Aircraft and how tenacious Alfred Scott was in moving forward with the idea of offering the wooden Falco as a series of kits in the American market. He confessed that initially he was skeptical of the idea of the airplane being built by amateurs, but he went on to praise the building manual put together by Sequoia which he pointed out is one the best he has seen even for certified production aircraft. As the dialogue progressed he opened up a binder with correspondence and showed me the very first letter Alfred had sent him in September 6, 1977. While he was moving around I was taking pictures trying not to look like a reporter. Other names were brought up in the conversation: Luciano Nustrini, Carla Bielli, Alfred Scott, Fernando Almeida, Renato Cairo, and lots of others. He kept opening up several of his pictures albums and carefully described to me each event, the dates and the people involved. What a memory for a 91 year old man! I could sit there for days and weeks listening to aviation history being told live.
Stelio Frati's very sad 2009 Christmas card
Then, clearly exhibiting some grief and pointing to a picture on the wall he told me his long-time companion, the cat Napo had passed away a few months before. He described how Napo would just lie quietly beside him in the design room while he was working. He opened up some of his original designs including those of the Falco. He carefully explained how he designs his airplanes, already thinking about production. And suddenly I realized that this apartment on a corner in Milano holds a true wealth in aeronautical designs. There are great projects of truly interesting airplanes that never saw production, like the Jet Trainer Squalus: two prototypes were built but only one actually flew.
On the drawing board he explained he was working on a landing gear design for a 19 passenger commuter airplane. “Prendere un café?” he asked me. Upon the positive response he gently prepared a cup of coffee, and we sat down in his living room chatting about how afraid he was to ask about people he knew, because most of them had already passed away. Frati is a man that has lived beyond his generation. He lives alone in his apartment quietly working on his designs. I could feel the respect he has for the people who build his projects—especially the Falco. When I mentioned that Alvin Dubiak had taken 12 years to build the Falco, he said it only took four months to design it. We went back to his office where he carefully looked for a picture of the Falco prototype, signing it on the back and giving it to me. I asked him to sign on my Sequoia Falco shirt as well as on all the literature he had separated for me. “I never signed so much in my life!” he added with a touch of humor.
I glanced at my watch. It was already 12:00 and I had to go back to my hotel to prepare for the 16:00 afternoon flight to Lisbon. Seated in the taxi on the way back to my hotel, I watched the beautiful streets of Milano just passing by the window. I could just thank Stelio Frati for his great work. And I felt thankful for having the opportunity to meet the wonderful people around a wonderful airplane.
That's terrible news. I was planning to go back to Milano next July and take him out for a cup of coffee. He appeared to be really well. But being 91 years old he might have had some chronic health issues. Anyway, I am glad I had the chance to meet him in person.
I am saddened to hear of Stelio Frati's passing.
As somebody who, frankly, adores each of our three cats, I think maybe there was a bit of a broken heart.
What truly sad and terrible news it is to hear of Stelio Frati's passing. I know I speak for Mary when I say that our time spent with Mr. Frati on our visit to his home will always be cherished. Somehow after meeting with him I felt that he would go on forever, but of course it was only wishful thinking. One of the true greats in aviation has now passed. ... Rest in peace dear friend......
Duane & Mary Root
Terrible news. All the more reason to come to OSH this year now to honour the man.
Hearing of the death of Stelio has somehow placed a feeling of emptiness in what I consider our great "Falco Family". Let's all remember the great man and dedicate our next flight in our Falcos to Stelio Frati.
Sad, sad news. But he'll be in Heaven now, adding some Frati style to those angels' wings!
Mr. Stelio Frati has taken off forever and from today on he will probably see all of us flying in the plane that he designed for our enjoyment. I think that now, more then ever, every time we'll take flight in our small plane we'll think, and feel, him around. Thank you Mr. Frati.
That is indeed sad news. I was in Torino Tuesday afternoon until Thursday morning, and saw a few photos of Frati's latest (and probably his last) design, an Ultra Light Motorized two seater, all metal, made by Golden Car. It is gorgeous, at least as good-looking as the Falco, maybe better (I won't know until I see one in front of my eyes). The man did a huge amount of wonderful work during his long life, and we can all be glad he lasted, active, for so long.
Thank you for posting the notice of the untimely passing of Stelio Frati. While I haven't made much headway on scratch building my own F.8L, fitting in construction of a bracket or a frame between the more pressing (read paying) projects in my shop, I have spent many happy, fascinating moments pouring over and studying the myriad details of the Falco. In studying the design, I feel like I've been privileged to attend a master class in wooden aircraft design and construction at the knee of Signor Frati. Godspeed, Stelio Frati. Your inspiration and spirit lives on in your designs.
Debbie and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Mr. Frati. While a relative newcomer to the Falco family, I have admired Mr. Frati's work for many years. Our airplanes will become a living testament to the beauty and genius of his mind.
I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Frati's passing. This world is losing more than its fair share of colorful, unconventional men and women (who also typically tend to achieve extraordinary things). While I did not have the honor of knowing Stelio myself, I think he is going to be pleased to have Napo by his side again.
Just a short note to convey condolences with the passing of Stelio Frati.
I have a deep admiration for someone as talented and creative as Stelio Frati. If he had designed only the Falco during his long career he would be well remembered. That little airplane touched and will touch the lives of so many people and is a lasting tribute to the man. I can only express my profound appreciation for the friends that I have made and the wonderful experience of owning a Falco. Godspeed!
Just to thank you for talking so warmly about my uncle. It’s nice to read so many people will always remember him.
Years ago I was in discussions with a publisher to do a book similar to James Gilbert's The Great Planes, but more like The Great Lightplanes. I drafted an outline and a few sample chapters, then the publisher decided that maybe another book about the Spitfire would be better? Not for me, thanks. But here (attached) is the opening para. of what I was going to write about Frati.
I was very saddened by the news of Mr Frati's passing. He has contributed so much to aviation.
Word of Stelio Frati's passing is sad news indeed. In my 37-year career as an aviation writer, editor and photographer I have been fortunate to fly some 150 different aircraft types, and I can say with no hesitation that the SF.260 (which I first flew in 1977 in the UK) has been my baseline for measuring how an airplane should handle. This quiet man possessed immense talent, and my fondest Oshkosh memory is of meeting and talking with this legendary designer, whose work I have admired for so long. How advanced was the Falco, which set the stage for the all-metal SF.260? When the sleek Falco was introduced in the 1950s, frumpy Tri-Pacers epitomized the small private aircraft offered by U.S. manufacturers.
Frati lived an illustrative, productive life. Here's a salute to his legacy!
Dr. Frati's lovely SF.260M was the first airplane I was paid to fly. Primary flight training in the air force of a small Southeast Asian banana republic. After a too-brief 120 hours I went on to other equipment and never flew one again. All I had were magazine pilot reports over the years to pore over, to relive, to imagine.
Three decades after primary, I finally had a SF.260C of my own. Was it, like the cynical presume, a huge letdown after three decades of longing for a lost love? No! It is far better than one could ever imagine.
I owe Dr. Frati much of the joy in my flying career, about 590 hours worth at last count, and it is with deep sorrow that I learn of his passing.
(Thank you very much. I have been following your exploits for many years, and one of my prized possessions is James Gilbert's work on Dr. Frati's designs which I received as a part of an information package on your Falco kit which I sent for a long time ago. I wish you the best in your endeavours.)
I'm so sad! I'm proud I met Mr. Frati in several occasions at Bresso airfield, near to Milan, and even flew with him in my first Frati aircraft: a General Avia F-15B Picchio registered I-CICO. I send a picture of Mr Frati signing the tail of my SIAI Marchetti SF-260 I-ISAH.
The passing of Mr. Frati is very sad news. Although I did not have the pleasure of meeting him personally, it goes without saying he was a humble person of immense talent, a legend. Although he, like all of us, are mortal, I am sure the Falco and the many other Frati designs will endure for many years to come.
I never met the man but on many recent visits to Italy have met many of his countrymen who regarded him and his designs as the ultimate. My last Italian visit was to fly the Golden Car F.30, which I wrote was "the latest of Frati's wonderful designs". This sadly must be re-written as "the last of Frati's wonderful designs." There are so many Light Sport Aircraft (LSA's) out there, the majority powered by 100hp Rotax 912 engines—the F.30 stood out significantly from all the other LSA's I have flown, more stable, sleeker and faster. Thank you Stelio Frati for your wonderful contribution to our special world of light and general aviation.
In Russia there is a saying "Pilots do not die, they simply depart into the sky and do not come back". It is very a pity that such man has left.
Your designs will live on in eternity. Farewell, Mr. Frati and may God bless you!
A giant has passed... R.I.P...
Truly a very sad day for the Falco fraternity and aviation in general. After eight years of building I'm just a few short weeks away from flying my Falco—if only I could have completed it a little sooner Stelio would have had the satisfaction of knowing that yet another of his wonderful aeroplanes had taken wing and that he had changed the life of another pilot forever. Thank you and Rest In Peace, Ing. Frati.
A loss for all in whose hearts the profound spirit of flying resides.
His creation and captivating styling has captured my interest for at least the last 25 years. In fact, it has shaped my life extensively. As I grew in aviation and observed and flew the other designs first hand, I have never found another aircraft that could compare as a complete package to the timeless simple elegance and performance of the Falco.
I never met the man, I have only met the extension of his genius mind. That can be realized by anyone by simply placing your forefinger and thumb on the control stick and becoming one with the machine he brought to us all. Thank you Mr. Frati. WELL DONE SIR!
A true master is gone. His timeless work will live on, and it will have its rightful place in history, I think well above most other examples. My sincere condolences to the family and friends.
The world has lost one of the greatest airplane designers. I trust that soon the angels above will be sprouting eternal Frati wings. RIP and condolences to his family. The extended Frati family world wide will sorely miss his genius talent and penchant for designing fantastic airplanes. I wish I could have met the man, however, it was never to be. God Bless.
On Friday May 14th I delivered dad’s and my Falco C-FMWW to its new owner in Western Canada. I felt sad at the “passing” of our precious craft, but somehow not as sad as I thought I should. Now I understand why. What an eerie coincidence that Mr. Frati should move to his next home on the same day that our aircraft—a creation of his and ours—does likewise. Both will be remembered with fondness and respect for a very long time.
If you want me to tell you about my time with Frati, here it is. You recall, somehow it came about that Frati got in my Falco for the short ride to Oshkosh from Appleton, where all of us were staying. There was no talk; I just flew to the lake, got in line and landed on 27, as instructed. It was a very steep, belly flop landing except that at the last moment I pulled up and I landed without feeling the wheels touch the ground; without much skill, but with great luck. Frati never flinched, even as I set up for final in an unusually steep turn, even for Oshkosh, by gosh! He had no comment later, either. He remained, to me, an aloof, inscrutable, aristocratic, European. I think he loved mathematics more than his planes. After all, without his massaging of equations few of us understand, there would have been no Falco.
Although not a builder or a pilot, I have followed the designs of Frati and promoted their excellence visiting Stuart Gane and John Marks along the way. On our Flickr site Old Buck Shots we have small but special tribute to Stelio Frati and the Falco.
Like most aviators, I have long admired - no, lusted over - the lines of the Falco. I am an aviation photojournalist for the EAA and will be scouring Oshkosh for special airplanes this July. This being (sadly) the year of Mr. Frati's passing, inclusion of images from Falcos at AirVenture in my reports would be a fitting tribute to this giant among aircraft designers, I believe.
In my research into Italian light aircraft design I have encountered Stelio Frati's name often, and not only in his own aircraft. It seems that he was not only a brilliant designer, but that he was generous with his knowledge, the sign of magnanimity that has become so rare these days. Please send my condolences to the entire Falco community on the loss of Stelio Frati
Modest, clever, highly skilled. People like Frati make me proud to be italian. What a sorrow to lose such a rare kind of man.
I was not aware of the passing of Ing. Stelio Frati until last Monday, when I read the sad notice in an Italian aeronautical magazine. Unfortunately I had never personally met him, even if many times I desired to have this opportunity. As a passionate aeronautical engineer, I have always been fascinated by his masterpieces. Designing a light aircraft is always a matter of achieving the best compromise between requirements, that often are conflicting ones. Ing. Frati always achieved the best compromise which is the real perfection. With the sensible touch of a true artist. For sure, Ing. Frati has been a true inspiration for many light aircraft designers. He inspired me as well as you may see in the pictures below.
In the past years, I always looked with great interest to the latest creations of Ing. Frati. I even studied very carefully the aerodynamics and the structures of some of his designs: the Falco, the SF.260, the F.22 Pinguino, relying on the documentation I was able to collect. He has been indirectly a teacher for me, the result of this being a preliminary design of a light sport aircraft I made around 10 years ago. I would have been liked him to see and judge it. As a teacher does with his own scholars. For sure I would have been learned so much.
Everlasting be his memory, for Stelio Frati—a fine person.
Salute to Sir, Stelio Frati