Banished to Balsa. "A number of years ago
I had visions of the beauty and lines of a pusher pattern aircraft."
So begins "Pattern Pusher" in a recent Model Airplane
News, by none other than Tom Prescott, designer of the pathetic
Prescott Pusher -- which he artfully avoids mentioning. The Pattern
Pusher looks like a scaled-down single-place Prescott Pusher
that Tom-boy says "is a dream to fly, and it is fast!"
CAD-CAM balsa models!
take this Frati/Ferrari thing to far. I got a call the other
day from a dude so deep down in Alabama you had to lay on the
floor to hear what he was saying. Loved the Falco. Had been drooling
over the brochure for years. Liked the wood construction. But
what he really liked best was the professional design -- "That
Stelio Ferrati really knows how to design a plane."
Media watch. There was a long article in the March
16-29 1990 Aviation News (England) called "European
Falco Factory", by Geoffrey Jones. There is extensive coverage
of a number of our European builders: Neville Langrick, Bob Sothcott,
Bjoern Eriksen, Jan Waldahl, Marcel Morrien, etc. Watch the pages
of Kitplanes for this same article. In addition to Steve
Wilkinson's "Building a Falco, Part III", Pilot (England) has also had a recent article on the Fat Falco, John
Wynn's beautifully restored F.14 Nibbio. And if you are in Spain,
watch the magazine racks for an upcoming article on the Falco
in Volar magazine.
Required. A rather near-sighted friend of ours with a bad case
of the morning-afters, reached for her bottle of Visine eyedrops
and managed to pick up a bottle of cyanoacrylate Super Glue instead.
She later told me that she realized that she had made a mistake
when immediately after squeezing a few drops into her eye, the
smell hit her at the same time that her eye started burning and
she realized her eyelid was stuck closed. It was a very painful
experience, she spent two days in the hospital, but there was
no permanent damage. I asked her if she had any words of advice,
and she said rather forcefully, "Don't do it!"
Cobra to strike again. According to Flypast magazine, the unflown second prototype of Stelio Frati's F.400
Cobra is to be found at the Persan-Beaumont Airfield north of
Paris, where a French homebuilder is completing it as a private
project. If I'm not mistaken, this aircraft was to be known as
the F.460 Cobra and had four seats.
Carolina State Senator David Thomas introduced an amendment to
the state budget that would have legalized the hunting of lawyers.
Under the bill, lawyer-hunters would be barred from imitating
the sound of an ambulance or using calls of "whiplash"
or "free scotch" to attract quarry, and it would be
illegal to hunt attorneys within 100 yards of a BMW or Mercedes
dealership. No restrictions would have been placed on the hunting
of a specific type of lawyer -- those elected to public office
-- and the bill, which was later withdrawn, would have protected
honest attorneys as an endangered species.
And speaking of lawyers, how about this bozo, somebody-else's-fault
logic? A guy builds a Christen Eagle, likes the plane so much
that he gives it to his wife and builds another. Then one gusty
day -- a 172 pilot who landed just before reported difficulty
in maintaining control -- the pilot brings his Eagle in low over
the trees, hits the treetops, crashes and burns to death. The
NTSB ruled pilot error, but a lawyer is claiming that, because
the latest certification regs require a secondary firewall around
fuel tanks in the cockpit, Christen should have redesigned and
retrofitted the planes with a kit to bring it up to the latest
regs. Right. And while you're at it, retrofit Stearmans for noise
abatement and equip Staggerwings with lightening protection.
Let's sue the old dirigible manufacturers for not wrapping the
hydrogen envelope in .015" stainless. And what about the
Vatican -- they'd better rip out all of that lead-based paint
Michaelangelo used and replace it with modern acrylics.
|Sniff no glue
before its time. The Wall Street Journal reports that
a third of the cost of Lockheed's new Palmdale composites manufacturing
plant is for proper ventilation and other health controls.
Watch out Zippo and Buck Knives, here comes David
Clark. In the nether world of Zippo's unlimited warranty and
Chuck Buck's you-break-it-we-replace-it policy comes the David
Clark Company. My eight-year-old headset was developing a scratchy
microphone and a problem with one of the plugs, so I sent it
back to David Clark with the request that they give it a once-over
and charge it to my credit card. The headset came back two weeks
later, with the plug repaired and the microphone replaced -- get
this -- "under warranty".
|Oh dear me no.
Meredith Scott is just back from London where, among other things,
she and a friend had a private tea with the Speaker of the House
of Commons. When informed that Meredith's husband had his own
aircraft company, the Right Honorable Mr. Weatherill turned to
Meredith and asked, "Your husband's company, Mrs. Scott
-- is it Boeing?"
I told you so, I told you so. It was all done very
quietly, but a couple of months ago, Porsche issued an announcement
that they were getting completely out of the aircraft engine
business but would continue to support the engines in the field.
|UFOs over NYC.
On the night of April 5, 1990, S. Wilkinson reports seeing a
large "UFO" moving slowly across the night sky. He
said if you listened very carefully and knew what to listen for,
you could just barely make out the hum of the engines of the
six ultralights, each with a spotlight facing down, flying in
a wide formation at 6000'. No wonder people drink so much booze
in that city.
The national aerospace industry of Peru. From the
1989-90 Jane's All the World's Aircraft (literally!):
"An entry for Indaer-Peru, that nation's sole aircraft manufacturer,
last appeared in the 1985-86 Jane's. At that time, financial
constraints had compelled abandonment of plans to assemble, and
eventually manufacture, MB-339A jet trainers under licence from
Aermacchi of Italy. It has since been decided to restart with
a more modest programme based on construction of the Light Aero
Avid Flyer kitplane...."
|Media watch. There's
a nice article in the August '90 issue of Automobile magazine
on the state of light aviation covering, among other things,
the Swiftfury and the Falco ("the real 'flying Ferrari'-a
superb piece of sculpture and one of the best-handling light
planes ever.") and includes a photo of Ray Purkiser's Falco.
The September '90 Light Plane Maintenance had an article
on Benchmark and concludes "If you're serious about wanting
accurate performance charts for your airplane, Benchmark is a
must-have program. For some people, in fact, it will justify
the purchase of a $1,200 Macintosh." Look for an article
by Steve Wilkinson on building a Falco in an upcoming issue of
Business Week's Assets magazine.
Ray Purkiser won "Best Wood" award at
the Oregon State EAA Fly-In at Medford. The chapter newsletter
reported "There was more excitement on the airport as Ray
Purkiser came very close to the runway without his gear down
before pulling up and going around. He said later that he had
three green lights indicated and thought all was well till he
heard 'gear, gear, gear' on his headset."
Perhaps the funniest catalog ever written is from JerryCo,
whose catalog of surplus and unsold gizmos and trinkets runs
the gamut from bizarre to weird. There is a toilet-training kit
for little boys which consists of little duckies and froggies
that you float in the bowl and which dissolve when 'hit'. The
kiddie version is sold out, but they still have a few of an 'adult'
version with something other than duckies and froggies.
The latest from JerryCo is a fly powered airplane, described
as "A little kit with some light paper, rather like cigarette
papers, a stick, rather like a toothpick, and extensive, detailed,
but very simple instructions. When you have followed the instructions,
you will have two little airplanes, to each of which you will
have attached one (or, for extra speed, two) live house files.
The fly provides the motive power, and they really do work. Judy
thinks ill of this product, and so may you unless you are about
10 or 12 years old, in which case you will absolutely love it."
Get 'em while they last, they're P/N 88695 Fly Powered Airplane
at $3.95 each from JerryCo, 601 Linden Place, Evanston, IL 60202.
Telephone: (708) 475-8440.
Media Watch. Spectacular article on the Falco in
the September 1990 issue of JP4 Aeronautica. Dang if I
know what it says because it's all in Italian, but there are
some great shots of Karl Hansen's and Jim DeAngelo's Falcos.
Steve Wilkinson's article on building a Falco appeared in the
November/December 1990 issue of Business Week Assets magazine.
There's a raving review of the Falco -- "The Flying Ferrair"
[sic]-by John Conrad in the December 1990 issue of Sport Pilot
Hot Kits and Homebuilts. And there's a big article on Frati
and his new Penquino in the October 1990 Flug Revue in
|It always pays
to enclose a note. Pity the Wilkinsons of Sussex, England, who
received a package from their relatives in Australia. Thinking
it was a present of herbs, they mixed it into their traditional
Christmas pudding, ate half of it and put the rest in the fridge.
A few days later, a note arrived from Auntie Shiela saying that
Uncle Eric had died and had they received his ashes for burial
Good Books. The best book on the care and feeding
of your engine has always been Aircraft Engine Operating Guide by Kas Thomas, and a new revised version is due out any day now.
Kas is editor of Light Plane Maintenance which-in addition
to being highly informative on all the greasy-finger details
of taking care of your bird-is written in a delightfully saucy
Now there's another book out that rivals it in
scope: Sky Ranch Engineering Manual by John Schwaner,
who discusses engines from the perspective of a shop which overhauls
the things. It's nearly 300 pages of technical details laced
with a lifetime of experience. Get yours for $19.95 plus $2.50
shipping from Sacramento Sky Ranch, Inc., 6622 Freeport Blvd.,
Sacramento, CA 95822. Telephone: (916) 421-7672.
|Good Grief. NASA's
Galileo spacecraft zoomed past Earth on Dec. 8 in a slingshot
encounter to send the sophisticated craft on its way to Jupiter.
As it passed, it took pictures of Earth from 593 miles above
the southwest Atlantic Ocean. "It will be the first time
the Earth has been viewed from this perspective. I expect it
will give us a greater appreciation of this place," said
NASA's project manager-thus proving that you can rationalize
anything. What about using a boat?
Penguinia, or How The World's Only Piston-Engined
Turbine Almost Came To Be. Did you know that Paul MacCready's
Gossamer Condor was originally called the Gossamer Penquin? His
team wouldn't stand for it, saying that the penguin can't fly,
sits on its tail, swims underwater and is short and stubby. MacCready
caved in, but not Stelio Frati who named his trainer the Penguino.
I always liked the name -- so what if a penguin can't fly, neither
can mustangs, warthogs, tigers, or cobras-but Frati caught a
lot of grief on the name.
His latest version, with 160 hp and constant-speed
prop, flew the other day, and Frati had picked a nice name, the
Italian word for whirlwind, to replace Penguino. Unfortunately
that word is túrbine, which is 'turbine' to all of us
who don't know spaghetti from linguini. Can you imagine the problems
with gasboys who pump jet fuel into Turbo Arrows when they see
a Turbine taxi up to the pump?
Despite advice from every English-speaking friend
that the name was a disaster, the Frati team stuck with the name
insisting that everyone would see the difference between túrbine
and turbine. I thought they were making a terrible mistake, that
people would make jokes about the name and would conclude that
Frati and his team were silly people-which they most certainly
are not -- so I persisted and finally persuaded them to abandon
the name. Thus it was that two or three days after the F.22R
Túrbine had flown, it was renamed the F.22R Sprint, which
I think is a fine name -- don't you?
Holy Rotting Fiberglass! According to the latest issue of Aviation Week, General Dynamics has discovered that under
certain conditions, their highest-tech composite will actually
corrode. The corrosion was first discovered in March when an
engineer could not find a glass jar to test a sample of the composite
material in a water/fuel mix, used a tin can instead and was
surprised to find several days later that the resin had dissolved.
The resin, bismaleimide, is a type of polyimide used only
on the most advanced military machines so we don't have to worry.
The conditions for such decomposition now appear to be: a conductive
fiber like carbon fiber, in contact with a metal, in an electrolyte
solution, with oxygen present and stagnant conditions at the
water interface to prevent dissipation. Higher temperatures speed
the process in which the materials form a battery that creates
hydroxyl ions which collect on the surface of the composite,
form a highly basic solution and which dissolves the resins from