Paint scheme from hell
|Now come the repli-planes.
For years the auto industry has been plagued by kit cars that
turned a Ford Pinto chassis into a 'Bugatti' or other classics
like a Mercedes roadsters. This is beginning to happen in aviation
but the planes are more than cosmetic clones, and some of them
are downright interesting and fun. At Oshkosh, and with the appropriate
wild look in my eye, I used to delight in shocking owners of
Staggerwings by asking, "Say, can you build this out of
fiberglass with a VW engine?" Now someone in Alabama is
building a modern Staggerwing design called the Lionheart of
composites, but with six seats and a Pratt & Whitney engine.
The Russian Technoavia Finist is a modern Beaver that looks like
a promising design, and now there's a Rotax-powered replica of
the Fiesler Storch being offered as a kit in Australia.
Drug runners. "After deciding to build a timber
aircraft over 6 years ago, a check of local regulations revealed
that Australia wouldn't allow the use of acid-catalysed glues
in primary structures. Although I wasn't able to use Aerolite,
I had to find out what we were missing and proceeded to have
Aircraft Spruce supply some.
Being basically quite mean, I had to find a way
of getting it here. The package of glue was delivered to Oakland,
CA, for my brother, David, to bring on his next trans-Pacific
delivery. He was present when I finally opened it, and I saw
him go sort of pale. The aircraft he had flown in was an agricultural
Aries (yes, 90 knots to Hawaii and beyond) with precious little
cockpit for an extra parcel, so he taped it above the control
cables in the fuselage, then promptly forgot it until Brisbane
when customs expressed an interest in what was inside all the
Fortunately, it was dark and the customs man had
mislaid his glasses so David didn't go to gaol that night-you
see, the white powder of the Aerolite had been packed in an unbranded
plastic bag inside an unbranded box. It's not difficult to imagine
the glee of a lawman thrusting his finger or, more likely, tongue
into the undisclosed powder."
|Media watch. See
the Feb/Mar issue of Air & Space for 'Ollie, Mu'mmar
and Oysters' about our invitation to Col. Qadhafi and later in
the issue there's a piece by Steve Wilkinson about taking his
Falco to a fly-in breakfast. In the next issue, Steve lives out
a school boy's fantasy, comes out of the sun to buzz the the
40th class reunion of his old school, streaking down the length
of the football field, interrupting the homecoming game, and
whistles off into the distance snubbing the whole affair.
Burn it, but Lordy don't think about flying in
it. In the April issue of Car magazine, this is what the
erudite and opinionated L. J. K. Setright has to say: "Wood
is quite dreadful stuff. It splinters, it warps, it shrinks;
it creeps, it splits, it swells, it cracks; it reacts badly in
some ways to moisture, badly in other ways to dryness, badly
in yet other ways to light, to heat or to infestation; and it
may do any of these things, or many of them in crazed combinations,
even when left entirely alone. What it does under stress is quite
dastardly, frequently treacherous and generally incalculable.
There are, I admit, savants of materials technology such as Professor
J. E. Gordon, one of the very best technical writers -- who applaud
wood as 'nature's composite' and infer all manner of useful lessons
from it; but even he, being a person who admires boats, must
be suspect. Wood is excellent for making trees, but is otherwise
not to be trusted. Wood is not an engineering material."
Bored with Falco building and want to take on new challenges?
Then order a copy of "The Teach Your Chicken to Fly Training
Manual" from Ten Speed Press, P. O. Box 7123, Berkeley,
It begins with the 'history' of a group of visionary Californians
who, during the period of 1940 to 1953, took sympathy on the
plight of flightless chickens and decided to do something about
it. They formed The Society for Rights for Inferior Birds, and
invented an exercise machine to teach chickens how to fly.
A complete Construction, Instruction and Training Manual was
issued with each machine, complete with engineering drawings
for the chickens as well as the exercise machines. The birds
were supported in a leather harness, and suspended in flight
attitude from a wire while they are wheeled back and forth. Below
them cutouts of cities, trees and farms so the chickens will
know what they will see when flying.
There's an entire chapter on the pyschology involved and the
use of audio-visual material so the chicken can hear the sounds
of flapping wings and see other birds flying to the side. There's
even a painting of Sigmund Freud with a chicken, indicating his
interest in these birds which gave rise to the now widely used
term "Freudian Chic." As with anything from California,
there's instruction on how to massage the wing muscles of your
From Airlines Magazine: "The average
pilot, despite the sometimes swaggering exterior, is very much
capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy and caring.
These feeling just don't involve anybody else."
|Top Gun and Bottom
Gun. To our erudite list of readers, the Falco Builders Letter
now adds actor Tom Cruise, since the original 'Top Gun' pilot
now flies an SF.260 in his spare time. Cruise is originally from
Louisville, as is George Barrett (hereinafter known as 'Bottom
Gun'), whose sister-in-law is Tom's aunt. We just want Tom to
know that he's welcome around these parts.
Tired of high prices from Sequoia Aircraft? Rejoice,
now there's a second source on engine mounts. Aircraft Spruce
now lists Falco engine mounts in their catalogue, each made to
order and without hardware or Lord mounts. There is, um, just
this one little problem -- their price is 24% higher then
our normal kit price! If you want to buy the engine mount alone,
please let us know.
At the annual PFA Cranfield bash, Stuart Gane's Falco made
its debut in finished form (there in primer paint last year)
and scooped the Best Plans-Built Aircraft (effectively Grand
Champion) award and the Pilot Trophy Concours d'Elegance (Pilot actually plays no part in the judging of that).
Oh, what a beauty! Red with white trim, like the Norwegian one,
with a surface finish you could easily use as a shaving mirror.
Now we are 50. The 50th Sequoia Falco flew on September
10 at the hands of owner/builder/pilot Richard Clements. The
test pilot's verdict: "Magnificent".
|Just ease back
on that stick. Stelio Wilkinson was in Florida recently and flew
the Antonov AN-2, the huge Russian single-engine biplane 'airliner',
which he says flies like a steamroller. The flight manual says
that in the event of engine or instrument failure in IFR conditions,
you are to drop full flaps, haul all the way back on the yoke
and hold it there. It won't stall, ever, and it will descend
at parachute speed and 20 knots. You're supposed to just wait
for it to hit the ground.
BD-10: 2, Presidents: 0. It's been tough sledding
for Peregrine Flight International, of Minden, Nevada, which
is developing the Peregrine PJ-2 based on the Bede BD-10. On
August 1, a crash in the aircraft claimed the life of the company
president, Joseph Henderson, an accident suspected to be caused
by flap asymmetry. The previous company president, Michael Van
Wagenen, was killed on December 30, 1994 in an accident caused
by structural failure of the tail. This could get to be discouraging.
Limits. No ones knows what really happened when Bob Herendeen
was killed in his Christen Eagle aircraft. He was taking pictures
of his home and crashed into a hillside. Friends speculate that
the crash might have happened from 'momentary inattention.' The
crash caused a brush fire, and a contractor who was building
a house nearby jumped in his truck and headed for the crash site.
On his way, he hit and killed a real estate broker who was nailing
up a sign. The contractor was arrested and found guilty of vehicular
manslaughter and other charges. But then Herendeen's widow and
his estate were sued for the death of the real estate broker,
because the complaint charged that the widow and the estate "did
so negligently and carelessly own, occupy, operate, maintain,
manage, control and entrust the [aircraft] so as to cause said
aircraft to crash, creating an emergency to which [the contractor]
was responding as rescuer. [The contractor's] vehicle left the
roadway in the course of the rescue, striking decedent and thereby
causing fatal injuries and damages to him." The case hinged
on whether the harm to the real estate broker were reasonably
foreseeable. The judge in the case dismissed the suit prior to
Media watch. Keep an eye out for the December issue
of Automobile magazine for an article by Robert Cumberford
on Stelio Frati.