First Flight:
Herbert Müller

by Alfred Scott

This article appeared in the March 1986 Falco Builders Letter.

Another Falco has flown. Herbert Müller flew his Falco, D-EHDA, for the first time on Monday, November 11, 1985 at the Vilshofen Airport near his home in Passau, West Germany. Herbert Müller thus became the tenth homebuilder to fly his Falco.

Herbert Müller bought his plans in September 1980, and then showed up at Oshkosh '81 with photographs of the wood structure nearly complete. He had some help. First, in the photographs there was an older man who was working on the project-apparently full time-and Herbert pitched in when time was available. Secondly, Herbert had purchased a wrecked production Falco. The previous owner had been caught in bad weather and had run into a heavily forested mountain. The aircraft was totally destroyed, and the pilot suffered serious injuries to his back, but he survived.

Then every two years or so, I'd get a brief letter from Herbert with a few photographs of his project. Herbert's letters are invariably short so there is not a great deal to pass on. Reporting his first flight he said "I took two rides without any problems. All systems work very well and the aircraft flies and looks like a little fighter." By mid-December, Herbert had put in 8 hours on the Falco. He promises more pictures and information later on.

The engine is a 160 hp O-320-B3B, the same as the production Falcos, and the cowling is a production version as well. I don't know where the canopy came from, but my guess is that it is adapted from a German motorglider. The fin has a teutonic radiused look. If you study the fin, you realize that it is very nearly as drawn. Only the tip has a more rounded appearance.

There are other little things that are unique to this Falco. The wing fillet has a different appearance to it since the trailing edge is shaped differently- nothing wrong with it but it contributes to a different look.

You can't see it in the photograph, but the entire tip of the wing is molded Plexiglas-from the leading edge to the trailing edge-enclosing a Whelen combination nav/strobe/tail light.

Herbert also has full wheel well doors. I can tell from looking at them that he has not yet discovered The Secret of the Wheel Well Doors. The outboard doors are too long and will drag the ground with a low strut.

And then there is the instrument panel. The panel is made in two pieces. The top piece supports all of the gauges and is installed on the aft face of frame No. 3. This part of the panel is veneered with a blonde wood-probably birch- and varnished. There are no radios in this upper panel-only gauges-and it is removable.

Below it there is a three-inch high aluminum sub-panel which is mounted on the forward face of frame No. 3. This provides the mounting surface for switches and fuses.

Fastened to this and extending to the floor is a center console panel-a stylish terraced affair veneered in the same blond varnished wood. At the top there is the transponder, next terrace down are the engine controls, below that another terrace for a single nav/com, and then a down-and-aft slope containing the fuel selector valve, carb and cabin heat controls.

All in all, it's a handsome, intriguing panel design. It's obvious to me that someone with a lot of experience had a hand in all of this, and that things were thought out very well. Remember, Herbert Müller was completing this Falco at the same time that I was working on our instrument panel design. Our design wasn't ready in time for him, so he plowed on working out the design problems himself.

And this is an object lesson for those of you who don't understand how much is involved in working out these little details. At the rate he began, it looked to all of us at Oshkosh '81 as though Herbert Müller would be finished in six months-but it took nearly four and a half years more. It is a lot of work!

Herbert's Falco is painted white overall with three fine gray stripes down the side. The national flag of West Germany is on the tail.

Herbert Müller hails from Passau, on the eastern border with Austria where the Danube flows into Austria. And it's home for a newly-born Falco too.

Nicely done, Herbert!

Herbert Müller in his Falco.