You can't blame it all on lawyers. In the waning days of Lear Siegler ownership of Piper Aircraft, one of their lawyers advised the Piper president that they could reduce their liability exposure on the Aerostar if they scrapped the tooling, and the MBA from Dogpatch U. did precisely that. Millions of dollars of jigs, fixtures and tooling were systematically cut up and sold for scrap.

Our hero also knew how to manage money -- under pressure to reduce inventory, he would order wings and spare parts destroyed, only to have to make them again in a few months.

One of the great delights of calling Steve Wilkinson is finding him not at home. Instead you are treated to an imaginative telephone answering machine message. They change every month or so. Last month it was "The best message you can leave for Stephan Wilkinson or Susan Crandell is that you want to adopt the two tomcats that have adopted them. These are not Grumman F-14 Tomcats, but rather two ball-bearing mousetraps. Take them!"

The latest is "A scientist decided to clone himself, and after he had finished it, he took the clone out for a test at a local bar. It was a disaster. The clone insulted the waiters, cursed the bartender and used horrible language with the guests. So he took the clone up to the roof and pushed him off. The police arrested him-for making an obscene clone fall. So if you have an obscene clone fall for Stephan Wilkinson or Susan...."

Alan Bramson has always been a devotee of the wonderful wood-and-fabric French Robin aircraft, and he always goes to pains to point out how modern they are. In the latest issue of James Gilbert's Pilot magazine, Bramson closes his review of the Robin Regent with, "If the idea of wood and fabric in this day and age turns you off, think again." He then ticks off a list of the modern things that go into the aircraft: modern adhesives, modern fabric, modern paint finishes and modern wood.

We are not the only one to tout Pilot magazine-in the latest issue of Light Plane Maintenance, editor Kas Thomas raves about "surely the finest article ever written on the jet-warbirds-in-civilian-ownership craze... you simply have to read Stephan Wilkinson's superb 'MiG Alley West' in the March Pilot. Wilkinson's 'Letter from America' column, incidently, is routinely one of the finest reading experiences to be found in any avrag on either side of the Pond-reason enough, in fact, to subscribe to Pilot. Look into it if you have a spare bob."

Bye, bye blackbird. The U.S. Air Force is retiring the SR.71 Blackbird-one of the most amazing machines that has ever flown-partly because satellites can do the job just as well and partly because the Blackbird is expensive to fly. We all knew it wasn't cheap, but the actual cost is astonishing: $250,000 per hour.

Greenland claims its second Frati airplane. First it was Max Conrad who crashed a Picchio on his last ferry flight. The latest is Peter Lert, who was ferrying an SF.260 from New Zealand to Louisiana. Since he planned to fly through the Persian Gulf area, Peter had refused all offers of underwing tanks and had been threatening to have an "engine failure" in Bali. Instead, it came right after takeoff in Greenland -- the engine threw a rod and Peter put it down on the rocky shore of the fjord. Had it happened 30 minutes later, Peter admits he "would have been in a world of hurt." Peter's next joust with the deep is when he flies the Swearingen SA-32T (the SX.300 with an Allison turboprop) over to the Paris Air Show.

Stelio Frati's latest design, the F.22 Penguino, flew on June 13 for the first time. Test pilot G. B. Zanazzo now has 4 hours on the aircraft and reports that it flies very well. The Penquino is powered with a 116 hp Lycoming 0-235-2 engine with a fixed-pitch wooden propeller.

It's the nearest thing aviation has to a snuffer movie. Now you can have your own copy of Aviation Week's video of the 1989 Paris Air Show, a 60-minute film showing the huge Antonov An-225 carrying the Soviet space orbiter on its back, the Sukhoi Su-27 fighter, the Mi-28 attack helicopter (Afghan resistance fighters weren't invited to demo their Stingers), the French Rafale and Mirage 2000, China's F-82 fighter, the Piaggio Avanti, the SR-71 Blackbird, and of course the star of the show, the lovely and exciting MiG-29, demonstrating the never-before-seen Mumblety-peg Maneuver. It's all yours for just $49.95 from Sporty's Pilot Shop, Clermont Airport, Batavia, Ohio 45103 or call 1-800-LIFTOFF.

Falco "builder" Klaus Bodentien is actually restoring a wrecked German Falco. The previous owner took off with an empty tank selected. The engine sputtered and stopped immediately after lift-off, and the pilot had no choice but to put it in the trees. At the time of the accident, there were three men and a large sheepdog on board, all of whom survived with some injuries. Klaus reports that the pilot always flew with his dog and often with as many as four men as well.

SF.260's can sometimes be a bargain. Pity the British gentleman who mentioned to his friends that he was thinking of buying an SF.260 for his son. His two friends, Desmond Norman and James Tseliki, explained that the SF.260 was much too expensive, and that they could design and build him an airplane for less.

Thus began the Firecracker design, which eventually consumed about six million of their collective dollars. In the end, the Firecracker came to naught simply because military contracts are sometimes awarded for political considerations. Britian felt indebted to Brazil for its assistance during the Falklands thing and government-owned Shorts already had an agreement to built the Tucano.

Carrying the fire. Decades ago as a result of an argument with AOPA Pilot editor Max Karant, Richard Collins vowed never to rejoin the AOPA. Collins became a writer for Flying, and he rose to become the editor. Two years ago he left to become editor of AOPA Pilot, which post he recently quit. Through it all, Collins refused to join the AOPA.

In an article comparing the Piaggio Avanti to the Beech Starship, Aviation Week reports, "Starship cruise performance is less than that envisioned when the program was started. The Starship design and part of the performance estimates came from a 85%-scale flying prototype built by Scaled Composites. The optimistic predictions . . . are similar to the canceled Air Force/Fairchild T-46A trainer, for which Scaled also built a subscale prototype. The full-scale T-46A cruise drag turned out to be about 40% higher than predicted." Wouldn't it be cheaper to guess?

The metric system is now used by all nations except three: the United States, Burma and Liberia.

"In this age of high-tech composites, no discussion of high-performance kitplanes would be complete without mention of Dr. Stelio Frati's immortal "Falco" -- specifically, as kitted by Sequoia Aircraft in Virginia. This design is well over 30 years old -- yet it continues to offer performance as good as that of its metal, and even composite, competitors, as well as handling qualities that even its detractors admit are probably among the best of any aircraft, kit or complete, civil or military, anywhere." -- Peter Lert, "Fast Company", November 1989 Air Progress.

Karl Hansen's Falco is featured on the cover of the January 1990 Hot Kits and Homebuilts magazine. The article is a reprint of and article by Peter Lert than appeared in Air Progress several years ago.

Jonas Dovydenas is just back from Lithuania where he had a showing of his photographs of Afghanistan war -- the first such photographs shown in the USSR. While there, he visited his friends at Litovskaya Aviatsionnaya Konstruktsiya, the only sailplane manufacturer in the USSR. The factory was started in the late 1960s, began production of a simple wood-and-fabric primary training glider and then concentrated on designing competition sailplanes in fiberglass and carbon fiber.

Their earliest design attempts were unfortunate -- the wings came off one sailplane in a flight test-but now they produce world-class competition machines. The company's sole computer is a vacuum-tube machine that fills a room and requires two maintenance technicians to keep it running and yet is less powerful than an Apple II. Jonas showed them photos of his Falco project; they shook their heads and said, "All those pieces. All that work."

Here's an interesting view: "Government is responsible for the lack of single engine aircraft manufacturing today, but ironically, not for the reasons that most postulate. The simple fact is that the Veterans Administration 'subsidized' production for ten years (1968-1977, GI Bill) resulting in ten times the aircraft being put into service that would have satisfied normal demand. While most industry pundits call the current decade a 'depressed pilot period' it is, in reality, a return to normalcy."-Don Harrington, American Flyers, January 1990 Flying.

in·nu·en·do \in-ye-wen´-do\ n 1 : an oblique allusion. 2 : a parenthetical explanation introduced into the text of a legal document. 3 : suppository [Italian].

Neville Langrick's Falco won the best homebuilt award at the Popular Flying Association's Cranfield rally this past summer. That's the English equivalent of winning the Grand Champion award at Oshkosh, and as a result there has been much publicity attending the plane.

Ever want to duke it out in the skies and shoot somebody? Now for just $395, you can strap on a SIAI Marchetti SF.260 at Top Gun Aviation in-where else?-southern California. They use electronic "bullets" and when you wax that guy, it turns on the "enemy's" smoke system and informs the poor thing that he has just entered fighter pilot heaven. Top Gun Aviation is at (714) 752-6676.

Did you ever wonder what possible benefit could come from the money we have spent on the space program? I've heard every imaginable explanation: national pride, manufacturing in space, technological advances ("Why if it weren't for the space program, you wouldn't have that-there hand-held calculator"), exploring the last frontier, and preserving our stake in "the high ground" -- lordy, you wouldn't want the Russians to have that.

But in these times of remarkable change in eastern Europe, it's worth noting that probably none of this would be happening if it had not been for the space program's communications satellites which bring world-wide television coverage to everyone with a dish antenna, and which makes life for dictators so difficult. So let others talk about growing crystals in space, I'm proud to say that the major accomplishment of the space program is the defeat of communism.

Just in time for Christmas comes the "World's First Altimeter Watch". Casio has invented this new watch that not only tells the time but also tells you the altitude up to 13,000 feet-or the depth to 98 feet if you are skin-diving. Also good for fantasies of the airline captain coming on the intercom to say, "Ah, ladies and gentlemen, we've got this lil' ol' problem up here. It's hard IFR down below, all our altimeters just crapped out and we're sitting here trying to figure out what to do next...."

Stelio Frati reports that he is developing three additional versions of the Penguino. There's a fixed-gear version with 160 hp and constant-speed propeller that should fly very shortly. Following that will be two retractable gear versions with 160 and 200 hp.




Go back to Sawdust