Don't you just hate it when the wings come off? Lately there have been a spate of serious structural failures. As reported in Sport Aviation, the wing of an RV-3 came off while 'maneuvering' with an RV-6, however we understand the pilots were, in fact, dog-fighting at the time.

In November, an Illinois pilot, who now goes by the nickname "Lucky", lost the right upper wing of his Seahawker amphibian and landed the plane safely.

And recently, a Sukhoi 31 crashed in Florida following the structural failure of the wing. This, the latest design of the Russian acrobatic superplane, has a carbon fiber wing designed for 23 g's, however the wing folded in an aerobatic practice flight with only 12 hours on the airframe.

Bosnian Air Lift. President Clinton recently announced U.S. plans to deploy over 75,000 vowels to the war-torn region of Bosnia. The emergency deployment, the largest of its kind in American history will provide the region with the critically needed letters A, E, I, O and U, and is hoped to render countless Bosnian names more pronounceable. "For six years, we have stood by while names like Ygrjvslhv, Tzlynhr and Glrm have been horribly butchered by millions around the world," Clinton said. "Today, the United States must finally stand up and say 'Enough.' It is time the people of Bosnia finally had some vowels in the incomprehensible words. The U.S. is proud to lead the crusade in this noble endeavour."

The deployment, dubbed Operation Vowel Movement by the State Department, is set for early next week, with the Adriatic port cities of Sjlbvdnzy and Grzny slated to be the first recipients. Two C-130 transport planes, each carrying over 500 24-count boxes of E's, will fly from Andrews Air Force Base across the Atlantic and airdrop the letters over the cities. Citizens of Grzny and Sjlbvdnzv eagerly await the arrival of the vowels. "My God, I do not think we can last another day," Trszg Grzdnjkln, 44, said. "I have six children and none of them has a name that is understandable to me or to anyone else. Mr. Clinton, please send my poor wretched family just one E please." Said Sjlbvdnzv resident, Grg Hmphrs, 67: "With just a few key letters, I could be George Humphries. This is my dream."

The airdrop represents the largest deployment of any letter to a foreign country since 1984. During the summer of that year, the U.S. shipped 92,000 consonants to Ethiopia, providing cities like Ouaouoaua, Eaoiiuae and Aao with vital, life-giving supplies of L's, S's and T's.

Media Watch. In addition to the countless articles on the LoPresti F.22s, look for Steve Wilkinson's article in the June Air & Space on the Falco birthday party at Oshkosh. Steve has another article on the Falco in an upcoming issue of the Forbes FYI business magazine. And watch the June issue of Sport Aviation for a report by the CAFE Foundation on Larry Black's Falco covering performance, handling, etc. We're going to find out exactly how fast Larry's plane is.

There's always a problem when you use jargon or colloquialisms in a technical manual. We've had Falco builders panic over terms like 'dry flox' or 'oleo'. The English Europa company advises builders of their fiberglass machine to have a "cuppa" (a cup of tea or coffee) before starting a long fiberglass layup. A fax from a confused German builder informed Europa that he had searched every technical dictionary available but was not able to find what a "cuppa" was, and he was further confused because the plans did not tell him what to do with this "cuppa", assuming that he knew what it was in the first place.

The latest in high-tech lawnmowers allow you to fertilize and cut the grass in a single operation.

So much for the Mustang mystique. The P-51 Mustang has always been the machine of dreams for pilots-gorgeous, fast and with a Merlin engine. Certainly anything that looks that good must fly most wonderfully, but pilots who have owned them often say that they fly like a Peterbilt with wings, that it takes both hands on the stick to pull through a loop and the most fun of flying one is taxiing out in front of your friends with the canopy open.

Now comes scientific proof. A 1991 study by John M. Ellis and Christopher A. Wheal published by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots compared four leading U.S. World War II fighters-the P-51D Mustang, P-47D Thunderbolt, F6F-5 Hellcat and FG-1D Corsair-concludes that the P-51 was the best of them, overall, but that it had such a high stick forces that it often required two hands and that it would snap and spin absolutely unpredictably, often so violently that it would jerk the stick from the pilot's hands.

Said the report, "[The P-51] scored high in performance, was well-suited to long-range escort missions and would do well intercepting non-maneuvering targets. However, its extraordinarily high stick forces, totally inadequate stall warning and vicious departures make it quite unsuited to the air combat maneuvering environment. It is a tribute to the adapability of the pilots who flew them that Mustangs scored so many kills against the opposition."

On the other hand, we read portions of this report to Parke Smith, who once flew Spitfires, Hurricanes and P-51s with the RAF. He said the report was the "biggest bunch of crap I've ever heard"... "complete garbage", etc. He agreed that the Mustang was not nearly as delightful and light on the controls as the Spitfire, but he thought it was as easy and maneuverable to fly as a CAP-10, which he flew for years.

Media Watch. The Air & Space article on the Falco birthday party is now scheduled for the July/August issue. Watch the November issue of Forbes FYI for an article by Steve Wilkinson on building the Falco.

Falcos on the move. Charles Gutzman's Falco, sold to a pilot in England some years ago, has now been purchased by Eric Wierman and Thomas Buettgenbach in the Los Angeles area, so it's back in the states. And just as that Falco was leaving England, an Englishman purchased Bjoern Eriksen's Falco for $105,000.

Military Intelligence Philippino-style. From the country that gave us Imelda Marcos, the lady of a thousand shoes who first coined the phrase 'silent majority' (she told Richard Nixon that "we are supported by a silent majority" -- Tricky Dick subsequently adopted it) comes the latest in sensible transactions.

They've got 18 unservicable SF.260s which need new engines and the possibility of buying new Lycomings seems to have eluded them. Instead, they've undertaken Project Layang, and upgraded one aircraft to an Allison 250-B17D turboprop engine.

This is a good deal, because it only cost them 18 million pesos ($690,000) as compared to about 28 million pesos ($1,073,000) for a new SF.260TP. See, that means they save 10 million pesos ($383,000) per airplane, so overall they'll save 280 million pesos ($10,724,000) by spending 504 million pesos ($12,420.000). Hey, for that kind of money, you could get over 30,000 pairs of Gucci's.

 At least he wolked away from it. Perhaps the most despised man in aviation, Arthur Alan Wolk, who as plaintiff's attorney has won enormous awards in suits against Cessna and Piper (and thus has done more to raise the cost of flying more than any other individual) recently crashed his Panther jet off the end of the runway at Kalamazoo. We were curious what sort of sympathy he got, so we tuned into some of the on-line services to see what the cyber-groupies were saying.

Here's a sampling: "It should be real interesting to see who gets sued on this one and why!" "Numerous unlucky individuals, most likely, probably including those who rescued him." "Hmmm, now who will Arthur sue? Maybe the Michigan Highway Dept., berm in wrong location. No, let me see? I've got it, Kazoo Airports Comm., airport in wrong location! Better yet, God! Wind from north rather than south upon receiving takoff clearance." "Guess he could sue Grumman, eh?"

"Come on boys, making jokes about accidents? You're in the wrong forum." "Normally I'd agree with you about the inappropriateness of joking about accidents. But Wolk has made many enemies in his pursuit of wealth at the expense of the aviation industry. It could be argued that flying is a little less accessible to us all because of his activities."

"I'm not condoning jokes in the wake of a crash, after all, an irreplacable aircraft was involved -- sorry about that -- but I'm not asking where flowers should be sent either." "Well said. Sometimes you go to a wake to say goodbye to the dead. Sometimes you go to support a surviving family member. Sometimes you go to make sure." "At the risk of sounding completely heartless: What's the condition of the airplane?"

Falcos 7, Cessnas 3. You really missed it. The Oyster Fly-In was the best ever, with stunning weather and a great time for all. Jonas and Betsy Dovydenas were the first to arrive, in their bullet-ridden, Swing-Wing Falco. Joel and Carolyn Shankle arrived in their red Falco, still yet to be upholstered-but who ever said that finishing the plane was a goal? George and Joy Barrett set a new world speed record between the Gordonsville airport and Rosegill airstrip. Tripp Jones flew in from Charlottesville. Bob Bready and Tony Petrulio came in Bob's Falco from Massachucetts. Steve Bachnak flew in from Munster, Indiana, after climbing (very briefly) to 20,000 feet to get over some weather. And Jim Petty flew in from Dayton, and parked the beauty in the front yard.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of action on the ground, and Fred Scott arrived with his four-in-hand whisky wagon pulled by four Belgian horses-all this at an oyster fly-in. The Grand Champion Craziness award, however, went to Nigel Moll, who arrived by Kitfox from New Jersey. There's no heater in the Kitfox, and the cockpit is well ventilated with outside air. Poor Nigel had only a single pair of socks on, and no gloves. You never saw such a bitterly cold person. All this for aviation!

But the heart of the Oyster Fly-In is really the mixture of interesting people, the Urbanna Oyster Festival parade, and the endless party. And if you're bored, you can always spend some quality time with Brodie, our crazy Border Collie, who always lifts his left leg, even if the bush is on the right.



Go back to Sawdust