Design Defect! Call in the product liability lawyers! The SeaWind amphibian had been flying since 1997 and had logged about 40 hours when the pilot encountered a rather unique problem. The canopy on the aircraft acts as a large magnifying glass, and when open, the canopy focuses the sun's rays on the backs of the rear seats. The other day, the pilot was inspecting some damage to the left rear seat. "When we looked over at the right seat, smoke was curling up from a hole burned deep into the back of the right rear seat. The whole process took less than a minute."

Stelio Frati's SF.600 Canguro twin turboprop utility aircraft was built in small numbers of SIAI-Marchetti and has now been relaunced by VulcanAir, which has set up a production line in the former Partenavia works at Naples. One VulcanAir-built Canguro is already flying, with another due to be completed by summer. The company has plans for a stretched PT6A-powered development.

We're all taught to fear wake turbulence from big heavy airliners, but imagine the surprise of the English pilot taking off in a Robin just after an Antonov An-2, the huge, slow Russian biplane. However, as the Robin was climbing, it suddenly rolled to the left through about 80 degrees for no obvious reasons. The pilot fought to get the plane back under control, but the nose dropped steeply and the airplane spiralled in and crashed. Damage was extensive but both pilots survived with whiplash injuries and minor cuts. Although the An-2 is technically a 'light' aircraft, at full gross it is seven times the weight of the Robin, and has about twice the wing span.

Hot Section Overhaul. JOHANNESBURG, May 31 (Reuters) Business class passengers on a South African Airways flight were treated to a brazen demonstration last week when a couple made love in full view of fellow travelers, a South African newspaper said on Sunday. "It was the most callous display of lust I have ever seen," a mother, accompanied on the flight by her husband and two young sons, told the Sunday Times newspaper.

SAA corporate relations manager Leon Els said the couple, a white male in his 40s and an Indian female companion, would not be charged over the incident which occurred during a scheduled flight from Johannesburg to London. Their names were not disclosed. "Ours is not the first airline to have this sort of thing happen, and it won't be the last," he told the newspaper.

Embarrassed cabin crew appeared unsure how to handle the situation. The couple halted their love-making only when the captain was called and bellowed at them that the airplane was not "a shag house" -- by which time most of the damage was done.

"I could understand it if they covered themselves with a blanket, but no -- it was wham, bam, right there in the seat -- in the missionary position," the woman's husband told the newspaper.

Grafitti inside a fiberglass porta-poty at Oshkosh: "I could have been a Glasair!"

 Media watch. The Falco is featured in the October 1998 issue of CustomPlanes magazine, and the article focuses on Bob Brantley of Santa Barbara, California who is building a Falco and John Shipler of Huntington Beach, California who finished his Falco some years ago. And the cover of Pilot Getaways premiere issue depicts the runway at Telluride and the flagship of the Bach Corporation, Falco N241TE. In the Falco are pilot and chocolatier Eric Wierman and passenger Caryn Puma.

Above average. Kim Mitchell recently passed his final inspection. The FAA inspector said it was the nicest homebuilt he had seen in 40 years.

Two Virginia universities took top honors in the 1998 design competition sponsored by NASA. The awards were announced at Oshkosh, and top honors went to the Virginia Tech team for their 'VicTor' single-engine four seater. A team from the University of Virginia were honored for developing a computer program that predicts resistance to airflow in the design of a small passenger airplane. In their design, they based the progrm on the Falco, which they developed into a three-dimensional model to study the flow of air about the airplane. The UVa team was lead by James McDaniel, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Engine clones a-coming. With Superior and others manufacturing parts to overhaul Lycoming and Continental engine, it has only been a matter of time before the aftermarket companies made the few remaining components and sold an entire engine. It's finally happened and Superior has announced the the XP 360-1, a Lycoming O-360 kit for experimental airplanes that you will be able to buy both assembled or in a build-it-yourself model. The engine is still under development, and they plan to offer refinements of the engine design. Initially, the engine will be available in a carbureted version only, but they plane to offer an an IO-360, a TIO-360, and eventually the 540 series as well. It's far too early to form any assessment of this engine, but it will be worth watching.

Start planning now. In Milan, we asked Stelio Frati if he would come to the 45th and 50th birthday parties for the Falco at Oshkosh. He's making no commitments yet on the 50th since he wants to see how his health holds up, but he said he'll come to the 45th birthday party at Oshkosh 2000.

Blue Skies. In life, Bill Knight was colorful, if anything. He was an actor (in Oliver Stone's Wall Street and Born on the Fourth of July), writer, wannabe Falco builder, SF.260 owner ("Marchetti Madness" March 1994 Falco Builders Letter) and eccentric in general. We're sorry to report that Bill died late last year in an RV-6, in Maryland on his way back from Florida.

But by virtue that he had a bottle of Viagra in the plane, the NTSB is considering this as a possible cause of the accident-some theory that perhaps it made him see blue-and it's been all of the aviation press as a result. Nobody wants to die, in an airplane or in bed, but if you gotta go, you might as well go out colorful, and with all this nonsense about Viagra, well, Bill would have loved it, if only for the humor.

And speaking of Viagra and the bedroom-related infirmities of age, a jovial Falco builder from Texas with a 180 hp Falco (who asks for anonymity) said "it's like trying to put an oyster in a parking meter."

Here today, disbonded tomorrow. When polyurthane glues first appeared, they sounded too good to be true, and indeed they are, and they have not proved to have long-term durability. Indeed, Ben Owen at the EAA reports that the researchers at the Forest Products Laboratories call the glues 'honeymoon glues' because they're true to you for a while.



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