He'll never stop. Stelio Frati is hard at work on a new design, a four-place, 300-hp turbocharged design much like the SF.260 for a company in Rome.

Swing-Wing Virus. Rick Fitzwater reports: "After viewing multiple pictures of Jonas' swing-wing Falco, I was getting 'Swing-Wing Envy". I am too far along on my Falco to change the wing, so I settled on a father/son guitar-building project. The design includes Ibinez humbucking picks and a Floyd Rose whammie. The body is solid poplar and the neck/headstock blank was purchased from Performance Guitar in Hollywood. As for the obvious question, the answer is: No, it does not play swing music."

Do you ever wonder, sometimes, as you pursue your passions at the expense of things that you know you really ought to be doing, that maybe you're just a wee bit over the edge? Well, if building a Falco seems a little extreme at times, then take comfort in the case of Paul Moller and his Skycar project.

He's been at it since 1963, pursuing his personal dream of a machine that you can pull out of your garage, lift off vertically and cruise at 350 mph completely under computer control for a range of 900 miles. In 37 years, he's been through numerous designs and has actually flown one in tethered flight to an altitude of 40 feet. So if you're bored with your Falco for a while, check out the Moller Skycar in the June issue of Car & Driver, or at Moller's website at Positions on the waiting list are only $5,000, while "My Next Car Will Be a Skycar" license-plate frames goes for only $15.

Just call me 'Sparky'. On the way home from Oshkosh, Bob Bready and Tony Petrulio were IFR at 7,000 between a couple of cells when it got darker, the cockpit lit up with St. Elmo's fire, their hair stood on end and then bang. Touched by the hand of God. A spark jumped from the control stick to Bob's left hand-"It felt like you put your hand on a table and someone whaled it with a two-by-four." The panel lit up like a Christmas tree. The alternator went off. The fuel totalizer started flashing, the gas gauges read 'full' for a long time. The GPS lost its position but reset right away. The VORs were fine and no circuit breakers blew. Bob reset the alternator field breaker, it came back on, "and other than the stupid look on our faces, we were off and flying again." On landing, Bob said the only damage was a slight burn mark on the right wing tip lens, so it appears that it was not a direct hit.

Style setter? We have a report that a Falco being built in Milan, Italy, is planned to be finished out with clear varnish only, so you can see all the wood structure. Hmmm. Interesting idea, but the finished result may not live up to the imagined result-stroll through any nudist colony beach and you are quickly reminded why we all wear clothes.

Safety Enforcer. Now that you've finished your airplane, you not only have to deal with the FAA, but also with the increasingly rigid requirements of the insurance companies. The latest: Avemco now requires that your test pilot-credentials and experience be damned-must have completed the EAA Flight Advisors course. Which isn't a bad thing at all.

The Corporate Disgrace never looked so good as in this model made by Luigi and Davide Aldini.

(Davide Aldini offers a 1:32 scale resin model of the Falco for $220.00 each. Contact him at or visit his website at

Having your way. Virginia's own Nancy Langhorne went on to become the famous Lady Astor, and foil to Winston Churchill. You've all heard the famous quotes. Winston, if I were married to you, I'd put poison in your tea. -- Nancy, if I were married to you, I'd drink it. Winston, you're drunk. -- Nancy, I am and you are ugly, but on the morrow I will be sober and you will still be ugly.

Her first marriage was short-lived, to Robert Gould Shaw, a drinker and a philanderer. According to the recently published "Five Sisters" by James Fox, the marriage got off to a bad start on their honeymoon at the famous Hot Springs resort.

"Nancy, aged eighteen, and Bob Shaw, twenty-four, knew so little about each other that their first taste of proximity shocked them both profoundly, and effectively ended the marriage quite literally before it had begun. Nancy later, in a rare moment of candor, told her niece, Nancy Lancaster, that she had slept on her stomach for three nights before Bob took her back home. There was the question of sex-a subject that Nancy later put very low on the scale of human activities. Hot Springs was either a disastrously failed initiation, which marked her deeply, or she naturally hated the idea of it."

"Despite fleeing the Shaw home several times, or obeying her husband's command to get out, three months after her marriage Nancy was pregnant. The only clue as to how this came about was Nancy's later claim that she woke up one night to find her husband in the bedroom with a chloroform-filled sponge."

Why you don't mix greases. We use two types of synthetic greases on the Falco, the red Mobil 28 for almost everything and Aeroshell 7 and 17 for the screwjacks and landing gear motor. When we selected the greases to use, the lubrication specialist who helped us advised not to mix the two greases because the mixture will set up corrosion in the metal. This is apparently the cause of the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 which crashed into the ocean north of Los Angeles on January 31 killing all 88 on board because a mixture of the two greases set up corrosion and stripped the threads of the stabilizer jackscrew nut. Even as they were inverted and completely out of control, one of the pilots took the time to reassure the doomed passengers that they were having some control problem but that they should get it under control. Incredibly cool and heroic crew, two guys in their 50s.

Faster than a speed pullet. From Feathers, the publication of the California Poultry Industry Federation comes the following story: The FAA has an unusual device for testing the strength of airplane windshields, the chicken gun, which launches a dead chicken at the plane's windshield at approximately the speed the plane is flying. The theory is that if the windshield doesn't crack from the impact, it will survive a real bird strike.

The British were interested in this method and wanted to test the windshield of a fast locomotive they're developing. So they borrowed the FAA's chicken gun, loaded the chicken and fired. To their surprise, the ballistic bird shattered the windshield, broke the engineer's chair and embedded itself in the back wall of the engine's cab. The British engineers were stunned and asked the FAA to recheck the test to see if everything was done correctly. The FAA reviewed the report and had only one recommendation: Next time, use a thawed chicken.

Few people have done more to make aviation journalism colorful than James Gilbert, who began as an advertising writer, moved to Flying magazine, and then bought Pilot magazine in England where he has been the publisher for the past twenty years or so. He is easily one of the most talented writers ever to hit the aviation scene, and a bit 'stroppy' in his own words -- a tendency shared by the most talented people in all fields. He didn't last too long at Flying because of his temper and fiercely independent mind, but at Pilot he ran the magazine as he saw fit, and it was fun. So if a young couple started going at it in a plane and left the mic on, you were sure to read about it in Pilot. James was also a snob about airplanes, once owning a Jungmeister, and he was a passionate admirer of Stelio Frati, the Falco and the SF.260. Indeed, it was through James Gilbert's articles that I first learned of the Falco. How many red Falcos exist today because of his "Red Italian machine" line? James Gilbert recently sold Pilot to a large publishing company, and all indications are that they will continue the tone and personality of the magazine. But this is a man that I will miss. Thank you, James, for all you've done to enrich our lives.

Alfred Scott

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Sequoia Aircraft
Hoping this is the year you find true happiness.



Go back to Sawdust