A Masterpiece in Sitka Spruce
The Falco is made of wood. The ribs, spars and fuselage frames are made of fine-grained Sitka spruce and then faced with aircraft-grade birch plywood. The entire airplane is skinned with birch plywood. The interior surfaces are coated with epoxy, and the outside is covered with a very thin layer of fiberglass and epoxy for moisture protection.
In many ways, the Falco is like building a balsa-wood model, only this one is full-size. Wood is a pleasure to work with, and anyone can do it. No special skills or equipment are needed. With wood you can build an aircraft of unequaled beauty, and a well-designed wood structure, like the Falco, is very light. Wood even smells nice.
The technology of wood is well-understood and proven over time. Using any of the traditional aircraft materials-aluminum, wood, steel tubing, dope and fabric-a homebuilder can produce a structure of high quality and consistency. As good as any factory.
This is not true of all aircraft construction methods. Metal-to-metal bonding requires sophisticated surface preparation. Composites require heat and pressure during fabrication and bonding, or the variation in strength is unacceptably high. That's why Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Sikorsky, and all the other leaders in composite construction go to such expense in manufacturing and testing. In fact, you won't find structural parts in FAA-certified aircraft built any other way.
So, we're sticking with Sitka spruce and birch plywood, and it suits us just fine, thank you. Wood is still one of the very best materials for aircraft construction, and it's the material of choice for competition aerobatic planes, which need wood's strength and freedom from fatigue.
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