First Flight:
Syd Jensen

by Alfred Scott

This article appeared in the June 1990 issue of the Falco Builders Letter.

Syd Jensen

Many, many years ago, there was a Falco builder in New Zealand by the name of Syd Jensen. Some of you old-timers over at the old falcs home might even remember him.

Syd was a motorcycle racer who was as famous in New Zealand as Sterling Moss was in England, and Syd raced in all of the big events in Europe. Once in 1955, he got a ride in one of the earliest Falcos and was hooked. Many years passed. Syd gave up racing and returned to New Zealand where he ran Syd Jensen Motors, the sole importers of BMWs in New Zealand. Then when we started selling the Falco plans and kits, Syd had to have one.

The progress he made in those early days was astonishing, even when you consider that he had a hired assistant. That was the time when we were best prepared to assist a slow builder, who took so long a-building that we had sufficient time to get the kits out. Syd and friend ripped through the basic woodwork in record time and would probably have been flying in 1983 if we had all of today's kits available then. But what actually happened was that Syd and friend ran us down and the project then entered a long and mutually frustrating wait-for-kit, install-it, wait-for-next-kit process.

During this process, Syd would take on odd business ventures of little subdivisions and these would take up lots of his time. I've lost track of time, but Syd could easily have flown in 1984, but he didn't rush the plane and then one sad day-literally as he was beginning taxi tests of the Falco-he found himself in the cardiac ward of the hospital. He didn't have a heart attack, but all of the alarms went off on the diagnostic machines. Syd had a triple bypass operation and within months was able to report that he felt better than he had for the past 20 years, but the New Zealand authorities considered bypass surgury as a ground-for-life event.

All this was a rather depressing experience for Syd, but recently he has gotten the plane signed off and into the air. I don't know the usual weights and speeds, but Syd says it flies beautifully and climbs at 2000 fpm when lightly loaded. He has a 180 hp IO-360-B1E with helicopter pistons installed for higher compression and more power.

It's remarkable what changes have taken place in communications during this period. For most of the time when he was building the Falco, Syd's telephone was on a manual exchange, so if you wanted to call him, you had to go through a maze of operators and finally ended up with the Kerikeri operator who would say, "Syd Jensen, why sure, love! I saw him just the other day, so I know he's home. I'll ring you through straight-away." Now it's direct-dial all the way through, and Syd and I can exchange fax messages within minutes.

The only problems I can report are some adjustment problems with the retraction system and a bad voltage regulator. Syd had installed the gear-up and gear-down relays on the aft face of frame 6 per our original scheme. This created voltage drop problems and Syd had to move the relays to frame 5 where we install them now. The other problem was with a voltage regulator which didn't work. It was six years old but had never been used, so we replaced it at no cost to him.

Beyond that I can't tell you much. It's a Falco, and it's flying. Last I saw it was white, and we're watching the mail for some photos which will probably arrive by the time you get this.

Syd Jensen