Flight of the Soul
Sunrise climbing out of Denver.
The first homebuilt attempt was in the 1980s when Mel had a lot of time on his hands while flying mostly weekends for an oilman out of Grand Junction, Colorado. He had met Nate Putter and saw the Cozy. After a few modifications on the drawing board, the Cozy started to take shape in a detached garage by our house with lots of epoxy and fiberglass. This project came to a halt in 1988 when unemployment forced a move to the Eastern Slope/Denver. Well that Cozy is still with us; wings hang up in our outside shed and the fuselage is on wheels for ease in moving. I believe that unfinished Cozy helped spur Mel on to finish the Falco in approximately 2-1/2 years.
Near Billings, Montana, and Yellowstone River. Shows the
airspeed and altitude at +23°C. You do the math. 190 kts true.
Mel took me on a 1/2-hour flight as the first passenger after the 25-hour flight requirement (July 26). It was great! We circled our house which is southeast of Centennial Airport and then flew out over Elbert County. We decided to make our first long trip to Montana so I could see my mother who is recovering from a stroke and his father also lives there (retired from the ranching business). We left at 5:27 am on August 17, nice and early to take advantage of the smooth ride one gets at that hour. We watched the sun come up as we entered Wyoming. The GPS is very entertaining to watch as it dials up the local points of interest along the way. It was difficult to get good pictures due to the smoke haze from the forest fires in the West. Visibility was about 30-40 miles and then it was a strain to make out the local landmarks. We flew over my brother's ranch (which is where I grew up) and then on into Lewistown. As Mel was making his approach, I managed to get a terrific picture of his father's house (ranchette on 20 acres).
Tony Khury's Ranch in Montana. Judith Mountains in the background.
Over Friday and Saturday, we had to take several trips to the airport and show off Mel's baby. Even my mother managed to let go of her walker, get loaded in the car and go see the creation! Mel's dad had trouble climbing in, but he rode with Mel while the plane was being taxied from the fixed base operation into the hangar on the day we arrived. We left on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. The ride was not nearly as smooth, but the Falco rides through turbulence in great fashion... course that experienced pilot probably had something to do with that! I got smart on the trip home and took my shoes off and got comfortable. Mel watched me like a hawk on the way up... kept asking if I was doing okay (I wiggled around a bit after a couple of hours), but he relaxed a bit on the way home as he knew his pride and joy had passed the test!
The best part is the time savings. It takes 11-12 hours to drive from Denver, Colorado, to Lewistown, Montana, and to do it in three hours is phenomenal! This, of course, was one of the main selling points back in 1998 when Mel convinced me that we needed to finance this venture so he could get all his kits at once and go for it.
Mel and Wanda Olson. Mel's Falco took 2-1/2 years to build.
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