A Great Road to Travel

by Duane Root

This article appeared in the June 2005 Falco Builders Letter.

When I first wrote this article, the next day an email appeared from Alfred. Kudos on my article—well, not quite. He said it was “way, way, way too short”. I may have even left out a “way”. So maybe I should start out with a little history both about myself and this project.

I have been flying since 1974, and I flew commercially about 10 of those years. A few years as a corporate pilot, and a few in the airlines. I have been fortunate to fly aircraft ranging from J-3 Cub to the Boeing 727. That time of my life had me flying and traveling all over the U.S. I finally settled in Boulder, Colorado.

Sometime in the 1970s I had seen some photos and read about the Falco. It was like the bite of a vampire. It took a while, but it was in my blood, impossible to forget. Years passed, kids, career changes, but always she lurked in my psyche. Finally, I succumbed. January 2000 I ordered my plans. Just like a moth to the flame, there was no escape.

I worked faithfully—some might say obsessively—on it for what would take five years. It’s hard looking back and remembering the details of those early years. Starting in a one-car garage, it’s amazing to think the fuselage was completed in that small space.

We were forced to acquire a larger home as the Falco continued to grow. At different intervals I would receive those large packages from Sequoia. I was like a kid at Christmas—or is it a junkie awaiting the next fix?

On May 6, 2005, I flew N444PK, Falco #1364 on her maiden flight. As I sit in the hangar admiring this beautiful bird, how do I express in words the exhilaration and wonder of that moment? My expectations were high, but I was rewarded far greater than I could have expected.

Incredible! I will leave it at that. She was an absolute joy. Upon liftoff I was rewarded with a true thoroughbred. What a delight! She flew beautifully and had it not been for a rough-running engine I would have stayed up until she ran out of gas! So maybe it worked out for the best.

Stable in flight, she flew hands off, straight as an arrow, wings level, ball centered. It just doesn’t get any better! Approach and landing were dead on, and I felt one with the Falco.

So where do I start on the thank-you’s? Five years of building, my wonderful wife, Mary, has to get most of them. When you live with one who is possessed, you’ve gotta be something special, and she is. My son, Keenan, did a job on the wiring that certainly deserves a hardy “ job well done!”. To Dennis Tracy, a great friend and a true artist with the paint gun, he placed the crowning touch on what is truly a work of art. Alfred, you were always there to lend an ear and advice that I so desperately needed. I guess with me you can now say you’ve heard it all.

There was no shortage of adversity, and fortunately there were great periods of satisfaction to keep the project moving along. I truly can reminisce fondly about the wonderful times and great people that I have met along the way.

The Falco website has been more than an information stop. It has become family, no different than getting an email from a family member. When you read the stories from past builders, there is a kinship that exists. When they say that this enterprise is a life-changing and life-shaping undertaking, well, I can only say “ditto”!

Finally, to Dr. Stelio Frati, my love and admiration for the man also defies words. It was a pleasure and honor meeting with him some months back, and I only wish he could have been there at lift-off. But in so many ways he most certainly was. Bravo Dr. Frati and mille grazie!

When Mary and I went to Italy last year, we certainly did not plan on the Falco taking center stage on that trip. But after a few trips to Europe, that one will always be remembered as our visit to Dr. Frati. It is like many of the memorable moments that this wonderful project has brought into our lives.

This has been a wondrous achievement and like an actor at Oscar time, I could go on and on with the tributes, but suffice it to say, it takes a lot of dedicated and great people to make this dream come true. This is an elite and glorious club, and I am proud to be the newest member. To all of you, my deepest thanks.

The conclusion? There is none! It is a journey that never ends. It has reached a new point, and for those of you who may be starting out, it is a great road to travel!