First Flight of G-CCOR

This article appeared in the June 2006 Falco Builders Letter.

by David Thomas

It is five and a half years since I saw the airframe that was to become G-CCOR, stored in a barn north of Hull, and it was a year later that I bought the project. There have been many times in the past four years when I have wanted to give up. A low spot in construction a year and a half ago even led me to put the project up for sale—albeit for all of 24 hours. However, I am sitting here now, six weeks after the plane first flew, waiting for the Permit to Fly to arrive, and taking the opportunity to review the situation.

I am now experiencing the Falco phenomenon, and it seems that the plane is not just a plane. It’s a work of art. People come to see it, walk around it several times, touch it and stroke it and simply admire it. I think possibly the best comment to date came from Darryl, an Auster owner, who after looking at it and touching it, declared it to be “SEX in CAPITALS!” Has it been worth it? You bet. Would I do it again? No—well maybe, given time.


Getting ready


Over the last seven months I have worked every night and weekend because I had a deadline to meet—harvest! G-CCOR has been built and assembled on a friend’s farm in a shed used to store the combine harvester all year, and the grain during harvesting. We simply had to fly out mid-July or face dismantling the plane.

Even on the day of the first flight the pressure was on. July 17 dawned hot and sunny, with the promise of more heat building up. We drove over to my friend Frank’s farm at 8.00 am (just a 15 minute drive from home) from where the Falco would be making its first flight. The last few items on the snagging list remained to be completed that morning. At 10 am I was phoning Dave Almey, my inspector, to ask him to come over and complete the final inspection that afternoon. I then phoned Peter Grist, my able test pilot, who had been on standby for more than six weeks.


Wheeling the Falco out sideways


That afternoon saw Dave and Peter arrive, an inspection passed (phew!), and another half an hour whilst I cowled up. The initial engine and taxi runs had been completed the previous week (by me). The pre-flight proved that the radio had ceased to work, however, we had a hand-held radio. Peter was happy with the plane, and so it was time to taxi to the far end of the strip for the engine run-up.

A taxi back to the other end of the strip was necessary due to noise abatement conditions after the engine run-up, whilst I positioned myself half way along the strip, in the corn crop, to watch and take photos. Worry, worry—nothing was happening. Were the flaps down? Was the engine running? Then suddenly, with a 180 degree turn onto the strip, he’s rolling. He’s off. He’s flying straight and level and hasn’t rolled inverted. The engine’s still running. Phew. I now have to walk back up the strip to collect the car and drive to Fenland airfield to see the landing! I am already emotionally drained. There’s only me, my wife Sian, my inspector, Frank and his wife Carla to witness the take-off. There’d be a different reception for the landing, though.


Starting the engine


As previously arranged with the Popular Flying Association (PFA), the first flight was to be from Jubilee Farm airstrip to Fenland airfield. Peter had agreed that unless things went badly he would fly around for about half an hour, completing the test flight schedule, to allow us time to travel to Fenland to witness the landing.

We scanned the skies anxiously from the winding Fen roads and arrived at Fenland airfield to find it staked out by photographers. Where had they come from? ATC was pointing out the whereabouts of G-CCOR, but I couldn’t spot it—I need new glasses! Then there was an announcement on the tanoy—and here comes the yellow bird, rock steady on approach, and down—ON THE NUMBERS. Peter is a member of the Precision Pilots Association. It appears that precision also applies to first flights. The landing brought forth a standing ovation from the crowd standing outside the clubhouse.



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