Weebee Air Force
Doubles in Size


Rollover time.


The First Flight
Dad and I, and then in another year Lee Anne and I, have both attended the world famous Urbanna Oysterfest. In the process, we met Al & Nancy Aitken. From that point, there was never any question as to who would test fly the airplane. Nancy was our choice, but since she wasn't current, we settled for Al. Last summer, I contacted Al and made the official request. What is truly amazing is that a man who I didn't know that well at the time, would find a four-day weekend in the middle of one of the most hectic professional periods of his life (and two weeks after the birth of his first grandchild!), to come to Canada with his wife and fly our airplane.

After watching him operate, I know why. There's no need to reiterate his credentials for any Falco builder, other than to say he takes the job of test flying seriously. For example, after numerous low speed ground runs, the control tower lightened the conversation by asking if he thought it might actually fly. Al's response: "So far, it's ground handling is what I would expect from the type". My assessment of Al's approach is simple. He eliminates future risk with every interim step. In the end, he made his job easy. And that's the problem. Someone like Al-who knows what they're doing-makes it look so easy that us normal idiots think we can do it, too. Then we skip a step, something goes horribly wrong, and we wish like hell that we were somewhere else. My strongest advice to Falco-or for that matter, any-aircraft builder is to get someone with Al's attitude to test-fly your airplane. You as the builder might have 'the right stuff', but I doubt it. Why find out the hard way?

Once the test flying and checkout work was done, we went flying in the Rebel. I was able to give Al a very unique Canadian experience-landing a floatplane on a Canadian lake in a snow squall. Not normal May weather, even for Canada. But part of the experience anyway. It was nice to have Nancy with him for the weekend, and it's almost a shame that we had to interrupt the visiting to fly airplanes. It was a great weekend, and for the price of a couple of drinks, I'll reveal some previously hidden talents of quiet Al Aitken, test pilot extra-ordinaire!

The Performance
Here the review falls a little short. Neither Dad nor I have any experience in a constant speed retractable aircraft in this speed range, so much of the testing time has been spent staring at the GPS with disbelief. So far 22/2400 seems to cruise it about 170 mph IAS down low. Full tilt boogie at 5,500 feet yields 180 mph IAS for about 195 TAS. This at 24" and 2560 rpm, without any airspeed calibration. I don't think we've got a particularly fast example of the breed, so these numbers seem high, especially since there's no gear doors yet. Temps are good, though oil only reaches 180 degrees. I'd like it warmer, but we'll worry about that after the nose gear doors get added.

As many have said previously, the real value of the Falco is in its control feel. This thing carves an arc through the sky like no airplane I've flown. Just think movement of the fingers and the airplane responds. As Al said, move your wrist for 'big' maneuvers, and don't even think about using your elbow or shoulder! The Falco has tremendously well balanced control harmony on the stick, though I would prefer a little more rudder sensitivity. That's probably at least partially because of my own size-eleven landing gear. I'll fly it barefoot sometime and report back. We incorporated a MAC electric pitch trim system, and I do use it. The difference between high-speed cruise and configured for landing requires a fair amount of trim. I can feel that now after 20 hours. However, a Cessna driver would have a hard time picking up on the need for trim. It's only after getting used to the light controls of a Falco that trim even enters your mind.


Jack Wiebe




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