Sawdust
1990

Banished to Balsa. "A number of years ago I had visions of the beauty and lines of a pusher pattern aircraft." So begins "Pattern Pusher" in a recent Model Airplane News, by none other than Tom Prescott, designer of the pathetic Prescott Pusher-which he artfully avoids mentioning. The Pattern Pusher looks like a scaled-down single-place Prescott Pusher that Tom-boy says "is a dream to fly, and it is fast!" CAD-CAM balsa models!

Sometimes people take this Frati/Ferrari thing to far. I got a call the other day from a dude so deep down in Alabama you had to lay on the floor to hear what he was saying. Loved the Falco. Had been drooling over the brochure for years. Liked the wood construction. But what he really liked best was the professional design -- "That Stelio Ferrati really knows how to design a plane."

Media watch. There was a long article in the March 16-29 1990 Aviation News (England) called "European Falco Factory", by Geoffrey Jones. There is extensive coverage of a number of our European builders: Neville Langrick, Bob Sothcott, Bjoern Eriksen, Jan Waldahl, Marcel Morrien, etc. Watch the pages of Kitplanes for this same article. In addition to Steve Wilkinson's "Building a Falco, Part III", Pilot (England) has also had a recent article on the Fat Falco, John Wynn's beautifully restored F.14 Nibbio. And if you are in Spain, watch the magazine racks for an upcoming article on the Falco in Volar magazine.

No Prescription Required. A rather near-sighted friend of ours with a bad case of the morning-afters, reached for her bottle of Visine eyedrops and managed to pick up a bottle of cyanoacrylate Super Glue instead. She later told me that she realized that she had made a mistake when immediately after squeezing a few drops into her eye, the smell hit her at the same time that her eye started burning and she realized her eyelid was stuck closed. It was a very painful experience, she spent two days in the hospital, but there was no permanent damage. I asked her if she had any words of advice, and she said rather forcefully, "Don't do it!"

Cobra to strike again. According to Flypast magazine, the unflown second prototype of Stelio Frati's F.400 Cobra is to be found at the Persan-Beaumont Airfield north of Paris, where a French homebuilder is completing it as a private project. If I'm not mistaken, this aircraft was to be known as the F.460 Cobra and had four seats.

Shoot'em. South Carolina State Senator David Thomas introduced an amendment to the state budget that would have legalized the hunting of lawyers. Under the bill, lawyer-hunters would be barred from imitating the sound of an ambulance or using calls of "whiplash" or "free scotch" to attract quarry, and it would be illegal to hunt attorneys within 100 yards of a BMW or Mercedes dealership. No restrictions would have been placed on the hunting of a specific type of lawyer -- those elected to public office -- and the bill, which was later withdrawn, would have protected honest attorneys as an endangered species.

And speaking of lawyers, how about this bozo, somebody-else's-fault logic? A guy builds a Christen Eagle, likes the plane so much that he gives it to his wife and builds another. Then one gusty day -- a 172 pilot who landed just before reported difficulty in maintaining control -- the pilot brings his Eagle in low over the trees, hits the treetops, crashes and burns to death. The NTSB ruled pilot error, but a lawyer is claiming that, because the latest certification regs require a secondary firewall around fuel tanks in the cockpit, Christen should have redesigned and retrofitted the planes with a kit to bring it up to the latest regs. Right. And while you're at it, retrofit Stearmans for noise abatement and equip Staggerwings with lightening protection. Let's sue the old dirigible manufacturers for not wrapping the hydrogen envelope in .015" stainless. And what about the Vatican -- they'd better rip out all of that lead-based paint Michaelangelo used and replace it with modern acrylics.

Sniff no glue before its time. The Wall Street Journal reports that a third of the cost of Lockheed's new Palmdale composites manufacturing plant is for proper ventilation and other health controls.

Watch out Zippo and Buck Knives, here comes David Clark. In the nether world of Zippo's unlimited warranty and Chuck Buck's you-break-it-we-replace-it policy comes the David Clark Company. My eight-year-old headset was developing a scratchy microphone and a problem with one of the plugs, so I sent it back to David Clark with the request that they give it a once-over and charge it to my credit card. The headset came back two weeks later, with the plug repaired and the microphone replaced-get this-"under warranty".

Oh dear me no. Meredith Scott is just back from London where, among other things, she and a friend had a private tea with the Speaker of the House of Commons. When informed that Meredith's husband had his own aircraft company, the Right Honorable Mr. Weatherill turned to Meredith and asked, "Your husband's company, Mrs. Scott -- is it Boeing?"

I told you so, I told you so. It was all done very quietly, but a couple of months ago, Porsche issued an announcement that they were getting completely out of the aircraft engine business but would continue to support the engines in the field.

UFOs over NYC. On the night of April 5, 1990, S. Wilkinson reports seeing a large "UFO" moving slowly across the night sky. He said if you listened very carefully and knew what to listen for, you could just barely make out the hum of the engines of the six ultralights, each with a spotlight facing down, flying in a wide formation at 6000'. No wonder people drink so much booze in that city.

The national aerospace industry of Peru. From the 1989-90 Jane's All the World's Aircraft (literally!): "An entry for Indaer-Peru, that nation's sole aircraft manufacturer, last appeared in the 1985-86 Jane's. At that time, financial constraints had compelled abandonment of plans to assemble, and eventually manufacture, MB-339A jet trainers under licence from Aermacchi of Italy. It has since been decided to restart with a more modest programme based on construction of the Light Aero Avid Flyer kitplane...."

Media watch. There's a nice article in the August '90 issue of Automobile magazine on the state of light aviation covering, among other things, the Swiftfury and the Falco ("the real 'flying Ferrari'-a superb piece of sculpture and one of the best-handling light planes ever.") and includes a photo of Ray Purkiser's Falco. The September '90 Light Plane Maintenance had an article on Benchmark and concludes "If you're serious about wanting accurate performance charts for your airplane, Benchmark is a must-have program. For some people, in fact, it will justify the purchase of a $1,200 Macintosh." Look for an article by Steve Wilkinson on building a Falco in an upcoming issue of Business Week's Assets magazine.

Ray Purkiser won "Best Wood" award at the Oregon State EAA Fly-In at Medford. The chapter newsletter reported "There was more excitement on the airport as Ray Purkiser came very close to the runway without his gear down before pulling up and going around. He said later that he had three green lights indicated and thought all was well till he heard 'gear, gear, gear' on his headset."

Perhaps the funniest catalog ever written is from JerryCo, whose catalog of surplus and unsold gizmos and trinkets runs the gamut from bizarre to weird. There is a toilet-training kit for little boys which consists of little duckies and froggies that you float in the bowl and which dissolve when 'hit'. The kiddie version is sold out, but they still have a few of an 'adult' version with something other than duckies and froggies.

The latest from JerryCo is a fly powered airplane, described as "A little kit with some light paper, rather like cigarette papers, a stick, rather like a toothpick, and extensive, detailed, but very simple instructions. When you have followed the instructions, you will have two little airplanes, to each of which you will have attached one (or, for extra speed, two) live house files. The fly provides the motive power, and they really do work. Judy thinks ill of this product, and so may you unless you are about 10 or 12 years old, in which case you will absolutely love it." Get 'em while they last, they're P/N 88695 Fly Powered Airplane at $3.95 each from JerryCo, 601 Linden Place, Evanston, IL 60202. Telephone: (708) 475-8440.

Media Watch. Spectacular article on the Falco in the September 1990 issue of JP4 Aeronautica. Dang if I know what it says because it's all in Italian, but there are some great shots of Karl Hansen's and Jim DeAngelo's Falcos. Steve Wilkinson's article on building a Falco appeared in the November/December 1990 issue of Business Week Assets magazine. There's a raving review of the Falco -- "The Flying Ferrair" [sic]-by John Conrad in the December 1990 issue of Sport Pilot Hot Kits and Homebuilts. And there's a big article on Frati and his new Penquino in the October 1990 Flug Revue in Germany.

It always pays to enclose a note. Pity the Wilkinsons of Sussex, England, who received a package from their relatives in Australia. Thinking it was a present of herbs, they mixed it into their traditional Christmas pudding, ate half of it and put the rest in the fridge. A few days later, a note arrived from Auntie Shiela saying that Uncle Eric had died and had they received his ashes for burial in Britain?

Good Books. The best book on the care and feeding of your engine has always been Aircraft Engine Operating Guide by Kas Thomas, and a new revised version is due out any day now. Kas is editor of Light Plane Maintenance which-in addition to being highly informative on all the greasy-finger details of taking care of your bird-is written in a delightfully saucy up-your-pitot-tube style.

Now there's another book out that rivals it in scope: Sky Ranch Engineering Manual by John Schwaner, who discusses engines from the perspective of a shop which overhauls the things. It's nearly 300 pages of technical details laced with a lifetime of experience. Get yours for $19.95 plus $2.50 shipping from Sacramento Sky Ranch, Inc., 6622 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95822. Telephone: (916) 421-7672.

Good Grief. NASA's Galileo spacecraft zoomed past Earth on Dec. 8 in a slingshot encounter to send the sophisticated craft on its way to Jupiter. As it passed, it took pictures of Earth from 593 miles above the southwest Atlantic Ocean. "It will be the first time the Earth has been viewed from this perspective. I expect it will give us a greater appreciation of this place," said NASA's project manager-thus proving that you can rationalize anything. What about using a boat?

Penguinia, or How The World's Only Piston-Engined Turbine Almost Came To Be. Did you know that Paul MacCready's Gossamer Condor was originally called the Gossamer Penquin? His team wouldn't stand for it, saying that the penguin can't fly, sits on its tail, swims underwater and is short and stubby. MacCready caved in, but not Stelio Frati who named his trainer the Penguino. I always liked the name -- so what if a penguin can't fly, neither can mustangs, warthogs, tigers, or cobras-but Frati caught a lot of grief on the name.

His latest version, with 160 hp and constant-speed prop, flew the other day, and Frati had picked a nice name, the Italian word for whirlwind, to replace Penguino. Unfortunately that word is túrbine, which is 'turbine' to all of us who don't know spaghetti from linguini. Can you imagine the problems with gasboys who pump jet fuel into Turbo Arrows when they see a Turbine taxi up to the pump?

Despite advice from every English-speaking friend that the name was a disaster, the Frati team stuck with the name insisting that everyone would see the difference between túrbine and turbine. I thought they were making a terrible mistake, that people would make jokes about the name and would conclude that Frati and his team were silly people-which they most certainly are not-so I persisted and finally persuaded them to abandon the name. Thus it was that two or three days after the F.22R Túrbine had flown, it was renamed the F.22R Sprint, which I think is a fine name -- don't you?

Holy Rotting Fiberglass! According to the latest issue of Aviation Week, General Dynamics has discovered that under certain conditions, their highest-tech composite will actually corrode. The corrosion was first discovered in March when an engineer could not find a glass jar to test a sample of the composite material in a water/fuel mix, used a tin can instead and was surprised to find several days later that the resin had dissolved.

The resin, bismaleimide, is a type of polyimide used only on the most advanced military machines so we don't have to worry. The conditions for such decomposition now appear to be: a conductive fiber like carbon fiber, in contact with a metal, in an electrolyte solution, with oxygen present and stagnant conditions at the water interface to prevent dissipation. Higher temperatures speed the process in which the materials form a battery that creates hydroxyl ions which collect on the surface of the composite, form a highly basic solution and which dissolves the resins from the material.

     

 

 

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