Sawdust
1991

But what does it do for snake oil? According to literature published by Magnetizer Group Incorporated, their little gizmo increases the fuel efficiency of home heating furnaces and engines by passing fuel through a magnetic field. "Following exposure to a south pole magnetic field, the electron orbits of the molecule are altered such that the net charge becomes positive. Because the net charges of the hydrocarbon and oxygen molecules are both negative, there are repulsive forces, not attractive, forces present. When magnetized, the fuel's hydrocarbons are ionized to exhibit a net positive charge. The change in charge allows the fuel to aggressively attract and bond with available, negatively charged, oxygen. This creates a more comprehensive hydrocarbon molecule with its own oxygen supply. The end result is a more efficient and fully burning, explosive mixture...."

The FAA Technical Center recently evaluated this system on a Teledyne Continental 0-200 engine and -- guess what? -- it doesn't make any difference.

Watch for this show in re-runs. [From TV Guide]: (A&E) "Living Dangerously"; 60 min. A history of Italian aviation.

ATC Corp? In a fascinating editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Robert H. Poole says "For safer skies, privatize." He argues that "the best solution is to spin off the air traffic control system as a user-funded corporation. Outside the federal government, it would be outside the civil service system, outside the federal procurement process, and-most important-outside the federal budget process." There is ample evidence that such a system would work well. In 1972, the British converted their CAA into a self-supporting Crown corporation, and its National Air Traffic Services division provides efficient services to both civilian and military aircraft. Four years ago, New Zealand corporatized its ATC system, and the user-funded corporation shows a profit and is on the list of candidates for privitization. And Switzerland has partially privitized its air traffic control system, when SwissControl was spun off in 1988 with the major Swiss aviation interests becoming minority shareholders. And the Association of European Airlines released a 1989 study calling for the creation of a commercial company to take over the management of a streamlined, continent-wide air traffic control system. Says Poole, "We cannot afford to continue playing bureaucratic games with the air traffic control system. Too many lives are at stake."

Our Benchmark performance analysis software has been evaluated by AzureSoft and is now carried in their Flight Computing catalogue. The April 1991 Private Pilot calls Benchmark the "ultimate in performance fine-tweaking."

Congratulations to Charles Gutzman whose Falco won the Grand Champion Plans-Built at the 1990 North Central EAA Fly-In.

According to a recent edition of CBS "60 Minutes", Saddam Hussein and his family own 8.4% of Hachette, the French media giant that publishes a broad list of magazines including Car & Driver, Road & Track and Flying. Hachette officials deny that the Iraqis had any influence on their decision to launch such new magazines as Desert & Tank, Not Flying, Foxhole Living and Iraq Today. Senator Alan Simpson (R-at large-Wyoming no longer claims him) has called for a congressional hearing to look into charges that numerous Flying editors are "Iraqi sympathizers" and points specifically to the recent articles "Technicalities" (dealing with cease-fire violations) by technical editor Tahir Tawfiq and "Jonathan Livingston Scud" by executive editor Aziz Hollah.

Media Watch. "Best Homebuilts" in the February issue of The Aviation Consumer rated the eight best kit aircraft and says, "Overall, we'd rate the Falco kit second only the the Christen Eagle in terms of completeness and precision." We recently received a copy of the Número 25, Año III issue of the Spanish magazine Volar, with spectacular photographs of Karl Hansen's Falco, including the butt-nude Falco on the centerspread.

 According to the New York Times, the F-117 Stealth Fighter accounted for 3% of the allied aircraft in the Persian Gulf war, yet it hit 43% of the targets. And not one of the aircraft received a scratch.

Out the window. We get all sorts of weird calls, but the other day we heard from a guy on 14th Street in New York who wanted to build the Falco in his 6th floor shop. The principal requirement was that the plane fit through a three-foot by six-foot window so the piano movers could extract the thing when it was finished. A T-18 and a Volksplane had already made this trip, and Eugene Baum wanted the Falco to be the next. And on the price of the plans, he wanted to know if we had any discounts for 'a fellow aviator'. Sadly not, said I, explaining that all our customers were fellow aviators. Ah well, said Baum, "I had to ask. I'm Jewish."

Airparteid? We just shipped some kits to Brian Nelson and Fannie Hendricks in South Africa, and that enlightened government wants to slap a 25% duty on the seats because "they're not part of the airplane". What are they supposed to do, kneel?

G. Washington is passé-Jackie Kennedy slept here. Watch the October TV listings for the NBC mini-series, "A Woman Named Jackie", currently being filmed here in Richmond and with Meredith Scott in a couple of bit parts. They needed a house to be 'the Kennedy compound' in Hyannis, and our Cape-Cod style house is it. So when you see Jackie wake up and ask if "we won the election", that's our bed she's in, and all the scenes of them watching the election returns are at our house. As irony would have it, I've met the lady-years ago when I had a summer job pumping gas at the Hyannis airport -- and I always found her to be the nicest of the Kennedys.

Sometimes it pays to be over thirty. Special thanks Ben Owen at the EAA for pointing out a little-known section of the FAR's that exempts Falcos from having to use 12-inch letters. Section 45.22B applies to "small U.S. registered aircraft for which an experimental certificate has been issued for operation as an exhibition aircraft or as an amateur-built aircraft and which has the same external configuration as an aircraft built at least 30 years ago". The regulation is intended to allow antique airplanes and replicas of antiques to be operated in the original paint schemes. Thus the numbers must be at least 2 inches high, and may even be on the fuselage under the horizontal tail.

Forsaking all others... well kinda. What's with the Italians and the curious "extra virgin" terminology they use on olive-oil cans? Like, you know, what does it really mean, and does it apply to young Italian ladies as well as salad oil? It sure sounds like the moral equivalent of a used-car sign. Maybe it has something to do with the daughters of Mafia dons, where you're not even supposed to ask.

Congratulations to Charles Gutzman who walked away with Grand Champion Plans-Built at Sun 'n Fun. Charles didn't know he had won until he got home and received the certificate in the mail. He also got away before any of the EAA photographers could get some good air-to-air shots of the plane. They finally got together a couple of weeks ago at Oshkosh for a photo session. The photo plane was a 182 which they flew at 80 knots where the Falco is not happy. At the end of the video session, Charles was supposed to do a little wing-waggle, and on the second wing-up, the Falco went down -- Charles was paying so much attention to flying formation that he didn't notice that he was right on the edge of a stall. Anyway, it all made for some interesting footage.

Trophy hunters. Congratulations to Charles Gutzman who won Champion Plans-Built (that's third place) at Oshkosh. And at the PFA Rally at Wroughton, England, Bjoern Eriksen won the best kit-built aircraft award, and also Pilot magazine's Concours d'elegance award. Said Eriksen, "The response to Falco LN-LCA was rather amazing, and I have a feeling that we stole the show." No kidding, every Brit I've talked to has been raving about Eriksen's Falco.

High-Diddle-Diddle. Mariano Facciolo of Italy gave a new meaning to the term "hot mike" recently when he and his female "co-pilot" joined the metric mile-high club. Italian officials have relieved Facciolo of his license for practicing "dangerous maneuvers and broadcasting his steamy exploits." Shocked tower controllers listened to the moans and groans and at first thought someone was in great pain. Just as they were preparing to declare an emergency, they suddenly heard a woman's voice say, "Oh, Mariano!" This episode continued for 45 minutes with the aircraft on autopilot. The controllers said, "The sounds went on for a long time, then we heard the man say, 'Oops, I left the mike on. Sorry, honey.'" Yeah, right. It was 15 minutes before lover-boy Mariano came back on and requested permission to land.

Earth to earth, dust to dust. At Oshkosh, Aviation Consumer contributor Brent Silver stopped by for a chat. He's an aviation safety consultant and the writer who wrote the milestone whistle-blowing series about the inflight failures of the V-tail Bonanzas. No lover of wood in aircraft construction, Brent said he considered wood "an intermediate step between dirt and dirt." Don't say we never warned you.

Start your own war. This airplane should get you an award for the most unusual warbird. Stelio Frati's twin-turboprop Condor is for sale, sans engines. The bubble-canopied twin was intended as a military trainer, counter-insurgency (that's military jargon for strafing citizens who don't like your dictatorship) and gunnery/rocket practice. With rocket launchers and machine gun pods below the wing, this little baby is great for settling property disputes and personal vendettas-and it's much cheaper, more satisfying and loads more fun than just using lawyers.

Media watch. Charles Gutzman's Falco made cover of the September issue of Sport Aviation, and there's a nice article about the plane inside. See the September issue of England's Pilot magazine for Steve Wilkinson's "Building a Falco, Part IV" with Bjoern Eriksen's Falco on the cover. There's a wonderful article by Steve on moving the Falco to the airport in the October issue of Air & Space magazine-which incidently is becoming a terrific magazines, with articles by some of the best writers in aviation today. And there was some nice coverage of the Falco in the August issue of U.S. Aviator. A recent issue of Interavia reports that Saberliner has agreed to cooperate with Agusta to manufacture the SF.260E currently being proposed to the USAF as a replacement for T-41s. See the October issue of Air Progress for an article on the Promavia Jet Squalus.

More on Jackie. The filming of "A Woman Named Jackie" at our house was exceptionally painless for me -- I was in Oshkosh. But Sara, Kakee and Meredith had a real day of it, with nearly a hundred people in our house and yard. Most of the scenes were at night, so they covered up all the windows with black fabric and then put spotlights behind them to get the right shade of night. And that pastel portrait of Caroline is actually Sara Scott. Look for Meredith Scott as one of the secretaries in the White House press office when Jackie announces that Marilyn Monroe has died. Watch the October NBC-TV listings for this B-rated mini-series staring a soap queen as Jackie Kennedy.

Woodn't it be nice to have a 120-lb speedbrake? Stelio Frati's F.22 Sprint has a 160 hp engine, constant-speed prop, retractable gear, two seats, and is very similar in layout, design and appearance to the Falco, except that the Sprint has a longer tail arm and a swept tail. Empty weight is 1,332 lbs and top speed 190 mph. Hmmm... maybe wood does have a few advantages.

World's slowest and least-aerobatic Falco. While FlightSafety is tied up making simulators for airliners and corporate jets, the Koreans, of all people, have finally got it right. They're building a Falco simulator at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute in Daejun, Korea, using Falco kit parts for pretty much everything.

Phast Phalco? Marcel Morrien of the Netherlands stopped by the other day on a vacation trip to the U.S. One problem he's contemplating is the 'PH-' call-sign of his Falco, which is coming along nicely. Marcel owns a drug store and is thinking about PH-ARM, which is doubly cute because arm is Dutch for "poor". Or what about PH-AST? Or PH-ALC. PH-UNN? Now don't get naughty.

Media Watch. See the December 1991 issue of The Aviation Consumer for an article by Steve Wilkinson on owning, flying, and repairing the Falco. Nice coverage of Bjoern Eriksen's Falco in the January 1991 issue of Kitplanes.

Lithuanian Q-Tips. "What's the stupidest thing a pilot could do?" asked Jonas Dovydenas. Land with your gear up? Yup. Seems Jonas was on a trip to Laconia, New Hampshire, and had his mind on other things as he was shooting an approach to a grass strip. Just as he was about to touch down he heard a thumping sound, jerked it up and went around. On landing, he found the tips curled slightly, so he flew it home, and it was as smooth as ever. The prop shop was able to straighten the blades and get him back in the air in short order.

The Missionary Formation. My friends Chuck and Polly were driving along at 10,000' in their Baron the other day, chatting on the intercom and reading a trash magazine from the supermarket checkout counter. There was an article by a guy who was a customer of the Florida housewife hooker, who mentioned that he was surprised that the lady preferred the 'missionary position'. "What's that?" asked Chuck, and Polly said "Well, I think that's when the man's on the top and the woman's on the bottom." "What's that you said, Charlie X-Ray?" asked Boston Center, and someone else chimed in with "That woke me up, too!" A couple of minutes later, they got a call from Boston Center, "Baron Ten Charlie X-Ray, you have opposite direction traffic at 12 o'clock and 11,500 -- another chance for you to be on the bottom."

Congratulations to John and Midge Oliver for winning the Grand Champion-Custom Built award at the EAA East Coast Fly-In at New Castle, Delaware, at the end of September. Midge reports, "There was a red Marchetti parked across the aisle from the Falco. Looked big and powerful, but it didn't win anything."

Not everything that's Italian is fast. Got a call the other day from a guy out in Minneapolis who was buying a copy of Benchmark. He mentioned he had a Waco Vela, which is the name used for the SIAI Marchetti S.205/22R when it was imported some years ago. This is one of the most forgettable airplanes imaginable, designed by SIAI Marchetti's chief engineer, and it was the spectacular un-performance of this most ordinary airplane that caused SIAI Marchetti to turn to Stelio Frati. How bad was it? Well, the guy mentioned that it's the only retractable-gear airplane he's flown that flies the same speed with the gear up as with the gear down.

Ship-shape. Be glad you're not Hans Sonntag, Falco builder in Germany. We shipped his spar kit by sea, in the usual glued-screwed-and-stapled plywood crate. It went by sea, and when it arrived in Hamburg, Dr. Sonntag reported that the crate was essentially gone and that the spar had made the Atlantic crossing on the open deck of the ship and was well-washed with sea water. Amazingly, there was no damage to the spar nor any missing pieces, but he nearly had a cardiac arrest when he saw the spar for the first time. From now on, all shipments to Dr. Sonntag go by air freight.

Steve's ear-up landing. Back in October, Susan Crandell called to report that Steve Wilkinson had a six-hour operation on an abcess in his ear, that he was in some hospital in NYC and would be there for a week. Since he wasn't going to be phone-able for a couple of days, I chased down the fax number for the nurse's station on the floor and then sent a fax to a bunch of his writer friends-all of whom have faxes and who quickly passed the word around. Within minutes the fax machine at the hospital began erupting with messages from all over the world, the most memorable being from Flying photographer Russell Munson:

"Dear Steve, Can you 'ear me? I say, CAN YOU 'EAR ME? They tell me you had an abacus in your ear, and it made you feel bad. Well, what did you expect? Even a banana isn't comfortable, but an abacus? Are you nuts? Did you think you would be able to do calculus in your head? NEVER STICK ANYTHING FOREIGN IN YOUR BODY. Now you know why, asshole. Don't expect any sympathy from me. Your old pal, -- Russ"

This is what aviation is all about.

     

 

 

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