John Kahrs


Some years ago I was trading email with my friend Carl Ludwig, a clever engineer from my hometown of Cornwall, NY. Carl has flown a Beech T-34 Mentor for years and recently added a Czech L-39 to his hangar. I said I 'd always wanted to build an airplane. He said, "Some of those kit planes are nice. Count on spending some time constructing them." He mentioned that his friend Steven Wilkinson, who also lives in Cornwall, built a Falco. I had never heard of it, but he mentioned that it was designed by the same guy who designed the Marchetti SF-260.

I was so shocked to hear that someone right next door to me had been building a plane in his barn the whole time I lived there, and I had no clue. Turns out Stephan was a writer for Air & Space, Conde Nast Traveler, Car & Driver, and several other magazines. He was one of the early Falco builders, and his contribution to its place in the world as a kitplane is formidable. His Falco started as a writing project: a chronicle of the process. In fact, his first flying lesson started the same way. "What's it like to take a flying lesson? I don't know, but it'll make an interesting article."

Well it only took about 30 seconds to know it was the plane for me. Originally a certificated production aircraft designed in Italy by Stelio Frati in the 1950's, it was born again as a kit in the late 1980's, courtesy of Alfred Scott, who went through the plane with an engineer and who sells the kits. Made entirely out of spruce covered in birch plywood, it looked classic and remarkably contemporary. All this resonated with me tremendously. My dad built several wooden boats when I was a kid, so I liked that. I liked the authority and history of it being a "real" plane. I embraced the complexity of it. The idea that it might take ten years wasn't daunting at all.

John Kahrs


John Kahrs is an animator with Pixar Studios in Sausalito, California. You can follow John's progress with the Falco and other things at Junkyard Kahrs.

Articles and Photographs

John Kahrs

Stumbling on the Falco   Tail Section Part 1   Elevator Stop

Tail Section Part II   Hensen's Falco   Tail Section Part III   Bending the First Skin