Insight on Rebuilding Falcon UL

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Turd Ferguson

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I liked their marketing angle. Somehow they convinced chuck yeager to say it was the only ultralight he would "own" and therefore, it was better than all others. Combined.
falcon.jpeg
 

blane.c

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capital district NY
I covered my Falcon XP wing with Polyfiber and it turned out great. I have full confidence in it. Has never had any problems. Leading edge is fully covered. I wouldn't do it any other way. Avoid the chance of peel. They are great flyers, but have low wing loading so bumpy days are not fun for the pilot. The plane doesn't seem to care. Four pedals takes a bit of getting used to. They easily T/O and land in less than 1000'.

Four pedals?
 

rv7charlie

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I realize that the covering weight portion of this thread is rather old, but for some perspective, I restored a Kolb Twinstar several years ago. Each wing is approximately 14.5' x 5.5'. Each bare wing structure was ~33lb 14 oz. After cover with 'light weight' fabric from Spruce, including tapes, rib stitching, full length gap seal for the flaperon, etc, each weighed ~36 lb 9 oz. After multiple coats of Glidden Gripper acrylic (latex) primer & several coats of high gloss Behr exterior premium acrylic house paint, each weighed ~40 lb 14 oz. Call it 90 sq ft (10 sq yds) of cover for each wing; cover & finish paint weighed 7 lbs. That's about 1.25 oz/sq ft, total. Good? Bad? I don't know, but those are achievable numbers using light weight fabric & the 'latex' finishing process detailed on Wiener Dog Aero's web site.

Charlie
 

reo12

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I don't know if this is still a good phone number. Mike Fithian at Falcon East (914) 528-8940
I have an email that he still used as of early this year - [email protected]
Hi Joe,
I forgot to mention I measured the Phoenix wings for the dimensions I gave. They are slightly thinner and the root end ribs are longer. They lean against each other in the building. Below is a photo with the UL wing on the left. The wingtip rudder/stabilizer is upturned on the Phoenix/Safety Craft. The main Tedlar covered portion is stationary. Only the rudder/dragger is moving. Here is a photo of that also.

The Polini 202 looks interesting. I'd be willing to try one if I was given the chance. I wonder what has to be replaced at 250 hours? That is a short - glorious life. Using it could get costly if much has to be replaced at 250 hours.

Here is some information on the development of the Falcon UL. I just found this today. When I talked to Romuald back in 1997 he said he had designed a number of versions of the Falcon. I didn't understand quite what he meant. This article gives some insight. American Aircraft Falcon
11/11/2021
I don't see a means of editing my posts. I've since talked several times this year with Romuald. My plane is an Orion Falcon. Not Safety Craft or Phoenix. The Orion Falcon was made by Romuald's company - Orion Aircraft. Orion Aircraft is who also manufactured the unique 3 blade propeller that Romuald designed for the Falcon UL. A total of 50 Orion Aircraft Falcon's were produced. 40 were sold to the US military for use as drones and nearly certainly destroyed. 10 were sold to the public. The 2 that I have were among those ten sold to the public. They were sold to senator Jake Garn. He had them modified from toe brakes to conventional rudder pedals and grip mounted hydraulic brakes. Bodie Beddingfeild had manufacturing tooling at one time for them and one plane. That plane is now in Romuald's possession. Romuald stated he does not know what became of the tooling. Bodie is suffering from dementia and in a nursing home. I've contacted his care giver who says he doesn't own anything aviation related anymore and not able to say what became of what he had. That knowledge is lost
I'm sure there is someone who knows more.
 

Herbgh

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Nov 4, 2021
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I would like to get the plans and build booklet etc for my falcon UL...277 engine, Poly fiber covered..excellent build quality ..good instruments..Herb
it is for sale also..Bowling Green,Ky craigs list..
I sold the Falcon Ul but the guy is having trouble hooking the ailerons up. Says they go up ok but not down...Help
 

Herbgh

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Nov 4, 2021
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Just found a Falcon mfg 1985, last flown 1991 and stored since. Winds are complete with no damage I've found, but no Tedlar. Pod is intact except for crack at nose wheel attach. Rotax 277 will need rebuild but leaning to Polini anyway. It will take some work to clean it up and make flyable but I'm taken to the 36' double surface wings and canard arrangement. Can't find much information beyond Wikipedia but described as fun to fly. Should I make the investment in this old bird? Anyone with first hand knowledge or even 2nd hand, I'd welcome your insight.
Mee too..I sold the Falcon Ul but the fellow desperately needs info...Especially hooking up the rudders and ailerons..Says the ailerons will not go down but ok going up..Says that going down..they hit the trailing edge of the wing.. Help!!
 

TFF

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It’s been a a long time since I have seen one, but is the no down aileron on purpose? Adverse yaw control. If it can flutter then the answer is I’m wrong, but if it’s solid, it’s probably meant to be. No instructions with it? If it’s hitting, it was either done on purpose, or it was put together wrong. Those are the only two choices.
 

reo12

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They don't got down because they can't. The hinge pin is along the top of the aileron. At zero input they are resting against the closed hinge. They can't go down further.
The manual isn't clear about this fact
 

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cluttonfred

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Are they? I thought spoilers were mounted more forward along the upper surface of the wing to “spoil” the flow and lift when raised.

I think these are just the most extreme form of differential ailerons: up-only ailerons. Off the top of my head, the Watkinson Dingbat used a similar system (full-span in this case) both to eliminate adverse yaw and to facilitate wing folding

CF7903C2-4820-4C3D-9A5B-8C7ABFC99600.jpeg

So, they're actually spoilers; not ailerons.
 
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reo12

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There have been different designs of "ailerons" used on the Falcons. I would be interested in knowing how each flew.

The American Aircraft UL and XP used the type shown above. The wings are the same profile between the 2 but the XP used thicker aluminum for the spar and had more sweep to accommodate the increased CG range needed for a tandem seat plane.

The Argentine Falcon UL became the Solaris when Carlos Pereyra made unapproved modifications to the Falcon UL. Carlos changed the aileron hinge to a tube riveted inside the aileron. Then used nylon blocks around the tube as the hinge body. I can not recall for certain if the ailerons were rigged to be capable of bi-directional control. I think they were.

The Orion Aviation Falcon was another version made after the demise of American Aircraft. About 50 were sold to the military for use as drones. I've have heard that they were equipped with solar electric power. Possibly as many as 10 were sold to the public. I have the remains of 2 of those. They were initially purchased by Senator Jake Garn. I would like to talk to him. Anyone have contact info? These used a symmetrical shaped mass balanced aileron that was mounted below the trailing edge of the wing. The ailerons were controlled with a U shaped yoke that exited the lower rear of the pod and push rods connected the yoke to the ailerons. This provided for bi-directional control of the ailerons. The wing shape was modified over the the UL. The trailing edge was changed to a V edge. The root chord length was increased approx 6 inches and the wing length was increased by about 6". This the only version that I have flown. I only know of one other. I'm offering a reward for information of the others.
 

slevair

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My AA/XP has the tube/nylon bushing ailerons. It flies normally other than the system of cables and bushings has a lot of drag or friction to it. For gentle turns they are hardly needed. A slight toe on the rudder is enough, and stays fairly coordinated. With the 18' long arm they very powerful.
 

reo12

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My AA/XP has the tube/nylon bushing ailerons. It flies normally other than the system of cables and bushings has a lot of drag or friction to it. For gentle turns they are hardly needed. A slight toe on the rudder is enough, and stays fairly coordinated. With the 18' long arm they very powerful.
I was not aware that the tube/bushing was used on the XP. The Orion Aviation Falcon used the XP style winglets.
 

reo12

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Hi Bill,
I honestly do not know for certain what model my plane is. It is NOT a Falcon UL. It is a later model. I've been told 2 different names. Falcon Safety Craft and Falcon Phoenix. I was told that Paul McShane was involved with it's manufacture. https://www.sec.gov/litigation/aljdec/1992/id19920214jks.pdf

Since my plane is a single seat I'm trying to keep it looking like a UL. Additionally - the main gear location results in only about 10 - 12 lbs of weight on the nosewheel when parked. Additional wing cover weight would increase the amount of weight behind the main gear - reducing nose wheel weight even more. I had made a retractable prod that stuck out the back to enable me to not have to hold the nose down while getting fuel or talking a walk.

I had over 400 hours in Pterodactyls so the response in thermals was not unexpected. What I did have issue with was this version has a pod made as a sandwich construction of kevlar, foam, kevlar. The beams that are on the sides of the pod of the XP and UL versions are not present. The pod twists in thermals. The nose twists separate from the aft portion. It is disconcerting to see the canard ends move up an down much as it does and pedals move about under you feet. Mine has hand grip operated hydraulic brakes with nose wheel and rudders controlled by the 2 pedals.

It was built with a 277. This is adequate engine to enable speeds in excess of 70mph. The rotation speed of 47mph was an issue with the runway I was using as it was 1300ft but will full grown trees all about. I was not certain the 277 would get the plane safely out of that field. I had an entire powerplant from one of my Pterodactyls. A Cuyuna ULII-02, 2:1 belt reduction drive and 54x27 wood prop. I made mounts and fitted that powerplant to the plane and brought it to a familiar airport to assemble and test fly. The 54x27 prop was insufficient. Climb exceeded 1400ft/pm. The engine overspeeded just at minimal flight speed. We put an Ultraprop from a T-bird with a 503 on it. That worked. The plane was capable of 87 mph in level flight without wheel pants, strut fairings or winter canopy. Th
reo12, check for private conversation. Joe

The two inner pedals are for the nose wheel and the outer pedals are for each rudder.
This was changed on my Orion Aviation Falcon. Romuald said mine were shipped to Jake Garn who did not like the pedals - Romuald said they had toe brakes but maybe it was separate nose wheel and rudder pedals. Jake hired someone to make new pedals and change how the plane was built. Romuald definitely was not happy about that. The pedals were made decent and honestly reach the level of factory quality work. Connecting them to the nosewheel and rudders with cables - horribly done. Lang lay galvanized steel cable was used over pulleys without guards with aluminum nico's at the terminations. They didn't use a nicopress tool. Instead - a hammer was used to flatten the nico on concrete and they drove a phillips screw driver into the side of the nico. This total departure from accepted build standards is what lead me to believe the plane had been finished by someone else.

Romuald identified my planes based on remembering what color they were painted and the modified pedals. One was two colors - white & metallic blue and the other was simply white. He didn't think the white plane had been flown. He did not know what became of them until we talked in April 2021.

The pair of planes ended up being owned by Ray Swank of Ligonier IN. They struggled with a trim issue with the blue plane and ended up selling them through Mike Fithian who listed them in a 1995 newsletter.

They were purchased by Harold Casebolt from Rothbury MI. Harold had been a licensed pilot but had his license revoked.

Harold had Fithian make new aileron control rods of a different length - reportedly trying to correct a trim problem with the blue plane. We were told by a person familiar with Harold that the rod(s) were 1/2" shorter.

Harold flew the plane from a nearby farm field access driveway. I remember thinking it was short - maybe 500ft with powerlines at the road. Harold crashed the plane on first flight after fitment of the new aileron control rod after traveling 1/2mile. I bought the wrecked plane and the remaining white plane. Harold's son would not include any of the aileron control rods in the sale. He said he was afraid that the FAA would come after them for having modified the plane - leading to his father's death.

Sadly - few folks that had knowledge of this version were ever known to me. Mike Fithian was secretive. At first only saying that he knew of one of this type on the east coast that had a 503 on it and cruised at 105mph. I do not know who this was. A bit over a year later he was to say that he made the new control tube for Casebolt. He never told me that he had advertized the planes and helped put buyer and seller together. I discovered this years later.

Fithian told me of Bodie Beddinfield near Albuqurque NM. He gave me his phone number. I talked to Bodie in June 1997. Bodie said he had a similar plane but missing some small parts sitting in a hanger. He said the parts needed were simple and I could use those on my plane as patterns. I think I recall it was control componets such as the control stick and aileron controls. He had tooling - a wing spar press, molds and tooling for components also in the hanger. All available for $6,500. He just said - there are airplane parts in the hanger and tooling to make them. I'll meet you at the hanger. I'll unlock the door and open it. You hand me $6,500. I'll leave. I'll come back later and sweep the floor.

My plane was damaged by a powered parachute in Sept 1997. My wife was pregnant and my business was failing. The plane sat disassembled. I discovered in April 2021 that a fire that had destroyed much of my business in 2018 and destroyed the fusalage components salvaged from the wreck and the 277 engines from both had also consumed the canard, elevators, rudders, and lift struts from the damaged plane.
.
Sadly - I had never reached out to Bodie again until 2021. I'm pretty certain that I found him. Alas - in a nursing home and no longer able to communicate anything about airplanes.

When I talked to Romuald in 1997 he thought that roughly 7 could have been made with components that were made at the factory when they ceased production.

In 2021 Romuald stated that they had made 50 of these for the USA military for use as drones. 10 more were sold to the public. I have the 2 sold to Senator Jake Garn. Possibly someone reading this has information to share as to what became of the other planes - even parts???.

Romuald now owns the plane Bodie had. He does not know what became of the tooling.

Romuald indicated that he would help get some measurments for manufacturing new elevators. This did not happen. He told me to make a new canard spar from solid foam covered with kevlar rather than the hollow kevlar/foam sandwich method used originally. I have the wrecked plane's rudders to use as patterns.
 

reo12

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I have learned that the pedals were changed on my Orion Aviation Falcon. When I talked with Romuald in April 2021 he said mine were shipped to Senator Jake Garn - Utah, and Shuttle astronaut - who did not like the pedals - Romuald said they had toe brakes but maybe it was separate nose wheel and rudder pedals. Jake hired someone to make new pedals and change how the plane was built. Romuald definitely was not happy about that. The pedals were made decent and honestly reach the level of factory quality work. Connecting them to the nosewheel and rudders with cables - horribly done. Lang lay galvanized steel cable was used over pulleys without guards with aluminum nico's at the terminations. They didn't use a nicopress tool. Instead - a hammer was used to flatten the nico on concrete and they drove a phillips screw driver into the side of the nico. This total departure from accepted build standards is what lead me to believe the plane had been finished by someone else.

The nose gear and rudders had been combined. They were NOT co-oridianted. My first attempt at flight resulted in the plane departing the runway - with just sufficent altitude to clear a runway light when I rolled back toward the runway. I couldn't believe anyone had flown the plane rigged like that. Confirmed decades later in 2021.

April 2021 Romuald identified my planes based on remembering what color they were painted and the modified pedals. One was two colors - white & metallic blue and the other was simply white. He didn't think the white plane had ever been flown. He did not know what became of them until that conversation.

The pair of planes ended up being owned by Ray Swank of Ligonier IN. They struggled with a trim issue with the blue plane and ended up selling them through Mike Fithian who listed them in a 1995 newsletter.

They were purchased by Harold Casebolt from Rothbury MI. Harold had been a licensed pilot but had his license revoked.

Harold had Fithian make new aileron control rods of a different length - reportedly trying to correct a trim problem with the blue plane. We were told by a person familiar with Harold that the rod(s) were 1/2" shorter.

Harold flew the plane from a nearby farm field access driveway. I remember thinking it was short - maybe 500ft with powerlines at the road. Harold crashed the plane on first flight after fitment of the new aileron control rod. He traveled 1/2mile in a turn - decending into powerlines. I bought the wrecked plane and the remaining white plane. Harold's son would not include any of the aileron control rods in the sale. He said he was afraid that the FAA would come after them for having modified the plane - leading to his father's death.

During my making new contol rods without measurements - I discovered that slight improper aileron settings would transfer load onto the canard - which increases with speed. I suspect that Harold had set the ailerons in this manner and when taking off - and speed increased - load on the canard kept increasing forcing him to reduce nose up input - leading to decent into the powerlines. Had he reduced power, he likely could have returned to the field. It was exactly my first flight experience only I made it back to the field. Changing the length of the aileron control rod adjustment by 6.5 turns of the 1/4" 28 threaded heim joint corrected the problem.

Sadly - few folks that had knowledge of this version were ever known to me. Mike Fithian was secretive. At first only saying that he knew of one of this type on the east coast that had a 503 on it and cruised at 105mph. I do not know more of this plane or it's owner. A bit over a year later he was to say that he made the new control rod for Casebolt. He never told me that he had advertized the planes and helped put buyer and seller (Ray Swank) together. I discovered this years later. Fithian never told me about Ray. I likely could have obtained much history of the plane from Ray. I was told to reach out to a gent who was Ray's friend after Ray had passed. I only obtained limited information from him. He was to have been given one of them but when Ray couldn't correct the trim problem of the blue plane - he decided to sell both of them.

In June 1997 Fithian told me of Bodie Beddinfield near Albuqurque NM . He gave me his phone number. I called Bodie. Bodie said he had a similar plane but missing some small parts sitting in a hanger at an airport near theAZ/NM border. He said the parts needed were simple and I could use those on my plane as patterns. I think I recall it was control componets such as the control stick and aileron controls. He had tooling - a wing spar press, molds and tooling for components also in the hanger. All available for $6,500. He just said - there are airplane parts in the hanger and tooling to make them. I'll meet you at the hanger. I'll unlock the door and open it. You hand me $6,500. I'll leave. I'll come back later and sweep the floor.

My plane was damaged by a powered parachute in Sept 1997. My wife was pregnant and my business was failing. The plane sat disassembled. A fire destroyed much of my business in 2018. I knew the fire had destroyed the fusalage components salvaged from the wrecked plane and the 277 engines from both planes. In April 2021 I discovered it had also consumed the canard, elevators, rudders from the white plane. That was a bad day.

Sadly - I had never reached out to Bodie again. I tried again after I discovered the loss of the white plane's components. I think that I found him. Alas - in a nursing home and no longer able to communicate anything about airplanes. I am not certain I found the correct Bodie Beddingfield as the gent's family stated they were not aware of him ever having anything to do with airplanes.

When I talked to Romuald in 1997 he thought that roughly 7 could have been made with components that were made at the factory when they ceased production. But that was the operation that Paul McShane was running and had been involved with a Federal Trade comission lawsuit. They were making what I believe was the Pheonix version.

When I failed to reach Bodie in 2021, I now reached out to Romuald. Romuald - now understanding what planes I had - stated that his company - Orion Aviation - had made 50 of this model for the USA military for use as drones. 10 more were sold to the public. I have the 2 they sold to Senator Jake Garn. Possibly someone reading this has information to share as to what became of the other planes - even parts???.

Romuald now owns the plane Bodie had. He does not know what became of the tooling. In fact - did not know that Bodie had owned tooling.

Romuald indicated that he would help get some measurments for manufacturing new elevators. This did not happen. He told me to make a new canard spar from solid foam covered with kevlar rather than the hollow kevlar/foam sandwich method used originally. I have the wrecked plane's rudders to use as patterns.
 
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