Home for Falcon Aircraft Falcon Ultralight Falcon XP Used Falcons Falcon Parts and Tedlar
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ABOUT OLDER FALCONS AND FALCONS IN GENERAL
WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT THE FALCONS ?
In simple terms, they behave, handle and look like a dream airplane. Canard manners give them stability and safety. Visibility is at its best. They are very economical to operate, and can be quickly disassembled for storage or transport.
HOW DO THEY DIFFER FORM CONVENTIONAL AIRPLANES ?
Because of their design appearance they appear as if they are flying backwards from the ground. Since all surfaces are lifting and the airplane has no draggy tail, the overall efficiency is greater. The forward mounted canard comprises about 20% of the total lifting surface but carries roughly 25% of the load, therefore it will stall before the main wing and automatically regain flying speed.
HOW DO THEY FLY COMPARED TO REGULAR AIRPLANES ?
The main noticeable characteristic is that they do not stall in standard terms. When the aircraft speed is reduced to a critical speed, the forward wing loses lift first and the nose drops, slightly, and automatically picks up just enough airspeed to fly again. Hence it may porpoise or refuse to climb (above a certain angle of attack) or may lose altitude when throttled back, but no abrupt stall will be experienced. The stick can be held back all the way back under any power setting and the aircraft will just porpoise slightly but will not stall. It also resists a roll or spin or loop due to its stable design.
WILL IT DO AEROBATICS ?
NO, although modifications have produced different performance envelopes. This generally comes at the expense of stability or safety.
IS IT A SAILPLANE ?
Almost, they have L/D' around 14:1 and exhibit excellent glide ratios due to very light wing loading. However they are a bit too draggy, bumpy, with not enough penetration speed to be called a true sailplane. Despite that, many hours have been spent soaring.
HOW DIFFICULT ARE THEY IN CROSSWIND ?
Since they have no tail, they are easy to slip, slide, crab, or whatever is needed. They tend to float extensively when in ground effect and then can easily be straightened out and landed.
DIFFICULT TO LAND ?
As mentioned before, they are easy to slip and crab. Both tip rudders can be deployed simultaneously to act a speed brakes, just be sure to apply power before touch down to regain forward flying speed. They don't stall but will still drop if flown below minimum speed.
HOW ABOUT BUMPY AIR ?
Due to the light wing loading, they tend to be more bumpy and bouncy than heavier aircraft. Although there is ample control authority they are not too pleasurable on bumpy cross country rides. Seek smoother altitude.
WHO DESIGNED, MADE THEM, AND HOW MANY, AND WHEN ?
Designed by Romuald Drlik, designer of the Eagle, the Falcon canards and long list of other inventions. His early propeller designs claimed canard model speed records and eventually became the Falcon. A Falcon UL still claims the altitude record of 26,900'. The first foot-launched hang glider and the Solaris employ his propeller designs as well. The Eagles were marketed by Larry Newman under American Aerolites, then as Falcons under American Aircraft. I understand about 1500 single seat Falcon UL’s were made, then the 2 seat Falcon XP followed due to the need for a trainer. 500 were made. A large number were exported to other countries, mainly S. America. All this happened between about 1975 and 1986. Click here for HISTORY page
WHY DID THEY STOP MAKING THEM ?
This was the period when lawsuits were proliferating with disastrous results to the aircraft industry. Although Falcon itself was not a target the parent company American Aircraft chose to shut down.
WHAT WERE MODELS AND GENERAL SPECS ?
Falcon UL, part 103 legal, ew: 54; mgw: 530; wingspan: 36'; length: 14'3"; climb: 650fpm; takeoff: 200'; landing: 250'; cruise: 55; vne: 70; range: 121; L/D: 15:1; Rotax 277, 27hp; 5g fuel; front wheel scuff brake. forward canopy, other optional. Falcon XP, 2 seat part 103 trainer or experimental, ew: 500; mgw: 1050; wingspan: 36'; length: 17'; climb: 500/800; takeoff: 200/300; landing: 250/400; cruise: 75 to 85; vne: 92; range: 300/250; L/D: 14:1; rotax 503 50hp, 15g fuel; electic starter. main gear disk brakes. full canopy. Click here for OEM SPECS and LITERATURE
WHAT CONSTRUCTION AND MATERIALS WERE USED ?
Both aircraft had composite fuselages (fiberglass with gelcoat), aluminum d- tube wings, foam ribs, cap strips, aluminum trailing edges, and aluminum canard. In most instances XP parts were the same dimensions, just twice as thick. Wings, elevators, and rudders were covered with Tedlar, front gear retract. BRS on all.
HOW MANY ARE STILL LEFT ? ANY IN MY AREA ?
There is no source that has this information, not even partially, except my own database. Anytime I hear of another one I add it to my database. As of December 2006 I know of 64 XPs and 82 ULs. There are 78 XPs registered in the US FAA data base. About 90 percent are in the US, scattered but with groups in CA, TX, OH, VA and NY. Some might be gone by now, but none are duplicated.
WHY DON'T THEY MAKE THEM ANYMORE ?
A number of times companies have attempted to re-introduce them but never succeeded. Most likely due to the high number of parts count and the present cost of labor as well as the stringent testing required (read time=$) by the designer. After all, he has never lost a lawsuit, which proves the safety and validity of the design manufacturing and testing process.
WILL ANYONE MAKE THEM AGAIN ?
Probably not. Too costly to manufacture, at least not in the original configuration and at 1986 prices.
WHAT'S NEXT ?
I had been working with the designer for some time in an effort to introduce the next series of Falcons, namely the Peregrine Falcons. It was meant to be a state of the art Ultralight with a 447 engine. Unfortunately that venture did not get off the ground ( pun intended ) for a number of reasons; it is virtually impossible to produce a safe aircraft with adequate performance and meet the 103 requirements and still sell it at a reasonable price. Larry Neal was also working on the Falcon 2000, be a 2 seat version of the Peregrine in the experimental /UL trainer category with specs almost identical to the aforementioned XP series. The aircraft was to come in 5 separate kit installments at $ 5000.- each, with fuselages, wings, canards, engine packages available now. We have a video on it, available at our cost of $ 10.00, returnable, refundable. This aircraft uses state of the art space age materials, a fraction of the parts count, offers improved performance, extremely low building time, comes complete, complete and can be introduced at a fair price of $ 25.000.-. Unfortunately a combination of a lack of marketing and a lack of demand prevented this airplane from becoming a success.
CAN YOU HELP ME FIND A USED ONE ?
I occasionally have one for sale myself, and I also offer the newsletter and the listing of used Falcons (and others) free of charge. They come and go quickly, best to leave your name and request repeatedly. Other sources are Ultralight Flying mag., Kitplanes, Sport Aviation, trade-a-plane. Used single seaters range from 2500 to 7500, two seaters 5000 to 15000, all depending on condition, options, extras, location.
WHAT THINGS SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A USED ONE ?
First the condition of the Tedlar. A plus if recovered with Stits or similar, as long as nothing is hidden. Look for glass damage where landing gear meets fuselage under the tank, sloppy main gear cables, evidence of rough landings. Look for fiberglass cracks in nose wheel area, dents in D-tube or canard, cracked ribs, bent trailing edge, loose ailerons and hinges, especially on UL. Loose controls. Fuselage bends and bows in front of engine. Fuel leaks inside. Secure chute. Condition of the lexan canopy, as they tend to scratch easily and cleaning makes them worse. The rest is routine: engine, gearbox, propeller, wheels, etc. I will be glad to assist; I suggest you take plenty of pictures, a video if possible, or contact me as I might know its history.
WHY ARE THEY SO HARD TO FIND ?
People are holding on to them. They are just great, a real pleasure to fly and inexpensive to own. Many owners try something else and ultimately come back to the falcons. Click here for USED FALCONS.
HOW ABOUT MANUALS, VIDEOS ?
No problem, have both manuals ($49.00 for XP and $ 25.00 for UL ), final assembly video with Tedlar covering ($39.00 ) also set of 3 articles by Gary Kneier on XP improvements w canard troubleshooting manual ($20.00 ). Click here for SUPPLIES page.
HOW ABOUT PARTS ? WHO HAS PARTS ?
Usually I am able to either find or make new or used parts. I have to be resourceful, owning several of them. Click here for PARTS listing.
HOW ABOUT A PARTS BOOK AND PRICE LIST ?
No good. The manuals however are sufficient to be used as parts books.
WHAT'S THE COVERING MADE OF ? WHERE CAN I GET IT ?
The original stuff was DoPont Tedlar, a polyvinylfuoride film made in many versions, with none intended for this use of course. 2 mil thick, applied with double seam stick tape, mylar or tedlar tape on edges, heatshrunk, ready to fly. Minimum purchase: $3000.-, forget it. I have found the same product by a different supplier for different application and can supply it again. Costs $ 695.-the whole kit, including tapes to do whole airplane. Advantage: quick, easy, light, see-through, no painting, stays clean, will withstand UV, ready to fly. Disadvantage: Glues in the tapes degrade in UV and need attention, repair, taping, patching, eventual recovering (5 to 10 years depending on UV exposure). To prolong the life, silver mylar tape is used over all exposed tape areas. Of course you can cover with Stits or similar, just try to keep the weight down and the colors light to keep temperature down. Click here to switch to FAQ COVER page.
WHAT MODIFICATIONS CAN I SAFELY MAKE ?
Depending on your expertise, I suggest you stay with non-structural mods, such as installing bigger wheels, better brakes. I've installed a window on the left side, about 10x16, velcroed, pop out, it helps with ventilation and photo work. Snap vents in front of canopy are OK. Strobe lights, landing lights, radios, additional instruments are OK. I've also improved the trim system where I can fly hands off. When you get into experimenting with different engines you must consider cg, mgw, thrust line changes, correct propeller, etc. Part 103 compliance, Consult a pro. I won't get into structural changes at all, such as changing canard angles or similar. Click here for MODS page.
HOW CAN I TWEAK MY FALCON FOR MAX PERFORMANCE ?
Start with the engine, be sure the jet sizes are correct, check the LEAF or CPS catalog. Get one, read it, it's the bible. Then if it has points install a CD ignition by Airscrew Performance 602 931-6667, none other ! then set the right prop pitch to give you peak take off RPM by the book. Aircraft should fly hands-off, if not download theoriginal canard troubleshooting manual. Most common problem: insufficient toe-in of tip rudders and incorrect aileron reflex.
HOW CAN I TRANSPORT MY FALCON ?
There is a short section on this, click here for FAQ TRANSPORT page.
The above information is provided in order to make you more familiar with the Falcon series of aircraft. Mike Fithian or Falcon East makes no claims as to validity or accuracy of any information provided. You must research and obtain all available information and only you are responsible for the final product and its use. ( How’s that !)