On our cover was the stunning Falco F.8L built by Kris Shipler’s late father, John. We met Kris at Chino airport, where so much seems to happen in Experimental aviation, and knew we had to have a story. “I grew up with my dad in a man’s world,” Kris told us for the interview. “He raced cars, and was into aviation; I grew up in that environment. To give you an example, for a time we lived in a mobile home with airplane wings hanging from the ceiling. This was normal to me. But I never thought about getting my license until Dad started the Falco.”
The Shipler Falco was a thing to behold. Immaculately kept—Kris’ husband, Paul, was an auto detailer by trade—the wood wonder was a delight to fly, right down to the trim system. “A quick aside about this system says much about Frati’s (and, for that matter, Sequoia’s Alfred Scott’s) penchant for detail: The trim wheel is geared perfectly. It moves with a fingertip’s pressure to make extremely fine adjustments…yet can be palmed during the very few phases of flight when you want to make larger trim changes. This is no ‘that’s about right’ system.” Frati, of course, is Stelio Frati, designer of the Falco, and Sequoia is the kit maker run by and almost solely energized by the indefatigable Alfred Scott.
The Falco, available as plans as well as a kit, was on our cover partly to celebrate the 2008 Plans Aircraft Directory, 22 pages of plans-only designs that followed our usual kit-aircraft guide in the December issue. Elsewhere in the issue, our All About Avionics series, penned by Stein Bruch of SteinAir fame, took on the topic of intercoms and audio panels. You’d think that there wouldn’t be a lot of movement in this category, but we have quite a lot of new equipment since that story was written. Sometimes you have to look back to see the future you’re living in.
Bob Fritz was a big part of our January issue that year, with the tenth installment of his “The Home Machinist” series and the ninth chunk of his “Build Your Skills: Composites” series. Bob, who succumbed to brain cancer in 2011, was an enthusiastic, prolific contributor always keen to take on another post-retirement project. His composite work was informed by his Jabiru LSA project and reflected his dogged search for solutions and best practices. An airpark neighbor flew the Jabiru over Bob’s funeral service and there wasn’t a dry eye to be found.
A full-page ad from Dynon on Page 5 helps illustrate the pace of avionics development over the last 13 years. At the time, the company was advertising it was “back in stock” with most of its products after unprecedented demand outstripped supply. Dynon, at the time, was selling what is now considered the “legacy” instruments, the EFIS-D10A and large-screen EFIS-D100, the EMS-D10 and EMS-D120 engine monitors and the combined EFIS/EMS FlightDEK-D180. It had recently introduced its heated AOA-capable pitot tube and HS34 HSI expansion module that provided ARINC-429 compatibility with outboard navigators, a feature we take for granted today. If this can happen since 2008, just imagine 2034.