Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kiwi Freight Forwarding Group Aid One Man's Dream

Tiny Wooden Aircraft to Conquer the Rockies
Shipping News Feature

NEW ZEALAND - FPS New Zealand – a member of the growing FPS freight forwarding network - has helped a plucky Kiwi pilot to fulfill his long-held ambition of flying across America in a wooden plane that he built himself. The Italian-designed Falco aircraft was constructed by 49-year-old Air New Zealand pilot George Richards of Auckland in his spare time from 1994 to 2002, using an airframe kit imported from Canada. In the past ten years, he has flown the tiny plane (length 6.5 m/21 ft 4 in, wingspan 8.0 m/26 ft 3 in, dry weight 550 kg/1,212 lb) all over his native country, but never abroad.

All that will change this month when he, and fellow Air New Zealand pilot and friend Darryn Morgan, will fly the little yellow plane 3000km from Los Angeles to Wisconsin – navigating right through the Rocky Mountains’ 3000m peaks in order to stay within the unpressurised aircraft’s operating ceiling. George explains:

"We're splitting it up into about a week, and will fly about three to four hours a day.Basically we keep below 10,000ft because any higher than that you require oxygen."

George dismantled the aircraft in order to fit it into a 40ft ocean container, which FPS New Zealand then shipped from Auckland to Long Beach, California; the 9700km voyage took 16 days. Pilot and constructor George has now been reunited with his aircraft in the USA, to begin the re-build in preparation for his epic journey. Once the flight is completed, George will dismantle his aircraft again, and FPS will return it to its native New Zealand. Says Marcus Goldsworthy, MD of FPS New Zealand:

“This is certainly one of the more unusual consignments we have shipped to the USA. And it’s more than just another job when you see how much effort has gone into building the aircraft, and George’s excitement at realizing his life-long dream. We’re very flattered to have played a part in George’s big adventure, and we wish him and Darryn a safe and enjoyable flight across the USA.”

Photo: George and his beloved falco.

About the Falco: The aircraft was designed by the renowned Italian designer Stelio Frati in 1955, and originally built in Italy by Aeromere (later Laverda). The Falco is currently sold in kit or plans form for self-assembly by the Sequoia Aircraft Company of Richmond, Virginia.

The aircraft is single-engined, propeller driven and designed for private and general aviation use. The design was adopted in the US in the 1980s and converted to kit form. The aircraft is widely considered to be one of the best handling, strongest, and most aesthetically pleasing ever made available to home builders.

The makers call it "the Ferrari of the air" and, like the car, it is very expensive compared with most homebuild kits. Performance is good, with 175 knot average cruise speeds and 6g aerobatic capability. The Sequoia Falco F8L is constructed of spruce and typically Finnish birch plywood and the aircraft is rated at 6Gs positive and 3Gs negative.