American Aerolights Falcon by SONACA

The 1982 Oshkosh Fly-In edition reveals the Falcon that represented a new generation of ultralights. 

Its designers were experimented airmen : Larry Newman was the first to cross the North Atlantic on a manned balloon and Bryan Allen the first to cross the Channel on a human-powered airplane, the Gossamer Albatros. The Falcon was the second model of their company American Aerolights. 

Its particular design was very attractive and production began in the USA in 1983. 
The famous test pilot Chuck Yeager used one Falcon nicknamed as usual           “Glamourous Glennis”. His declaration “ Maybe real men don’t eat quiche, but real men do fly Falcon ultralight” was even used in advertisements. 

The production rights for the rest of the world were sold in 1984 to the SONACA that introduced some modifications like a new nosewheel leg and better wing resistance. The very first Belgian registered Falcons were from American production like BAPA’s example OO-611. Total SONACA production is not known but is probably between 25 and 30 pieces and many were not sold. Although the interest was great and performances good, sales were disappointing. 

At the time a two-seater version was in the process of certification, SONACA received a new contract to build 44 F-16 Fighting Falcon ( !) for the Belgian Air Force. It was impossible to continue with the tiny Falcon and all the production rights and stock were sold to the SCWAL at Baileux in 1987. It seems that except a few Falcons sold from the SONACA stock, nothing was really done and everything was again sold to another company, Daxiwings at Jumet. Same story again and, eventually, everything was sold in Italy. 

Reasons of non commercial successes remains a mystery but can be explained variously : the change of distributor in full development, the concurrence of the Aviasud Sirocco that won nearly all competitions and sold well, the rapid evolution of the ultralights, the too particular design of the Falcon,… 
Chuck Yaeger and his Falcon “Glamourous Glennis”
Falcons and F-16 in
plant of Sonaca

FALCON characteristics :           
Performances :
Length : 5,03 m Powerplant : Rotax 277 28cv
Wingspan : 10,97 m
Max. speed : 101 km/h
Empty weight : 113 kg Cruising speed : 96 km/h
Height : 1,52 m
Ceiling : 4500 m
Total Wing Area : 17,2 m² Fuel consumption : 6,6 l/h
Wing Profile : NACA 23012  
Falcon OO-611 In Matagne-la-Petite
BAPA’s example is c/n 500182 ( with wings of 500191!) registered OO-611 on 25/4/1984 together with 3 others Falcons. It was used as a demonstrator by the SONACA and competed in the 1984 French Championship and was seen at the 1984 RSA rally at Brienne-le-Château.
In 1989, it was sold to Mr Pestiaux who mainly used it to take aerial photos of remarkable architecture for his pleasure. 
Status : private collection on loan. Stored dismantled in the workshop and at owner’s home.