• The Slingsby T67 Firefly Academy evaluation"

    In 1993 Frank Strickler arranged an evaluation of the SF260 for the Airforce Academy. The academy, in their infinate wisdom, wanted to replace the 180hp Cessna 172 with a sleeker trainer. I felt that their reason was so that they had great pilots who had completed the academy training that could never master the more complex combat planes.

    Here are two of the planes that Frank brought over for the evaluation. Following the evaluation these planes were sold to the civilian market here in the USA. In 2001 I was in Switzerland buying a canopy for my SF260 and had dinner with a former Marchetti employee who had been in Colorado for the evaluation. He said "it would have been criminal negligence for for Marchetti to have sold the SF260 to the airforce academy for what they proposed.

    I have heard that the SF260 lost out for several reasons.

    1. The fuel selector system in the SF260D was too complex for the students to understand.
    2. The Marchetti was $50,000 more expensive than the Slingsby.
    The rest is history. The British plane that the Academy bought was so underpowered for a field elevation of 6,000 feet that all had to be refitted with the 280HP engines. Then there were 4 crashes with 8 loss of lives. Finally the planes were destroyed since the liability of placing them on the civilian market was considered too risky.
    N406FD was bought by an aircombat group in Las Vegas and witnessed its sister ship crash following a spin. If I can get the video onto U tube it will show the crash. I then bought N406FD and found that the left wingtip tank had been damaged and repaired with bondo. Also there had been a fire on the left side of the engine compartment.