I Came, I Saw, I Lost
At Oshkosh, pride goeth before a fall.
- By Stephan Wilkinson
- Air & Space magazine, March 1993
(Page 4 of 4)
But the spectators buy into it, and soon people are dragging their friends over to read the placard, laboriously translating the pidgin Italian. And despite my ethnic incorrectness, the Falco soon becomes the Little Italy of the fly-in. Pilots, engineers, and enthusiasts from Roma and Modena, Torino, and Firenze gravitate to the airplane, clap me on the back, get their pictures taken shaking my hand, peek up the Falco’s skirts and down its throat.
Some reminisce about their old friend Stelio Frati, a national hero in the Italian aviation community, and one tells me in broken English I am “man with golden hands.” (“Yeah, and a golden pocketbook,” grumbles a nearby homebuilder who seems to resent the money I’ve lavished on my toy.)
But then one of the Italians gently takes me by the arm and leads me to the Falco’s military-legended vertical tail. “No ‘i’ in MILITARE,” he says. “You have French—MILITAIRE.”
I wonder: if my airplane had been otherwise perfect, would I have lost the Grand Championship because of a typo? What a fate for a writer.