Bill Falck, Aviation, Class of 1994
As with any other motorsport, Air Racing has its superstars. To thousands of fans the world over the name Bill Falck and that of his equally famous racer, "Rivets," meant air racing at its best! A top-notch competitor for over thirty years, William F. Falck won more air races in his #92 "Rivets" than any other pilot or aircraft in air racing history!
Falck's flying career began with models and gliders in his native Finland, where he was born in 1913. He soloed in powered aircraft after coming to this country in 1932. In over 11,000 hours of flying, he had been a primary flight instructor for the Army, an airline co- pilot, a Navy pilot during World War II, and a successful airport operator in Warwick, New York.
Bill Falck first went air racing in 1947 at The Cleveland National Air Races in the Goodyear Midget Class (now known as the Formula I Class). The aircraft he flew was the "Chester Special,' which he had rebuilt from race pilot Art Chester's pre-war racer, "Jeep" He managed to win the Goodyear Consolation Race that year in this ship at 141.615 mph. In 1948, Bill appeared at Cleveland for the first time in his original designed racer "Rivets, which he had completed shortly before the race.
In the years between 1948 and 1977, he was tremendously successful in keeping this aircraft a winner which is a tribute to the original design itself and to the skill of its creator and pilot. Falck won his first Championship Race at Chattanooga, Tennessee in May of 1952. From there he and "Rivets" became the most dominant force in the Class with championship wins at Danville, New York; Springfield, Illinois; Niagara Falls, New York; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Fulton, New York continuing through the late 1970's. His first win at the famed Reno National Championship Air Races came in 1966. Overall, he was the winner of twenty-four championship races, had eleven seconds, and four third place finishes in championship competition. He was also the National Point Champion in the Formula I class eleven times over the period 1952 through 1971.
Bill Falck was not only one of the most competitive and successful pilots in Air Racing, he was one of the most well liked. He was truly a gentleman. Unfortunately, Bill's life and career came to an end at the age of 64, exactly where you might have expected it, in a fatal accident at The Cleveland National Air Races in September of 1977.