The SF-260 was designed by the Italian Dott Ing. Stelio Frati: SF stands for SIAI Marchetti (builder) and Frati; 260 denotes the hp. The aircraft was certified in April 1966. Twenty-seven Air Forces fly approximatley 1000 SF 260’s and the USAF has considered the aircraft for its new EFS (Enhanced Flight Screener). Less than 100 (some new, some ex-military) have been imported to the U.S. Others have been used as fighter trainers by NATO forces.
Under wing hard points can be equipped to carry rockets and guns. Although it is a piston single, it flies like a small jet with small wings and speed. Like a jet’s wings, the 260’s are machete thin and perfectly taper in chord and thickness. With small laminar flow wings it doesn’t leap off the ground so every takeoff is made with 20 degrees of flap. It is flown from the right seat with your left hand on the throttle and your right hand on the stick; fighter-jock-style if flying alone.
It is capable of doing aerobatics with full fuel (tips and mains) and two people wearing parachutes. Most 260’s are painted military gray and matte black. With flush riveting, swept fin, sharp wings, tip tanks, sliding canopy and potent cowl it proclaims some sort of aeronautical aristocracy. If you load up too many g’s in a steep turn the wing signals with a sharp buffet, relax the back pressure a fraction and it’s flying again, smoothly and instantly. 30-degree bank turns can be made via aileron, and feet on the floor. Stall and spins are classical with clean straight breaks.
The 260 is either flying or it’s not flying, with no hint of mush or slop separating the two. The wing loading, coupled with the geometry of the stabilizing surfaces, gives it a faultless response to turbulence. Many aircraft stay flustered for a second or two after an encounter with bumps, with a swift jolt that passes instantly, due not to any form of artificial stability augmentation but the superb design of Frati at the drawing board 26 years ago.
Note: The above was based on an article in “Flying” magazine September 1991. For more details refer to this article. R. M. Garrett, 22 July 1992 The SF-260 was also featured in “Plane and Pilot” Magazine, Sept. 1996; article titled The Sexiest Italian. Current Price tag (new) $450,000.