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A fleet of flighters


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15 replies to this topic

#1 ParkerBeta

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 09:20

The brushed stainless steel body and cap with black section 'flighter' may well be Parker's most enduring contribution to pen design. Every important Parker (except, I guess, the Duofold, but I could be wrong) model has appeared in a 'flighter' variant, and since I have now acquired three such flighters, I thought it would be fun to line them up and take pictures. Individual FPN reviews of these flighters are here: 45, 50, and 180.

From top to bottom: 45 (M), 50 (XF), 180 (M/XF)
P45_P50_P180.JPG

All my flighters have gold trim, and the 45 and 180 have black plastic sections (the 45's is smooth, the 180's is a great-looking crosshatch). The 50 section, being integral with the nib, is necessarily metal, but that metal has been sandblasted or ground in some way to offer a grip at the section part while being smooth and shiny at the nib part. The overall effect is very impressive indeed!

P50_nib_closeup.JPG
above: 50; below: 180 (M-side)
P180_nib_closeup.JPG

In terms of length, they are all comfortably long to write with without needing to post the cap. The 45 has the widest cross-section, followed by the 50, while the 180 is really very slim, sort of like the Sailor Daks Slim. The 45's cap closes by friction alone, whereas with the more expensive 50 and 180 models, the cap snaps closed.

I bought the 45 new many years ago for the equivalent of $16 in the transit lounge at Heathrow (it is made in the UK), and recently acquired the 180 as NOS and the 50 in mint condition, both from a "well-known auction site," for about $75 each. The 50 and 180 are both made in the USA. The 45's nib appears to be gold-plated steel, the 180's nib was advertised by the seller as 14kt gold (but there are no markings on the nib to confirm this), and the 50's nib is stainless steel, just like the rest of the section.

The 45 is the most "conventional" nib of the three, while the 50's integral nib and the 180's nib (which can be turned a hundred and eighty degrees to write with a different width) are unusual both in looks and function. Together, they show the gamut of what Parker was capable of in its heyday. The 45's M and the 180's M-side nibs are both wide, as Parkers are in my experience, both both are very smooth indeed. On the other hand, both the 50's XF nib and the 180's XF-side nib are somewhat scratchy, though the latter is slightly smoother than the former. Again, they run a bit wide -- the equivalent of a Japanese F.

Writing_samples_large.JPG
Summary: the 'flighter' design is durable, streamlined, and classy. I want to enlarge my collection to include a 51, 61, and 75 flighter, if possible. Meanwhile, these three are all fun to write with and likely to last forever!

Edited by ParkerBeta, 10 December 2008 - 09:42.

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#2 troglokev

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 13:13

Nice to see a Flighter 50. The first pen that I bought with my own money was one of those. Alas, the clip did not withstand the rigours of university life, and it being insufficiently well-secured to my person therefore, the 50 was lost in my honours year. crybaby.gif

Mine was also an extra fine. I remember it being reasonably smooth, despite the fineness of the nib, but that could just be nostalgia talking.

#3 RevAaron

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 16:31

Good review, good comparison shots too!

Oh, if only we all had a Falcon of our own... smile.gif

I'm not sure why, but I really love the look of the gold trim flighters- the contrast between the gold and the titanium/brushed chrome color adds so much more depth to GT for me, even one a cheaper pen like a non-flighter GT 45.

Makes me want to trade my rolled gold 51 for one with the GT on chrome cap! smile.gif
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#4 wykpenguin

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 18:00

I have a Falcon in gold, but it doesn't write as the previous owner seems to have caused some separation of the tines.

Does anyone know who can fix it?

Makes me want a 180 too.

#5 I am not a number

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 12:11

Thanks for the comparison, I have two of the featured pens (the Falcon and the 180) and consider them both to be exceptional examples of design. The pictures are fantastic and the handwritten comparison is a very worthwhile addition to the post!


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#6 sph33r

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 15:53

I've been mildly wanting a 180 for my collection but now I want a 50 more. smile.gif

Nice review, thanks!
- Brad -


#7 lovemy51

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 22:45

nice trio! i too, like the 50 a lot!!!

#8 gyasko

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 02:16

I have 45, 51, 61, 75, & 180 flighters. One of the reasons i like the 180 is that it has metal section threads. I like the nib, too. I think it's a very underrated pen.

#9 ParkerBeta

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 05:34

QUOTE (gyasko @ Dec 11 2008, 06:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have 45, 51, 61, 75, & 180 flighters. One of the reasons i like the 180 is that it has metal section threads. I like the nib, too. I think it's a very underrated pen.


You're right about the metal section threads on the 180, and about its being generally overlooked or underrated. It really is a superb example of design and engineering.

BTW, you've achieved my dream of procuring 51, 61, and 75 flighters. Did you just wait for them to appear on ebay? Or do you have a 'source?' I'd really love to acquire a 51 flighter that matches (gold trim, flat barrel bottom) my other flighters, but that may prove difficult.
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Visconti Sterling Silver Skeleton M nib
Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age EF nib

#10 andy1m

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 10:19

Wow such a nice collection you have. Hope i can find 50 (XF), 180 (M/XF), they are simply beautiful!!

#11 DeaconKC

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 14:02

Very nice review that includes one of my favorites, the 45 Flighter. Thanks for your work.
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#12 The Bantam Scribbler

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 01:50

The Falcon is an awesome pen! Lots of fun to use, and it writes much smoother than the fine line it lays down would indicate.

#13 buffalobil

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 04:51

Excellent vintage collection. I also appreciate the text which was informative. Thank you.

#14 WendyNC

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 05:11

QUOTE (gyasko @ Dec 11 2008, 10:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have 45, 51, 61, 75, & 180 flighters. One of the reasons i like the 180 is that it has metal section threads. I like the nib, too. I think it's a very underrated pen.


I have a 35, also with metal section threads. However, I'm not sure it quite qualifies as a flighter since it does have a gold colored barrel tassie. Posted it would fit right in with the collection shown.


I came here for the pictures and stayed for the conversation.

#15 archie001

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 07:30

very nice pens, and nice review. thanks and congratulations!
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#16 MSA

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Posted 09 October 2010 - 02:47

In support of Parker 180. One of the smoothest writing pens in my collection. I have two of them one a simple flighter and the other with an engraved harlequin type pattern. Definitely under rated.
Mohammad Salahuddin Ayubi






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