In his garage in Dordogne (southwestern France), Jean-Pierre is completing the construction of a strange machine - a Flying Flea - a small single-seater tandem winged biplane developed in the 30’s by Henri Mignet. At the time, the wish of the French manufacturer was to allow any person, good at DIY, to build and fly his, or her, own airplane, and for the least cost, at home. In 1936, there was even a song about the Flying Flea.
The Flying Flea is not sold in kit form. To build their machines, amateur builders should be able to find all the materials necessary in their local DIY stores. Construction is carried out by following precisely the very detailed plans.
Classified as an ultralight, the Flying Flea does have its particularities, as Jean-Pierre explains: "It’s by changing the foreward wing’s angle of incidence that the plane will ascend or descend. There are no rudder pedals - direction is controlled with the tail only (side-to-side movement of the stick) - and despite the absence of wing flaps or ailerons the plane naturally turns right or left."
The Flying Flea, gets its name from one of the well-known features of the insect: it is difficult to remove from wherever it is attached.
It is indeed an aircraft that cannot stall, when it reaches its stall speed of 20 mph (30 km/h), instead of dropping it descends at an angle of around 45 degrees.
Another plus: the Flea is easily transportable by road thanks to its folding wings and a weight of just 310 lbs (140 kg) unladen. Pricewise, it should cost you between 3,000 and 5,000 euros, without the engine.
Before flying aboard his Flea (an HM-293) at 55 mph (90 km/h), Jean-Pierre still has the tailfin to repair, and the 40 hp Rotax engine to install; just a matter of a few weeks or months at most.