The Original Flying Flea
The Flying Flea (Pou de ciel in French) is a small aircraft whose original design originates from the 1930s.
The Flying Flea is a creation of a French inventor Henri Mignet. Mignet had failed to be accepted as a pilot and decided to build his own plane. Between 1931 and 1933 he tested and built prototypes in Paris and tested them in a large field northeast of the city. According to his later book, Le Sport de l'Air, he successfully flew the first successful model, HM-14, in September 10, 1933. He successfully demonstrated it at 1934 and published the plans and instructions in a book.
Mignet made the aircraft intentionally simple. Flying Flea is essentially a single-seat light monoplane built of wood and fabric. Original design has two-axis controls stick, 18 feet pivoting front wing, 13-feet fixed, tandem rear wing and simple rudder. The propeller was powered by small motorcycle or car engine. Mignet claimed that anyone who could build a packing case and drive a car could fly a Flying Flea.
Numerous enthusiasts in Europe and the USA began to build their own aircraft. In France there were at least 500. Average cost of the materials was then $350.
However, in the beginning many Fleas crashed when pilots could not recover from shallow dives, resulting in some deaths. The Royal Aircraft Establishment in the United Kingdom and the French Air Ministry investigated the design and suggested improvements that increased the safety of the aircraft. By 1939 there were thousands of Flying Fleas but in other circles the aircraft retained its dangerous reputation.
The Shuttleworth Collection (UK) has an example in its collection of historic aircraft.
Modern aircraft enthusiasts have continued to build their own aircraft and vary the original design over the years. French enthusiasts hold an annual meeting every June."