Saturday, 11 August 2012

(Post WW 2) Flying (?) Fleas of New Zealand

Henri Mignet designed his original HM 14 Flying Flea aircraft in France in the 1930's and published plans for it in 1934.  The plans were translated into English and published in Popular Mechanics magazine in 1935, and this led to many Flying Fleas being built around the world.  The aircraft featured a unique tandem wing design where the front wing pivoted up and down, which unfortunately led to wing interference problems and an inability to be able to pull out of a dive in certain conditions (especially when powered by more powerful engines than Mignet's prototype).  There were quite a few fatal accidents worldwide including one in New Zealand.

Henri Mignet went on to produce other designs, one of which was the larger HM 16, but this also suffered from stability problems.

Robin Germon of Ngatea built his modified HM 16 (c/n HM16/G/1) and registered it as ZK-FLE on 6/8/01.  He built it from George Jacquemin plans but modified it to include a larger wing and other improvements.  Power was from a 37 HP Cuyuna engine.

Robin told me that he built the aircraft as a proof of concept project, but in the end the concept was disproved as the centre of gravity range was dangerously narrow.  ZK-FLE was sold to CE and SJ Taylor of Rotorua on 10/3/02 and then to John Bissett of Timaru on 19/7/04.  Robin told me that ZK-FLE never flew.  It was cancelled on 12/4/06 and still exists as part of Russell Brodie's collection at Rangitata Island in South Canterbury, see: www.nzcivair.blogspot.co.nz/2011/11/mignet-hm16-zk-fle.html

And as a footnote, another Flying Flea was built in New Zealand in the early 2000's - a HM 14.  This was a partly built project that was donated to the Ashburton Aviation Museum who completed the aircraft for static display and painted it as ZM-AAM.

I am pretty sure that here endeth the story of post WW 2 Flying Fleas in New Zealand.

The photos are from the Keith Morris collection, ZK-FLE at the 2002 SAANZ flyin at Matamata and ZM-AAM at the 2004 SANZ flyin at Ashburton.

1 comment:

  1. Another post-war Flea flight was the one built by Angus Denize of Waikawau Bay.
    Build of this Flea started in the 1930s, but it crashed on what was said to be its first test flight at Waikawau Bay beach in the summer of 1947.

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