Mignet HM.14 Flying Flea

Frenchman Henri Mignet wanted everyone to have the chance to own and fly an aeroplane. Mignet claimed that anyone who could assemble a packing case could build his diminutive HM.14 Pou du Ciel – affectionately known as the “Sky Louse” or “Flying Flea” – and teach himself to fly it.
For a time Flea fever raged, as hundreds of amateurs started building HM.14s in their garages or backyards. The machine was a compact tandem-wing biplane. Its plywood fuselage carried t he rudder, a small engine – typically a converted two-cylinder motorcycle engine and the rearmost wing. The forward wing was supported above the pilot’s cockpit by struts. There were no ailerons or elevator. Turns were made using the rudder alone, while longitudinal control was achieved by tilting the front wing.
Unfortunately, the design had an inherent flaw. If the moveable wing exceeded a certain negative angle, the aircraft could enter an irrecoverable dive. Mignet had promised that fliving the Flea would prove less hazardous than driving a car, but there was soon a spate of fatal accident’s and the Flea had to be grounded. A remedy was eventually found, and Mignet Fleas of impeccably safe desion
still fly today. But the do-it -yourself aircraft never recovered its popularity.

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