A Solar-Algae Hybrid for an Atlantic Crossing

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Henri Mignet was never quite able to master an airplane with three-axis controls, and built at least seven flawed attempts at simplified controlled flight. His seminal try, the HM-8 Pou de Ciel (literally, Louse of the Sky, or more familiarly, Flying Flea) became first a matter of celebration for amateur aviators and then a cause of scandal, being banned in Britain following a series of fatal crashes. The “formula”, as proponents called Mignet’s tandem wing configuration, was sorted out after wind tunnel tests in England and America uncovered the flaw that caused the craft to pitch down in an unrecoverable dive. (For a well-illustrated history of Mignet’s design, see Henri Mignet and his Flying Fleas by Ken Ellis and Geoff …

Craftsmanship and Courage

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Last February, the blog reported on the low-cost Flying Flea formula, four-motored ultralight that Nedo Lavorini built and flew.  Unknown to your editor at that time, YouTube has videos of the construction of what turns out to be at least three fuselages.  That answers the question of why the aircraft flew with at least two landing gear configurations. Parental and Spousal Warning: You may want to view the video privately before allowing your children (or wife) to see the following.  There is a bit of eye candy in Nedo’s workshop, and even the cameraman seems to be distracted momentarily. The flying video gives a new meaning to the term “tree hugger.”  The Pulce Elletricca seems not to have a great rate …

Pulce Elettrica in Italia

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 4 Comments

The Pou Guide site has news of this extremely small Flying Flea variant. Nedo Lavorini, a light 76 kilograms (167 pounds) flew his Pulce Electtrica (Electric Flea) of 74 kg (162.8 pounds – with batteries) on June 28, 2009 at 7:30 in the morning. An all-up weight of 150 kg (330 pounds) allows the use of four Chinese model airplane motors of 2 kW each to power the featherweight Flea. Motors are arranged in two pairs, each pair coupled to a reduction drive through a toothed belt, and all four driving a common propeller. 45-Volt, 64 Amp-hour Lithium-polymer batteries provide up to 40 minutes flying time, according to the Guide. The Pulce’s light weight and tandem wings of 5.3 meter (17.93 …

Electrified Minions of Mignet

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

In the 1930’s, Henri Mignet energized the flying world with his Pou-de-Ciel (literally, Louse of the Sky), which bore the more common and somewhat cuter appelation, “Flying Flea.” Adherents to Mignet’s “formula” of tandem wings and simplified flying controls continue to produce variants on the formula. One of the most interesting is the Pouchel, an ultralight model popular in France with over 120 plans sets sold to members of APEV (Association pour la Promotion des Echelles Volantes – Association for the Promotion of Flying Ladders), which used a commonly available aluminum ladder as its basic fuselage structure. Because of the plane’s popularity and a fear of liability suits that might ensue, the ladder manufacturer asked the organization to forego using …