This page has as sole purpose warning you about
not so nice guys (the Big Bad Wolfs).
It is a pity, but they exist... even in the world of aviation. I hate to do this, it is not my style to talk bad. But ... it might save your live or your wallet. So, I feel forced to do this.
I will not give any names to prevent me getting a law suit. These guys play the game hard and unfair. Many tried to stop them by writing letters, but it was all to deaf mans ears. I hope this page will spread the word and discourage them to continue their bad doing or at least adjust it to a more trueful doing.
- Example one: Don't build the HM16 or HM160!
- Example two: Buy plans that are proven or trustworthy!
- Example three: The Ultralite-Flea. Aerotec. DON'T BUY THIS !!! http://alternative-technologies.org/flying_flea.php .
Your money is wasted on worthless paper.
There are several companies selling plans. But ... not all firms sell good stuff. The best example are the current plans (feb 2004) of the Mignet HM 16 or HM 160. Hans Engels posted a letter (November 2001) in the French Pou Guide mailinglist about this item. Hans granted me permission to translate it. Here I go:
"I ordered the plans of the HM160 in 1996 at Flying Flea Archive USA. At that time I was building a Croses Criquet L, so I didn't study the plans but one year later (and I am still studying them).
Result: DON'T CONSTRUCT A HM 160 ! ! ! ... It is DANGEROUS!
Henri Mignet never published the plans of his HM 16. The plans of the HM 160 were made 15 years later by Georges Jacquemin, airplane engineer, based on PICTURES of the HM 16.
Studying the plans I noticed a few "errors" and problems!
The original HM16 on which the HM160 is based.
Looks are OK, but still ... the HM160 is dangerous!
Beginning with: I saw that the real weight is higher than indicated on the plans. They are giving 5.40 lbs (2,452 kg) for the front spar of the front wing. That is impossible! It must be 5,4 kg !!! The given 245 lbs for empty weight make it accessible to the American UltraLight class. With the real weight it will be too heavy for this class. Strange coincidence.
They mention the wing loading (total) being 6.5 lb/ft2 with the indicated weights. But in the "Technical Notes for the Amateur" by Georges Jacquemin, which is distributed by Philippe Labbé in French, it is mentioned that the front wing loading may not exceed 6.5 lb/ft2. For a Flying Flea centered at 25% of the total cord, the front wing carries 75% of the total weight. So ... the 6.5 lb/ft2 (31,8 kg/m2) are passed by ... a lot! The front wing is too heavily loaded!!
If you want to check this simply go see the comparison table in the French site Pouguide.org (direct link is http://pouguide.org/uploads/vergel_tabel_POU%2012.xls).
If you use the right weights, you are really in deep sh*t. The airplane will never take off, unless you place a very powerful engine. But what will happen if the engine fails during flight? It will not only be a Flying Flea that will fall, but also the entire Flying Flea formula!
Problems may also be expected during landings in cross winds: with a classic gear and the high rear of the fuselage, the fuselage is at a high angle during roll out. The rear wing is very near the ground, which creates a serious Wing In Ground (WIG) effect. It will be a question of loosing a lot of speed before the rear wheel can touch the ground and the roll out becomes stable. So ... A high risk for ground loops.
Another item, mentioned by the charming Mr. Piere Mignet: the stability in flight! If you study the side area of the fuselage and the rudder, you see a remarkable larger area before the CG then the area behind the CG. Result: this short airplane gets dangerous in a turn (first instability in flight!).
And, due to the small length of the airplane and the short chord (2 - 2,1 ) it is hard to maintain a constant height. The flight gets a wave path (second instability in flight!).
And there are others problems... So DON'T BUILT A HM160 ! ! !
I know ... the plans are beautifull. The lines, the look are wonderfull. They attract attention. But keep this airplane inside a museum like Don Campbell did. It is nothing more than a prototype, a try-out. Even the genius Henri Mignet did use "try and error". And the drawings of George Jacquemin are nothing more than drawings.
I am building an own design now, the HM163B. But don't use the plans before the airplane has been tested!
DON'T BUILT A HM160 OR HM163B BEFORE IT HAS PROVEN ITSELF !"
As you can see ... don't trust plans that not are proven. By the way the only HM160 that flew, crashed and killed its pilot (source: Paul Pontois). So much for proving that there is still some work on the plans. I know that some persons are currently using the HM16 as a inspiration to design their own version. They mostly enlarge the airplane. The projects are today (Mars 2004) still not finished, so ...don't buy the plans yet. Wait till the project proved if it is worth something. As long as it is not proved, just frame the plans and hang them above your bed as a nice picture. That is all.
Some people sell the plans and tell you nothing about the flight behavior of the airplane, they just tell you that is are plans from the archives. Yep, a nice picture above your bed. But flying ... no way. Don't built them!
I will not call any names but if I see a site selling plans of a HM 160, I get suspicious. I see sometimes a HM16 or HM 160 in construction. But I never saw a picture of a recent HM16 or HM 160 in the air! As long as you see no data about the flight behavior of the HM16 or HM 160, DON' T BUY THE PLANS.
There are people in the world that sell old plans, which have flown. But the original plans were made in another language. They just make a translation. Sometimes a very rough one. Some of these English plans are hard to understand or even to read. Watch out for such plans! It can be that it was easier to start from the original French plans. Euh ... just learn to read French. ;^)
How can you test if the firm you got in contact has such hard to understand plans? Well, I figured out a system. I admit ... never was tested, but worth trying. OK, here I go. Sometimes you can still make a good airplane even thought the plans are rather rough ... if the man who sells the plans has a heart for his plans. So, simply ask him a technical question about his plans. If he can explain the answer properly to you, he might be able to guide you through the construction. But ... what if you don't know any good technical question. No problemo! Contact the mailinglists of the pouducielists.
Go ask for help there. They can help you warn you about the bad plans or the bad firms. Don't trust a single answer. It might be the Big Bad Wolf himself! It might be that the members of the list will not answer in the list itself, because they know too that the Big Bad Wolf might be looking too. They will probably contact you directly.
Hey, it is just a suggestion. Might work, might not. But it is better to do it this way, than to just throw your money away. Just ... don't buy those plans. As long as they can sell, they will advertise in magazines. Once the money flow stopped (and they get pretty angry towards me (probably)), they will have to stop doing their thing. And I ... I will never have to show my face to them. But you will have a set of plans, which can make your dream come true... YOU FLY!.
Paul Pontois (a very known person in the Flying Flea world and a close friend of Pierre Mignet) says in this way:
"People who want to construct a HM290/293 have the choose between the plans sold by Falconair, which are hard to understand and costy, and the updated plans of Rodolphe Grunberg, the only ones being approved by Pierre Mignet.
150 to 200 flying models proof the quality of the Grunberg plans (which don't cost a lot). And there are not much models known being build by the Falconair plans." (text being translated from French).
Guys who just try to make money at the least possible effort. I got word of a firm which made a set of plans which look exactly the same like a airplane of Nedo Lavorini, a all metal Flying Flea in Italy.
The metal Lavorini airplane was good. But the plans made by those others are BAAAAD! Very cheap, that is right. Not a lot of money. But cheap is also used in its second meaning! Rubbish! It was confirmed by a mail of a trustful pouducielist that the plans can only result in a deathly airplane if ... if you ever get to finish the construction. There are a lot of gaps in the plans.
Mister Lavorinni disappeared from the Flying Flea world due to those thieves. I was very very happy to see that he is active again and he is now making very nice electric Flying Fleas. Full scale! You can see his work at http://www.pouguide.org/fr/connaitre/Les-autres-formules-Mignet/le-lavorini-electrique
Here you see the true Lavorini. Anything that looks like it and that cannot be confirmed of good flight behavior by the known pouducielist groups on the internet (see above), might be that bad plan.
Watch out for it!!
Result of the Big Bad Wolfs page and related info
I AM HAPPY TO SEE THAT SOME SITES CHANGED THEIR WAY OF SELLING THE HM160 PLANS. SO ... THIS PAGE IS WORKING. HIP HIP HOURRAY.
ALMOST LIKE THEY SAY IN THE ENGLISH MAILINGLIST: "ALL FOR THE FLYING FLEA, A GOOD FLYING FLEA FOR ALL."
I am ultra happy to see that Nedo Lavorini is active again in the Flying Flea world. He made several prototypes of small Flying Fleas which are powered with electrical engines. Really wonderfull work! Did my page help to get him active again. I don't know. If you do know, please, tell me.
New "good" HM16 projects:
Like I said ... there are currently a few projects being build that were inspired by the HM16 or HM160. But they are total redesigns! I cannot tell if they are good or bad. They still need to be tested. But, the projects look promising.
The first I saw personally. It is the HM 163 of Hans Engels. Hans is the president of the Belgian Dutch speaking amateur builders. He is my mentor for my own project. But remember, like Hans mentions himself in his own mails: "don't build a design without it has been tested!". This counts also for the HM163. Hans even advises it.
The HM163 as I saw it in the Pou du Ciel meeting in Montpezat (South France) in 2002.
Another project is a larger HM 160. I add a few stuff I found on the Pousquetaire mailinglist.
"The answer lies in what Stewart Marshall has done in what he calls a Jumbo Hm16. he has done the right thing, built an Hm16 with 293 wings shaped the Hm16 way and enlarged the fusleage and it looks just great. I really hope to hear that it has flown well soon."
"Rob, my thanks for your kind words at the end of your note. Emulating the 293 wing config seemed like the logical move when I scaled up my vintage style HM-16. I loved the look of the original tiny plane but I am as big as any Yank at 6 foot and 175 pounds! So, scaled up about 30 percent I ended up with everything looking rather encouraging. I have a wing loading that averages a bit less that 5 pounds per square foot. I am still taxi-testing and I like the ground handling very much now that it has a steerable nose wheel and tricycle gear. when still a taildragger, I ground looped three times, nosing over twice and buggering the prop. But now no tendencies in this manner at all. Trigear solves that altogether. And my Heath type wood floats are finished. I am shifting over to them in the next few weeks and will make extensive taxi tests as soon as this is accomplished. The Citroen Visa plant is performing quite well, with over 18 test hours on it now with the 2.3 to 1 reduction and 66 x 38 in. prop. I find that as I reach 20 to 25 mph while taxiing, the little plane really wants to be airborne! This is somewhat below good control speed so it has to be held on the ground with stick forward till the speed increases. But it would easily lift off if I came back a bit on the stick. The craft has a solid feel while taxiing and handles slight crosswind okay on the trigear; although as it gets light on its feet trying to lift off, it has a tendency to weathervane and point directly into the wind. I will report as I make further progress.
Cheers for now and my best wishes to all."
"Congratulations Stewart for your fine work and effort. We surly want an Hm16 look a like and you have done it. The tri landing gear sounds just great and its great to hear its stable on its 3 wheels. The 25 mph to 30 getting light on its wheels is a very good sign indeed. The idea that when you get clear of the ground it wants top turn into wind is a very good sign to. The main thing is to hold it on the ground for a little longer and then pull it clear of the ground. I am sure your aircraft will be a great success and I feel sure that others will want to build a vintage look a like just like yours of the Hm16. Its a wonderful job you have done and the floats sound just great. Keep me posted and I would love to see some more pictures. The original Hm16 I love as well and George Jacquemin to and I am sure many others. But its just to small and the sums don't stack up. I used to pester Pierre about it but he had to tell me his fathers Hm16 was very unstable and only he could fly it. It also used to roll onto the back wing when landing ! You have the right formula and I do hope you polish your drawings up and get a nice vintage book written about your wonderful Jumbo Hm16"
In the same mailing list I got answer from Stewart:
"Yes, your warning is most appropriate. Thank you for your webpage. The original little HM-16 was indeed a fascinating craft and Henry must have loved it, but he also knew its tricks and weaknesses and he knew it was not for the public. I have the newer plans you mention and found them to be unusable in many respects, although they do show a trigear landing gear configuration and also the safer 34013 airfoil. BUT the plane is simply too small really, and there are many problems in the plans, an unproven design for sure. I knew I had to have a larger Flea so I did not use these plans. The logical approach seemed to be the proven 293 wing area and loading such as Grunbergs. I liked the deeper fuselage and engine arrangement of the 16 however. So, I combined the two and was very careful with the CG and weights. The taxi-tests are going well and the plane feels okay. I am being very cautious and will try some hops this spring and summer, and report back with my results. So we will see! In the meanwhile I hope everyone will heed these warnings and treat the existing HM-16/160 plans only as interesting reference material and for display, and not build direct from them without consulting all the Lists, groups, and experts for their advice. Go as far as possible with a proven successful plan!
P.S. on his new page shows my HM-16 as a taildragger but I never was able to taxi successfully like this. I groundlooped every time! Even a nose-over and busted prop! It was a worthwhile experiment perhaps, for nostalgia and the history. But now she is on trigear with steerable nosewheel. So much better! This is the only way I think, with so short an airplane. Steerable trigear and a wide wheelbase."