How to begin

Your first step into your Flying Flea project

When you started gaining info about the Flying Flea, you might have started the dream to once build and fly one. It is possible! Just be aware of the right steps to start such a project. Making mistakes in the beginning can lead to needless costs and in the worst case ... you have a lawnmower with a vertical knife instead of having a airplane.

Please, take it step by step. I hope to guide you in the right direction.

Step 1

Read the English translation of the first book about the Flying Flea (HM14) by Henri Mignet. You can find it here at http://pouguide.org/uploads/HM14/HM14_Book.pdf .  To get the English translation, just click the French book cover.
It gives you a good idea why the Flying Flea was invented. Henri Mignet didn't like the conventional airplanes in those days. He thought it was not the right way to get people flying. Too expensive to make or fly, too difficult to make and so on. Please, read it from start to end. He is a good writer! And he can tell it all in a way you are able to understand. If you finish the book ... you are 75 % hooked on the Flying Flea.

BEWARE: DON'T USE THE PLANS IN THAT TRANSLATION! It is the first book (from 1934!). And it has the plans which still holds the theeting-problems. You need the edition of 1936 or later to create a good HM14. Recently Alain Mignet gave permission to freely distribute the original book with the HM14 plans in it. OK, it is in French, but the drawings tell the most info you need. And ...the forums will help you on the parts you don't understand. They are very helpful.

But ... you might not like the HM14. You might find it too retro-looking. Too basic, too simple. OK.

Step 2

Look at the different models available. Each has its pro and cons. Decide what you really would like to use and ... CAN use! Don't intend to build a HM14 with original cockpit if you weight 100 kg (220 lbs) or are 1,95 m (6 feet 5 inches) long. You will not fit in or it will not lift you off the ground! You still will be grounded. Waste of effort and money. I will try to place the pros and cons of each model here. Use it as a guide, but ... go check it with users of that model. I might be mistaken.

HM14

  • Pro:
    • Easiest construction
    • Can be steered by a person who just soloed.
    • With larger sides the cockpit gets larger and wider.
  • Con:
    • Old looks (euh ... just what I like)
    • Maximum weight of pilot about 95 kg (209 lbs)
    • With original cockpit not possible to enter once close to 1,9m (6 feet 3 inches)
    • Plans don't have the hinges. But ... most place HM360 hinges.

HM 14/360

  • Pro
    • Still a retro look but with more performing wings.
      Can carry more weight.
  • Con:
    • No plans yet available to build it from ONE set of plans. But ... we are working on that.
    • Looks if you don't like retro.

HM 293

  • Pro:
    • Sleeker looks
    • Speed (if you can land good enough)
      Can be changed into tri-gear using tested systems.
  • Con:
    • Speed (if you are a total beginner)
    • More working hours than HM 14

HM 360

  • Pro:
    • Sleek design
    • Better performing wings
  • Con:
    • The folding wings fold a little higher due to the longer wingtips.

HM 380

  • Pro:
    • A way to get yourself and your kid or tiny wife/man in the air. You can share the feeling.
    • Ideal to let others feel a Flying Fleas steering.
    • Just demands a little bit more wood than the HM 360.
  • Con:
    • Can just hold two not so heavy persons (was intended as a tiny two-seater)
    • Needs a larger engine (more costs in buying and flying)

Step 3

Contact a person and ask his findings about his airplane which is the same model as you intend to build. If you don't like his remarks, ask a second opinion. Still not pleased, change your choice.

If possible ... go see that airplane from up close in a meeting. See it in the air, see it from the inside. You are 85% hooked on the Flying Flea.

Step 4

Test your own skills.

I got the permission to offer you the plans of the rudder of the HM 360 or HM 380. Try to build it. If you cannot succeed in building this part, you might still end up with a nice wall-decoration. But I would advise to redirect your focus onto buying secondhand airplane which already fly or buying fully build airplanes.

If you did succeed, hourray! You are capable to build yourself your own airplane! You can read plans and you are handy enough to finish the construction. You are totally hooked on the Flying Flea. You want one ... badly.

Here you can find the plans of the HM360/380. They are translated to English.

Step 5

Get the plans. This part seems to be so easy. But ... beware ... there are a few BIG BAD WOLFS out there. These are the official ways. And ...since the sadly passing of the old Pierre Mignet we were been given a treasure. All Mignet plans are ...for free now. So ...why wait? English plans are still available by Paul Pontois.

HM14 book:

Read the book for free (thanks Mignet family for spreading the plans after the passing of Pierre Mignet)

http://www.pouguide.org/bouquin/

HM 293 plans:

  • English edition:
    I am honored to be able to give you these myself. Thank you, Paul Pontois for that permission. Just click here.

HM 360 and HM 380 plans:

French edition (download for free):

http://pouguide.org/index.php?page=plans-hm360-380

English edition:

I am honored to be able to give you these myself. Thank you, Paul Pontois for that permission. Just click here.

Step 6

Once you have the plans, study the plans page by page. Now ... watch out! Some items aren't made anymore like they are shown on the plans. You will probably have noticed in the page "Models available" that not many airplanes look the same. There is the possibility to make some modifications. And some of those modifications are becoming like a recent "rule of building". I will place in the section Things to remember the most common modifications you are advised to do. I hope I will be able to make such a list for all models.

Step 7

Adjust your material list to the changes you intend to make and go find them. If you are in a totally lost spot of the world, your last chance may be the post-order firms that sell airplane materials. Just go googling. But ... avoid Sirius Aviation! A friend of me had a very bad experience with it. He only got half of his materials and no refund! It is not my habit to talk bad about persons, but ... if it might put you in troubles, you are needed to be warned. Watch out for those BIG BAD WOLFS!
OK, most material list talk about the wood, metal and fabric. Don't forget to order the right wood glue!

Step 8

While waiting for your materials, go look the internet for pictures of a construction in progress. They might save you a headache when studying the most complex parts of the construction. But don't blindly imitate somebody. Might be that he made mistakes. Look at the picture. See if it fits the plans. Then ... decide to use it or not.

At the same time you can start to work a bit on your workshop. Make it has a flat table. Make it has proper lighting.

Step 9

Once you have the materials, you are free to begin your real construction. The hm14 book begins with the fuselage. I advise to start making that too. It is a good point to begin. And you will learn to work with wood before you start to work on more delicate parts as the ribs.

Step 10

If married, keep two simple rules in mind:

  • Don't forget to spend time with your wife/man.
  • Don't build your airplane in the living-room!

Probably a bachelor.