The "Living Wing"

Some of the following explanations about the "Living Wing" can be understood without aerodynamical knowledge of airplanes. Let's start with that part.

As you know ... a airplane is kept in the air due to the force on its wings. That force is called the lift. It works at a certain point of the wings. When you look at the drawing you will see that the hinge of the front wing is placed in front of that place. This makes that the lift force can be felt in the stick. You can actually feel the wing lifting. This makes it possible to sense your airplane in a way no other pilot can. They all have a stick which is connected to a very small control surface on the tail or wingtip. They only feel the airplane when the airplane moves away from its original course. Henri Mignet made it possible to feel the wing live.

Forces on the Flying Flea

Here you see a side view of a HM14
(I am not sure which version. 1934 or 1936?).
I added the different forces on it.
You can see the lift force and the place of the hinge. These two create a moment (=will to turn). The orange connection gets pulled upwards. The orange connection is mounted on a small lever (green) which is connected to the stick (blue). Blue and green are assembled so that if the stick is pushed, the orange connection is pushed upwards. But this also works in the other sense... If the orange connection is pulled upwards, the stick is pulled forwards and the pilot can feel that force.

Another item that is made possible due to the place of the hinge is the fact that this wing deletes another problem, which is very common in conventional airplanes. I refer to the slowness of the pilot. Imagine: you are flying in calm air. Suddenly ... a wind gust and you are blown from your course. How fast can you correct your situation? Well, let's see what happens in a conventional airplane.

When the wind gust comes from below, the airplane gets "thrown" upwards. The pilots butt will sense this. And as fast as he can the pilot will push the stick to get the airplane on its original course. But ... a pilots reaction is not so fast. In cars, they count the first second of a reaction to a problem in front on you as USELESS. That second is lost due to the slowness of the reaction of the driver. In other words ... we are slow.

Drawing of situation in conventional airplane. Still working on it.

The Mignet system is something else. Here the wind reacts. Let me explain. If the wind gust pushes upwards, the wings get pushed up. But ... the front wing is hinged. So, that wing turns just like a weathercock. Here, the rear of the wing gets pushed up ... INSTANTLY. The wing can lift less in such a condition. So the airplane sinks. OK, let's do some math. The wind pushes the airplane up and the airplane sinks. Result: the airplane stays more or less on its trajectory.
The pilots hand gets thrown forwards due to the forwards movement of the stick. A second later ... the pilot reacts and pulls the stick towards him. The airplane continues its course in the new wind condition. You have nearly never left your original course.





Here you can see step by step how a Pou du Ciel reacts on a wind gust.

  1. calm wind (direction of relative wind can be seen)
  2. a wind gust comes
  3. the front wing reacts like a weathercock, the stick gets pulled forwards 
    (see arm of pilot) and the rear wing gets pushed upwards
  4. the whole airplane rotates a bit, but it continues in its original course

If you have a bit of time and you want to know ALL about the Pou du Ciel, go read the English translation of the entire book "Le Sport de l' Air" . But beware ... it is a translation of the 1934 edition!!! So, read the texts, they are goooood. But ... don't use the plans. They are BAAAAAD. 
I once made a print of the HM-14 page and after reading it, I was 75% convinced that I wanted a Pou du Ciel. Seeing one made it 100%.