Experienced pilots

Don't make the common mistakes! READ THIS!!!

The reputation of the Flying Flea is wrongly accused as ... bad. Even my father only heard of the accidents of the early Flying Fleas (before WW2, 1934-1936) and NOT of the redesign in 1936. Having a Flying Flea tested by a experienced pilot can wreck the reputation even more. Comments like: "very instable on the ground" or "turns weird" or "climbs and dives weird" could be common. But it is no the fault of the airplane, it is the fault of the pilot. No kidding. Let me explain.

I found the following info in the book "Flying Flea, technical notes for the amateur" by Georges Jacquemin. I adapted the text mostly to my style.

Most of conventional airplanes have 3-axis steering. Rudder, elevator and ailerons. Yaw, pitch and roll. Here you have a stick and pedals. The pedals you have for the rudder (yaw), the stick for the elevators (pitch) and ailerons (roll). A flying Flea has only a stick and it is used to control the rudder and the front wing. So ... pitch and YAW. Seen the difference in the stick controls???

During ground maneuvers you might get into trouble if you are used to 3-axis steering. There seems to be a difference between both systems. It is not clear to me which, but it proved that conventional pilots had problems with the tail wheel which is in a Pou du Ciel connected directly to the rudder.

OK, let's imagine that the pilot figures out how to handle the Flying Flea on the ground. And he takes off. Next surprise will be the turn. A Flying Flea yaws first, rolls next and then starts to turn. A conventional pilot is not used to that. It will be weird to him.

Last thing that will be a surprise is the behavior of the Flying Flea when climbing or descending. A conventional airplane points his nose up when climbing. A flying Flea can rise with a minor change in the direction of the nose. The complete rotating front wing is the reason. If a conventional airplane wants to get its wing in same angle, the fuselage needs to get that angle too.

Both main wings here have the same angle of attack (pointing upwards).
See the difference in the way the props axle is pointing.

Euh ... I used as a conventional airplane the HM 8, another design of Henri Mignet
(dated before the Flying Flea (HM14))

Thanks to Thibaut Cammermans for letting me use these side views. Nice drawings!
Thibaut, I moved the front wing a bit in a steeper angle.



Steve Varden's his first flight experience

Steve Varden had his first flight on his Flying Flea in may 2023. He mentioned a few things he was not used to while flying a flexwing trike. 

1) he was used to have a pusher prop behind him. He was surprised by the noise and the prop-wash while flying with his inspired Bifly 1997 kit. He regretted having not installed his visor on his helmet.

2) during the flight he was curious how the Flying Flea handled hands free. Due to the living wing system of the Flying Flea you cannot fly hands free unless you installed a spring or bungees to compensate the forces on the stick due to the living wing.

3) while landing he tried to push out like he was used with his flexwing. But here you need to pull back the stick during landing. 

The amazing Steve Varden (check his Facebook to understand why i say this) in his Bifly. It is registred in the UK as a CAA "single seat deregulated".

My point of view about Steve's experience:

I am not pointing fingers, i am just trying to help prevent similar actions. ;-)

A possible lesson might be to prepare your first flight in your seat (on the ground/livingroom).

Go through your entire flight using imaginary levers and steering stick. Do your take off and approach several times. Might be you will realise that your old aircraft and the Flying Flea steer differently before you even step inside your Flying Flea.

If you know you have a different steering muscle habit, try to repeat and repeat and repeat your new system while loudly saying what you are doing. Say your actions in short commands. Make it like it sounds nearly like a song. Once in the air ... use the "song" to remember each step. That way you might overcome your muscle memory of the previous steering system.

I used similar song while doing preparations for my first solo in the Bi-Swift (modern two-seat flying wing hangglider). My tutor told on the ground to other members "i have to say nothing to Koen during approaches. He tells it himself ... endlessly." During my solo i really repeated "Speed, nose, level" endlessly. Speed (keeping speed at landing speed (nose down)), nose (pointing nose in direction of line in center of landingstrip), level (keep the wings level). And ... repeat ... repeat ... repeat.

Do something similar with your actions you need during take off and landing. It might help.