MIGNET POU DU CIEL “Flying Flea” – N43993
The ME2Y/HM20 Flying Flea was built primarily by the designer, Henri Mignet, during the summer of 1937. The Flying Flea was constructed in the corner of the main hangar of what is now the center of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Glenview, Illinois, and designated the HM20.
When World War II broke out, the Flying Flea program was disrupted and Frank Easton obtained all the major parts of the HM20, which he rebuilt into the ME2Y in 1946. Frank changed the model name of the airplane to assume full responsibility for the experimental tests and modifications he had in mind for his Flying Flea.
The Flying Flea was a light-plane with a unique airframe configuration and control system and was often described as a tail-less biplane, a tandem wing airplane, and a “flying slot.” The larger wing was mounted, parasol fashion, on cabane struts over the front fuselage and the second, smaller wing was mounted on the fuselage aft of the cockpit. Immediately behind the aft wing’s trailing edge was a large rudder. There was no fixed vertical fin or separate horizontal tail.
Turns were made by means of deflecting the big rudder only, the pilot flew the aircraft with just a throttle and stick, and there were no rudder pedals. Fore and aft movement of the stick pivoted the top wing for pitch changes and left and right movement actuated the rudder for turns, as well as steering on the ground via the interconnected tail wheel.
Frank’s Flying Flea became a common sight at EAA fly-ins at Milwaukee and Rockford in the 1950s and 1960s. He claimed the Flying Flea was not nearly as dangerous as it was reported to be. As with any other airplane, the Flying Flea was safe if the pilot knew how to fly it. Many pilots were used to other steering methods and would overreact with the steering stick and cause accidents. Frank flew many flights in several configurations of his Flying Flea without trouble.
Frank believed that the Mignet Pou du Ciel story was representative of the founding principles of EAA; grass-roots aviation.
This aircraft is on loan to the EAA AirVenture Museum courtesy of Frank Easton.
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