FLYING FLEA – Henri Mignet's Pou-du-Ciel

When Henri Mignet was born on October 19th, 1893, at Charente-Maritime, few would have suspected that this young man who made small radio receivers for his friends and was also a dab hand at making furniture would go in the revolutionise the world of aviation. Revolutionise it he did by overturning all the hitherto concepts of amateur flying and making his own tiny aeroplane out of odd pieces of wood, cloth – and a motorcycle engine. A self-taught engineer who believed that the disciplines of 'try it and see' were better than all your high-falutin mathematics and paperwork. Miraculously he didn't kill himself along the way and eventually he succeeded in making what he called his Pou-du-Ciel or Sky-louse – a miniature single-seater that could be build in a city apartment. He produced a book describing how to make it: it sold out immediately. It was translated into English – and it became a 1930s best-seller here, too. Soon everybody was building what we called the Flying Flea. Then the trouble began. Because Mignet was no aerodynamicist and he allowed his builders a certain freedom in how they interpreted his constructional sketches, accidents began to occur. Mignet had designed an aircraft with a steep and pointed performance graph: any deviation from that specification was dangerous. The whole story of the Flying Flea not just in Britain and America, but across the world is told in this fully illustrated work by the Author who knew Mignet and corresponded with him. Published by Stenlake Publishing Ltd, Catrine, 2011. 164 carefully-chosen illustrations, 96 pp, decorative paper covers, ISBN 978 184 0335545. £13.95 direct from the Author or contact the publisher at www.stenlake.co.uk.