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Le Pou Metallique... a Metal Flying Flea in the SW USA

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Victor Bravo

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KWHP, Los Angeles CA, USA
Here's a strange one. Today I went out to burn up some dead dinosaurs, and went to the lake bed. On the way back, I dropped in at a small private strip west of there, a little desert dirt strip affectionately known as "Area 52" (really). I had sold a Zenair 701 project to one of the guys that built this place, and he said "anytime you're out in that area, drop in, and tell the boys to put down the AR-15's 'cause Ken said you could land there..."

So I landed, and the boys didn't turn me into a perforated rifle target, and I had a great time. One guy was covering a Sky Raider 1 ultralight, there was an Aeronca Chief converted into a large pilot, single seat, open parasol (really), several ultralights, strange Subaru powered gyroplanes, and a fairly rare homebuilt Stits Skycoupe.

There were two even more interesting treasures I found there. One was a Superfloater open primary glider, which you don't see too many of. The other was the carcass of what I can only guess is a one-off, all aluminum Pou du Ciel. Other than the electric ultralight Flea of Nedo Lavorini in Italy, I've never heard of any single seat Flea executed in sheet metal. Have any of you Pou enthusiasts ever seen or heard of this strange little beast??

Metal Flea 11-21-2020-2.jpg
Metal Flea 11-21-2020-1.jpg
Metal Flea 11-21-2020-3.jpg
 

plncraze

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Sport Aviation had a story of one years ago. Two guys built it and flew it in the desert. One of the pair was significantly bigger than the other which forced them to move the wing. I will try to find the article in the EAA archives.
 

fly2kads

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Justin, TX
Pretty interesting find! From the article, it's definitely a case study in back yard engineering.

"The new fuselage went fairly fast and looked great. Unfortunately, until almost the last rivet, we couldn't get into it to see how strong it really was. But, not to worry. Jim got into it finally, bounced up and down about 4 Gs worth, and pronounced it strong."

There you go!
 

Victor Bravo

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VB, it does look like you found the remains of version 2.
Yes, that is definitely what I saw, the aluminum monocoque version. The set of aluminum wings in the pictures was sitting next to it, but there was also another set of wings in the hangar, still covered. I have no idea if the second set of wings was wood or metal.

ALSO in the hangar at Area 52 was a Barnett Gyro, and after e-mail correspondence with a friend of mine who is a gyro and PRA guy... and matching N numbers... the Barnett gyro in the hangar is the one that had been built by Jim Eich, the same guy who was referenced in the Flea article posted above by plncraze.

The deal-closer is that the few flights of that Flea referenced in the article happened less than three miles from where my photos were taken Saturday.

So I apparently stumbled upon the guys who had bought Mr. Eich's stuff after he had passed away.
 

nestofdragons

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Near Antwerp, Belgium
I have seen pics of this one in the past, but lost track of it. They talk about how quick the tail got of the ground during their testing. I guess that it very easy to understand. The prop is blowing full power over a wing which is right in front of the tail. So ... if that wing lifts ... the tail gets off the ground. Logic, right. So ... no worries.

looked like a gracefull Flying Flea. Sad to see i find no other test reports of this one.

If you are looking for more alu Flying Fleas, go see the work of Nedo Lavorini. Sadly he will not make plans. Also in the past there was the Butterfly which was mainly made out of bend alu plates. Butterfly is one of the moooost basic Flying Flea.
 
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I have always wondered what became of this one. It would be nice to know what happened between the Sport Aviation article and this. The halves of the front wing could be rotated separately for roll control, which a number of people have proposed; I'd like to hear more about how that worked out.
 

plncraze

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I wish they would have done another article with a good pilot report. My guess is once they were done with it nobody else played with it anymore. Neat to see what people can do with time and aluminum.
 

Victor Bravo

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I asked what they were going to do with it, but the actual owner was not present to answer. They said it had been flown several times off of the lake bed. It's either a Superfloater or the "Compact 110" which is a rare glider that looks very similar. I assume it's a SuperFloater but I am not 100% sure. Looked intact and able to be refurbished and flown, but that was only form the perspective of it hanging 6 feet above my head in a dark hangar.
 

Bill-Higdon

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Salem, Oregon, USA
I asked what they were going to do with it, but the actual owner was not present to answer. They said it had been flown several times off of the lake bed. It's either a Superfloater or the "Compact 110" which is a rare glider that looks very similar. I assume it's a SuperFloater but I am not 100% sure. Looked intact and able to be refurbished and flown, but that was only form the perspective of it hanging 6 feet above my head in a dark hangar.
what was the wing spar, if it's formed aluminum C channel then super floater, of it's Aluminum Tube then Compact 110
 
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