Friday, November 14, 2008
Nonsense 101: A Frenchman's Fabulous Failure ... the Flying Flea!
Henri Mignet (1893 - 1965) was a brave man.
As a brave man with bad eyesight, an obsessive nature and an abnormal interest in aviation, I'm surprised he lived as long as he did.
Some of his acolytes were not as lucky.
During World War I, French radio operator Henri Mignet - rejected from the airforce due to his unsatisfactory eyeballs - talked a mechanic into letting him taxi down a runway.
The silly bugger decided to take off when it came time to stop. He was airborne for a few seconds ... and landed the plane on it's back.
Both Mignet and the mechanic were punished.
I'd like to think Mignet felt guilty about dragging other people into his aeronautic shenanigans. History shows, however, that he dragged a bunch of idiots (with whom I relate) into his idiocy. Killed a bunch of 'em too. Good riddance. People like myself need to be thinned from the herd.
Piggybacking on Charles Lindbergh's famous Trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, Mignet designed and published the plans for the HM 8. It didn't fly - much like HM 1 through HM 7.
By 1935 he published the plans for the HM 14. Unlike the previous thirteen models, this one could actually fly for short periods of time. He found things like ailerons, rudder pedals and engine cowls offensive -- they could fly off at any time,
Unlike the extra wings, of which he was so very fond.
He named his aircraft the' Pou de Ciel'.
English translation? The Sky Louse - because, as Mignet said, it "made people scratch their heads." We'll call it the flying Flea for alliterations sake.
Thousands of people bought Mignet's plans. Hundreds of people actually built the plane. Of the few dozens that actually got the plane off the ground? All of them crashed - many of them died.
If the Sky Louse pilot was lucky he went into a steep dive, unable to avoid gravity and an unforgiving earth. If the pilot was unlucky, he went into an upside-down flight pattern until the fuel ran out - sending him into an unforgiving earth after pant crapping terror.
Mounting casualties and common sense has still not prevented people from idolizing Mignet.
Flying Flea websites and groups where people - uggh - meet to socialize with one another are still fairly prevalent.
Thankfully it is mostly contained to New Zealand where people - or sheep that can access the internet - don't know any better.
at 11:40 p.m.