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Think Small

Eleven airplanes you could only call "cute."

Smallest Sportplanes

Cri-Cri MC-10
French aeronautical engineer Michael Colomban designed the Cri-Cri in the early 1970s. Some 150 are registered around the world, primarily in France, where a seriously whack owner installed two minuscule turbojet engines on his, resulting in the world’s smallest twin-jet. After selling his MC-10, Lewis Bjork wrote on a Cri-Cri Web site in 2003, “The fellow wanted it shipped via air freight and supposed it would make a good commuter for short trips over the jungle. I suggested he reconsider: engine failures common, can’t start without big drill, needs special fuel. Not to be dissuaded, he claimed to weigh 110 pounds. For him, the airplane will be a rocket ship. He said if I ever come to Bangkok, drop by. I hope he is still happy to see me.”

 

Wingspan: 16 feet 5 inches
Length: 12 feet 9 inches
Empty weight: 139 pounds

HM-14 Flying Flea (Pou de Ciel)

The original Tiny Airplane, the Pou de Ciel was designed by Henri Mignet in 1934. The upper wing acted as an elevator and there were no ailerons. Mignet’s original design featured a 17-horsepower motorcycle engine. Later incarnations by homebuilders quadrupled the horsepower and also boosted the number of crashes, which led to a ban on the design in England and France. By the time a fix was in place, the novelty of the Flying Flea had largely worn off.

Wingspan: 18 feet
Length: 13 feet 6 inches
Empty weight: 260 pounds

Baby Bird
In 1984 Ray Stits’ son Donald built the monoplane Baby Bird in Camarillo, California, to win the Guinness title of World’s Smallest Monoplane.

Wingspan: 6 feet 3 inches
Length: 11 feet
Empty weight: 252 pounds

Stits Sky Baby SA-2
Ray Stits built the SA-2 biplane in the early 1950s in Riverside, California, for no other reason than to claim it World’s Smallest—clearly, a carrier of the Guinness gene. (Stits was the founder of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Chapter One, and also devised an eponymous aircraft fabric covering.) The Sky Baby is on display at the EAA museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Wingspan: 7 feet 2 inches
Length: 9 feet 10 inches
Empty weight: 452 pounds

Mooney M-18 Mite
Debuting in the late 1940s, the Mite was the first single-seat general aviation production aircraft manufactured in the United States. Al Mooney marketed the M-18 as the Wee Scotsman and boasted of extraordinarily low operating costs and high-efficiency aerodynamics. Ex-military pilots said it handled like a fighter. Production ceased in the mid-1950s, and the “backward” vertical stabilizer went on to become a hallmark of the Mooney line of sleek and efficient (and larger) aircraft.

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