This photo is from my dad’s album of pictures from his boyhood in Cambridge. I was intrigued by this one and I looked up ‘The Flying Flea’.
This tiny aircraft was designed and built by Henri Mignet in 1933; at the time there were Model T Ford cars everywhere, and in France they were called Pou de la Route – Road Fleas because they were so common and were everywhere and Mignet wanted to build a Sky Flea. He worked on various designs throughout the twenties, but the first actual Pou du Ciel properly flew in 1933.
They were not the safest of aircraft, and many of them crashed, and after a terrible accident in may 1936 at Penshurst Airfield in Kent, the planes were banned in Britain. This neatly dates my dad’s photography, it must have been before May 1936. Another piece of information which ties it in to the year of 1936, is that a young man, Ken Wallis, a little older than my dad, from Ely, saw the Flying Flea in Cambridge in that year. Ken, went on to become a very famous pilot and test pilot, and coincidentally trained under Charles ‘Sox’ Hosegood, who became a friend of my dad’s much later in life.
Ken Wallis, and my dad, saw Henri Mignet himself fly the Flying Flea, possibly at the old airfield at Ditton a village near Cambridge.