The homebuilt aviation community lost two longtime, ardent enthusiasts recently with the passing of Morry Hummel, 93, and Howard Levy, 88.
Hummel was the designer of the Hummel Bird and UltraCruiser as well as his one-of-a-kind design, the Eagle. In the 1970s, he decided he wanted a metal light plane, so he built one and flew it to Oshkosh. The HummelBird caught the attention of like-minded builders and Hummel was soon selling plans for it. His follow-on Ultracruiser was designed to be able to fit the Part 103 Ultralight category.
In an interview with LeRoy Cook last year, Hummel talked about some of the first memories he could recall, a Standard airmail plane flying overhead on the Detroit-to-Chicago run, and watching huge dirigibles, the Macon and Los Angeles, floating by. From early childhood he was into rubber band-powered model airplanes and model rockets. He carved his own props and made his own solid-fuel powerplants.
Hummel continued to enjoy spending time with airplane people, and had attended an EAA chapter meeting the evening before he died.
Howard Levy started photographing airplanes near his Brooklyn home when he was 15 years old. He went on to serve as a photographer in the Air Corps during WW-II in Africa and Italy. He contributed hundreds of photographs and stories to KITPLANES and other aviation publications for decades, and he was a fixture at major airshows, camera looped around his neck, both in the U.S. and worldwide. His award-winning collection of thousands of photos, meticulously documented, includes many one-of-a-kind aircraft.
Levy was a founding member of American Aviation Historical Society as well as the Aviation/Space Writers Association. He lived in Freehold, New Jersey.