Tight Fit - Fun Flight


All in a day's work for a magazine editor - flying one of the tiniest little homebuilts you're ever going to find (note I said "one of the tiniest..." yes, there are smaller planes, but the Hummelbird is down among 'em) – the Hummelbird! We recently spent a couple of days in Bryan, Ohio, looking into the H5 and 'bird models that Hummel Aviation supports and sells in plans or kit form. Reasonably priced, simple, and compact to build, these little airplanes are a dream project for someone who wants to fly a single-seat airplane on a small budget. 

While we were there primarily to fly and review the H5, it would have been criminal to turn down the chance to strap into the littlest Hummel and take her around the patch. While the tail wheel steering is mighty quick on the runway, requiring fast feet, up and away she felt just fine, and light on the controls. Powered by half a VW engine sporting all of 37 horsepower, don’t expect to climb like a rocket ship, or compete around the pylons at Reno – but if your mission is to get in the air and see the earth from above, I think this would fill the bill nicely.

The Hummelbird is an airplane that you don’t just climb in to, you sort of put it on. I’m not a big guy, and squeezing into the seat takes just a little caution – but once you’re there, it fits like a glove. The visibility out of the cockpit is outstanding, since the longerons are down around your hips - it seems like you are sitting on top of it instead of inside. Control motions are small, and the forces light – sort of like flying a go-cart version of larger sport planes. Without a doubt, it was fun to add this little machine to our list of aircraft flown.

Watch for a full review of the Hummelbird’s big brother, the H5, in an upcoming issue of Kitplanes.

Paul Dye

Paul Dye, Kitplanes® Editor in Chief, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the space shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen, and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and a Subsonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra they completed. Currently, they are building a Xenos motorglider. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 5000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, EAA Tech Counselor, and Flight Advisor, as well as a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.

3 Replies to “Tight Fit - Fun Flight”

  1. Like a lot of micro-planes, apparently very sensitive in pitch, and apparently very susceptible to accidents involving over-gross or out-of-range CG. And forget crash-survivability.

  2. Engine options noted do not offer a great deal of security -- except perhaps the Rotax. And this tiny thing is NOT a plane you want to dead-stick into a field.

  3. For reliability I'll take a half VW over anything Rotax ever made except maybe the 912. Size of the plane has nothing to do with dead stick / crash survival. Slow landing speed and structural energy absorption are the major factors. Doesn't get much better than 42 mph and all aluminum.

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