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Mystery Plane

Fully aerobatic biplane, affordable to build and fly

By Patrick Panzera, Editor – Experimenter, EAA 555743

Mystery plane

Named “Best” in the combined Ultralight/Lightplane category during the 1992 EAA East Coast Fly-In at Wilmington, Delaware, this little biplane is robust enough to be competitive with the International Aerobatic Club’s intermediate level. The prototype, which took six months and $12,000 to build, first flew in 1986. After logging 120 hours, the designer/builder sold it for $15,000. But during those 120 hours, a second one was constructed in four months.

The H-2 Honey Bee, the brainchild of Bert Howland, is a strut-and-cable-braced aerobatic biplane with four, equal-span, 8-foot wing panels designed to handle g-loads of +8 to -6. Prototype and early versions used engines in the 40- to 46-hp range, but the designer later moved up to an engine of 65 hp as standard.

The plans originally provided for ailerons on the bottom wing only, but later a four-aileron option became available for those who wish a more responsive roll rate. When that option is selected, together with an engine in the 85-hp range or better (such as the Hirth F-30) and with an inverted fuel system, the H-2A is suitable for aerobatic competition. But like his other aircraft (the low-wing monoplane H-3 Pegasus), the H-2 was designed around the powerplant, in this case, a 40-hp Rotax 447 turning a 68 x 28 wooden propeller.

Bert Howland introduced a technique of TIG-welding (tungsten inert gas welding) the fuselage from square 6061-T6 aluminum tubing, yielding a strong and rugged fuselage frame that weighs only 24 pounds. The empennage is made from tubular round stock. The airfoil on the four equal-span wings is only 6-1/2-inch thick and consists of seven aluminum-capped foam ribs per panel with a D-cell leading edge spar and a C-section rear spar. The aircraft has been powered with engines from 40 to 95 hp. Homebuilder plans cost $250 and consist of 40 engineering drawings and designer construction notes.

The design is simple and straightforward with no surprises. The fuel tank is located between the firewall and instrument panel with no fuel in the wings. But it only holds 5 gallons. The entire plane is fabric covered, with Ceconite being the material of choice, and the estimated build time is a little over 300 hours. A TIG welder is required to build this plane.

For more information, contact:

Classic Aero Enterprises
343 Wrexham Court #101D
Hampton, VA 23669

H-2 Honey Bee Specifications



19 feet

Wing area

140 square feet

Overall length

15 feet, 8 inches


6 feet, 1 inch

Empty weight

335 to 496 pounds

Gross weight

550 to 750 pounds



40 to 95 hp


60 to 69 inches, 2-blade


Hirth F-30 or Rotax, hp range  65 to 95

Fuel capacity

10 to 12 U.S. gallons


Top speed

68 to 80 mph

Cruise speed

55 to 68 mph

Stall (power off)

25 to 35 mph

Design load at 550 pounds gross weight

+8g, -6g

Climb rate

400 to 850 feet/minute

Takeoff distance

125 to 200 feet

Landing run

150 to 275 feet

Fuel capacity

7.5 to 12 gallons

Service ceiling

9,500 feet


130 nautical miles

From the Wicks Aircraft Supply catalog:
Description – Part Number – Price       
H-2A Honey Bee aluminum kit H2A-001 $1,467.61
H-2A Honey Bee steel H2A-002 $112.14
H-2A Honey Bee stainless steel H2A-003 $42.95
H-2A Honey Bee hardware kit H2A-005 $961.48
H-2A Honey Bee covering H2A-006 $1,293.24
H-2A Honey Bee miscellaneous H2A-007 $131.92


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