The Electric Flying Fleas
The AeroInnovations section in a recent issue of e-Hotline reported news of two Flying Flea (Pou du Ciel) variants taking to the sky in Italy with electric power. The smaller of the two shown here is the Pulce Ellectrica, which has a wingspan of 18 feet and a ready-to-fly empty weight of 163 pounds, including batteries. The builder and pilot Nedo Lavorini weighs 167 pounds.
Four Chinese model airplane motors are ganged together to drive a single propeller, yielding 11 hp, or about the same as the early foot-launched Easy Riser ultralight. Wing loading is 2.37 pounds per square foot, similar to many early-era ultralights. Stall speed is 25 mph, and top speed is said to be 62 mph. The batteries should last 40 minutes.
Takeoff is long at 200 meters, but you don’t have to run with it. The builder claims the total cost was $5,400. An observer can’t help but wonder what other types of electric ultralights are possible given that this diminutive plane is 90 pounds under the weight limit for ultralights in the United States. More pictures of the Pulce Ellectrica can be seen at the Flying Flea website Pouguide.org. The larger of the two Fleas in the e-Hotline report is the Pouchelec, which weighs 308 pounds and can be seen flying with a 17-hp electric motor in this video. Listen for the sound of electric flight.