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Cricri Team Makes U.S. Debut in Oshkosh

World’s smallest twin-engine homebuilt takes off from moving Ford

By Ti Windisch, EAA Staff Writer

July 26, 2018 - The Cricri Team, a group of three French pilots, homebuilders, and Airbus employees, features a Colomban Cri-Cri that performs air show routines after taking off from a moving vehicle. They made their American debut Monday during the opening day air show.

Lionel Adroit, EAA 1286903, is the pilot of the Cri-Cri, and he also built the airplane from plans in France. Daniel Pratviel, EAA 1286902, drives the vehicle the Cri-Cri takes off from, which in this case is a Ford Explorer. Lucie Chapirot-Sarda, EAA 1286899, manages the safety aspect of the entire show. She analyzes the loads, speeds, and gallery inclination, and communicates with the tower from inside the Ford.

“We’ve been running this show for three years in France with great success, and we were invited by EAA to perform at AirVenture,” Lucie said. “It’s a great honor.”

Lucie said Lionel was the one who originally came up with the idea for the show after being inspired by U.S. air shows.

“Lionel knows his aircraft by heart, he made it, so he knows every single piece,” Lucie said. “He was proud to display it. Then he is the one who had the idea to make it take off from the roof of a car by being inspired, because this has already happened at air shows in America.”

In addition to driving the car during the show, which is not a cakewalk in itself, Lucie said Daniel also is the mechanic for the team who built the custom trailer that the Cri-Cri was transported in.

“If he accelerates too fast, the aircraft falls behind,” Lucie said. “If he brakes too fast, the aircraft falls in front. Because of course it’s not attached if we want it to take off. Daniel is used to driving the car, and he does this very well.”

The Cricri Team had to adapt for the Ford Explorer, as in the past they had flown the Cri-Cri off a Subaru and a BMW in Europe. Terry Lutz, the American member of the team, made that possible by getting them the measurements to adjust the gallery the Cri-Cri takes off from.

Although the ground vehicle was different and they had never performed in America before, Lucie said that the team was very confident in their show leading up to Oshkosh, even if it was different than their previous performances.

“The big difference with the previous shows is the number of spectators and enthusiasts,” Lucie said. “It’s just been thrilling to do this for all these people. We love it.”

The tiny twin-engine Cri-Cri homebuilt gets its name from designer Michel Colomban’s daughter’s nickname. The original plans call for a 12-foot, 10-inch length and a 16-foot, 1-inch wingspan. The Cri-Cri was brought from Toulouse, France, to Oshkosh via both road and sea transport.

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