The Hummel Bird: Here am I sitting in a tin can
By James Grahame
Futurists in the mid-twentieth century loved to dream up worlds filled with incredibly convenient personal aircraft. If that vision had come to pass, I suspect vehicles like the Hummel Bird would have been manufactured by the millions.
This tiny 13 1/2 foot long aluminum homebuilt aircraft is often powered by a modified VW bug engine (once plentiful, inexpensive and conveniently air-cooled). With a 37 hp engine the aircraft cruises at slightly more than 100 mph (161 kph). It requires only 300 ft (92 m) for takeoff and weighs a mere 300 lbs (136 kg) empty. There's only room for a reasonably slim pilot in the compact cockpit.
Morry Hummel worked in the Curtis Wright experimental department during WWII. He learned to fly after the war and his first design was based on the Windwagon by Gary Watson. Hummel purchased a set of plans in 1979 and set about modifying it as a taildragger with larger bulkheads and a full canopy. The aircraft was completed in 1982 and dubbed the "Hummel Bird" in a Sport Aviation article. The name stuck.
In 1999, four years after a serious aircraft accident, 84 year-old Hummel set about designing the Ultra Cruiser - an all metal ultralight aircraft. It first flew in 2000. Plans and parts for the Hummel Bird are available from the Hummel Aviation website, along with parts and kits for his popular Ultra Cruiser. I can only hope that I have such a productive retirement!
The official Hummel Aviation site
The images are of Dave King's aircraft [Holobrook Ultralight Club, Australia]