The Remarkable Cri Cri

October 10, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

The Cri Cri aircraft is still considered to be an ingenuous masterpiece of aviation engineering, and is the smallest two engine aircraft in the world. What makes this aircraft even more spectacular is that it is a home built project. Pilots are able to construct their own Cri Cri according to the kit project specifications. Today there are approximately a hundred and fifty Cri Cri aircraft that are registered.

It was the drive and curiosity of Michel Colomban that first initiated the plans and ideas for the Cri Cri plane. At the time, in 1971, Colomban was working as an aircraft designer, aeronautical engineer and a model aircraft enthusiast. All these qualities would become significant in the design process of the Cri Cri plane. Michel Colomban was fascinated with airplanes, their size, structure and maneuverability. It then became a quest for Colomban to design, build and fly an aircraft that is economical to construct, safe, light and maneuverable enough to perform aerial acrobatics. This lead to the creation of an airplane that had a 4.9 meter wingspan, 3.9 meters in length and a single seat. It became a model aircraft project that was able to take to the skies, carrying a pilot of approximately sixty-three kilograms.

Today the Cri Cri airplanes that are in use have improved considerably since the first design was put to paper, and many pilots deviate from the building plans at times to improve the performance of their airplanes. It has been noted that the MC-10 model is able to reach a cruising speed of approximately 170 kilometers an hour, while the MC-12 is capable of reaching estimated speeds of 185 kilometers per hour. Some pilots have even substituted the propeller engines for jet engines, increasing the speed of their airplanes to close to 240 kilometers an hour. These abilities are quite impressive for such a small aircraft.

After years of exhausting testing, the ultra light two engine Cri Cri wrote its name down in aviation history on 19 July 1973 when a retired fighter pilot, Robert Buisson, climbed into the cockpit for the first flight of the Cri Cri. With twelve thousand hours of flight experience and having flown a hundred and fifty different types of airplanes, it was time for this little aircraft to prove its worth to this seasoned pilot. Taking off from Guyancourt Airport in Paris, the Cri Cri accelerated to a cruising speed of one hundred kilometers an hour, exceeding all expectations of both the pilot and designer. The design might have changed over the years and improvements made, but one fact remains – there will never be another homebuilt aircraft quite like the Cri Cri.

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