Pigeon-Toeing a Hummelbird

Pete Zutrauen greats his public after tying his diminutive Hummelbird to the Oshkosh grass. The high-vis orange paint is, “because it’s good to be seen” when flying over the desolate Ontario woods.

Although running past to another event, we couldn’t resist a flirting look at Pete Zutrauen’s impossibly small, low and high-visibility Hummelbird. The VW-powered, all-metal single-seater gave him a 100 mph ride to Oshkosh from his Ottawa home; not too fast, but the 1.8 gph fuel burn means he arrived here with far more Loonies in his pocket than we did.

Our brief visit did earn us a good builder’s tip. Asked if the 350-lb airplane was squirrelly Pete said, “Not while I’m flying it!” explaining that when building he set the landing gear toe at 0-degrees, only to find that when he stepped into the cockpit his weight caused the gear to toe in. Not having figured out how to fly it without being in it, Pete’s advice is to consider checking toe at both empty and gross weights.

Luckily Pete reports using all available adjustment he was able to get the toe turned out sufficiently for acceptable ground handling, but it would have been better to adjust it during the build.


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