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Sep 23, 2021, 02:59 AM
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Obscure Airplane (s) Highlight of the Day : Piel Homebuilts


Piel Homebuilts: Today Richard VanGrunsven has made homebuilding aircraft a very reachable goal with Vans aircraft. Of course Vans has a single seat version, two seat versions in both side-by-side and tandem variants and a four seat version. While that seems like a neat modern idea, a little french company actually had a very similar lineup a long time before Vans.

Claude Pielís first particularly successful airplane was the CP.20 Pinocchio. Even being the first airplane in the Piel lineup, it carried the signature design feature. All of the Piel airplanes feature a complex elliptical wing not unlike that of a spitfire. The little single seat Pinocchio had a tiny VW engine up front which made it a nice flier. About 20 CP.20s were built with a handful of engines including one powered by a Salmson AD9 9 cylinder 40hp radial. (I canít find any pictures but it must have looked awesome)

With the success of his first design egging him one, Piel designed a series of aircraft which may be the most popular french homebuilts. The Pinocchio was the single seat version. Next up was the Emeraude which was an enlarged Pinocchio with two side-by-side seats. Then came the Diamant which was increased in size yet again allowing for four seats. And finally came the Beryl which was the same size as the Emeraude but seated two in tandem. His plans also included nosewheel options in some cases just like RV does today.

Itís impossible to add up how many of Pielís designs have been built, but it is a very significant number. If it werenít for the very complex wood structure and expensive fabric covering, I think this series would have been as big as RV is now. I have flown a Piel Beryl (and RVs for comparison) and I will confidently say it was the nicest flying airplane I have ever had the pleasure of flying.

(With 2 photos each, the pictures are in order as follows: Pinnochio, Emeraude, Diamant, Beryl)
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