Beecraft "Honey Bee"
1952 Beecraft "Honey Bee" (N90859, s/n 1) c.2007 at the San Diego Aerospace Museum, Gillespie Field Annex, El Cajon, California
The founders of Beecraft Associates, Inc., were responsible for the Wee Bee monoplane, which was claimed to be big enough to lift a man yet small enough to be lifted by one. The Wee Bee, which was demonstrated in the United States and England two years ago, was notable for the fact that the pilot lay prone on the fuselage.
Beecraft has now produced the Honey Bee monoplane, which flew for the first time on 12 July 1952.
Under development are a small single-seat helicopter, a target drone, a medium-range twin-engine light transport and a small jet-driven delta-wing research aircraft for prone-position experimentation.
The Beecraft Honey Bee
The Honey Bee is a small single-seat low-cost personal aircraft of all-metal stressed-skinned construction. It is a high-wing cantilever monoplane with enclosed accommodation for the pilot below the wing, and is fitted with butterfly tail, a tricycle landing-gear with a Cessna type spring steel main unit and steerable nose wheel, and a 65 hp flat-four engine. The firm plans to have kits available to permit the addition of wing flaps, full-span slots and trim controls.
A flight test program is now underway and on completion application will be made for the CAA certificate.
Bee Aviation Associates, Inc. (Beecraft) built three prototype aircraft, designed by William Chana, at Montgomery Field in San Diego, California. None of the aircraft went into production.
The first aircraft built was the "Wee Bee" in 1948. The "Wee Bee" is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's lightest aircraft. It had a two-cylinder engine and tricycle landing gear. The pilot flew in a prone position lying atop the fuselage. The "Honey Bee" was the second plane, completed in 1952. It had a single seat in an enclosed cabin. The "Queen Bee" was the last and the largest of the three. It was completed in 1960 and seated four. The "Queen Bee" and the "Honey Bee" had V-tails.
The "Queen Bee" and the "Wee Bee" were destroyed in a fire that also destroyed the San Diego Aerospace Museum on February 22, 1978. The "Honey Bee" escaped the fire as it was still operating out of Montgomery Field at the time, owned by Walt Mooney. In 2004 the Experimental Aircraft Association donated the "Honey Bee" to the San Diego Air & Space Museum where it is currently awaiting restoration at their Gillespie Field annex. Because of its historic significance a second "Wee Bee" was built and is now on display at the new San Diego Air & Space Museum.