The first 'GANAGOBIE' was designed and built by the brothers William and James Lobet, at LILLE, FRANCE, with a diamond cross-section fuselage. James was foreman of the model workshop, and William was the technician, both working at the Institute of Fluid Mechanics, vertical 'WIND TUNNEL' . After conducting an extensive series of tests on the model, the major conclusion derived from this experimental work, indicated, with a limited weight of 115kgs (253lbs) a 16 hp engine would be sufficent to provide a satisfactory aircraft. The first flight occurred in 1953, with a 1930 Clergent engine of 22kgs (48lbs), 16HP.
The old engine after 24hrs broke down, and there was a major difficulty and there was the frustration of finding spare parts or another engine at the time, when no engines were available for ultra light aircraft in 1953 except for the VW engine, which was too heavy for this formula. So the two Lobet brothers decided to abandon the project, as when you are young money is scarce.
In 1948 the car maker Citroen designed the so called 2CV with a 602 cc 4 stroke engine, 2 cylinder flat twin air cooling , which was almost indestructible like the VW. The success of the mass production with an affordable cost and with a reduction drive, this engine can develop 30 hp with a possible weight of 30kgs (66lbs). The ideal engine for the Ganagobie.
Unfortunately when the two brothers went to the hanger, someone had pushed the prototype outside and after inspection, as it was glued with Casein Glue and made of Okoume plywood, it was not possible to restore the airframe damaged by the bad weather. The project was again abandoned.
In 1955 Mr George Jacquemin, a young Canadian Aeronautical Engineer, contacted Messrs Lobet in the view of jointly redesigning this attractive aircraft, into a thoroughly practical vehicle suitable for the then available surplus target drone engine such as the 72hp McCullough 2 stroke engine. The airframe was redesigned and an increase in size to accommodate average sized pilots. Construction of the new prototype was started as a club project in Canada by local Toronto EAA Chapter, this was the 'GANAGOBIE 02
The aircraft was eventually completed by Pierre Descamps. This prototype was equiped with a French engine, built in 1934, a 35 hp Poinsard flat twin, which provided about 25 hours flying before failing. In 1964, the Chef pilot of de Havilland Canada Ltd., flew the prototype and his approving statement was " a real fun aircraft " this opened up sales of plans in Canada and the USA.
Obviously the airframe design was successful but the failure of the old Poinsard highlighted one area of concern, the engine which at the time was a big problem for ultra light aifcraft. One amateur in Alberta Canada, flew successfully with a 72hp McCullough drone engine and aroused considerable interest, the 'GANAGOBIE 03',
Another amateur, Mr Ron Ballou of oregon USA, installed a continental A-40 in a slightly modified version of the aircraft ( to accomodate a much heavier engine). The 'GANAGOBIE 04' depicted on the back cover of Sport Aviation March 1970. Another amateur in Canada installed a VW 1600ccengine ( see EAA Sport Aviation magazine of 1978, page 29). This led directly to the 'GANAGOBIE 05' . A number of 'GANAGOBIE' have been built in the USA and Canada, and it may be possible to know the number by contacting the EAA registration office.
In the mean time the LOBET brothers built a Jodel D-9, James as a reservist in 1956 was recalled to the Algeria War in the G.A.O.A. ( Group Aviation Observation Artillery). Back to France the brother William Lobet nearly completed the aircraft and installed a VW engine of 1200cc. After several hundred hours flight, they sold this aircraft to the AJACCIO AEROCLUB in CORSICA, where it flew several hundred hours more until a foolish pilot crashed it into the beautiful AJACCIO beach trying to impress some girls. It is interesting to know that in 1961 this aircraft flew 160km over the Mediterranean sea, from the city of NICE to the city of AJACCIO CORSICA, this proves the reliability of the VW. After the sale of their Jodel D-9, the Lobet brothers bought and reconditioned a Piper J-3 and flew this one for a number of hours before the acquisition of a Piper Tri-Pacer
William LOBET got his commercial Pilot license (US & FRENCH AIR TRANSPORT PILOT) and flew Air FRANCE as Captain on AIRBUS 300, carrying 314 passengers. In the year 1980 he built a Cassut and has been twice European Champion on formula one. When he retired, with 20,000 hours flight, he built a Wittman, and is still flying at 87yrs of age.
James got his first glider pilot licence at 15yrs and later on silver "C", in 1959 the French PPL and in 1996 the New Zealand PPL and microlight licence. After working some years in the Jodel factory and Motor Glider Fournier, production line, maintenance, repairs of woodwork aircraft etc., emigrated to Australia in 1969 in the hope of starting the 'Gangobie 05' project in better conditions than Europe.
The project was started in 1971, but was unsuccessful, James met too many partner problems and an old fashioned bureaucracy not yet ready for ultra light industry. The airframe built in Australia was sent to New Zealand but for some reason has never been completed to date.
For a number of years James LOBET worked in Australia in different industries.
James lost his job in the 1985 recession, and the frustration of being rejected by society because of his age group and the change of goverment policy and rules made him discontented.So back he went to the drawing board and designed 17 set of detailed plans of the 'GANAGOBIE MOUSEBIRD'
He suddenly realized he still had the 'bug' and remembered the words of Chuck Yeager, who once said" the secret of successful retirement is to always have three years work ahead of you". Not a bad goal for a man who's done the right stuff.
The purpose of this new design of the Ganagobie, is to avoid a maximum of metal parts and no more welding, using the old wood technology forgotten today which was so successful.
In 1992 in New Zealand, seven years negotiation with the Ministry of Transport (now the CAA), has resulted in the introduction of an experimental system similiar to that opperating in the United States and some parts of the European Union, where individuals can, design, build and fly their own aircraft with the minimum of bureaucratic interference.
The new rule allows aircraft to be designed, built and modified without all the detailed approval and there is NO RESTRICTION ON SEAT, WEIGHT, OR HP'. When the aircraft is completed it undergoes an inspection and is required to be flown for a specified period in a designated area to prove its air worthiness. The experimental category is very often confused with ultra light and very light category. Because of no limit of power, seat, weight, experimental cannot be in the same category.
In 1996 James moved to new Zealand,. He found a nice location 150km south east of Auckland city, at Waihi Beach, a privately owned airfield. The welcome was warm and the construction of the 'GANAGOBIE MOUSEBIRD' (MSD) started in November 1998, slowly but steady, with a lot of interuptions. The first flight of the GANAGOBIE MOUSEBIRD occurred on the 16th FEBRUARY 2004, with James as the pilot at the Thames Airport New Zealand with good success. The prototype was mostly built to prove you can build at 98% a wood aircraft with less than 2% metal parts.