A love for flying led to the Hummel Aircraft Company making Dexter its home.

The company came to be in Dexter a few years back after Matt and Laurie Higgins acquired Hummel Aviation in 2021. Both longtime Dexter residents, they are carrying on Hummel’s tradition and are continuing to grow the business by making improvements. It’s become a locally-owned, family run aircraft company that manufactures light kit-built aircraft.

To learn more about this unique local company the Sun Times News connected with Matt and Laurie.

“Matt’s love for flying happened early, with his solo flight taking place while still in high school,” said Laurie, who was his first passenger when he became a licensed pilot.

Matt has over 38 years in aviation, which includes being certified to pilot in various aircraft, flight and ground school instruction, flight simulator design and build, instructing aeronautics at the university level, and of course, building ultralight and experimental aircraft. He currently heads up all design, testing and parts manufacturing for Hummel.

Laurie spent 35 years in education, and nearly 18 years managing daily operations for Morning Star Child Care in Dexter. She is retired from education and now spends most of her days managing the daily operations and sales for Hummel as well as assisting in the building process for those who want to purchase a ready-to-fly Ultracruiser.

Both of their children have also played an active role in the company. Their daughter, Clare, who is currently working in health care and taking courses in nursing, assists in manufacturing the hand formed parts for the kits (wing ribs, spar pieces, etc.), while their son, Donovan, who is currently a flight instructor for Buckeye Flight Academy, acts as a test pilot for all ready-to-fly Ultracruisers and also assists with sales during air shows.

They all share an excitement for flight.

In giving some company history, Laurie said the “Hummel design has been around for over 40 years.”

It was originally based in Ohio. It began with Morry Hummel and his designs. The Ultralight and two Experimental Aircraft Designs are based off of his creations, with the Hummelbird (Experimental) design being the first.

Matt and Laurie said they “continue to grow the business by making improvements with the Ultracruiser design.”

In explaining this aircraft, they said this is a design that meets all the requirements to allow it to be flown as a Part 103 Federal Aviation Regulation Ultralight.

“This means, in short, that it may be flown without a pilot’s license, medical certificate, or previous aircraft experience,” Laurie said.

With over 5,000 plans sold since its creation, the Hummelbird can be built by plans only, Laurie said. The Ulracruiser (Part 103) and the H5 (Experimental Aircraft) can both be built from plans, or by purchasing the kit parts and building using the 3D Build Manual.

“The number of Hummel’s that are currently flying would only be an estimation since the Ultracruiser does not have to be registered with the FAA, and owners of the Hummelbird and H5 are not required to let Hummel know of change in ownership,” she said, adding that the community of Hummel builders and pilots is vast, with a large majority of them having decades of flight experience.

“We can tell you that Hummels are being flown worldwide. We have builders and pilots in Australia, Brazil, Japan, Canada, Mexico and England,” Laurie and Matt said.

In addition to Hummel Aircraft’s Facebook page, these builders and pilots have their own Facebook Page, where they share their knowledge, show their progress on their builds, ask questions of other builders and pilots, and keep up-to-date with news from Hummel Aircraft.

Laurie said the page followers “are currently watching and waiting for more information on the two place tandem design that has been on the drawing board for the past year, and is now partially built.”

“Hummel is hoping to have the engine on the new Realta by the middle of summer and test flown sometime before fall,” she said.

So the tradition carries on in Dexter and around the world for Hummel as the Higgins family strives to do their best and continue to offer the same quality products and designs.

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