El Chuparosa originated as a chalk sketch on a wall in builder and designer Ray Hegy’s workshop in 1948. Ray named his airplane “after the Spanish word for hummingbird, as anyone who heard it fly overhead could understand; it truly was a hummingbird.”
No component of El Chuparosa’s design was from any previously certificated aircraft so the airplane was entirely Ray’s design. The structure was conventional steel tube with wood spars. The diminutive cabin biplane was powered by a 65-hp Continental A65 engine. The prop was Ray’s own manufacture, 58 inches in diameter and six inches wide, with a pitch of 52.
Not content with the idea of simply buying materials, Ray would scrounge far and wide to solve each problem as it arose. In this way, all of the parts for the airplane were fabricated from material taken from many sources. The wing spars were cut down from those of a damaged J-3 Cub, then reglued into a laminated assembly. The upper wing was one piece, with a two-degree dihedral built in. Wing ribs were reworked from Cub ribs with the 36-inch chord. Interplane struts were from a Piper PA-11 rear lift strut with adjustment for altering the incidence in the lower wing provided at the rear spar fitting. The cowling was built from parts of a Beech AT-10 nose cone combined with a set of Fairchild 24 wheelpants, while the carburetor scoop started life as a pair of Stinson landing gear fairings.
In 1959, after nine years of work, El Chuparosa passed FAA inspection and Ray was off and flying. Every year at the EAA Fly-In at Rockford, from 1960 to 1969, Ray would be up at the crack of dawn, buzzing over the campgrounds as the self-appointed camp alarm clock. The sound of El Chuparosa at high speed was described as sounding a bit like ripping canvas. Ray was so regular that campers could set their watches by his dawn patrol.
Ray’s airplane was a tiny, bright red biplane, complete with a warning sign by its augmenter exhaust that says “Beware of Blast.” After 18 years, 1,520.4 hours of flying time, and tens of thousands of miles, Ray and his wife Merrie donated El Chuparosa to EAA on August 14, 1977.