Little Toot graces the skies over Texas

Aerobatic aircraft do not necessarily have macho names like Edge, Eagle or Challenger. In 1957 Texan George Meyer designed a single-seat aerobatic biplane he dubbed Little Toot and flew it to the event we know today as EAA AirVenture. The design was a hit and Meyer came home to Corpus Christi with several awards for design and workmanship.

Although George died in 1982, his son Tommy has carried on the family design, selling the plans-built Little Toot. He also is in the process of creating a two-place model called Big Toot.

Tommy, now 61, has been flying since he was a teenager. He has 500 hours now, most of it in a Toot, he says proudly. He owns three of them, including the first one built by his father.

Aviation is a sideline for him, as he makes his living in the air conditioning industry. Yet over the years he’s helped dozens of aspiring Toot pilots build their planes.

“It takes about three years to build one if you spend a couple of hours each day on it,” he says. “It is a plans built aircraft, but I build the fiberglass wheel pants, the spinners, the fairings, the cowlings and the wing tip bows — basically everything that is hard to do or makes the airplane look pretty.”

Today there are about 40 Toots flying.

There is a concentration of Toots in the Dallas area, says Meyer. “I know of seven in the area now. Many of them are owned by airline pilots who want a fun airplane they can wring out without worrying about people in the back. The aircraft is known for its aerobatic capability. It is stressed to 10Gs, yet it is a very easy airplane to fly.”

Just as Piper Cubs are classically yellow, a Little Toot has a red and white color scheme with an arrow down its belly and a checkerboard pattern on the underside of the bottom wing and the tail.

Because there are so few in the world, seeing more than one at a time is a treat, says Meyer. “Usually it only happens at AirVenture or another fly-in like it.”

THE CARTOON CONNECTION

If you do a Google search for Little Toot not only do you find references to the airplane, you will also find references to a 1950s Walt Disney cartoon about a tugboat. Little Toot wants to be a tugboat like his father Big Toot, but when he tries to do the job of the big tugs he gets into trouble and his father has to bail him out. However, in true Disney fashion, Little Toot comes to the rescue of a stranded ship and redeems himself in the eyes of the other tugs.

The aircraft is named after the Disney character, says Meyer.

“When my father was designing and building Little Toot, I often played the Disney record about the little tugboat,” he recalls. “My father asked my mother to help name the airplane when the design was almost finished. She said ‘Tommy plays that Disney record all the time, why don’t we call it Little Toot?’”

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