Tom Horne

The Cri-Cri: “Nickel-chrome”

October 5, 2010 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

Last weekend I was up visiting the Pendleton, Ontario, Canada airport. A friend there, David Smith, owns a Cri-Cri–claimed to be the smallest twin-engine airplane in the world, and we made photos and videos of this remarkable airplane. Look for a story about the Cri-Cri in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot–complete with web components featuring in-cockpit views of Cri-Cri aerobatics.

Pendleton used to be a World War II training base, but the Canadian government sold the airport to the 100-member Gatineau Gliding Club and now it’s a very nice airport community. Cabins, mobile homes, a clubhouse with in-ground swimming pool–it’s all there, nestled among the birches and pines of this rural site.

Photographer Chris Rose and I stayed in Smith’s house at Pendleton. In the 1940s it used to be the base commander’s residence. But last weekend it was home to Smith’s family and a visitor from Montreal–Francois Bougie. Bougie flew his Swift to Pendleton to watch us work gathering images for the story.

It’s easy to be taken in by the Cri-Cri. It’s cute on the ground, but can be aggressive in the air. As the videos will show. Bougie’s enthusiasm came with a Quebecois twist. Like most who live in Quebec, his patter could switch instantly from English to French-Canadian. Ditto Smith. I envy them this rapid-fire bilinguality.

Rose was all over the place taking his photos and videos. At one point he got on the roof of a hangar to get a straight-down shot of the Cri-Cri. Bougie was with him. When he saw the shot played back in Rose’s viewfinder, he exclaimed, “C’est du Nickel-Chrome, la!”

Say what? Smith and I were baffled by this phrase (it means, well, nickel-chrome, but is pronounced–no, shouted–with a heavy French accent). Turns out “nickel-chrome” is a popular phrase among the youth of Quebec. It means “super-duper,” “top notch,” “most excellent,” etc.

You guessed it, the phrase caught on. Soon, it was nickel-chrome this or that. Now it’s an in-joke among the dozen or so who watched the photo shoot. When you see the article and imagery, maybe you, too, will be moved to blurt out “nickel-chrome!” and flick away an imaginary cigarette with the mock disdain of  a French-Canadian imitating a Frenchman from the continent.

8 Responses to “The Cri-Cri: “Nickel-chrome””

  1. Michael Strutzel Says:

    Fine “reporting point.” This former radial-twin driver has admired for decades the littlest twin and almost bought one once. There was–perhaps still is–a European aerobatic team flying Crickets (Cr-Cri translated). I eagerly anticipate the full article!

  2. Joe Ahrens Says:

    I dont undertand why you have no picture. The whole point was how it looked, so what’s the point without a picture?

  3. Raymond Previ Says:

    You can find video of the Crickets on You Tube. The pilot takes it off and does a roll on take off. At first I thought it was a model airplane but he got in it and flew away. Wow!!!

  4. Tom Meleck Says:

    I agree with Mr. Joe Ahrens. I was sorely disappointed not to see some photos included with this article. Fortunately, Ray Previ was kind enough to post a reference to Crickets on You Tube.Otherwise we’d all be left with just the one image which doesn’t really show much of the airplane.

  5. Richard Magnan Says:

    Why not post an article in Flying Magazine or in AOPA’s Pilot, with specifications and a thorough review of it., n’est-ce pas? Yes, I’m a French Canadian who is lookong for to fly some day and I’m curious what Cri-Cri has to offer. Ca ne semble pas un avion qui m’intéresse vraiment (It is not an airplane which is catching my attention really), but it would be good to see what it has to offer.

    Bon soir tou’t la gang (To quote Paul McCartney at the 400th anversary of Québec City 2008′s concert.)

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    I would like to ask a couple of questions regarding pilots license, is it required? Having the safe assembly done any suggestions? Also a final cost when the wheels leave the ground? Foremost safety in normal flying conditions? Thankyou in advance Jim McKay

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