Morane-Saulnier Rallye – Gallic Gem

Rallye 100ST seen at Brno, Czech Republic in 2022.

From the Morane-Saulnier Stables

The Rallye (“Rally” in English) family of aircraft is a prolific one, with a number of twists and turns by way of corporate takeovers, product renamings and license production to create a rather convoluted history.

What is not unclear, however, is that the Rallye family represents the most successful French designed single engine general aviation aircraft of the latter half of the 20th century. Perhaps that should come as no surpize considering the origins of its pedigree: Morane-Saulnier.

When talking about French aircraft producers, few names are as well known as Morane-Saulnier. The Morane-Saulnier name has been around nearly as long as powered flight and is attached to some very pioneering aircraft from the pre World War I era, successful fighter aircraft in both world wars and a number of successful training and aerobatic aircraft in the interwar period. At the time the Rallye prototype first flew, in 1959, the company had nearly half a century of aircraft design experience behind them.

The company existed independently from 1911 to 1962, when it became a subsidiary of the Potez aircraft company. In the late 1960s, state owned Sud Aviation took over Potez and inherited the Rallye design in the process. After the Sud Aviation take over, the Morane-Saulnier name was replaced with SOCATA (Societe de Construction d’Avions de Tourisme et d’Affaires) and continued French production of the Rallye family took place under the SOCATA name.

Rallye 100ST seen at Brno, Czech Republic in 2022.

Giving Wings to the Public

Just as it was in the post First World War period, there was a significant upsurge in aviation mindedness among the public of many nations in the immediate post World War Two years. This led to the need for modern general aviation designs to satisfy the requirements of both individual pilots and flying clubs.

America had staked its claim on the market with the Cessna 172, which first flew in 1955 and experienced almost immediate widescale success.

Not to be left out, the French government opened a competition in 1958 for French aircraft manufacturers to design a light single engined aircraft suitable for training and touring as well as glider and banner towing. Morane-Saulnier won the competition with their MS.880 design and the prototype Rallye took to the air for the first time in 1959.

The Rallye was immediately successful at home and flying clubs across France took the new aircraft on in quantity. Before long, the aircraft experienced success more widely in Europe and points abroad. Over 3,300 examples of the Rallye were built across various family models, and the type saw export to no fewer than 65 countries. Aside of civilian use, members of the Rallye family were used by the air arms of 14 countries.

Part of the Rallye’s success can be found in its pilot friendly nature, it has a reputation as a very forgiving aircraft that is quite tolerant of novice mistakes. The same pilot friendly handling, along with the generous view outward provided by the large cabin canopy, also makes the Rallye pleasant for longer flights associated with touring.

Rallye 100ST seen at Brno, Czech Republic in 2022.

A Look at the Rallye

Two key qualities of single engine general aviation aircraft are affordability and maintainability. In achieving these qualities, simplicity is paramount. The Rallye certainly fits this description; it has proven itself to be a very economical and dependable machine at the flying club level.

At a glance, the Rallye can be described as an all metal, low-wing monoplane with a fixed landing gear. It seats up to four people, depending on the model.

On closer inspection, the Rallye has a few features that are rather unusual for an aircraft of its class:

As opposed to traditional doors, the cabin of the Rallye is opened and closed by a sliding canopy. This is an unusual feature on aircraft of the Rallye’s class and it allows for the aircraft to be flown up to a certain speed with the canopy left a bit opened. This means it’s possible to experience the sensation of open cockpit flying in the Rallye.

The Rallye was also designed to have near STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) qualities to it. To this end, it features slats on the leading edges of its wings that extend automatically at lower speeds to improve handling during low speed flying and at landings.

Aside of the leading edge slats, the Rallye also has quite large flight control surfaces for an aircraft of its size. This makes it very responsive in flight and lends to its forgiving flight characteristics. The trade off for the larger flight control surfaces is higher drag; accordingly, the Rallye is not the swiftest of aircraft in its class.

As part of the STOL features, the Rallye has quite robust landing gear that can handle not only short landings in the STOL regime, but also hard landings by student pilots.

Rallye 893 Commodore 180 at Kunovice, Czech Republic in 2018.

The Rallye Family

As mentioned at the start of this article, the Rallye family has a rather confusing looking family tree. This confusion comes not only from which Rallye variants were produced under the Morane-Saulnier brand versus those built under the SOCATA name, but also members of the family that began life with one designation, but were renamed later for marketing purposes.

There is also the license built versions by PZL, in Poland, to consider. In the late 1970s, PZL was granted a license to produce the Rallye as the PZL-110 Koliber (“Hummingbird” in English) and Polish Rallye production continued for several years after French production ended in 1984. Eventually, the Koliber diverged far enough from the Rallye to be able to constitute its own aircraft family.

The best way to look at this aircraft family is to separate it by the lightweight (MS.880) and heavyweight (MS.890) series, as all variants fall into one of those two categories. The main difference between the two series is that the MS.880 series was initially designed with two seats and later modified to have three or four seats, while the MS.890 series was designed with four seats from the start.

MS.880 / MS.880A

These two aircraft were prototypes. The MS.880 was the two seat version while the MS.880A was the three seat version. Additionally, the MS.880A had a swept vertical tail fin.

MS.880B Rallye Club

The MS.880B was the first full production version of the Rallye. It was a two seat aircraft with a 100 horsepower engine. A total of 1,100 of this version were built.

MS.881 / MS.883

These were two seat versions with slightly more powerful engines than the MS.880B had. The MS.881 was fitted with a 105 horsepower engine while the MS.883 had an engine of 115 horsepower.

MS.885 Super Rallye

The Super Rallye was available in two and three seat versions and had a 145 horsepower engine. Slightly over 200 of this version were produced.


Powered by a 150 horsepower engine, only three of this version were made.

Rallye 100S Sport

This was a two seat trainer version with a 100 horsepower engine. 55 of this variant were built.

Rallye 100T / Rallye 125

The Rallye 100T was essentially an MS.880B with some minor revisions. the Rallye 125 was a four seat version of the Rallye 100T with a 125 horsepower engine.

Rallye 100ST / SOCATA 110ST Galopin / PZL-110 Koliber

The Rallye 100ST was a modest improvement on the Rallye 100T. It included three or four seats and a 20 kilogram gross weight increase.

The SOCATA 110ST Galopin was an improvement on the Rallye 100ST in that it had a 155 horsepower engine

The PZL-110 Koliber (Hummingbird) was the first of the Polish license built versions of the Rallye. It was powered by a 116 horsepower engine.

Rallye 150T / SOCATA 180T Galerian

The Rallye 150T was a four seat vesion of the Rallye100ST with a higher gross weight, enlarged tail surfaces and a 150 horsepower engine.

The SOCATA 180T Galerian was an improved version of the Rallye 150T by way of a 180 horsepower engine.

Rallye 150ST / SOCATA 150SV Garnement

The Rallye 150ST was a Rallye 150T that was structurally strengthened to handle stall recovery training. 66 of this verion were made.

The SOCATA 150SV Garnement was an improved version of the Rallye 150T through a 155 horsepower engine.

Rallye 893 Commodore 180 at Brno, Czech Republic in 2017.

MS.890 Rallye Commodore

This was the first member of the Rallye family to be designed and build as a four seat aircraft from the ground up. Eight were built, all powered by a 145 horsepower engine.

MS.892 Rallye Commodore 150 / Rallye 150

The MS.892 was an MS.890 fitted with a 150 horsepower engine.

Rallye 150 was a later redesignation of the MS.892.

MS.893 Rallye Commodore 180 / Rallye 180 / SOCATA Gaillard / SOCATA Galérien

The MS.893 was fitted with a 180 horsepower engine

Rallye 180 and SOCATA Gaillard were later redesignations for the MS.893 while the SOCATA Galérien was the designation for a glider towing version of the MS.893.

MS.894 Rallye Minerva / Rallye 220

This version took the horsepower up to 220 and was given the later redesignation of Rallye 220.

Rallye 235 / SOCATA Gabier / SOCATA R235 Guerrier / SOCATA 235CA Gaucho

As the Rallye 235 designation suggests, this variation was fitted with a 235 horsepower engine. This model was later redesignated as the SOCATA Gabier.

The SOCATA R235 Guerrier was the military version of the Rallye 235.

SOCATA 235CA was the designation for a handful of Rallye 235 aircraft that were modified for agricultural work. The modifications included a tail wheel landing gear arrangement and a hopper to hold material for spraying.

Rallye 893 Commodore 180 at Brno, Czech Republic in 2017.

The Rallye Today and Learning More

With around 3,300 built, there are still a good number of the Rallye family flying. However, they are not spread evenly around the world and your best chance of seeing one is likely to be in Europe.

A number of attempts were made to market both the Rallye and Koliber in America, but only a modest number were sold there due to the fact that there were already plenty of American made aircraft of similar capabilities saturating the market there.

You can find two good articles about flying the Rallye at the Achtung, Skyhawk! website. This article covers a flight from Spain to Croatia in an early MS.880 model and this article covers a flight in the later Rallye 150 model.

The Aeronautiker website has a nicely detailed article about flying and maintaining Rallye aircraft.

An article on flying the Rallye in America can be found at the AOPA website.


Pardubice Aviation Fair – 2022 Edition

A Great Show is Back on Track

After a couple of years delay due to COVID restrictions, the Aviation Fair in Pardubice was back on in 2022 on May 28 and 29.

I attended on May 28, The weather was variable but I managed some decent shots on the day:

Book Review: “An Officer, Not a Gentleman”

An Officer, Not a Gentleman

By: Mandy Hickson

Mandy Hickson became only the second female fast jet pilot in Royal Air Force history when she qualified in 1999 as a pilot on the Panavia Tornado, an aircraft she would fly until 2002. Her RAF career spanned 17 years in full, the bulk of it in flying roles.

While women flying in combat roles in air arms in many nations is no longer the groundbreaking news it once was, military flying is still seen as primarily a man’s world. That goes double for the fast jet community.

“An Officer, Not a Gentleman” is an enjoyable book about one woman’s experience in the fast jet community at a time when the RAF was facing the reality of women wanting to fly combat jets and the policy and attitude changes that it needed to make to facilitate that.

What you will find in this book is memoirs rather than mantras. Hickson makes it very clear from an early point that she wanted to be a pilot since childhood; this book puts the fulfilment of her personal dream ahead of feminist rhetoric. This is a very personal story.

As expected, this book goes into good detail about the trials and tribulations the author contended with in the RAF from the time she took her entrance tests to becoming qualified in the Tornado aircraft and flying it in combat over Iraq.

While she recalls a number of more old school thinking male officers that felt women had no place flying combat jets and went to efforts to make things more diffucult for her than need be, she gives significantly more time to those men who went through training alongside her and her squadronmates that were very supportive of her from the start.

A great example of the support she received is a recollection from her training. She was experiencing troubles with some formation flying and was at risk of failing the course. One of her fellow trainees took her to the parade ground, where the rest of their training squadron was waiting, and they all practiced the formation with bicycles until she was confident with it.

Such positive stories are refreshing and contrast well against another incident where she attended a pub party night with her squadronmates. She drank some beer, danced and generally had a good time fitting in with the group and becoming a member of it. The next day, she was subjected to a double standard when her commanding officer reprimanded her for not acting enough like a lady at the event.

The book also explores adjustments and trade-offs she had to make in her RAF career to accomodate getting married and starting a family. This included the difficult decision of leaving the fast jet community for less strenuous assignments that presented her with fewer chances of promotion in rank.

The book gives as much time to experiences that are common for anyone, male or female, who goes down the route to military fast jet flying. As with many other memoirs of such pilots, this one follows an individual who was very physically active in childhood and was bitten by the aviation bug early in life. This individual also excelled in school, showed an aptitude for flying in their teens and had their flying license before they had a driving license.

Where this book really shines is in the humanity, humility and humour with which it was written. Hickson never comes across as bitter when she recalls individuals who tried to hold her back and freely concedes when a bad situation she found herself in was the result of an error on her part. She also keeps the tone of the book upbeat with a good amount of wit in the mix.

The only negative point about this book, and it’s a small one, is that it contains quite a bit of British English slang that can be confusing if you’re not familiar with it. The book has a good glossary to cover the technical jargon, it could benefit from having a glossary or footnotes to explain the British specific slang as well.

Since leaving the RAF, Mandy Hickson has been very active as a motivational speaker and business navigation consultant. This link will take you to her website, where you can find out more about her and purchase a limited edition copy of “An Officer,Not a Gentleman”

This is definitely a book you can buy with confidence.

A MiG on the move

Kunovice Air Museum crew starting to dismantle and prepare a MiG-23 fighter in Prague for road transport to Kunovice. (Photo: Kunovice Air Museum)

Off Season Action at Kunovice

The 2021 season for outdoor museums in the Czech Republic ended on October 31, but that doesn’t mean the museums are idle.

In my 2021 update post of the Kunovice Air Museum in September, I mentioned that the museum had made an agreement to restore and display a former Czech air force MiG-23 fighter that the Prague based LOM Praha company had on display at their Prague-Malešice facility for many years.

Recently, a crew from the museum went to Prague to dismantle the aircraft and prepare it for transport to Kunovice. December 4 is the sceduled date of transport.

The following is an English translation of the museum’s press release:

Supersonic fighter with variable geometry wing “flies” from Prague to Kunovice

In a very brief period of time, a crew from the Kunovice Air Museum successfully disassembled a MiG-23 MF (NATO codename “Flogger B”) variable geometry wing, supersonic fighter which was located in the area of LOM Praha s.p. They prepared the “Twenty-three”, with hull number 7184, in a short time for land transport from Prague-Malešice to Kunovice. This was possible due to a loan agreement between LOM Praha s.p. and the Kunovice Air Museum which was recently signed by the directors of both institutions, Jiří Protiva and Martin Hrabec.

“It helped us a lot that it was not necessary to dismantle the aircraft into smaller pieces. The carrier, Universal Transport Praha, has agreed to provide us with equipment that will allow the fuselage to be transported as a whole. Thanks to them, we didn’t have to disassemble the aircraft too much.” explains museum director Martin Hrabec.

The transfer of the aircraft is planned for Saturday, December 4. Jiří Tůma describes the action plan from Universal Transport: “We still have to remove the wings and remove the plane from its pedestal before we move it to the transport vehicle. After that, we will set out on a journey to Kunovice.”

“Our thanks go out to the aircraft owner, the state-owned company LOM Praha. Big thanks also go to Universal Transport, who will take care of the transport of the aircraft. Last but not least, the company Hanyš Crane Work, who took care of loading the aircraft and its parts. Without them, this event could not take place.” adds the director of the Kunovice Air Museum.

The MiG-23 MF (fuselage number 7184) will be the first aircraft in the Kunovice Air Museum that belongs to the so-called third generation of fighters, and also the first with variable geometry wings. At the same time, it was an important type of aircraft in the inventory of the former Czechoslovak Air Force. Additionally, it will be the first in the museum to represent the Žatec air base, where the aircraft served in the 11th Fighter Air Regiment.

7184 was the last example of the MiG-23 MF delivered to Czechoslovakia. Together, with two other aircraft, it arrived from the USSR on December 3, 1979. During its active career, it served at bases in Bechyně, České Budějovice and Žatec with the 1st and 11th Fighter Air Regiments, which belonged to the PVOS (State Air Defense) units. The aircraft was retired at the end of June 1994 and has been owned by LOM Praha s.p. since 1996.

The MiG-23 was created in the late 1960s as a successor to the better known MiG-21. In the end, however, both types were produced simultaneously. In the Czech Air Force, the last MiG-21s were retired later than their “successors” due to the challenging maintenance and lower reliability of the structurally complex MiG-23.

The MF version of the MiG-23 ended its Czech Air Force service in 1994, the last MiG-23 versions in Czech service, the BN and ML, were retired from the Czech Air Force in 1998.

You can see a bit of the disassembly work in this gallery the museum posted online.

Kunovice Air Museum – 2021 Update

A freshly restored MiG-21 fighter, new in the Kunovice museum collection in 2021.

Another Year of Smooth Flying

Long term followers of Pickled Wings will know I’m a big supporter of the Kunovice Air Museum in the south-east of the Czech Republic.

I try to visit it at least once a year and keep my existing article about it updated.

The turnaround the museum has made over the past decade or so from a languishing collection of faded aircraft to a very respectable facility has been nothing short of astounding and a true joy to witness.

Every year, they make new progress and there is always something new to see. I paid my 2021 visit to them on September 26. Here’s some of what was new:

A Yakovlev Yak-40 transport on loan from the Brno Technical Museum.

A Bridge to Brno

In 2020, the museum entered a partnership withthe Brno Technical museum.

The partnership allows for the loan of aircraft between the museums as well as access to restoration facilities between them.

In 2021, a late model MiG-21 fighter jet and a Yakovlev Yak-40 transport from the Brno Technical Museum were put on display in Kunovice in exchange for an early production model of a Let L-410 Turbolet from the Kunovice collection going on display in Brno.

Prior to the exchange, the MiG-21 and Let L-410 were cleaned up and restored. The Yak-40 was delivered directly from its retirement from the Czech air force to Kunovice.

A vintage airstairs vehicle donated to the museum by the airport in Pradubice.

A Stairway from Pardubice

A quite welcome addition to the Kunovice collection in 2021 was an airstairs vehicle donated by the airport in Pardubice, in the central part of the country.

The airstairs replace a rather shaky and less than aesthetic set of metal stairs that used to be in place to allow visitors to board the museum’s Avia Av-14 transport.

The new airstairs not only feel much more solid when climbing up and down, they also are exactly the sort of airstairs that would have been used with the Avia Av-14 when it was in service. As such, they improve the historic feel of the aircraft on display tremendously.

A selection of bombs, now secured to their display stand.

Little Things Mean a Lot

Not all changes are as visible as two full aircraft and an airport vehicle, sometimes you need to look to see some of the smaller changes.

Once such change is the museum’s move to secure a set of bombs used by aircraft of the Czechoslovak, and later Czech, air forces to their display stand with metal brackets and straps.

The museum has gone to much effort to restore the bombs over the years, so this move is certainly a prudent one in order to keep the bombs from being moved around, either accidentally or intentionally, by visitors.

A MiG-23 fighter that is planned to go on display in Kunovice in 2022. (photo: LOM Praha)

A Look to 2022

Even before the 2021 season is over for the museum, we are getting a hint of exciting developments.

In September of 2021, the museum signed and agreement with LOM Praha that will see a MiG-23 fighter currently on display at the LOM Praha offices in Prague loaned to the museum.

The plan is for museum personnel to dismantle the aircraft and transport it to Kunovice, where it will be repaired and restored in the off season and then put on display with the museum’s other MiG fighters in spring of 2022.

LOM Praha is an aircraft maintenance, overhaul and modernization company that also is involved in flight training.

Please follow this link to visit my existing article about the museum.

Oldtimer Weekend, 2021

The 2021 edition of the annual Oldtimer Weekend at Medlánky airport in Brno, Czech Republic took place on Saturday, September 11.

The Medlánky Aeroklub brought out some of their vintage gliders for a day of flying. Here’s a sample of the action: