8 Crazy Aircraft Designs That Will Blow Your Mind
1. XP-82/F-82 Twin Mustang
Equipped for a long travel, the Twin Mustang was initially intended to be a long-range escort fighter for bomber planes. The siamese-like design included two equipped, fully functioning cockpits, allowing the aircraft to be piloted from either position, with one pilot in one cabin and the co-pilot in the other. Although the aircraft was developed for use in WWII, it didn’t actually see action until the Korean War, where it was utilized as a night fighter.
2. XFV-1 “Pogo”
The “Pogo” (sometimes called Pogo Stick) is a pioneer of the long line of vertical liftoff planes. Engineered by Lockheed Corporation in the early 1950s, the XFV was an experimental tailsitter prototype, designed to protect convoys. While it made a brief hop at the hands of pilot Herman “Fish” Salmon, it never made any vertical takeoffs or landings, and the program to develop the plane was cancelled in 1955.
3. Alexander Lippisch’s Aerodyne
This aircraft, designed by German pioneer of aerodynamics Alexander Martin Lippisch, embodied the forth-coming technological revolution. The science behind the innovative, wingless design, while bizarre, was nothing short of genius. Although the plane never passed a full flight test, its legacy lives on for aviation enthusiasts.
4. SNECMA Coléoptère
The Coléoptère, developed by French the company SNECMA in the 1950s, is one of the stranger looking aircraft designs of its time. The second in a series of wingless, vertically mounted aircraft experiments, the Coléoptère was more successful than its counterparts, making eight flights. Unfortunately, the aircraft was destroyed on its ninth flight and no further prototypes were ordered.
5. Sikorsky X-Wing
This experimental aircraft was designed with circulation control in mind. The machine turned into a hybrid of a helicopter and winged aircraft aiming to combine the speed of a jet and the ability to take off vertically, like a helicopter. This combination was a force to be reckoned with — for a short period. Developed in 1976 and later modified in 1983, the program came to a close shortly after in 1986.
6. Goodyear Inflatoplane
To understand this plane, it’s important to understand the idea behind making it. Assembled in only 12 weeks, the United States Army sponsored this design with hopes of it becoming a military rescue plane that could be dropped behind enemy lines in a container. Besides being quick to assemble, the plane was also significantly inexpensive for an aircraft. Unfortunately, like the others before it, there were unbearable issues. Refueling was challenging, as it could only hold 240 pounds, and as the army put it, there was no valid military use for a plane that could be brought down by “a well-aimed bow and arrow”.
7. de Lackner HZ-1 Aerocycle
Before the invention of the modern-day drone, engineers developed a creative way for soldiers to move across the battlefield while avoiding landmines. The Aerocycle, which was essentially a one-man personal helicopter, showed initial promise, but was found to be too difficult to control, and after a series of crashes the project was abandoned.
8. Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy
During the 1960s, NASA sought an alternative to the slow and expensive process of transporting oversized cargo — specifically for the Apollo mission — across the country by barge. Former U.S. Air Force pilot John Conroy recognized the need for an aircraft alternative to barge transportation, and developed the plans for a cargo plane, which officials at NASA dubbed the “pregnant guppy” due to the bloated shape of the body. This aircraft’s first flight in 1962 was a success, and it was determined that the Guppy saved NASA three weeks in transit time. The Guppy and the similar models of aircraft it inspired were integral to NASA throughout the ’60s and ’70s before it was retired.
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