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The World’s Strangest Airplanes #8 Makes No Sense!

B377PG

Aero Spaceline’s B377PG, the modified aircraft was built to transport outsized cargo for NASA’s Apollo program. It is known as the “Pregnant Guppy” because of its bloated appearance. Pregnant Guppy flew for the first time in 1962. The Pregnant Guppy carried cargo for 17 years before it was cannibalized for parts and scrapped and now it’s only preserved in scarce photos and movie clips. Guppy planes inspired the future design of the Airbus Beluga.

Scaled Composites Model 281 Proteus

Burt Rutan designed the thin, tandem-wing High-Altitude Long Endurance Scaled Composites Model 281 Proteus. The Proteus is a multi-mission vehicle that adapts to a variety of missions. Proteus flew for the first time publically in in the late 1990s. In 2000, the Proteus set world records: “The highest altitude achieved was 63,245 feet (19,277 m); Continued horizontal flight for 62,385 feet; Carried a 2,200 lb payload to an altitude of 55,994 feet”.

ATL-98 Carvair

Aviation Traders created the ATL-98 Carvair to transport cars and people across the English Channel and it was used in service between France and UK in the 1950s. An early “combi”! The film “Goldfinger” featured the ATL-98 with actual footage pre-departure. In 1968 Aviation Traders completed last Carvair. 21 Carvairs were created and eight were demolished in crashes.

Airbus A300-600ST Beluga

Beluga is also known as A300-600ST Super Transporter, which offers a unique way to transport oversized air cargo. The first A300-600ST Beluga flew in 1994. The European Aviation Safety Agency officially approved A300-600ST for service in 1995. The Airbus A300-600ST attracted its name because of its resemblance to the white Arctic whale “Beluga”.

Boeing X-32

In 1993 U.S. military proposed a joint fighter project in need of a low-cost, supersonic stealth fighter jet that all three-armed services branches could field. Lockheed and Boeing each developed their own prototype. Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Boeing’s X-32 were the two finalists. Lockheed’s X-35 won the competition. With the Department of Defense making its choice, Boeing’s test aircraft became museum relic.

Dornier Do 31

The Dornier Do 31 was the experimental VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft created by Dornier in West Germany. The D0 31 with vertical take-off and landing functions was to be used as an infantry transport plane. The Dornier Do 31 hit the skies in 1967 and reached a maximum speed of 452mph. Due to technical problems and lack of funding and high costs prevented it from leaving the prototype stage.

Handley Page Victor

The plane was developed and produced by the Handley Page Aircraft Company. Handley Page Victor was a British jet-powered strategic bomber, which served during the cold war. The Handley Page Victor formed the last part of the Royal Air Force’s “V-Bomber’s”. The V-Bombers were collection of RAF’s aircrafts during the 1950s and 1960s capable of dropping nuclear weapons. The Victor was removed from service in 1993.

Bartini Beriev VVA-14

The Bartini and Beriev developed VVA-14 vertical take-off amphibious aircraft in the Soviet Union during the 1970s. Another strange looking aircraft from this list forged in the Cold War. Bartini designed the aircraft to be able to take off from the water, reach high altitudes, fly fast and with capability of flying just above the sea surface. First flight was held in 1972. The VVA-14 took part in 107 flights before retirement. Now the aircraft rests at the Russian Federation Central Air Force Museum.

NASA Hyper III

The NASA Hyper III was a low-cost test vehicle designed and built at the NASA Flight Research Center in California. In 1969 the Hyper III was launched from a helicopter at 10.000 feet for its first and last flight. In the three-minute flight it glided 5km, turned round, came back and landed. NASA research pilot Milt Thompson operated the aircraft through radio control and Dick Fischer took over for the final approach. The program was cancelled even with this low-cost aircraft, the founding dried up.

X-36

McDonnell Douglass (later merged with Boeing) Phantom Works, and NASA began development on the X-36 tailless aircraft in 1989. The X-36 made its first flight in 1997, the first of 31 successful flights via remote control. After a successful test program, the X-36 retired in November of 1997. The plane currently resides in the National Air Force Museum.

Northrop XB-35

The Northrop XB-35 was experimental heavy bomber aircraft developed for the U.S. army during and shortly after World War II. The aircraft production began in 1942. Northrop’s first flight lasted for forty-five minutes in 1946. United States cancelled project of the XB-35 in 1949. Jack Northrop, founder of the Northrop Corporation claims that the cancellation was political.

De Lackner HZ-1 Aerocycle

In the early Atomic Era, the U.S. Army began developing concepts for personal helicopter devices for infantrymen. One of the most promising designs was the De Lackner HZ-1 “Aerocycle”, first introduced in 1955. The HZ-1 project was not fated for production use and was abandoned. It was loud, vulnerable to enemy attack, difficult to maintain and crashed from time to time. Only one remaining HZ-1 prototype survived and is on display at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum in Virginia.

Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar

Although it looks like an alien UFO this flying object is identified. The Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar was a secret U.S. military project developed by Avro Canada in the early years of the Cold War. The Air Force tested Avrocar flying ability in a static hover rig in 1959. Unfortunately the ring under the flap interfered with the engine thrust and minimized power. Before any successful modifications funding ran out in 1961 and project was cancelled.

Alexander Lippisch’s Aerodyne

The design was revolutionary. Lippisch never managed to finish it due to his diagnosed illness. However, once Lippisch had recovered, he joined the Dornier Flugzeugwerke team and began work on the Dornier Aerodyne. Borrowing all of the concepts from his original design, Lippisch was able to witness his aircraft successfully take flight in 1972.

Blohm & Voss BV 141

A WWII German tactical reconnaissance aircraft, notable for its uncommon structural asymmetry. Despite its radical and unusual layout, the Blohm & Voss BV 141 actually did fly (first flight – 1938). The Blohm & Voss was designed by Dr Ing Richard Vogt and was never mass produced. Three Prototypes were made and 5 Bv 141 A’s were put into front line service. No examples of the BV 141 have survived to this day.