Ten Insanely Strange Aircrafts That Actually Existed(With Pictures)

Aircraft designers always design an airplane around a central concept of functionality. However, sometimes they just want to prove their machine can fly. From UFO-like saucers to inflatable aircraft, designers have tried it all. Some of these bizarre creations became the source for future aircraft, while others are collecting dust in aviation museums. Here are ten strange aircrafts that actually existed:

10. The Goodyear Inflatoplane

To start off the list of strange aircrafts that actually existed let me just say that, building an inflatable airplane to rescue stranded pilots from the battlefield does not sound like a bright idea. However that’s exactly what Goodyear tried to do when they marketed their new Inflatoplane to the US army back in 1956. Naturally the army was impressed by this bizarre idea and asked Goodyear to develop some prototypes for testing. The initial prototype, the GA-33 was built and flown in less than 12 days. It was basically a giant fabric balloon, with an aircraft engine on the top. The wings, seat, and tail were made from a strong aviation fabric developed by Goodyear exclusively for the Inflatoplane. Called Airmat, it was made by weaving together layers of rubberized nylon with thousands of nylon threads. The rest of the fuselage was ordinary airship fabric. The pressure necessary to keep the airframe rigid was supplied by an air compressor, which was driven by the same 40 hp engine that propelled the airplane.

While not in use, the entire airplane and its motor could be packed into a box small enough to be carried around in a wheelbarrow. The box could also be carried in the back of a jeep, truck, or even dropped by parachute from an airplane. The big idea was to airdrop the packaged airplane behind enemy lines, the grounded soldier could then use a hand pump to inflate it and get it ready to fly in less than 6 minutes. Later prototypes such as the GA 468 and GA 467 included a more powerful 60hp engine, along with two-seater options.

After a lot of testing, the Army concluded that the airplane was simply not practical to be used as a rescue and reconnaissance aircraft. And it is not hard to see why, an inflatable rubber aircraft that flies at 55 miles per hour is not exactly the kind of extraction vehicle any soldier would want to get into. Besides, when the prototypes were delivered to the US Marine Corps for testing, the flaws in the design were revealed, when during a training flight one of the pilots exerted too much pressure on the aircraft frame, causing one of the wings to bend over and hit the propeller blades. The fabric wing got shredded and the canopy that supported the engine mounts collapsed due to loss of air pressure. The pilot was never able to escape as the engine collapsed right on top of him as he stood up to bail out. By 1959, Goodyear had stopped production of the Inflatoplanes and the program came to an end. None-the-less, it’s one of those strange aircrafts that actually existed.

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