10 of the Weirdest Aircraft Ever Built
4.3k views | By Ruben Delaure | Last updated on June 21, 2022
People have designed some pretty crazy flying machines in the past (and still do). There are probably hundreds of weird looking airplanes that were built and magically got off the ground, but we created a list with 10 of the weirdest aircraft ever built, and believe it or not, they have all flown!
1. NASA AD-1
This aircraft was never meant to be in production. It was build to see what would happen if you pivot the wing of an aircraft. The wing could turn 60 degrees max. At lower speeds, the wing would be perpendicular to the fuselage for maximum lift and control over the aircraft. At high speeds, the wing would pivot to reduce drag and improve fuel economy. After 78 flights the program was completed. The aircraft is displayed at the Hiller Aviation Museum, California
2. Vought V-173
The Flying Pancake was one of the first aircraft, all wing. The project actually had a lot of potential because of its excellent low-speed capabilities (even Charles Lindbergh approved) and the strength of the airframe. The last feature became clear when a pilot locked the breaks after an emergency landing and the aircraft flipped on its back. Neither the plane nor the pilot sustained any significant damage. However, the aircraft had a lot of problems with the complex gearbox.
3. McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
This American prototype jet fighter (1948), was intended to be deployed from the bomb bay of the Convair B-36. After the flight, it would hook on to a B-36 again (in true aircraft carrier style). The idea was to extend the operational range of fighters. The project was aborted after they started mid-air refueling.
Fun Fact: The Goblin had no landing gear which made it rather dangerous in emergency situations.
4. The Lackner HZ-1 Aerocycle flying platform
The aerocycle was designed in 1954 to carry around 1 soldier over minefields, rivers, etc. But the idea never made it into production because it was kind of dangerous… (I mean, look at it!).
5. Rutan Model 202 Boomerang
The Boomerang was designed to be perfectly controllable if one of the engines failed. Which let to this slightly unusual configuration. Thanks to the clever design the aircraft induces very little drag which leads to high speeds and good fuel economy.
The Rutan could carry 5 people, had a range of 2362 miles and a top speed of 270 kts.
The designer (Burt Rutan) is known for his unconventional but clever designs.
6. Blohm & Voss BV 141
The BV141 was a tactical reconnaissance aircraft during WW2 for the german air force. It was highly recognizable because of its asymmetrical structure.
Only 12 were built before the Luftwaffe canceled the order in favor of the FW189, none of the aircraft survived.
7. Edgley Optica
This aircraft was designed for low-speed observation work as a (cheaper) alternative for helicopters. It was powered by a 160hp engine located directly behind the pilots.
The Optica boasted a 270° cockpit view for 1 pilot and 2 passengers.
This British project started very well but the manufacturer did not have the funds to bring the aircraft into production. Only 23 were built.
8. Alexander Lippisch’ Aerodyne
The Aerodyne was meant to be a VTOL aircraft and had (as you can see) no wings.
It was built in 1966 but no further development was undertaken because the funds dried out.
9. Nemeth Parasol
This aircraft with a circular wing was build in 1934 by students of the Miami University. They wanted to prove that this kind of wing could be reliable. The aviation industry however, had no interest.
10 Goodyear Inflatoplane
This inflatable aircraft was designed for the US army as an airplane they could carry around easily. The project was canceled once someone realized it was not very safe to fly over a war zone in a balloon.
Do you know any weird looking aircraft to add to this list? Let us know in the comments!