Mankind’s accomplishments of the last century has been many and flight is one of them. Humans are hardwired to be curious and stop at nothing when it comes innovating. Over the years, engineers have built some unbelievable aircrafts, which look too unusual to be flying up above. Here’s our top 11 list.
The AD-1, also known as the Ames Dryden-1, made its first flight in 1979. The aircraft was part of a test programme conducted in the following years at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. The specialty of the AD-1 was its wings could pivot obliquely – zero to 60 degrees. Reportedly, the aircraft flew 79 times before its final flight in 1982.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/ NASA
Also known as the Super Transporter, the Beluga is the most voluminous cargo hold of all time. Even though it’s doing great service by offering a unique way to airlift cargo, the Beluga has often been criticised for its look. Who knew face-shaming would be a thing in the aircraft community? The airbus borrows its not-so-usual look from the Beluga whale: tapering with a bulbous hump. However, what’s startling is the fact that the cargo hold area is equivalent to as many as 671 people.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Don-vip
The Bartini Beriev VVA-14
Designed by Robert Bartini in the 1970s, the VVA-14 was created to destroy the US Navy’s submarines. It was a WIG (wing-in-ground-effect) aircraft that could take off and hover over water bodies. In the 4-5 years that it was functional, the flarecraft conducted 107 flights. The research and test flights came to a halt after Bartini passed away. The remains of one of the VVA-14s are tucked away in a Russian museum.
Image credit: Flickr/ Alan Wilson
Edgley EA-7 Optica
Straight out of a James Bond movie set, this futuristic looking bird fit perfectly to the current days. But, you’ll be surprised if we told you this beauty first took flight in 1979. Meant to be a cheap alternative to helicopters, the tiny aircraft was designed for surveillance purposes. The Optica was recently on display at the Paris Air Show 2015; the idea was to put the machine back on the market.
Image credit: Flickr/ Charly W. Karl
Lockheed Martin P-791
The experimental hybrid airship promises to carry 23 tons cargo to the remotest of places in the world and while doing so it will burn only one tenth the fuel of a helicopter per ton. The first flight was conducted 11 years ago, on January 31, 2006. Since the date, Lockheed Martin has been doing test flights and further research to make the aircraft fully functional. Reports claim that the 120-feet-long vessel will be up and ready for cargo deliveries in 2018.
Image credit: Lockheed Martin official page/ Facebook
McDonnell Douglas X-36
The X-36, an unmanned aircraft, was created by American aerospace manufacturing corporation McDonnell Douglas and first flown in the late 1990s. Despite successful test programs, there hasn’t been reports of further development of the aircraft.
Image credit: NASA
Once called the “flying bathtub,” the M2-F1 was made to test the wingless lifting body concept. In the beginning of 1960s, NASA Dryden management agreed to build a prototype that would be lightweight and unpowered. The construction was wrapped up by 1963.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/ NASA
Scaled Composites White Knight Two
It’s a manned, twin-turbo jet aircraft that was built to launch sub-orbital spacecraft SpaceShipOne in high altitude. It took its first flight in 2002 and last in 2014. To list a few of the aircraft’s features: it can handle payloads up to 3,600 kilograms and can go as high as 53,000 feet.
Image credit: Flickr/ D. Miller
Stratolaunch Carrier Plane
Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch has built world’s largest plane, in terms of its wingspan (measuring 385 feet), which is believed to be longer than a football field. The carrier aircraft weighs 500,000 pounds. In May 2017, the colossal plane was put out of the hangar for the very first time for fuel testing.
Image credit: Paul G Allen/ Facebook
Designed by Aero Spacelines, this aircraft is massively wide and meant for carrying outsize cargo. Operated by NASA, it took its first flight in 1965.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/ NASA/ Tony Landis