Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a flying pancake…
Take a look at some of the weirdest planes, helicopters, and aviation mash-ups that go beyond imagination:
Some of which leave us wondering “what were they thinking?”
7. Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake”
is it a plane? If so, it is definitely one of the weirdest planes ever built:
The Flying Pancake, which was the U.S. Navy’s official name for the plane, can easily be identified due to its strange round, flying saucer-like design.
The odd design of the plane was to have an aircraft that was capable of taking off and landing in tight spaces. The prototype of the Vought V-173 performed very well with low take-offs and landings owing to the lift-generating design of this disk-shaped aircraft.
6. Lockheed Martin P-791
Lockheed Martin’s P-791 was a supersized version of the classic airship. This weird aviation cross-over had a tri-hull design with a disk-shaped landing cushion attached to the bottom.
The flying machine was developed for carrying out missions as an intelligence-gathering vehicle and for carrying heavy load cargo.
Even though the U.S. Army never picked up this project from Lockheed, there are many private companies that are still interested in the P-791, and it may soon be seen flying the skies with both cargo and passengers in remote locations such as Alaska.
5. Hafner Rotabuggy
This weird helicopter was actually known as an airborne jeep:
Manufactured in the UK, the Hafner Rotabuggy took a jeep and placed chopper blades on top of the vehicle. There was only one test model ever to be built, and it had a successful ten-minute test flight, even reaching speeds of 65 miles per hour at an altitude of 400 feet.
However, owing to the cartoon-like design of the vehicle and lack of safety for the pilot, the project never took off.
4. De Lackner HZ-1 Aerocycle
One of the weirdest aerial devices on this list literally has a soldier standing on top of rotating helicopter blades:
(Health and safety didn’t exist back then clearly).
The questionable design of the HZ-1 Aerocycle was built as a low-cost reconnaissance vehicle that the pilot could steer by simply shifting his body weight.
In fact the HZ-1 Aerocycle’s design is very much like the hoverboard or Segue we use today.
Unfortunately, the maneuverability of the aerocycle was terrible, and soldiers were highly reluctant to be assigned duty to pilot this contraption, which also turned out to be quite the death trap.
3. Curtiss-Wright VZ-7
The design of this contraption was downright weird. The Curtiss-Wright VZ-7 was a bizarre invention and was often referred to as the ‘Flying Jeep.’ This is because the VZ-7 was actually a combination between a jeep and an aircraft.
There were just two prototypes that were delivered, but due to the unsightly contraption and the overly exposed cockpit, the aircraft failed to catch the fancy of either pilots or the Army.
Eventually, the program for developing this jeep come aircraft was discontinued.
2. Boeing B377PG’ Pregnant Guppy’
This is one of those weirdest planes, and its name isn’t much better:
The Pregnant Guppy, also known as The Super Guppy, is a modified Boeing 377 that was designed by NASA for transporting bulky components for its Apollo missions.
This bloated and strange-looking aircraft was one of the lesser-known aircraft that played an important role in the U.S. space program.
1. Bartini Beriev VVA 14
Perhaps one of the weirdest planes in the world ever is the Bartini Beriev VVA 14. Looking like a bizarre combination of an airplane and submarine.
The VVA 14 was designed to be an amphibious vehicle that could take off from both water and land. It had a vertical take-off and landing feature and was built out of Russia’s fear of a submarine-launched nuclear attack.
The plane’s ability to glide over the ocean while carrying out high-speed submarine detection missions made the VVA 14 one of the critical projects of the Russian military.
However, the project was canceled after the failed vertical take-off of the jet engines and the death of one of the key engineers.
One of the last models of this plane can be seen at the Air Force Museum in Moscow.