Since the very beginning of aviation, aspiring aircraft inventors have realised that achieving flight is, to put it lightly, a lot trickier than they thought. While the conventional aircraft design is known to have historically had the most success, this however hasn’t stopped inventors from trying to think out of the box. Over time, there has been some very unusual designs that, despite their appearance, could actually fly.

  1. McDonnell XF-85

Looking like a metal egg with wings, the McDonnell XF-85, nicknamed “The Goblin”, was an ambitious experimental aircraft invented during WWII to protect US heavy bomber aircraft from enemy fighter planes. Though it proved to be fast, agile, and otherwise a capable enough to do the job, various drawbacks to its design and deployment proved to be impractical.

Lacking any form of landing gear for instance, the idea was to rather dock it, while in flight, to a tether that hung beneath a heavy bomber. Once secured, it could then be hoisted up into the bombers hold. Though a novel idea it was perhaps a bit ahead of its time, and after a series of mishaps and crash landings, the project was eventually cancelled.

  1. Vought V-173

Dubbed the “Flying Pancake” the Vought V-173 may very well have been responsible for at least one or two UFO sightings in the US during the WWII era. Featuring a unique “all wing” design, the idea didn’t really catch on for various practical reasons. However, it’s dual rudders did, eventually being used with later aircraft, such as the F-17 to F-35 fighter jets.

  1. Stipa-Caproni

Just before WWII, Italian inventor Luigi Stipa, created the Stipa-Caproni. Though his plane resembled other conventional aircraft of its time in various ways, what made it unique was its open barrel-shaped fuselage, with a propeller placed inside of it. Thus, the first turbofan was invented, and it was Luigi’s design that eventually went on to inspire the first jet engines.

  1. Super Guppy

The Super Guppy has come to be known as one of the largest and strangest-looking cargo-planes to ever be produced. Converted from a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, the Super Guppy looks more a giant metal sky-whale. With its unique front-end loading design it can transport some seriously large equipment.

  1. Edgley Optica

In more recent times when you can enjoy Cricket World Cup betting on your phone and other technological marvels, one of the most peculiar and interesting designs has to be the Edgley Optica. Resembling something out of a sci-fi movie, the Optica is designed to be a highly efficient, manoeuvrable, and affordable, surveillance plane. Its large tail and single turbine-engine creates optimal stability and control, allowing it to perform low-speed flight and manoeuvrability without stalling. It’s helicopter-like cockpit also provides an excellent multi-directional view.

The List Goes On

There have been plenty of other unusual and incredible aircraft across history, particularly during WWII, many of which have led to disaster and failure, though also to great success. As can be seen with some of the examples in this list, trial and error can often lead to better ideas, and open the doors for future generations of aircraft.

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