Entries by Cayley

Scaled Composites Proteus

Cruising higher than supersonic transports can fly, the Proteus is a unique aircraft designed for high-altitude telecommunications or science missions of long duration. Created by Burt Rutan and built by Scaled Composites, it has an unconventional tandem-wing and twin-boom design with two rear-mounted turbofan engines. Proteus has an all-composite airframe and its span can be increased to an impressive 92 feet by […]

MAcCready Gossamer Albatross

The Grossamer Albatross captured headlines in 1979 when it made the first human-powered fligh across the English Channel. Designed hy American engineer Dr Paul MacCready, the aircraft used pedal-power to drive its large, two-bladed propeller. Appropriately, it was piloted by an amateur cyclist, Bryan Allen, who made the 22 miles and 453 yards crossing in two hours and 49 minutes, at a […]

Ader avion III

Whenever a sceptic wants to cast doubt on the Wright brothers’ claim to be “firsl to fly”. he is likely to cite the experiments of French engineer Clément Ader. Where most aviation pioneers studied the flight of birds, Ader perversely, modelled his flying machines on bats. His weirdly gothic steam-powered monoplanes were sufficiently impressive to attract financial hacking from the French army, but whether they […]

Bristol Brabazon

The Bristol Brabazon airliner was a gian of an aircraft larger even than a Boeing 747. It was also in many ways a strikingly advanced design for its day. Yet, commercially, this huge piston-engine airliner was a total failure for the British aircraft industry. The aircraft was named after Lord Brabazon of Tara, who headed a committee that produced a government report on […]

Antoinette Monobloc

French aviation pioneers often favoured elegance and ingenuity over plain practicality. The Société Antoinette produced a series of aesthetically satisfying, technically advanced monoplanes designed by engineer and former artist Léon Levavasseur. Sadly, they did not  always fulfil their promise. The Antoinette IV, the company’s first monoplane, famously failed to cross the Channel in July 1909, ditching instead in the sea. It was the pilot on that […]

Focke-Wulf Fw 190

Designed by Kurt Tank, the Fw 190 is considered Germany’s best single-seat fighter of World War II. When the first production model, the Fw 109A-1, entered Luftwaffe service in mid-1941, it took Allied intelligence completely by surprise because its air-cooled BMW radial engine gave il the appearance of an American fighter rather than a German one. Disturbingly for the RAF, the Fw […]

Deperdussin Seaplane Racer

Founded in 1910, French businessman Armand Deperdussin’s company was famed for its racing monoplanes, which were then the fastest aeroplanes in the world. The key to their success was the use of the monococque (“single shell”) method for buildingu light yet strong fuselage. Originally devised by Swedish engineer Ruchonnet, the technique was adopted by Deperdussin’s designer, Louis Béchereau, in 1911. Layers of  plywood […]

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II

Nicknamed the “Warthog”, the A10 Thunderbolt II was the first US Air Force jet aircraft designed for close air support of ground forces. Certainly, il packed a mighty punch with its integrated Gatling gun. One of the most powerful aircraft cannons ever flown, it weighed as much as a Volkswagen Beetle and fired large, depleted uranium armour-piercing shells at a rate of […]

De Havilland D.H.88 Comet Racer

The D.H.88 Comet was a long-range racing aircraft designed specifically to win the 1934 MacRobertson race for Britain.This was the longest air race ever staged, requiring aircraft to fly 111,300 miles from Mildenhall, England, to Melbourne, Australia. De Havilland built three Comets for the race; the first made its initial test flight only six weeks before the event. The aircraft […]