We can all easily get on an aircraft within a few hours at the least, flying wherever we want in the world as far as money will allow. Aircrafts, besides trains, are some of the older institutions of the capitalist system we spend our lives immersed in – so it therefore is very easy to forget that airplanes are only a little over a century old. The Wright Brothers set in flight 102 years ago and over the last 100 years, a great deal of experimentation has occurred, sometimes going in some very esoteric and strange places, and continues as man continues to experiment with how it relates to the larger world.
Some aviation achievements went on to become the standard while other distinctly strange projects, like the Italian Stipa Caproni, were largely forgotten to history, and others, like Howard Hughes’ infamous Hercules, stood as a testament to the absurdity of entrepreneurship. Let’s take a look at ten of the most distinct bizarre and strange projects of the past century.
1. The Aerodyne
The Aerodyne was by far one of the more strange flying machines ever developed. It was developed by Alexander Lippisch, a refugee of Nazi Germany who, like many German refugees, helped the United States to win both the second world war and the Cold War. The Aerodyne physically looked a bit like a speaker or amplifier and maintained two simultaneous co-axial propellers in order to generate lift and propulsion.
2. The Rotary Rocket
The Rotary Rocket is by far one of the more strange contraption ever created in the aviation world. Shaped a bit like a thimble, it is topped by four large diameter rotor blades at the top and “liquid propellant rocket engines” placed strategically at the tips of each blade.
3. The Domicopter
In 2013, the world was introduced to the “DomiCopter,” a very strange creation designed to remotely drop Domino’s pizza orders for customers, no driver needed besides those controlling the device from a Domino’s franchise. An article on the phenomenon by U.S. News and World Report cited Chris Brandon, a Domino’s representative, attesting that the creation of the DomiCopter was the U.K. branch of Domino’s and that, for many reasons – most notably that the Federal Aviaton Administration still has not legalized the domestic use of drones even if they are used in warfare by the president, it is unlikely that pizza will be dropping out of the sky any time soon.
4. The H-Z 1 Aerocycle
According to historical reports on it, the HZ-1 Aerocycle was designed with high aspirations. At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, it was designed by de Lackner Helicopters with the intention of becoming a standard reconnaissance machine for the United States Army. While all airplanes have a nasty potential of disaster, the Aerocycle seems both obviously and frighteningly dangerous. Its failure to succeed in becoming a standard use reconnaissance machine may be directed at pilots who may have been a bit nervous about flying an unprotected, experimental aircraft in which they are located directly above rapidly moving metal blades.
5. The Hughes H-4 Hercules
The technical name of the “Spruce Goose” is the Hughes H-4 Hercules. It was developed by Howard Hughes, a legendary man whose life legacy ranged from innovation in filmmaking to aviation to personal madness. Co-designed with Henry J. Kaiser, the plane weighed an incredible 300,000 tons and was intended to provide transatlantic transport for the U.S. military during World War II. Unfortunately, it never was completed on time for that use and become more of a seemly pet project of Hughes, with the ridiculous size of it eventually used against Hughes in congressional hearings led by Republican Senator Owen Brewster aimed at portraying Howard Hughes as a war profiteer who siphoned $40 million from the Defense Department to design the H-4. In the 2004 film by Martin Scorcese, Brewster, portrayed by Alan Aida, is portrayed as creating the term “Spruce Goose” while publicly mocking Hughes, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The H-4 indeed had little practical use and illustrated much more deftly the grandiosity and absurdity of Howard Hughes more than actual utility as an aircraft.
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