Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde: Outer Space.

The spotless cockpit interior of the 002 prototype reunited last year with Concorde test pilot Brian Trubshaw’s stunning and lovingly cared ML12 Pressure flight helmet (vomit port included). More info.

Those yokes….

Piaggio P.111: Ben oltre la bellezza.

This beauty was conceived in 1939 purely as a high-altitude research aircraft. In particular, to investigate cabin pressurization in line with the development of the company P108C airliner. First flown in the spring of 1941, this relatively small bimotor monoplane was powered by a pair of 1000hp Piaggio P.XII R.C.l00/2v two-stage supercharged radial engines which allow it to achieve a ceiling of about 39,000 feet. An active test career followed which concluded with its unceremonious scrapping before the Italian armistice.

The sparkling brand new prototype at Villanova d’Albenga (Savona), 1941.

Horten H Xa (Piernífero): Little Wing.

Reimar Horten started to develop a small minimalist foot-launched sailplane in the very late 1940s from an idea he was already toying before WW2 started. Built by its eventual test pilot, the Argentine Rogelio Bartolini, this “Alita” was only a bit bigger than the later classic  Rogallo-wing hand glider. Completed in 1953, the first Piernífero due to its high wing loading proved to be useless when foot-launching was tried. Towed by a car it showed good average performance, but also some lack of stability. Furthermore, the pilot’s legs safety appeared to be quite questionable during landings. Two improved longer-winged Pierníferos followed: one remained uncompleted (Xb) and the other unbuilt (Xc).

Even the way it was road carried was stunning. National Air and Space Museum.(NASM) photo.

Definitely not as practical as Rogallo’s, but boy, was it cool.

Drawing: Peter F. Selinger.

Fauvel AV.2: Charme sans queue.

Built in the early 1930s, the AV-2 was one of the first of Charles Fauvel’s tailless designs and his first to fly. Of wooden construction and partially fabric-covered, this experimental flying wing was powered by a 32 hp ABC Scorpion engine placed inside a neatly egg-shaped nacelle. It was just the beginning. Fauvel’s flying wing designs infatuation endured for quite some time; both powered and unpowered examples appeared regularly well into the 1960s.

Pretty cute little thing. Another one of those so beloved to me.

Convair YF2Y-1 Sea Dart: A punch in the air.

Superlative recruiting poster by the Convair company. Sadly, their Sea Darts never proved themselves able to deliver any punch. In the background, Sea Dart (BuNo 135762) looking for trouble. Regrettably, that very aircraft disintegrated in mid-air over San Diego Bay, California (USA) during a demonstration flight (4 Nov. 1954) killing Convair test pilot Charles E. Richbourg; he inadvertently exceeded the design limitations.

Anyway, the people of Convair knew how to design stunning cockpit canopies.

General Motors A-1 Bug: Men and their toys (XXIII).

The founder of Delco, Charles Kettering, undertook serious research and development in guided missiles for the US military since 1919. With the start of WW2, while working at General Motors, he proposed yet another iteration of his “Bugs” as a guided power-driven bomb. Tests started in 1941 and showed that control and general reliability were rather poor. The project saw some improvement in time, but it was ultimately cancelled in 1943.

Muroc, Aug. 1942. The Bug, by then, could employ its own tricycle-like landing gear to take-off, or be launched from this custom-built hot-rod Caddy. This stunning automobile had a pair of 165 hp Cadillac engines attached to a single drive shaft.