Strange Vehicles > Fairchild VZ-5

Fairchild VZ-5

The Fairchild VZ-5 was one of the many weird and wonderful experimental aircraft developed during the 1950s which never really took off (figuratively speaking). The VZ-5 was a high-wing monoplane with a fixed tricycle undercarriage. The single pilot sat in an open cockpit at the extreme front of the aircraft. Despite having four propellers, two on each wing, the VZ-5 only had one engine, a GE turboshaft which produced 1,032 horsepower.

The Fairchild VZ-5's real party trick was its highly adjustable wing. The wing had conventional trailing flaps and ailerons which would have allowed the VZ-5 to fly exactly like a conventional aircraft once airborne. However for take-off and landings the rear two-thirds of the wing could be angled downward to direct the thrust towards the ground and provide vertical lift. To assist the aircraft during take-off the VZ-5 could be angled backwards so it sat on a rear skid. Once in the air two small rotors mounted on the rear stabilizer allowed the pilot to control the aircraft's pitch.

Sadly, as with many prototype aircraft of the time, the VZ-5 failed to live up to its expectations. It did fly a few times, its first flight being on 18th November 1959. However every time it took to the air it did so under the safety of a tether line. The results weren't good, and the aircraft was reportedly difficult to fly. The Fairchild VZ-5 project was canceled after just a few limited tests.