Strange Vehicles: Payen Pa 49 Katy

Payen PA 49 Katy

The Payen Pa 49 Katy was a pocket-sized prototype aircraft developed in France during the 1950s. It was remarkable for a number of reasons. Firstly it was small, very small. In fact it was the smallest jet-powered aircraft of its day. Secondly it had a delta-wing configuration – which wasn’t ground-breaking by the mid-fifties, but it was still unusual. And thirdly it was a truly tailless aircraft, having no separate horizontal stabilizer.

The aircraft was designed by Roland Payen, who was a pioneer of delta wing and tailess aircraft. Before the second world war he had built two previous aircraft, but the Payen Pa 49 Katy was his first post-war design.

The Payen Pa 49 Katy was constructed entirely from wood, and the leading edge of the wind was swept at 55 degrees, while the trailing edge was at and angle of roughly 30 degrees. The trailing edge of the winds had elevators inboard and ailerons outboard.

Powering the single-seat Payen Pa 49 Katy was a Turbomeca Palas turbojet engine which provided 330 lbf of thrust. It had a top speed of 311 mph (500 km/h) and a cruising speed of 217 mph (350 km/h). Its range was roughly 280 miles (450 km), and it had a service ceiling of 8,500 metres (27,887 ft).

Payen PA 49 Katy

The Payen Pa 49 Katy’s first flight was on 22nd January, 1954. It was flown by Tony Ochsenbein – a brave choice seeing as he only had 30 minutes of flight time in jets previously! However the first flight proved to be a success. Over the next few months more flights, tests and modifications were carried out to further improve the aircraft. Updates included an airbrake and spatted wheels. Plans were drawn up for a version with a retractable undercarriage, however it was never built.

In 1958 the aircraft was retired, having provided the French, and Roland Payen, with invaluable data regarding deltawing aircraft. The first and only example of the Payen Pa 49 Katy was donated to the Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace in Paris where it still resides.

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