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Goodyear Inflatoplane

Goodyear Inflatoplane

Goodyear Inflatoplane

Goodyear Inflatoplane

If you're an army aviator, the least you'd expect out of your trusty aircraft is a bit of metal surrounding you - giving at the very least a false impression of safety.

Therefore your can only imagine how relieved US Army pilots were when they found out the Goodyear Inflatoplane wasn't going to be entering service.

Essentially the Inflatoplane was exactly what the name implied. It was an inflatable, easily transportable light airplane designed for observation use.

Once the Inflatoplane had been delivered to its operational area, the crew hooked it up to an air compressor, waited for it to inflate, started up the 60 horsepower McCulloch engine, said their prayers, wrote their wills, and took to the skies.

There were 12 examples of the Inflatoplane built during the late 50s and early 60s - although amazingly development of the aircraft continued right up until 1973!

There were two types of Inflatoplane: One version was a single seater, while the other had room for two occupants.

Sadly, during one of the test flights Lt. "Pug" Wallace was killed. The aircraft was in a descending turn when one of the control cables under the wing came off the pulley and became wedged in the pulley bracket, locking the joystick. The turn continued to tighten until one of the wings folded up over the prop and was chopped up. With the wings flailing uselessly because of air loss, one of the aluminum wing tip skids hit Wallace on the side of his head - this was determined from marks on his helmet. Wallace was then thrown out over the nose of the Inflatoplane and fell into the shallow lake below. His parachute never opened. Crash investigators believe he may have been knocked unconscious and unable to open it.

In the end the project was abandoned after Army generals realised just how vulnerable the aircraft, and its pilot, were to absolutely any kind of enemy fire. It's just a shame it took them 17 years of development before they figured that out.

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