Segments in this Video

Introduction: Madcaps And Oddballs (02:31)


Flight was achieved through a series of technological breakthroughs. Advancements in modern aircraft enable research projects, civil services, and military operations. There were many failed attempts to engineer flying machines; some achieved takeoff in spite of bizarre designs.

Mammoth Fliers (04:39)

The Airbus Beluga was designed to transport aircraft parts; its shape was borrowed from Boeing Aero Spacelines' Guppy series. The Bristol Brabazon debuted in September 1949; it was the largest British aircraft ever manufactured. Howard Hughes developed the HK-1 Hercules.

Dornier Do X (05:38)

Claude Dornier designed a float plane with twelve engines, hoping to establish transatlantic service. On November 5, 1930, the plane took off across the Atlantic. It reached New York on August 27th, 1931 and returned to Germany over the North Atlantic in five days.

Notable Prototypes (04:59)

The Granville Gee Bee R-1 was unstable and dangerous to fly. Rocket power was employed by the Messershmitt ME-163 Comet, leading to Bell X-1 technology enabling supersonic speeds. The Hoppy Copter, Flying Donut, and Flying Transport were innovated for individual transport.

World War II Engineering (02:43)

Germans developed the Messerschmitt ME-321 Gigant Glider. They designed a piggy back plane for air combat, attaching an FW-190 Fighter to a Junkers Bomber. Blohm & Voss BV-141 Reconnaissance craft featured an offset crew compartment. The Dornier Do 335 successfully integrated pusher and tractor propellers.

Flying Wings (04:06)

In 1925, the British manufactured the Pterodactyl Tailless Plane. Engineer Jack Northrop invented aircraft with the cockpit enclosed in the wing; he focused on efficient, aerodynamic designs. In 1946, he debuted the XB-25 Flying Bomber; the United States Air Force put in an order, but later withdrew it.

Self-Propelled Prototypes (05:22)

Leonardo Da Vinci used a flapping wings design for his Ornithopter; since, people have launched such craft from balloons, buildings, and cliffs without achieving liftoff. Bicycles were fixed with wings, launched from rails, platforms, and automobiles without success. A German glider achieved flight after catapulted into the air.

Kremer Prize (04:44)

In the 1970s, the Royal Aeronautical Society increased its prize offer for the first human powered machine to fly a figure eight course. A student team built a bicycle powered machine with light weight components in 1961. In 1977, Paul MacCready engineered the winning Gossamer Condor.

Human Powered Competitions (05:35)

In the 1970s, Henry Kremer offered a prize to the first human powered plane to cross the English Channel. MacCready engineered the Gossamer Albatross; in 1979 Bryan Allen traveled from England to the French coast. Similar contests still take place in England and Japan.

Myth Recreation (01:49)

In the 1980s, Massachusetts Institute of Technology students developed the Daedalus to recreate the mythical escape from Minos. Bicyclist Kanellos Kanellopoulos piloted the craft in 1988. It crashed during landing, but broke the distance record for human powered aircraft.

Alternate Energy Aircraft (03:08)

In August 1980, a shrunken version of MacCready's human powered craft was fitted with solar panels, and flown two miles at Edwoods Air Force Base. The engineer also designed the Solar Challenger, which crossed the English Channel in 1981. NASA invented sun powered craft to monitor weather and pollution.

Global Accomplisment (04:39)

In 1982, Burt Rutan designed a foam and fiberglass aircraft; he intended it to fly around the world without stopping or refueling. The Voyager took off on December 14th, 1986; it flew west and touched back down at Edwoods Air Force Base on December 23rd.

Credits: Madcaps And Oddballs (00:44)

Credits: Madcaps And Oddballs

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Century Of Flight: Madcaps And Oddballs

Part of the Series : Century of Flight
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In this episode of Century of Flight, we experience the madcaps and oddballs of aviation. See massive haulers and tiny racers; watch Birdmen of the 1920’s and 30’s launch themselves from rocks, buildings and cliffs. Experience the many innovations of human powered aircraft, solar powered planes, and aerodynamic designs that have contributed to the development of modern, high tech machines.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL185474

ISBN: 978-1-64623-949-8

Copyright date: ©1997

Closed Captioned

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