The Experimental French Aircraft That Wasn't

The Coléoptère was a French experiment from the 1950s that aspired to make a vertical take-off and landing aircraft a reality. It looks like something that was an iconic, indelible part of the Atomic Future. The only thing is that it was a complete failure.

There is no denying the beauty of the Beetle -- as its name is translated in English. That annular wing screams fun. And it had some awesome features, like an annular wing and a tilting seat that transitioned the pilot from vertical flight to horizontal flight.

But it never successfully took flight. Sure, there were a few times when it threatened to defy gravity, but it wasn't meant to be. Maybe its engine design was just too ambitious. Air & Space writes:

Takeoff, hover, and landing were controlled by deflecting vanes in the engine exhaust: in horizontal flight by four fins mounted just above the castoring landing gear, and in the transition to vertical flight by two retractable canards in the nose.

On it's ninth and final attempt, the aircraft almost accomplished its mission, but only "wild oscillations" and "horizontal acceleration" resulted, causing the pilot to eject (and suffer serious injuries), while the craft burned up. [Air & Space via BoingBoing]

Trending Stories Right Now