Top 10 Aviation Ideas That Didn’t Fly

Many of you are aware of the relationship between inventions and failure. History reveals quite a good number of aviation ideas that didn’t make it to the finish line despite taking a lot of effort, time and resources. Granted, some were really hopeful and we can almost see creativity and skill behind the creation. Some, of course, were simply dumb and too ambitious for life. Take a look at the top ten aviation ideas that didn’t fly.

Image source: Flying Mag

10. Human Flight

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You have probably come across literature with tales of Roman feast entertainers who could jump to their deaths from tall heights wearing nothing except feathered arms. The most historical one is the infamous King Bladud, the mythical figure who left a mark in the history of failed flying inventions. This guy, who apparently spoke to the spirits a lot, surprised everyone when he woke up one day and made a failed attempt to fly above the Apollo temple dressed in wings only. You already know what happened- a shameful and terrible death.

9. The Flying Pinto

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This is a funny yet sad one. So these two guys Harold Blake and Henry Smolinski decided to make a name in the aviation ideas industry. They took a Ford Pinto car, put some wings on it and off they went flying into the air with it. The only problem with this sort of ingenious idea was that the right wing of the Ford failed in the trial run and later failed again causing a crash that killed Harold and Henry. As much as this is among the aviation ideas that didn’t fly, more attention to detail would have yielded a different story.

8. Reichelt’s Parachute

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The early 90s also saw one of the failed flying inventions involving a parachute suit. This invention brought about by Franz Reichelt was meant to convert to a parachute during a plummet. Actually, sometimes the suit worked when tested using dummies but other times it didn’t. The climax of the failure happened when the inventor who had enough faith that it would protect him, jumped down from the Eifel Tower wearing the suit and died.

7. Focke-Wulf Triebfluegel

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Before the modern chopper was created, some genius inventors had already come up with a working helicopter. It was meant to help the Germans during the World War II but ended up being one of those aviation ideas that was put to bed because it proved to be quite hard to land.

6. Charles De Gaulle

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The French supposed aircraft carrier also makes it home to aviation ideas that didn’t fly. It is a recent invention which was first created in 1986 with high hopes it will bring a revolution in the aviation industry. The French government actually put in more than four billion dollars to make this 40,000-ton nuclear-powered vessel. Some of the reasons the ship remained as a prototype include its speed which was lower than the earlier invention, its propellers that’s didn’t pick up pace, the engine and reactor which had poor construction and installation and its deck that was wrongly designed.

5. The Flying Aircraft Carrier

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In the early 1930s, some German engineers drafted one of the failed flying inventions in form of an aircraft carrier. This great invention was developed by Ohio’s Dr. Karl Arnstein who constructed the aircraft (the USS Macon) which flew for the first time in 1933. A sister ship was later built known as the USS Akron. Unfortunately, these two planes became useless invention ideas when the USS Macron crushed in 1935 because of a structural issue triggered by a storm.

4. Alexander’s Sesquiplane

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If you desire to pump up the design of the original aircraft, why not think of a sesquiplane, right? Alexander Goupil, the French engineer responsible for inventing the bird-like flying machine back in 1883 sadly has his name on the books of failed flying inventions. The sesquiplane is basically a monoplane consisting of extra half wings. The aircraft was meant to get its power from a steam engine inside its body, have an engine able to drive a tractor propeller, fitted with a landing gear and its tail surface mounted with a landing gear. Since we hear nothing about it, we assume it did not make much sense to the world.

3. Leonardo da Vinci’s Ornithopter

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We all know Leonardo da Vinci for one reason or the other. Turns out, he also made a name in the aviation industry by creating one of the aviation ideas that didn’t fly. When he wasn’t painting or being a genius in sculpting and anatomy, he embraced engineering by reading about flight theories in great depth. As a result, in 1505, he invented a complex ornithopter which was basically a machine consisting of flapping wings with operation resembling that of birds. Although the fate of the ornithopter is not very clear from literature, more studies reveal that several tests on it failed miserably. The guy should have just stuck to art and other careers; aviation wasn’t among his strengths.

2. Paolo Guidotti and Giovanni Battista


Leonardo is not the only victim of failed flying inventions; his other contemporaries Giovanni Battista and Paolo Guidotti followed in his footsteps as well. Theirs was even crazier. Battista, for instance, demonstrated his faith in flying like a bird by gluing feathers on his arms, moving them up and down and jumping down from a tall height. Paolo, on the other hand, made wings from a wheel bone and did the exact same thing. Both men crashed terribly breaking their legs.

1. Ritchel’s Flying Machines

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How could we forget the flying machine invented by Charles Ritchel in 1878? It concludes our list of the aviation ideas that didn’t fly because it almost became the next big thing in the aviation industry. This aircraft was made from brass tubing and it had a gas bag consisting or rubberized fabric. This prolific inventor had plans of having 11 men hand-crank each of the five plans he built but this seemed too far-fetched leading to an end to a brilliant invention.

We would love to hear other failed invention ideas you know of from the history of aviation so get in touch on the comments section below. Thank you for the read. Be sure to catch other reads on this website as you share this article within your social media circles.


Post Author: SparkInList Staff

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