The Legendary Bugatti Airplane Makes its First Flight Ever
The Bugatti name—synonymous with stylish lines and impressive performance—has graced the flanks of auto icons such as the Type 57 Atalante, Veyron, and the EB110 supercar. Interestingly enough, company founder Ettore Bugatti didn’t stick to just road-based vehicles. In the late 1930s, Bugatti teamed up with Belgian aeronautical engineer Louis de Monge to create the Bugatti 100P—a racing plane intended to break world speed records and compete in the 1939 Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe air race. With a projected top speed of 500 mph, it looked to be a clear favorite, however it never flew, ever. As the Germany army advanced across France, the aeronautical pride and joy of de Monge and Bugatti was disassembled, stored in Ettore Bugatti’s estate during World War II, and forgotten. It has since been restored, but deemed too fragile to fly. This stunning aircraft seen here is a modern replica, intended to showcase the Bugatti 100P for the engineering marvel it always was, and it just completed its historic first flight. RELATED: Meet the Last Bugatti Veyron Supercar Ever Built
Though only a replica, the achievement is stunning nonetheless, and serves as proof of the engineering prowess of Bugatti and de Monge.
The original art-deco infused Bugatti 100P featured a number of advanced designs for 1939, including forward-swept wings, a Y-shape empennage, automatic wing flaps, dual counter-rotating propellers, and a composite construction of hard wood and balsa wood. This painstakingly recreated 100P—built under the direction of aviation enthusiast Scott E. Wilson—tacks on the same features, however instead of two Bugatti 450 horsepower straight-eight engines behind the cockpit, there are now a pair of Hayabusa motorcycle engines.
Overall, the 100P’s first flight was a success. The plane went airborne and touched down safely on the runway for the first time ever. Unfortunately a brake failure caused Wilson and his craft to run off the airstrip, though the plane appears to be structurally sound after the incident.
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