This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.
Collection Item Summary:
The Inflatoplane's performance was comparable to that of a a J3 Cub. The airplane was wheeled out like a wheelbarrow and inflated in about 5 minutes using less air pressure than a car tire. The two-cycle 40-hp Nelson engine had to be hand-started and held 20 gallons of fuel.
The Inflatoplane carried a maximum weight of 240 lb., had a range of 390 mi., and an endurance of 6.5 hr.s. Its cruise speed was 60 mph. Take off distance on sod was 250 ft with 575 ft needed to clear a 50-foot obstacle. It landed in 350 ft on sod. Rate of climb was 550 ft per min. Its service ceiling was estimated at 10,000 ft.
Twelve Inflatoplanes were designed and built in less than twelve weeks. Development, testing, and evaluation of the inflatable airplane continued through 1972 and the project was cancelled in 1973. Goodyear donated two Inflatoplanes, one to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and one to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
The aircraft is in storage at the Garber Restoration Facility.
Collection Item Long Description:
Think of Goodyear and one inevitably thinks of "The Goodyear Blimp." Starting in the 1920s as the Goodyear Zeppelin Company, a division of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company located in Akron, Ohio, Goodyear built the rigid airships Akron and Macon. Then, as the Goodyear Aircraft Company, it built, under license from Chance Vought, more F4U Corsairs for the WWII Navy than Chance Vought himself. Goodyear also built most of the components for the WWII night fighter, the P-61 Black Widow, as well as many blimps during the Second World War for the U.S. Navy's antisubmarine patrol. Later, as Goodyear Aerospace, it was responsible for the production of many aircraft components, simulators, and training systems.
In 1987, Goodyear sold its Aerospace division to Loral, which in turn sold it to Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems in 1996. Lockheed Martin now owns and operates the operation, including Wingfoot Lake testing area, near Akron, and the blimp business. In 1956, Goodyear Aircraft Co. merged its know-how in the building of lighter-than-air craft with its knowledge of fixed-winged aircraft and came up with an innovative, inflatable airplane that it called the Inflatoplane.
This was one of those might-have-been airplanes designed by the Goodyear Company in the 1950s. The design was to provide for an inflatable rubber airplane that could be used for military purposes. As a rescue plane, it could be dropped behind enemy lines near downed pilots who would inflate the craft and fly to friendlier territory. It was ideally suited for both land and water uses. Later developments included a 42-hp engine and a two-place inflatoplane design.
The Inflatoplane's performance was comparable to that of a a J3 Cub. The airplane was wheeled out like a wheelbarrow and inflated in about 5 minutes using less air pressure than a car tire. The aircraft used a two-cycle 40-hp Nelson engine that had to be hand-started. Its wing span was 22 feet and it had a length of 19 feet 7 inches. The airplane held 20 gallons of fuel and carried a maximum weight of 240 lb. The range was 390 miles with an endurance of 6.5 hours. Its cruise speed was 60 mph. Take off distance on sod was 250 feet with 575 feet needed to clear a 50-foot obstacle. It landed in 350 feet on sod. Rate of climb was 550 feet per minute. Its service ceiling was estimated at 10,000 feet.
The two-seat variant had slightly different characteristics. Inflation took about 6 minutes. The aircraft used a 60-hp McCulloch 4318 engine that was also hand-started. Its wing span was 28 feet and its length was 19 feet 2 inches. The airplane held 18 gallons of fuel and had a gross weight of 740 lb. The range was 275 miles with an endurance of 5.4 hours. Its cruise speed was 55 mph, stall speed 43 mph, and maximum speed 70 mph. Take off on sod was possible in 390 feet with 745 feet needed to clear a 50 foot obstacle. Rate of climb was 500 feet per minute. Its service ceiling was estimated at 6,500 feet.
Twelve Inflatoplanes were built. Development, testing, and evaluation of the inflatable airplane continued through 1972 and the project was cancelled in 1973. Goodyear donated two Inflatoplanes, one to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and one to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
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- Inflatable, rubber, monoplane. Powered by a single, two-stroke, 42-hp, Nelson engine mounted behind the pilot and above the wing after inflation. Two-seat variant has a 60-hp McCulloch engine.
- Somewhat like a giant inner-tube. Structural integrity was retained in flight with forced air being continually circulated by the motor, and required less air pressure than the average auto tire.