Meet the Inflate-o-plane!
An early idea to help evac pilots lost behind the lines before C-SAR helicopters made it a lick, the 700-pound Goodyear Inflatoplane could be airdropped and, providing the pilot had some spare time on his hands and 250 feet of clear sod could pump it up and fly home.
The Inflatoplane’s performance was comparable to that of 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 canceled 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.