By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
The Bugatti 100P was a purpose-built aircraft designed to set world speed records, but in more than 70 years since its conception it has never flown -- now, a project based in Tulsa, Okla., aims to change that this year. Enthusiast Scotty Wilson is the self-described "guy at the pointy end of the Bugatti 100P project," and he spoke with AVweb Thursday. Wilson has invested his time, money, sweat, and nearly all other available resources into creating a faithful reproduction of the aircraft. And he's found help along the way. The result is a now nearly complete aircraft that Wilson says is "externally, dimensionally, and aerodynamically accurate to within a few millimeters" of the original. The airframe is complete, engine installation is coming soon, and first flight, Wilson hopes, will come by year-end. Then the aircraft will set out on tour ... but maybe not in the U.S.
The sole original aircraft, a product of famed auto designer Ettore Bugatti and largely forgotten aerodynamic engineer, Louis de Monge, currently resides in the EAA museum at Oshkosh, Wis. And that copy may be the only one that most Americans will have the opportunity to see in person. The 100P's heritage is European, and Wilson aims to return it to that part of the world where most people have never seen the airframe he calls "an art-deco masterpiece" that is "arguably the most elegant airplane ever designed." Some of its features, like air inlets in the tail and generous wing fillets, may actually limit the aircraft's top speed, but Wilson has held true to the design. He hopes to show the aircraft at car shows and airshows in Europe, sharing the unique history of an aircraft that (had it not been derailed by World War II) may have become one of the most recognized of its time. Wilson may ultimately leave the aircraft in the care of a museum overseas. Listen to AVweb's podcast with Wilson for more details.