Bugatti Project Starts Taxi Tests

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Ettore Bugatti's 100P racing plane has been called "the most beautiful design that never flew," but that might be changing soon, as a team that's been working for years on a replica has started taxi tests. Former Air Force pilot Scott Wilson and his team, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, got some momentum on the project a couple of years ago thanks to $65,000 raised on Kickstarter. They have now started taxi testing, and hope for a first flight within the next few weeks. The original aircraft, called "Reve Bleu," or Blue Dream, by its designer, was powered by two Bugatti engines that drove two counter-rotating props. It was abandoned in 1939 when World War II began. That airplane was later recovered and restored and today is displayed at the EAA AirVenture Museum, in Oshkosh.

Bugatti, who was born in Italy in 1881, is best known for race cars. He began the airplane project in an effort to reach 500 mph, to take the world speed record from Germany's Messerschmitt, but failed to complete the project in time to meet the race deadline. The original unfinished airplane was stored in a barn in France for the duration of the war, then came to the U.S. in the 1970s, and changed hands several times before EAA acquired it in 1996. The new replica uses two Suzuki Hayabusa 200-hp motorbike engines, and the team hopes to fly it at about 200 mph.