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EAA Young Eagles - Ask the Expert

Question :
What is the smallest airplane ever built? Devin
Answer :
Hi Devin,

One of the recognized smallest airplanes is the Stits Sky Baby, built in 1952 by EAA member Ray Stits and Robert Starr of California. Check this link for a photo of the Sky Baby, but remember photos can fool your eyes. It looks BIG in this picture!

The Sky Baby has a wingspan of seven feet, two inches and is than 10 feet long (9 feet, 10 inches). It weighs in at 452 pounds. The Sky Baby has a maximum speed of 185 mile per hour. Mr. Starr flew the Sky Baby at numerous air shows in 1952. The airplane was donated to the National Air and Space Museum and is currently on public display at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, WI.

The Sky Baby remained the World’s smallest airplane until the 1980s when Robert Starr built a new airplane called the Bumble Bee. It was a bit heavier than the Sky Baby at 547 pounds, but it had a shorter wingspan, six feet, six inches and is nine and a half feet long. The Bumble Bee could fly at 180 miles per hour. The Bumble Bee is on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, AZ. http://www.pimaair.org/Acftdatapics/exp_bbee.htm

Now that the Bubble Bee had taken the title from Sky Baby, David Stits, Ray's son, set out to reclaim the title for his family. David built the Baby Bird. Longer than the Bumble Bee (11 feet), the Baby Bird has a smaller wingspan at 6.25 feet and weighs only 250 pounds. The Baby Bird has a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour and first flew in August 1984. The Baby Bird is on display at the EAA AirVenture Museum, right next to it’s slightly larger ancestor, The Sky Baby.

In May of 1988, Robert Starr took flight in a new airplane called Bumble Bee II. Still a bit heavier than the Baby Bird at 396 pounds, the Bumble Bee II was shorter (8.8 feet) and had a tiny wingspan of five and a half feet! The Bumble Bee II was also speedy and could fly at 190 miles per hour. Unfortunately, the Bumble Bee II was destroyed in a crash after an engine failure. Mr. Starr was injured, but has recovered.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists Baby Bird as the smallest monoplane and the Bumble Bee II as the smallest biplane.

Dream Big!
Steve Buss
EAA Young Eagles

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