Ex-Russian Pilot Transforms his ZAZ Tavria into a Flying Car

flying car  Ex-Russian Pilot Transforms his ZAZ Tavria into a Flying Car(Image: www.nkj.ru, reproduced with permission)

Discovery recently reported that 72-year-old retired Russian pilot Valery Bulgakov had converted his 1987 Ukrainian-built ZAZ Tavria into a flying car. These images show the impressive result of his eccentric labours on display in July at the Autoexotics motor show in Moscow.

(Image: www.nkj.ru, reproduced with permission)

Bulgakov replaced the doors and bonnet (hood) with lighter materials and added a double set of wings, effectively transforming the Tavria into a biplane. The flying car, which was designed purely to train would-be pilots, has even been patented.

flying car 2  Ex-Russian Pilot Transforms his ZAZ Tavria into a Flying Car(Image: www.nkj.ru, reproduced with permission)

With a takeoff speed of 60 miles per hour (which takes a standard Tavria around 20 seconds to reach), sustained flight range of 600 feet and maximum altitude of ten feet, this is hardly a high performance machine. Whether it will be approved for flight by Russian authorities, however, remains to be seen.

If you enjoyed this article, don’t miss our Brief Historical Introduction to Flying Cars (aka roadable aircraft).

Did Chinese Farmer’s Homemade Helicopter Ever Fly?

homebuilt helicopter  Did Chinese Farmer’s Homemade Helicopter Ever Fly?

(Image by DVICE)

Two years ago the web was buzzing with news of a 20-year-old Chinese farmer called Wu Zhongyuan who had cobbled together a homemade helicopter with wooden rotor blades, steel-pipe-reinforced frame and a motorcycle engine.  In addition to DVICE, the story was covered by PopSci and made it onto Neatorama.  The question everyone was asking was: Could it fly?  We never found out, because the Chinese government had unsportingly prohibiting Mr Wu from test flying his invention.  Jumping forward to 2011, is the ban still enforced, or has the homemade helicopter taken to the air?

Don’t miss more great homebuilt aircraft here.

Abandoned Boeing 727 Becomes Exclusive Costa Rican Hotel Suite

costa verde hotel 727  Abandoned Boeing 727 Becomes Exclusive Costa Rican Hotel Suite(Image: Cherie Stafford, cc-nc-3.0)

Converting redundant passenger aircraft into hostels, hotels and houses has become more common in recent years, not least the Jumbo Hostel in Stockholm or the incredible recycled Wing House project in California. Now, guests at the Hotel Costa Verde can experience Costa Rica’s most exclusive suite in the form of a recycled Boeing 727.

costa verde hotel 727 hotel  Abandoned Boeing 727 Becomes Exclusive Costa Rican Hotel Suite(Images: Hotel Costa Verde)

The vintage passenger plane, built in 1965, was operated by South Africa Air and later Avianca Airlines (Colombia). But after (seemingly) ending its days in a San Jose aircraft graveyard, the tired airframe was salvaged piece by piece and transported to Hotel Costa Verde on five big-rig trucks.

costa verde hotel 727 hotel 2  Abandoned Boeing 727 Becomes Exclusive Costa Rican Hotel Suite(Images: Hotel Costa Verde)

Perched on a 50 foot pedestal, the 727’s interior is decked out in Costa Rican teak, while the two air conditioned bedrooms boast queen sized beds, private baths and flat screen TVs. It’s not the only aircraft house or plane hotel around, but the hand-carved furnishings and scenic ocean and jungle views from the hard wood deck atop the aircraft’s right wing certainly make it one of the most exclusive examples of post-service aircraft design.

Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?

long ez  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: Arpingstone, public domain)

In the eccentric world of homebuilt aircraft, they don’t come much more sleek than the Rutan Model 61 Long-EZ.  The design may look modern, but the prototype (derived from the VariEze) first flew in June 1979.  Built by the Rutan Aircraft Factory (now called Scaled Composites and owned by Northrop Grumman), the Long-EZ has a range of 2,000 miles with 700 airframes registered with the FAA as of 2005.

long ez 2  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: NOAA, public domain)

Sporting canards forward of the cockpit and wing-tip rudders, the pilot sits in a semi-reclined position and controls the aircraft with a side-stick, in a similar manner to the F-16.  With an additional fuel tank instead of a passenger seat, the little homebuilt aircraft can achieve an impressive range of 4,800 miles.

ez rocket  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: Alan Radecki, cc-sa-3.0)

Dick Rutan and test pilot Mike Melvill flew two Long-EZs around the world, staying aloft for over 14 hours on some legs.  A follow-on to the rocket engine powered EZ-Rocket technology demonstrator (above), called the Mark-1 X-Racer, was considered for the Rocket Racing League, but ultimately lost out to the Velocity SE.

long ez 3  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: Guinnog, cc-sa-3.0)

Several Long-EZ aircraft have crashed over the years, including one notable accident on October 12, 1997, which killed singer-songwriter John Denver.  While Denver was an experienced pilot, the cause of the crash was attributed to a faulty fuel selector valve exaccerbated by Denver’s unfamiliarity with the aircraft.

rutan long ez  Rutan Long-EZ: The Ultimate Homebuilt Aircraft?(Image: Arpingstone, public domain)

A similar design supposedly built by TASK Research, known as the TASK Vantage, has been linked to a classified project conducted on behalf of Northrop.  This experimental aircraft, resembling the Long-EZ, is said to have been fitted with a Williams F107 turbofan engine around 1993.  Interestingly, the TASK Vantage appears on the FAA Register as owned by Scaled Composites, although its current whereabouts are unknown.