It’s pretty amazing what kinds of things can get airborne with enough engines, wings, effort, determination or just sheer creativity.
There are many wild designs with aircraft ranging from flying saucers to planes that take off vertically.
The Avrocar was a conceptual vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft built by Canadian company Avro in 1958 for the US Air Force.
Wingless: M2-F1 lifting body in towed flight, it was the first of five designs of lifting body, in which aerodynamic lift is derived from the shape of the fuselage rather than from wings
Remote: The HiMAT (Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology) experimental aircraft built by Rockwell in 1979 for NASA and the US Air Force, It was a scaled down remotely operated aircraft built to explore new technology for future fighter aircraft
Look ma, no tail! The McDonell Douglas X-36 aircraft, scale model prototype jet aircraft built to test the flying ability of a tail-less aircraft which was built in 1997 and was operated remotely from the ground
Lopsided: The AD-1 oblique wing aircraft built in 1979 by Ames Industrial for NASA. The AD-1 could pivot its entire wingspan from zero to 60 degrees during flight
Rotating wing: The Vertol VZ-2 aircraft, this aircraft was a tilt-wing VTOL (vertical take-off and landing), on a runway, this aircraft first flew on 13 August 1957, and was retired in 1965 in Virginia
Copter: The Russian-built Mil V-12 is the world s largest helicopter, 28 metres in length and 4.4 metres in width and height and pair of rotors were mounted on transverse wings
The saucer-shaped craft is just one of a number of weird-and-wonderful experimental aircraft featured in these extraordinary pictures.
Many of these once state-of-the-art oddities were built without the help of advanced computing technology and sophisticated wind tunnel modelling that engineers use to create today’s aeroplanes.
While most were noble failures or never made it beyond the prototype stage, they nevertheless helped push forward the possibilities of the technology.
The Avrocar, for example, was intended to fly at three times the speed of sound, but the project was abandoned in 1961.
UFO: The Avrocar saucer shaped aircraft was built in 1958 for the US Air Force. It was able to hover a few feet off the ground. When flown without tethers, the Avrocar was unstable and could reach top speed of only 35 mph
Weird-looking: The Northrop XP-79B flying wing aircraft, built in 1945 by Jack Northrop for the US Army; It was designed as a flying wing fighter aircraft powered by two jet engines
Is it a spaceship or a plane? The X-48B Blended Wing Body aircraft model – prototype, a cross between a conventional plane and a flying wing design, was created based on a need for a multi-role, long-range and high-capacity military transport aircraft
Futuristic: The NASA Hyper III aircraft was built in 1969 as part of the lifting body program Lifting body aircraft had short, bulbous or curved fuselages and featured minimal wings or were wingless
Props: The Vought V-173 built in 1942 for the US Navy. The semi-circular all-wing design earned it the nick-name of flying pancake. The compact design made the V-172 structurally strong, offered high manoeuvrability and could fly at very slow speeds
Top gun: Major Jerauld Gentry standing in front of the HL-10. This was one of a series of experimental space re-entry aircraft known as lifting body designs. The design increased the aerodynamic capabilities of the aircraft
While it could hover a few feet off the ground, engineers realized that it became unstable when flown without tethers and could reach a top speed of only 35mph.
The US Air Force had more success with the Ryan X-13 Vertijet, a prototype jet fighter that did actually takeoff vertically, fly horizontally, then land vertically.
But its bulkiness meant that the pilot was unable to see the ground he was meant to be landing on and when instabilities again reared their ugly head, the project was shelved.
Red star: The Su-47 Berkut is an experimental fighter jet built by Russian company Sukhoi in 1997, it features a pair of fixed wings that sweep forwards. The high lift-to-drag ratio of the wing design provides enhanced manoeuvrability at supersonic speeds
Go-faster striped: Grumman X-29 experimental aircraft built in 1984 by Grumman for NASA to test the concept of forward sweeping wings. It is able to turn mid-air quickly and is much less likely to stall at high angles of attack
Buzzy bee: Vertol VZ-2 aircraft, this aircraft was a tilt-wing VTOL. This aircraft first flew on 13 August 1957, and was retired in 1965 in Virginia. The wings are designed to tilt to allow the rotors to lift the aircraft the way they would on a helicopter
The design didn’t take off!: LTV XC-142 tiltwing experimental aircraft. It was built in 1964 for the US army who were interested in a short take-off and landing aircraft that could carry huge cargo and travel long distances
Moon pod: The Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) was built by Bell Aerosystems in 1964 as part of the Apollo Project to land on the moon, it was a vertical take-off and landing vehicle powered by a single jet engine
Sea plane: A Russian ground effect aircraft flies low over the water
However, not all of these cutting-edge craft were destined to be consigned to the dustbin of history.
The enormous Super Guppy Turbine cargo plane has been flown since 1980 and was acquired by NASA in 1997.
It was nicknamed ‘the pregnant Guppy’ by engineers due to its bulbous shape – created by bolting an entirely new fuselage on top of an existing plane.
According to NASA, the supersized aircraft, designed to carry large loads such as other aircraft and space station components, continues to attract amazement wherever it flies.
Cruising: Picture of Lun-class ground effect vehicle (GEV), or sea skimmer, developed by Russian engineer at the Alexeyev hydrofoil design bureau which was one of the largest sea-planes ever built
Whale of the skies: The Super Guppy Turbine (NASA’s B377SGT), super-sized cargo plane flown since 1980 and acquired by NASA in 1997, is taking off from Edwards Air Force Base en route to to its home base, near the Johnson Space Center in California
To the point: The Douglas X-3 Stiletto experimental jet aircraft built in 1952 for the US Air Force, It featured a narrow fuselage, tiny wings and a long tapered nose making it the sleekest aircraft for its time
To the moon: Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) built in 1963 as part of the Apollo Project to land on the moon. It was powered by a single jet engine. It meant that astronauts were able to to train for real moon landings
X marks the spot: The X-Wing was an experimental hybrid helicopter/fixed wing aircraft built in 1986 by helicopter maker Sikorsky for NASA. It could fly with or without rotor blades which would act as an additional pair of wings
Part plane, part rocket: The Ryan X-13 Vertijet, built by Ryan Aeronautical in 1955 for the US Air Force, would take off vertically, fly horizontally and land vertically