Goodyear Inflatoplane

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Designed and built in 12 weeks in 1956, the Goodyear Inflatoplane could be dropped in a hardened container behind enemy lines:

The 44 cubic ft (1.25 cubic meter) container could also be transported by truck, jeep trailer or aircraft. The inflatable surface of this aircraft was actually a sandwich of two rubber-type materials connected by a mesh of nylon threads, forming an I-beam. When the nylon was exposed to air, it absorbed and repelled water as it stiffened, giving the aircraft its shape and rigidity.

Goodyear AO-3 Inflatoplane in air

Structural integrity was retained in flight with forced air being continually circulated by the aircraft’s motor. This continuous pressure supply enabled the aircraft to have a degree of puncture resilience, the testing of airmat showing that it could be punctured by up to six .30 calibre bullets and retain pressure.


  1. Wilbur Hassenfus says:

    “Structural integrity was retained in flight…”


  2. Graham says:

    How long a motor failure would be required for the thing to collapse into an aerodynamically null rubber sack?

  3. Adar says:

    And the mission of the plane would have been what?

  4. Isegoria says:

    The original concept was to provide a rescue plane for downed pilots.

  5. Sam J. says:

    “…When the nylon was exposed to air, it absorbed and repelled water as it stiffened, giving the aircraft its shape and rigidity…”

    I’m fairly sure this is nonsense and it makes understanding the operation super confusing. Someone must have made a mistake as there’s not supposed to be water inside the wing. What I read before was that the skin had nylon threads embedded internally from the bottom of the internal surface of the wing to the top internal surface of the wing. When inflated the length of the nylon thread at any one point would shape the wing by restraining the skin. As for the air running out when the engine quit it had a one way valve much like most life rafts. Air went in the valve but not out.

    Hopefully no one will mind. If you are really interested in odd and normal planes here’s a couple of sites that are really good but I warn you they could suck up part of your life.

    Have a look at the “weird airplane designs”. The article on the flying flea is nice too.

    The Dreamy Dodo-Aviation Rapture

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