Strange Planes (1990): S01E05 – Vertical


Technology Documentary hosted by Luke Swann, published by Discovery Channel broadcasted as part of DC Wings series in 1990.


From the Bell XV3 and XV15 to the Hawker and Harrier, a recounting of the planes that leap into the sky without a runway and some that were supposed to but did not.

This episode tells the fascinating story of attempts to design airplanes that could be launched straight up into the air.

The history of aviation tells some unbelievable tales. None are more far-fetched than the ideas behind vertical Take-Off.

Frustrated with the need for runway space and the often cramped conditions of war, aircraft designers got clever. Using tilting wings and engines, jet nozzles and the aircraft itself, vertical take-off was a favourite theory.

In several cases, the planes did actually fly. The Osprey, with its tilting rotor, took flight in the 1980s. As did the French tail-sitter, back in 1959. Even more interesting are the plans that were made, but failed.

Strange Planes Series

You can find a full index and overview of Strange Planes here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 1990.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 46-54 minutes (per episode).
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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