Tulsa-Built 'Bugatti 100p' Replica Makes First Flight
TULSA, Oklahoma - A replica of the only aircraft ever constructed by renowned car builder Ettore Bugatti made its first flight this week.
The flight went well, but a problem with the brakes after landing caused the plane to roll off the runway and pitch up onto its nose.
Builder Scotty Wilson said the only damage was to the twin propellers.
Bugatti built his 100p in the late 1930s in Paris. He was hoping to build military airplanes for the French when the Germans invaded. The one prototype of the exotic design was hidden in a barn before it could be flown. It was discovered years later and is now in a museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
We've followed the progress of Scotty Wilson and a crew from Tescorp in Tulsa as they set out a few years ago to build an exact replica.
There were no plans for the original, so they used measurements and pictures of the real one to construct this one.
The aircraft has two engines located behind the cockpit, which drive contra-rotating propellers. The design also features forward-swept wings and a Y-tail.
The crew built it out of wood and metal, just like the original, in a hangar in east Tulsa. They moved it to a former U.S. Air Force base in western Oklahoma for flight testing.
In spite of the trouble with the brakes, the crew said on its Facebook page the first flight went very well.
"We intended this flight to be limited to a short hop down the runway to check power required/power available and to check control responsiveness in all three axes. Preflight preparation and before-takeoff checks were normal. Takeoff was normal and at a predetermined reduced power (80%) setting; takeoff roll was 3000 feet and I became airborne at 90 knots. I climbed to 100 AGL to check power and control responsiveness. The plane responded as expected to all power changes and control inputs. Maximum airspeed was 110 knots.
I reduced power for landing but the airplane floated much more than we anticipated. I landed further down the runway than planned but with sufficient distance to stop the plane. Unfortunately, I lost the right brake and the airplane departed the left side of the runway at slow speed. Due to heavy rains the night before, the ground was soft and the airplane tipped upward on its nose, damaging the spinner and both props.
Such is the nature of flight testing a new design. The relevant news is we successfully flew the Bugatti 100P for the first time. The plane flew beautifully."
Wilson's efforts have drawn interest from all over the world. The original 100p was designed by Louis de Monge. His great-nephew, Lasislas de Monge, came to Tulsa in 2011 to help Wilson complete the project.
The damaged props will be replaced and Wilson said the group will release more videos and photos as flight testing continues.