Watch the Surprising History of Inflatable Planes

Yes! They did exist!

Did you know that inflatable planes were actually a thing? It all began in 1931 when an American inventor by the name Taylor McDaniel wanted to make airplanes safer.

Inflatable planes, he argued, could crash down and not be destroyed, leaving both the aircraft and its passenger unharmed. Unfortunately, Taylor McDaniel ran out of money before he could complete his creation but the history of the inflatable plane does not end there.

In 1935, engineers in the Soviet Union started experimenting with the concept. They aimed to use inflatable planes as a way to move supplies across the country. However, little is known about the outcome of these trials.

Finally, in 1955, the British experimented with using inflatable aircraft for reconnaissance missions. It was nicknamed the flying mattress. 

In the end, all of these designs worked to a certain degree but none did very well and this is why we don't have inflatable planes anymore. There was, however, one company that got very close to a working final model and that was Goodyear.

Throughout the 1950s, Goodyear worked on various models of the inflatable plane and even conceived of a way to use it to rescue stranded pilots. Want to find out more? Watch the video above.


Follow Us on

Stay on top of the latest engineering news

Just enter your email and we’ll take care of the rest:

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.