Saturday, September 24, 2022


See the world’s smallest plane in Arizona

We asked readers in issue 956, July 11, 2020, if they thought this plane was real or a non-flying movie prop.

The answer is, it’s real and you can see it for yourself in Tucson, Arizona.

The Bumble Bee was designed and built for the sole purpose of taking the record for the world’s smallest aircraft.

Robert Starr had been involved as pilot and designer in two previous record holding smallest aircraft dating back to 1949. Feeling that he had not received the amount of credit he was due for participating in those efforts he decided to take the record for himself. In 1979, he began work on the Bumble Bee and after five years of design and construction the tiny aircraft was ready for flight.

The first flights were on January 28, 1984, at Marana, Arizona, and the aircraft was credited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest aircraft ever flown. The record stood until August of that year when one of Starr’s former partners built and flew an even smaller aircraft.

The records were modified slightly to give Starr the record for the smallest biplane while the other contestant took the record for the smallest monoplane.

Starr broke his own biplane record in 1988 with the Bumble Bee II. Unfortunately, that aircraft was destroyed in a crash not long after setting the record. Starr donated the original Bumble Bee, pictured here, to the Pima Air & Space Museum in 1990, where it remains today.

The plane’s wingspan, by the way, is six feet, six inches, and its maximum range 20 miles. Wide open it could hit 180 miles per hour.

There’s ample space in the museum’s parking lot for even the largest RV.


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tim palmer
2 years ago

The National Air & Space Museum at the airport outside of DC has a few weird “little” aircraft in it.

Dick and Sandy near Buffalo, NY
2 years ago

Have seen the plane and many others at the Pima Air & Space Museum. This museum should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Chuck Dunn
2 years ago

I have seen this plane and many other at this great museum

Al Hubbard
2 years ago

So, what’s it’s stall speed, 175?!

Ron T
2 years ago

I’m familiar with this aircraft and two other “World’s Smallest Aircraft” through my career as Collections Manager/Curator at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in Oshkosh, WI. in fact, my last road trip as an EAA employee was to deliver Ray Stits’ Sky Baby to the Air & Space Museum. I was driving an F-450 dualie pickup towing a 24ft. enclosed trailer with a 20,000 lb. CGVW (which meant I had to have a DOT physical but not a CDL to operate). All this to transport 400lbs of airplane! My wife accompanied me and we considered this a test to see if we wanted to replace our Class C with a TT when I retired. It was quite a learning experience and we now have our second Class C.

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