(Photo via 1000 Aircraft Photos)
Máté Petrány of Jalopnik has assembled a list of the strangest submarines ever built. Among them is this marvel, a flying submarine.
That's right. This vessel could both fly and travel beneath the surface of the water. An eccentric American engineer named Donald Reid invented it. Throughout the 1950s, he worked on models for flying subs, some of which were radio controlled and completely functional. Reid tried to get the attention of the US Navy, but without success.
In 1958, he patented his design and started to build a prototype in an apple orchard on his property in New Jersey. Reid made the fuselage out of glass fiber and a conning tower out of aluminum. He built in 2 engines: a 60-hp airplane engine and a 1-hp electric motor to power the rear propeller.
His son Bruce donned scuba equipment and tested the craft as a submarine. It did not fully submerge. Part of the wings and the bow stayed annoying out of the water. Bruce was also a student pilot, so he tested it as an airplane. The craft took off quickly, flew to 100 feet in the air, then crashed. Bruce determined that the tail was too heavy. It threw the plane off-balance.
Reid kept working on the design. He also had to work on licensure. Did he need an airplane license or boat license? The New Jersey Department of Conservation decided that it was a boat. The Federal Aviation Agency added it to its list of authorized aircraft.
On June 9, 1964, Reid successfully drove it at 4 knots while submerged 5 feet below the surface of the Shrewsbury River in New Jersey. Then Reid surfaced, removed a protective covering over the airplane engine and few it at 60 miles per hour about 20 feet over the water.
Massie, Robert K. "The Sub That Sails the Sky." Saturday Evening Post 1 Jan. 1966: 52-54. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.