Replica Bugatti 100P Damaged in First-Flight Mishap

Bugatti 100P’s first flight/Facebook

The Bugatti 100P replica race plane that has been under construction for the last several years in Oklahoma sustained damage yesterday during its first test flight, nosing over and striking both propellers after a failure of its right brake and a slow-speed departure from the runway into soft mud.

Still, the builders of the airplane heralded the flight as a success, reporting that the twin-engine 100P racer successfully lifted off from Clinton-Sherman Industrial Airpark in Burns Flat, Oklahoma, reaching an altitude of 100 feet before the pilot attempted to touch back down on the 13,500-foot-long runway. The airplane floated for longer than anticipated but landed with enough runway to stop, the team said. It is unclear whether the brake failure was caused by excessive pedal pressure, or if the airplane's twin Suzuki motorcycle engines were damaged by the prop strikes.

"Such is the nature of flight testing a new design," the Bugatti 100P Project team wrote on its Facebook page. "The relevant news is we successfully flew the Bugatti 100P for the first time. The plane flew beautifully."

Dubbed Le Reve Bleu (French for "The Blue Dream") the airplane is a 1:1 replica of the sleek racer that Italian car designer Etore Bugatti hoped to enter in a 1939 air race. At the outset of World War II, Bugatti hid his creation in a barn in the French countryside to keep it from falling into the hands of the Nazis. There it sat, having never flown, until 1971, when it was discovered and sent to America, where today it resides in the EAA museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Some have called the art-deco-inspired 100P the most beautiful airplane that never flew. At least now a close replica has and, after some more work by the team that created it, led by entrepreneur Scott Wilson, the airplane will fly again, possibly to its hoped-for top speed of 200-plus mph.

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