Airplanes are often seen as luxuries that only the wealthy can afford to purchase. After all, when most people think of a small aircraft, they think of the expensive Learjets they see on the big screen. And while these jets can easily cost over $2 million, most smaller planes cost less than a brand-new car.
What is the Smallest Airplane in the World?
So, what exactly is considered the smallest plane? Back in 1971, an aircraft designer by the name of Michael Colomban designed a small aircraft that was powered by small engines. It was his goal to build the most economical two-engine plane that was possible at the time. One of the more important requisites was that the plane, when finished should also be able to conduct aerobatic maneuvers.
The construction of the original plane took Michael more than 1500 hrs. to complete, and cost him $1000 in materials. Considering that the minimum wage in 1971 was $1.60 per hour, an additional $2400 in labor could easily be added to the overall cost of building the plane from scratch.
When inflation is taken into consideration, that original $3400 price tag back in 1971 equates to roughly $22,000 in 2022. This amount is only slightly greater than the cost to build a brand-new Cri-Cri from the original plans today.
How Was the Smallest Plane Designed?
Colomban wanted to make sure that the aircraft’s design was easy for a hobbyist to not only build but also fly. By using a 2-engine design, he was able to make the plane more fuel-efficient. At the same time, because the engines were so close together, anyone who was qualified for single-engine flight could pilot a Cri-Cri.
Because of the design, when the plane was not being flown, the wings could be detached which made it easier to transport and park. After its maiden voyage, Michael released a series of plans to allow the hobbyist to build their own version of the small plane that could be easily stored in any garage.
How Small is the Smallest Plane?
The Cri-Cri is truly the smallest single-seater plane you have ever seen. The overall length of the 12’10” (3.9 m) plane is shorter than the 13’4” (4 m) 2021 Ford Fiesta. This results in a plane that is small enough to fit in a standard garage if the wings are removed. But even with the wings still attached, the Colomban Cri-Cri will fit comfortably in a two-car garage.
With a wingspan of only 16’1” (4.9 m) this tiny plane takes up less space than 2 standard parking spots that are 9′(2.75 m) wide. In fact, the overall 33 sq. ft. (3.1 m2 ) wing area of the plane is just slightly greater than the surface area of a sheet of common plywood.
In order to get off the ground, this plane also needed to be lightweight. Without any passengers or gear, the 172 lbs. (78kg) craft is just slightly more than the weight of a Honda CR110F dirt bike, which weighs 170 lbs. (77 kg).
The maximum takeoff weight of this plane is 375 lbs. (170 kg) which is only slightly heavier than a Honda CBR300R which comes in at 354 lbs. (161 kg). And all this is propelled through the air by two single-cylinder, 15-hp engines that produce less power than a John Deere S100 riding lawnmower.
How Fast is the Smallest Plane?
But do not let the small size of the Colombian Cri-Cri fool you because this plane can still move quickly through the air. The maximum speed that the twin-engine aircraft can achieve is 137 mph (220 km/h) which is just slightly less than the E90 3-Series BMW which tops out at 140 mph (225 km/h).
The cruising speed of the plane is 115 mph (185 km/h), which is about half of its maximum speed, or the maximum speed of any Volvo produced in 2021. Overall, the small aircraft has a range of 288 miles (463 km), which is roughly the distance from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
Just because the Cri-Cri is the smallest plane, does not make it less capable than the larger planes that have been produced commercially for the past half a century.
How Much is a Small Plane?
Although the cheapest small jet will set you back close to $2 million, the cheapest small plane starts at around $17,000. The Cessna 150 is one of the most popular commercially manufactured aircraft ever produced.
The 150 is commonly used as a training aircraft due to its handling abilities and aerodynamic stability. Many new pilots also choose the Cessna over any other aircraft despite its range of only 349 miles.
Back in the 70s, plan-built planes were all of the rage. It wasn’t uncommon for a hobbyist to go out and obtain a license to fly single-engine props. But most simply could not afford to buy a brand-new Cessna, so instead, they chose to build their own planes from scratch using plans or kits that could be purchased out of the back of the magazine.
As a result, while the Cessna 150 has become one of the most popular small planes, it is nevertheless twice the size of one of the more popular hobbyist-built kits from the 1970s.
How Much is the Smallest Plane?
While the kits are no longer available, the plans for constructing the smallest plane can still be found online. Known as the Colomban Cri-Cri, this extremely small one-seater plane must be built from scratch and can cost anywhere from $7000-$10,000 in materials, not including the engines or instrument panel.
The dual engines and instrument cluster will add an additional $6000-$8000 to the overall cost of the build. And while the Cri-Cri is considered to be the smallest plane available, there are other options that are already built, which cost far less.
Building a small plane from plans can take thousands of hours to complete. While the cost of materials can range anywhere from $14,000-$20,000, the overall number of man-hours can drive up the final cost. It is possible to save money when constructing a small plan-built plane, but caution should be taken to ensure that no corners are cut that would affect the quality of the final product.
Read More: How Many Miles Long Is Manhattan?
What is the World’s Smallest Jet Aircraft?
The smallest jet aircraft in the world is the Cirrus Vision SF50, which has a maximum take-off weight of 2,687 kg (5,919 lb). The aircraft was designed and built by Cirrus Aircraft, and its maiden flight took place in 2016.
The Cirrus Vision SF50 is a single-engine jet with room for seven people, and it has a maximum range of 1,940 km (1,200 miles). The aircraft is designed for personal and business use, and it can be operated from both paved and unpaved airstrips.
While the Cirrus Vision SF50 is the smallest jet aircraft in the world, it is still a powerful and versatile machine that can be used for a variety of purposes, reaching speeds up to 430 miles per hour.
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