The Bugatti 100P replica project was possibly the finest example of a dream taking flight. But now that dream has crashed into the ground, taking with it the life of its pilot and the impetus behind its revival.
Alongside the Autorail locomotive, the 100P was one of Ettore Bugatti‘s few forays outside the confines of the automobile. He envisioned the innovative experimental aircraft to compete in air races, but ended up hiding it in a barn once the Nazis invaded France.
The original prototype never flew and sits today on static display at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. But a few years ago, a team of hobbyists lead by former US Air Force pilot Scott Wilson set about replicating it, powering its twin propellers by a pair of Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle engines with the aim of getting the design to fly. And fly it did last August on a short test flight, suffering a (relatively minor) crash at the side of the runway upon landing.
The reproduction was repaired and the team undertook one final demonstration flight at the Clinton-Sherman airfield, a former Air Force base in Burns Flat, Oklahoma. But we’re saddened to report that things went much worse this time. Reports indicate that it failed to gain altitude, then banked sharply to the left and crashed nose-first into the ground.
A rescue crew responded to the scene, but Scotty is thought to have been killed on impact, and the wood-framed aircraft was destroyed beyond repair. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in the project and to the Wilson family.