The plane flew much as a normal Boeing 377, with the exception of some additional drag. [3] When Van Nuys traffic control realized that Conroy intended to take off, they notified police and fire departments to be on alert. The Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy was a heavy cargo plane used for transporting large and bulky items by air. For more photos of the Pregnant Guppy, Super Guppy and Super Guppy Transport, visit: np. Designed by Aero Spacelines, an American aircraft manufacturer from 1960 to 1968, the Super Guppy was introduced in 1965. Photo Credit: NASA. Aero Spacelines B377PG Pregnant Guppy on ramp in preparation for flight tests and pilot evaluation The various Guppies were modified from 1940's and 50's-vintage Boeing Model 377 and C-97 Stratocruiser airframes by Aero Spacelines, Inc., which operated the aircraft for NASA. John Conroy, inventor of the Pregnant Guppy and Super Guppy. The Pregnant Guppy was the first of the Guppy line of aircraft produced by Aero Spacelines. He had a storied aircraft career from his time as a Thunderbolt pilot in WW2 through many commercial and military aviation projects all the way into the 1990s, including his time at Strato. Everywhere we go there is a crowd waiting for us and I love to talk about the aircraft, its incredible history, and our mission.”. The owner of Strato was a man named Abraham Moses Kaplan. ui_manufacturer=Boeing ui_type=377 "Pregnant Guppy" ui_variation="NASA" ui_typerole="Four Engine Prop" ui_createdby="A2A … Thanks for your great site! Otherwise, the procedures and characteristics are the same as the standard Stratocruiser. "Model 377 Stratocruiser Commercial Transport",, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with unsourced statements from January 2020, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 27 November 2020, at 05:26. The Super Guppy was built using a Boeing C-97 cargo plane. 628 twv23. 3.1 years ago. NASA has a long history of developing specialized transportation devices for its rockets and equipment.  While the Super Guppy was big, it was still far short of the size and load bearing capacity needed to transport the Space Shuttle fleet.  For that requirement, NASA instead settled on a piggy back design, mounting the Shuttle on a set of pylons above the top of a Boeing 747 that had been modified specifically for that purpose.  Meanwhile, Airbus and Boeing borrowed from Conroy’s Pregnant Guppy concept and build their own “volumetric” designs.  These specialty aircraft still fly today all over the world. Photo credit: NASA/MSFC/Janet Sudnik The Super Guppy also benefited from upgraded engines, which are the same as those in Lockheed's P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, though its cruising speed of 250 … I was 19 years old the first time I saw it land and takeoff and I thought it was amazing something that big could actually fly! It was a version of the Boeing Stratocruiser airliner, on which the first two thirds of the fuselage had been blown up like a balloon to create a cavernous cargo space. Many of the drawings were done by STRATO, E. Stanly and A.M. Kaplan. This was done by adding a 16 ft. 8 in. Retrieved October 5, 2006. She and her little sister, the "Pregnant Guppy," have carried a billion dollars worth of space equipment for NASA, and undoubtedly helped to speed up the US timetable for conquest of the moon. [1] The design also … On this date in aviation history, on September 19, 1962, one of the most bizarre aircraft modifications ever accomplished made its first test flight taking off from Van Nuys Airport in California.  The plane rolled down the runway into the unknown world beyond the limits of aeronautical engineering theory and into the air.  Nobody knew whether the aircraft would actually fly — in fact, many suspected that it couldn’t, including several aeronautical engineers.  At the controls was John M. Conroy, a former USAAF B-17 pilot — he had personally funded the effort out of his own pocket.  The copilot on this first test flight was Clay Lacy, a former United Airlines pilot and former California ANG C-97 Stratofreighter pilot.  The aircraft was built with one primary purpose and customer in mind — NASA. There were a few others in the past but this is the last operating Guppy in the world. He would have to borrow fuel for the cross country flight.  Conroy had over $1 million invested in the project — he was flat broke and had a long line of creditors hounding him. It was the successor to the Pregnant Guppy, the first of the Guppy aircraft produced by Aero Spacelines.Five were built in two variants, both of which were colloquially referred to as the "Super Guppy". Conroy returned to California and mortgaged his house, used his personal savings and borrowed everything he could to build the plane on his own.  He even sold his car to fund the project.  It still wasn’t enough and he was able to find venture capital funding from William Ballon.  Lacking funds to “do it right”, he coined an operating phrase that would carry him through the project, “Built to suit, draw to match, and paint to cover.”  In essence, Aero Spacelines cut years off of the development time by just doing it, cobbling the parts together with 2×4 braces, hope and baling wire.  What worked they drew into engineering plans after the fact.  While risky, Conroy just had to hope that his prototype would fly. The stairs were down so we parked our bikes and went inside. The Pregnant Guppy was sold to American Jet Industries and registered N126AJ for scrap and it was finally scrapped at Van Nuys in 1979. 628 twv23. Pregnant Guppy : THE PLANE THAT WON THE SPACE RACE Bloom, Margy. Aircraft broker Leo Mansdorf was stockpiling surplus Stratocruisers at Van Nuys prior to resale, and ex-USAF pilot John M. Conroy realized the potential of these aircraft to transport the large but relatively light rocket components. Photo Credit: NASA. I came to this site to get a link to some photos of the Guppy for a friend of mine after telling him my story. Apparently, Jack Conroy had GREAT confidence that his design would work! The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy was first created in 1962 as a successor to the aptly-named Pregnant Guppy cargo aircraft. Flying is one thing and flying with grace like the Concorde is another. [1] The design inspired other later designs, such as the jet-powered Airbus Beluga and Boeing Dreamlifter. [1] The Pregnant Guppy was the first of the Guppy line of aircraft produced by Aero Spacelines. Anything you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Photo Credit: NASA. This monster, designed for Apollo rocket stages, could easily swallow a … As the space program increased through the late 1960s, it became clear that this one aircraft could not carry the whole transport load, and so 25 more Stratocruisers and ex-USAF C-9… 1989. B377PG Pregnant Guppy. The construction was done in three main phases. I own some of the old Wardlow STC’s for the conversions to the Stinson SR-10F. However, the huge aircraft performed flawlessly, the only difference in handling being a slight decrease in speed caused by extra drag of the larger fuselage. The name Aero Spacelines selected for its unique plane was a natural. We got caught but the one who caught us gave us a complete tour and I got to sit in the captains seat — it was the ‘Pregnant Guppie’. The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy is a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft that is used for hauling outsize cargo components. Super Guppy is the ideal successor to its erstwhile avatar called Pregnant Guppy.. Aero Spacelines manufactured their first flight Pregnant Guppy in August 1965. NASA was finding that barge transport of their increasingly large space program components from manufacturers on the West Coast to test and launch sites on the East Coast was slow and expensive. The aircraft first flew on September 19, 1962, piloted by Conroy and co-pilot Clay Lacy. The idea for this ridiculous looking plane was originally NASA’s, for carrying bits of … After filing with the FAA for approval to fly the non-certified plane to Alabama (it was approved, but only for a route that was entirely over countryside from end to end), he borrowed the fuel and made the flight.  Once in Alabama, the Pregnant Guppy was greeted with awe.  It flew — somehow — and if Conroy could be believed, it was the answer to their dreams.  Wernher von Braun, himself a rated pilot, asked to personally check it out as copilot for a test flight.  Conroy agreed and made the best in flight sales pitch of his life, even shutting down two of the engines quietly while von Braun was flying.  At that point, when von Braun realized that there was no question about the viability of the project.  After landing Conroy had two challenges — one, getting a letter of intent; and the other begging NASA for enough fuel to take his plane back to California. All of us in my family watched later when the plane made its takeoff as George Putnam reported on the historical flight. One Saturday we went to the airport and stumbled on the biggest airplane we had ever seen. A Super Guppy departs Edwards AFB en route to Johnson Space Center. Sadly, Gene is no longer with us, but the success of the Guppy project he and so many of you participated in lives on. Although NASA was lukewarm on the concept, Conroy mortgaged his house and founded Aero Spacelines International to build and operate the concept aircraft.[1]. I was raised in Van Nuys, near Balboa Boulevard and a few miles from the Van Nuys Airport. NASA's Flight Research Center assisted in certification testing of the first Pregnant Guppy in 1962. The name stuck. Do you have any info on what happened to the company? Airbus' Pregnant Guppy The Airbus Guppy livery is now on my website in the repaints section under "military and vintage" - help yourselves. Thanks to all of you for your hard work and dedication on the Guppy project and countless others that made this country great. Updated August 31, 2004. The plane is based at Ellington Airport in Houston, near NASA's Johnson Space Center. Eugene Stanley is my father-in-law. The design also inspired similar … Digging Deeper As stated above, the Super Guppy had been developed from the Pregnant Guppy which in turn was based on the C-97 military cargo plane, itself based on the … The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy is a mammoth and commodious cargo transport aircraft that is used to haul oversized cargo components. The U.S. Department of Defense and government contractors also have tapped the Guppy's capabilities to move aircraft and large components around the continent, including T-38s for the Air Force and V-22s for the Navy. Those were the days when you could ride your bike into the airport and ride around looking at some really cool planes. Pregnant Guppy The Aero Spacelines B-377PG Pregnant Guppy, seen here, was flown to Dryden for tests and evaluation by pilots … Here are some of the strangest and/or ugliest looking aircrafts from around the … Data from Jane's All The Worlds Aircraft 1965–66,[6] Jane's All The Worlds Aircraft 1971–72[7], Outsize cargo conversion of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. cool 3.1 years ago. What cargo aircraft can lift the greatest load (in weight, not cube) in the world today? The Super Guppy is the descendant of the Pregnant Guppy, the first Guppy aircraft produced by the company. My wife tells the story about how her dad pulled her out of school one day and took the family to the Van Nuys airport to watch the first Guppy test flight referenced in this article. The Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy was a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft built in the United States and used for ferrying outsized cargo items, most notably NASA's components of the Apollo program. Letoun Pregnant Guppy byl první z řady letounů Guppy vyrobených společností Aero Spacelines. So Aero Spacelines created the Very Pregnant Guppy, with an inner diameter of 25 feet and a cargo compartment 94Vi feet long. 2.9 years ago. Did it get bought out? 17.8k SemedianIndustries. In summer 1963, the Pregnant Guppy commenced cargo flights for NASA. It was the successor to the Pregnant Guppy, the first of the Guppy aircraft produced by Aero Spacelines, which in turn was named for its resemblance to a pregnant guppy.Five were built in two variants, both of which were colloquially referred to as the "Super Guppy". I have a modification shop that rebuilds Stinson Gullwings and saw your note on this site. Specially designed to be able to carry components for the Gemini Space Program, the aircraft then called the Pregnant Guppy had the largest cargo compartment of any plane that had ever been built.. The head of the drafting group was Eugene “Gene” Stanley, a former pilot in WW2. Being a bit of a plane nerd at the time, I knew all about the Pregnant Guppy. The coastal plain gave way to the hills and straight ahead was the town of Boron, California.  They were still skimming the tops of bushes and hills as they neared the town.  As an awkward silence filled the cockpit.  Nothing seemed to work, even as the pilots gingerly tried to climb the plane.  If they turned, they would fall off their altitude and hit the ground. I personally made many of those drawings including the bulkhead at the back of the cockpit as well as the installation of airflow ducts for ventilation into the tail section, and many other routine drawings involving the modification — so many I don’t even remember any of them specifically. At first the Super Guppy supported NASA’s Gemini Program’s Titan II transportation requirements.  The plane would position to Baltimore, Maryland, and pick up Titan II rocket stages and fly them to Cape Canaveral.  Based on the success of the aircraft and his new contracts with NASA to also support the Apollo Program, John Conroy built a larger version of the aircraft with an even larger cargo hold.  This would be based on a YC-97J, which he called the Super Guppy.  In the end, he built 25 of the Super Guppy modifications to address the large demand from NASA for heavy lift of high cubic volume equipment and rocket components.  Each aircraft was customized to the requirements of NASA’s upcoming space flight needs.  The B377 could transport Apollo S/C and components, while the YC97J was specially built to carry S-IVB stages, instrument units, LEM adapters and F-1 engines.  After negotiations, Conroy and NASA settled on a price of $16 a mile for flights of the larger Super Guppy. In case you were wondering how the Guppy … 5,246 DJ123. [1], Conroy presented his plans for an extensively modified Stratocruiser to NASA, where an official commented that the bloated aircraft resembled a pregnant guppy. Studio Editions. Because of the Pregnant Guppy, NASA was … The new plane had cost over $1,000,000. The Aero Spacelines Pregnant Guppy was a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft built in the United States and used for ferrying outsized cargo items, most notably NASA's components of the Apollo moon program. Its predecessor, which looked very similar and carried components of the Apollo moon program, was appropriately named Pregnant Guppy. With the beginning of the 1960s, Kennedy had declared that America was on the way to the Moon.  NASA found it had a problem shipping newly constructed rockets from its west coast contractors to Cape Canaveral in Florida.  The original plan, putting them on ocean-going barges through the Panama Canal, proved unworkable.  The trip took two to three week and, on arrival, the fragile rocket boosters were dented, dinged and corroded from the salt spray.  On hearing of NASA’s quandary, John Conroy had looked across the field at Van Nuys where his friend, aircraft broker Leo Mansdorf, had been storing B377 Stratocruisers that he had acquired, uncertain if they had any resale value.  Surely, the big planes could be used, he thought, and it just might solve two problems — NASA’s and Mansdorf’s. The Super Guppy's most precious cargo was the lunar-excursion module Eagle and the command ship Columbia flown by Apollo … Photo Credit: NASA. Not your average flying fish. The Pregnant Guppy loads a Saturn booster. However, the NASA management doubted that it could work.  Several professional aeronautical engineers reviewed the concept and declared it unworkable.  One NASA official quipped that the contraption looked like a “pregnant guppy”.  The trip wasn’t entirely a loss, however, as he found some interested and supportive parties — if he could make it work, they told him, a contract would likely follow….  But of course, no guarantees.  One of those who expressed support was the famous Wernher von Braun, who liked Conroy’s swashbuckling, can-do attitude. Because of the restrictions of land travel, passing ov… . Np bro. To test the project, first the team added the ex-BOAC lengthening section and test flew it.  It worked fine, though it was a minor modification.  Then, they had to do the real work of adding the huge “volumetric” cargo hold atop the fuselage.  Conroy had the skin bolted on, leaving the regular fuselage in place for strength and to reduce the number of modifications needed.  On September 19, 1962, they logged the first test flight.  The plane flew perfectly and when they landed, the tower controllers recalled the crash trucks and fire engines.  In honor of the earlier NASA officials off-handed comment, he named the plane the “Pregnant Guppy.”  He had to take it to NASA’s offices in Alabama to show them that the concept worked, yet he had no money left. May / June 2010, PILOTMAG Magazine May / June 2010, PILOTMAG Magazine It's a Plane: One man's obsession, it helped get us to the moon Tripp, Robert S. Spring 2002, American Heritage of Invention and Technology
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