- Starr Bumble Bee II, Robert Starr
- United States (Phoenix)
The smallest aircraft to fly is the Starr Bumble Bee II, a biplane designed and built by Robert H. Starr (USA). Bumble Bee II had a wingspan of just 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m), a total length of only 8 ft 10 inches (2.69 m) and was 3 ft 11 in (1.2 m) high. Its empty weight was 396 lb (180 kg) and its fully-loaded take-off weight (including pilot and fuel) was 573 lb (260 kg). The Bumble Bee II made its maiden flight on 2 April 1988 at Marana Airpark, near Tuscon, Arizona, USA.
Bumble Bee II was the result of a decades-long rivalry between Robert Starr and his former collaborators Ray and Don Stits. The Ray and Robert worked together on the Stits SA-2A "Sky Baby" which held the record for the smallest aircraft flown between 1952 and 1984. Starr built his first micro-aircraft, Bumble Bee I, to break the Sky Baby's record, but then lost his title to the Stits Baby Bird, an even smaller aircraft designed by Ray's son, Don. Bumble Bee II was his response to this.
The extremely aerodynamically unstable Bumble Bee II crashed on 5 May 1988, severely injuring Robert Starr, and destroying the airframe. It remains the smallest crewed aircraft by dimensions, although the Stits baby Bird is the smallest by takeoff weight.