Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10 Sexiest Airplanes

More than mere machines

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

There's nothing Mae West about an SR-71: no curves, no bumps, no slow-talkin' attitude. We were standing at the threshold of runway 17 at Oshkosh, when a Blackbird barely cleared the threshold lights and touched down like something from outer space. My friend looked over and said, "You can now retire the word 'presence,' and he was right." Everything about the airplane is sensual in a vaguely threatening sort of way. Like that girl in class everyone wanted to ask for a date, but was afraid she'd say yes.

North American F-86 Sabre

North American has always had a way of working art into their designs, and the art project they started with the Mustang continued on into the F-86 Sabre. This is one of those shapes that no matter how it's viewed, from any angle, in any light, not a line is wrong. Every pilot worthy of the name lusts after just one date with two airplanes: the P-51 and the F-86 Sabre. You don't have to know anything about either airplane to know they're going to perform just the way they look: beautifully. And that's exactly the way they fly: sensual promises delivered.


The Corsair is a brutish contradiction: sexy, but in a harsh sort of way. Maybe like a competition weight lifter. Or maybe like the farmer's daughter who can pitch a bale of hay into the loft from ground level: beautiful with veins and tendons showing under perfect skin. The Corsair looks like it's all about business and, if you're the one holding its hand, it's going to take care of you no matter what. Sinister sensuality.

Nemesis NXT

It's hard to classify the Nemesis NXT because, like the SR-71, there's nothing in its class to compare it to. The NXT was racer Don Sharp's answer to the sport aircraft racing challenge, and it looks as if the shape was carefully drafted to fit into the void left in the airflow when that gigantic spinner cleaved it aside on its way through. The airplane establishes a new level of sensuality.

SIAI Marchetti SF.260

Three of Plane & Pilot's contributors independently put the SF.260 on their list of sexy airplanes. Bill Cox, Marc Lee and Budd Davisson. All three felt it was the perfect airplane because of its high-performance, aerobatic capabilities and typically Italian inviting looks and terrific handling. Davisson is quoted as saying, "Within 24 hours of my winning the lottery, there will be an SF.260 in my hangar."


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