The Bumble Bee was designed and built for the sole purpose of taking the record for the world’s smallest aircraft. Robert Starr had been involved as pilot and designer in two previous record-holding smallest aircraft dating back to 1949. Feeling that he had not received the amount of credit he was due for his participation in those efforts, he decided to take the record for himself. In 1979, he began work on the Bumble Bee and after five years of design and construction the tiny aircraft was ready for flight. The first flights of the Bumble Bee were on January 28, 1984 at Marana, Arizona, and the aircraft was credited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest aircraft ever flown. The record stood until August of that year when one of Starr’s former partners built and flew an even smaller aircraft. The records were modified slightly to give Starr the record for the smallest biplane while the other contestant took the record for the smallest monoplane. Starr broke his own biplane record in 1988 with the Bumble Bee II. Unfortunately, that aircraft was destroyed in a crash not long after setting the record. Robert Starr donated the original Bumble Bee to the Pima Air & Space Museum in 1990.
Robert Starr, Marana, Arizona, 1984
Pima Air & Space Museum