Starr Bumble Bee II was built purely to acquire ‘World’s Smallest Plane’ title

  • This is the story of how the world’s smallest plane was built
  • It stemmed from a rivalry between two WWII vets
  • This rivalry led to some of the smallest aircraft ever built

Published on Jun 30, 2024 at 2:09 PM (UTC+4)
by Nalin Rawat

Last updated on Jun 30, 2024 at 2:09 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Daksh Chaudhary

The Bumble Bee was designed and built for the sole purpose of taking the record for the world’s smallest plane.

However, it stemmed from a rivalry between two WWII vets.

Ray Stits and Robert Starr were two people who loved building airplanes, and along the way, they created some of the smallest planes ever built.

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World’s smallest plane

The Starr Bumble Bee II holds the Guinness World Record for the smallest plane ever to fly.

However, its competitor Baby Bird still has the record for the smallest monoplane.

The rivalry between the makers of these two planes led to the creation of both aircraft.

While these are not the fastest single-engine planes, they are a testament to human ingenuity and passion.

And just like many great stories, this one started with a bet, when someone told Ray Stits that he couldn’t build the world’s smallest plane.

After that Stits designed and built 15 small aircraft, including Junior, which was too small for Stits to fly.

Luckily, he found Robert Starr to fly the experimental aircraft in air shows.

Stits went on to build an even smaller airplane called the Sky Baby.

Eventually, Starr started flying Sky Baby in air shows, just like he did with Junior.

Sky Baby was Stits last attempt at building the smallest plane in the world, but it ignited Starr’s envy.

The Rivalry

Starr felt he had not received proper credit for his help in building Junior and Sky Baby.

He wanted to claim the record for himself, and he did so by building a biplane called Bumble Bee I in 1984.

However, that same year, Stits’ son, Donald, built “Baby Bird,” a tiny blue monoplane, which drew heat from Starr.

Donald said he beat Starr with a shorter wingspan, but Starr said his aircraft would fit into a smaller cube than his.

Eventually, Starr built yet another small airplane, the Bumble Bee II.

In 1988, it set a Guinness World Record for the smallest aircraft to fly.

The rivalry between these two inventors led to some of the smallest planes ever built.

# Tags - Airplanes, Aviation, DIY


Nalin Rawat

Nalin started his career by working with various national newspapers in India. He has also worked as a writer/editor for many popular websites, while still pursuing his journalism and mass communication degree. Working as a digital nomad has allowed him to inform and educate through his work. When he is not writing, you can find him playing video games or travelling the mountains on his bike.