The race was on….

The start of the World Smallest Piloted Airplane competition began around 1952. Mr. Robert H. Starr, of Phoenix, Arizona, had been involved with the both world’s previous title holding smallest airplanes since 1949.  He was the pilot of JR, the first world’s smallest title holder at the time. Mr. Starr was the only pilot able to fly the little plane successfully without cracking it up like his predecessors had done. Mr. Starr was also a co-builder and pilot of the second world’s smallest airplane, Sky Baby, around 1954. However, Mr. Starr had difficulty getting credit for his contributions on projects from his partner Stits. So one fine day, Mr. Starr said to Stits, “You can build all you want to Stits, but if it doesn’t fly, there’s no record to be had, and you certainly can’t fly it”. That was the end of the partnership and the beginning of the race. Mr. Starr knew that a smaller and aerodynamically superior plane could be built. Consequently, Mr. Starr decided to build a smaller airplane and establish a new world record on his own. So, 30 years later, Mr. Starr, at the age of 65, designed, built and flew The Bumble Bee I and Bumble Bee II to recapture the Guinness Book World Record. To Read more about Mr. Starr, go to the Bumble Bee Plans Page .

Bob Starr was the pilot and co-builder of Sky Baby along with Stits designer and co-builder (at the prop). Photo dates around 1950 in Palm Springs, California.

Bumble Bee II made several flights for the record in 1988 at Marana Airfield outside of Tucson, Arizona. On the last flight, the engine quit on the downwind leg and Mr. Starr crash landed the plane. The airplane was totaled and Mr. Starr sustained serious injuries. He did recover and lived a full life until his death in 2009.
Bumble Bee II still holds the Guinness record setting title in 2022.