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In the movie Spy Kids (2001), there is a scene where the characters board a small jet aircraft "built for one passenger". The aircraft is about 2 meters tall with a 3 meters wingspan, and features a single jet engine, air intake located below the canopy, and tricycle landing gear.

enter image description here

Which got me wondering: what is the smallest fixed-wing jet-powered aircraft to date?

Some clarifications:

  • The aircraft must be able to takeoff and land under its own power (i.e. aircraft launched mid-air does not count).
  • The aircraft is propelled by one or more turbojet or turbofan engine(s) (i.e. no propellers, no rockets).
  • "Smallest" is measured by wing span.
  • The aircraft must be pilot operated (i.e. RC aircraft does not count).
  • This is not a question about whether an aircraft that small is possible, since there is already another very similar question. Rather, this question is about the smallest aircraft successfully flown in history to date.
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    $\begingroup$ That could be something like a coléoptère, if you focus on the wing span. $\endgroup$ – mins Nov 20 '17 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ The title is a bit confusing. A UAV is still "pilot-operated". Perhaps "manned" is more appropriate. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Nov 21 '17 at 6:22
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for giving a clear definition what "smallest" should mean. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf Nov 21 '17 at 22:17
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I don't have a definitive answer, but the jet variant of the Colomban Cri-cri will probably be tough to beat. According to Wikipedia, its wingspan is 4.9 m (16 ft 1 in).

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The BD-5J is what guinness world records claims to be the smallest but it is larger than the Cri-Cri in its jet implementation (the BD-5A is smaller than the Cri-Cri but prop powered)

If you want to count really experimental stuff the Martin Marietta X-24A lifting body has a wingspan of only 11 ft 6in. making it the smallest. Although I will admit it is predicated on a lose definition of "wing" and is rocket (not jet) powered.

Although if you broaden your definition of "aircraft" Yves Rossy's jet wing backpack is the smallest coming in at a wingspan of 7.9 ft. It is still piloted, jet powered although I do not think it can take off under its own power.

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    $\begingroup$ Also note the photo caption: "BD-5J N3038V, Guinness record holder for the world's smallest turbojet-powered manned aircraft." $\endgroup$ – Fred Larson Nov 20 '17 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ OP did say no rocket powered craft. X-24A has a rocket engine. Also, not sure it could take-off on its own - think it was always dropped. $\endgroup$ – JPhi1618 Nov 20 '17 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ Neither of these seem to be able to take off under their own power $\endgroup$ – fyrepenguin Nov 20 '17 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding Yves' jetpack: in Britain it is not considered an aircraft but rather an aircraft component. As parts of Yves' body act as control surfaces he had to register himself as an airplane, though common sense prevailed and he was exempted from the seatbelt law. $\endgroup$ – dotancohen Nov 21 '17 at 10:06
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    $\begingroup$ I can attest that this is a hilarious little jet. Saw Bob Bishop himself fly one at an airshow in the '90s sometime and got to meet him afterwards - talk about a guy with passion. Given the number of these things that have killed their pilots you kind of have to be a bit mad to get into one. Bishop himself later (luckily) managed to bail out of one that caught fire midair. Canada lost our only BD-5 pilot about a decade ago when his wing fell off during flight practice in Ottawa. $\endgroup$ – J... Nov 21 '17 at 14:03
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The Bede BD-5J is smallest according to Guinness.

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Probably the best answer? The Bell Rocket Belt.

Developed in the late 1960s, it used a Williams jet engine and could provide up to 20 minutes of flight at speeds as high as 85 mph. The Army has evaluated it but eventually declined to purchase it and the project was dropped.

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