The Polen Special Airplane
Case Study The Polen Special Airplane

The Need For Speed: Making A Flying Legend Fit For The 21st Century

You know you are looking at a piece of aviation history the moment you set your eyes on it. Its seductive, elegant lines, its smooth, flush-riveted body and the “get-out-of-myway” screaming red all bespeak of an unrelenting desire for speed. The Polen Special airplane, conceived and hand-built by Dennis Polen in 1972, is after all these years still one of the most revered homebuilt aircraft in the world.

At the beginning of the 1970s, available commercial sports airplanes either cost too much money or lacked in performance. Polen’s decision to build his own arose from that simple fact. Essentially a scaleddown WWII fighter minus the armament, the Polen Special, with its ground speed in excess of 300mph [480km/h] still makes it the fastest four-cylinder airplane around.

This airplane is literally one-of-a-kind. Efforts were made over the years to convince Polen to mass-produce his airplane or at least make its blueprints available, but he remained true to his commitment to keep the plane entirely to himself. After all, the Polen Special is not an airplane for amateur pilots. Intended to fly high and fly fast, the Special spends most of its air time in Class A airspace, above 18,000ft [approx. 5,500m] altitude under instrument flight rules and subject to air traffic control clearances and instructions, with the pilot breathing oxygen. Dennis Polen took enormous pride in having built such an amazing flying machine. Who could blame him for a little bit of pride of ownership. . . . .

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