Over time planes have become faster and faster. On October 14, 1947 Chuck Yeager piloted the Bell X-1 and became the first human to break the sound barrier at Mach 1. This was a major achievement at that time. We now live in an era where some airplanes go beyond speeds of Mach 2 and 3. Following is the list of the world’s fastest planes.
The North American X-15
This is the fastest manned airplane in the world. It achieved an unprecedented speed of Mach 6.8 on the 3rd of October 1967 by William J Knight. As of 2016 these speeds have not been surpassed. The X-15 had a thick wedge tail which allowed it to fly stable at extreme speeds but at lower speeds the tail caused significant amounts of drag.
The X-15 was able to reach altitudes of 100km and beyond therefore it qualified as a space flight. The fact that its speed record which was achieved in 1967 has not been surpassed to this day is a major feat.
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was a strategic reconnaissance airplane. It has been used by both the United States Air force and NASA. A total of 32 Blackbirds were built. The Blackbird could simply outfly surface to air missiles. Since 1976 it has held the record for fastest air-breathing manned airplane. Speeds up to Mach 3.3 – 3.5 have been recorded on the Blackbird. The plane was known to be so fast that the air in front of it didn’t have time to escape and the high pressure lead to high temperatures. It required aircraft maintenance after every flight as it was very often that the flight would return with broken parts. Go right here if you are looking for aircraft maintenance.
This jet is an American Interceptor prototype and could reach a top speed of Mach 3.35. The YF-12 was a precursor to the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Therefore many of the Diamond aircraft parts and design looked very similar. The YF-12 held many records which were later surpassed by the SR-71.
The MiG-25 was a soviet Interceptor and reconnaissance airplane. The operational top speed was at Mach 2.83. It could reach a total top speed of 3.2 Mach but this could result it engine damage. The MiG-25 was built to intercept the SR-71 but it has never shot down one.
Bell X-2 Starbuster
This was a research flight built by the Americans in 1955 and was retired in only one year (1956). This was used to study how airplanes behaved at speeds above Mach 2. The flight was able to achieve speeds up to Mach 3.1 but soon after the speed was achieved the airplane went out of control and crashed. The pilot ejected too late and hit the ground too hard resulting in his death.
The above airplanes have revolutionized air travel and have made planes faster and safer. What is left to see is what airplane the future holds that would surpass The North American X-15.