The Fastest Aircraft in the World, Ranked

Since the dawn of flight in 1903, aircraft technology has soared to incredible heights. From jumbo passenger planes capable of transporting nearly 1,000 people to military jets that can achieve hypersonic speed (five times the speed of sound), humans have conquered the sky and beyond. How fast can the fastest aircraft travel? Global Air has created this sleek ranking of the fastest aircraft on the planet. Fasten your seatbelts!


So what is the fastest plane in the world? The fastest aircraft (so far) is the North American X-15, which achieved its fastest speed record of 4,520 miles per hour on October 3rd, 1967. 4,520 miles per hour is absolutely mind-blowing to imagine – that is 75.3 miles per minute and 1.26 miles per second! That is also nearly six times faster than mach speed. What is mach speed? A mach number is the ratio of an object’s speed in a given medium (like the air or the sea) to the speed of sound in that medium. Therefore, Mach 1 at sea level is the speed of sound, which is around 767 miles per hour.

How much did the North American X-15 cost? According to the NASA History Division, the program’s total cost was around $300 million in 1969 dollars. That includes development and eight years of operations – each flight is estimated to have cost around $600,000. How much would it have cost today? Adjusted for inflation, $300 million would equal around $2.5 trillion dollars today!

From a design perspective, I really appreciate the modern, industrial aesthetic and the schematic-inspired illustrations of the planes. I give it the good ol’ end of flight clap!

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