The Worlds Fastest Manned Aircraft
I've always been fascinated with both going fast and flying high. Combining the two is just heaven. This article covers the fastest manned aircraft in the world and focuses almost exclusively on their relative speeds. I am purposely excluding any prototypes, or experimental aircraft.
The following six aircraft are the fastest manned production aircraft currently available. I've tried to include cockpit views as well as photo's of each aircraft alongside a brief overview of each one.
1. Lockheed SR-71: Fastest air-breathing manned airplane in the world.
Unofficially named the "Blackbird", or called the "Habu" by it's pilots. The SR-71 was a long-range strategic reconnaissance aircraft. It's primary defensive was its speed. Capable of flying at speeds over Mach 3.2 and at 85,000 feet. The SR-71 is the fastest air-breathing manned airplane in the world.
- Maximum Speed: Mach: 3.2+ (2,200+ mph, 3,530+ km/h,1900 knots+) at 80,000 ft (24,000 m)
- Range: 2,900 nmi (5,400 km)
- Ferry Range: 3,200 nmi (5,925 km)
- Service Ceiling: 85,000 ft (25,900 m)
- Rate of Climb: 11,810 ft/min (60 m/s)
2. Westland Lynx ZB500 - Fastest helicopter
Following initial orders placed for the Lynx AH Mk.1 by the Army Air Corps and the Qatar government, Westland built their own demonstrator and trials aircraft. Built in 1978 at Yeovil, Somerset as a 9-seat military battlefield attack-utility helicopter powered by two LHTEC T800 turboshaft engines, it first flew on 18th May 1979 and continued to carry the civil registration for non-military demonstration flights. Following these flights it was stored for two years, before being reworked in mid 1986 for an attempt on the Helicopter World Speed Record. On completion of the modification work G-LYNX was flown again on 1st August 1986 and, following several trial runs, made the actual record attempt on 11th August over a measured 15 km (9.3 mile) route on the Somerset levels. The final speed, verified by the FAI, was 249.09 mph. G-LYNX remains the World Speed Record holder, 14 years after it took the title.
Theoretically, a helicopter can only reach speeds of 250 mph before it starts spinning out of control. At 249.09 mph the Westland Lynx ZB00 is the fastest helicopter in the world.
3. Concorde- Fastest Commercial Jet
The Concorde is a turbojet supersonice passenger airliner. The Concorde was introduced January 21, 1976. The Concorde flew regular transatlantic flights from Europe to North America at record speeds. With only 20 aircraft ultimately built, the costly development phase represented a substantial economic loss. Additionally, Air France and British Airways were subsidised by their governments to buy the aircraft. As a result of the type's only crash (on 25 July 2000), world economic effects arising from the terrorist attacks on 911, and other factors, operations ceased on 24 October 2003. The last "retirement" flight occurred on 26 November 2003. The Concorde remains the fastest commerical airline with a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 (1,450mph)
- Maximum Speed: Mach 2.2
- Cruise Speed: Mach 2.02
- Altitude: 60,000ft
- Rate of Climb: 5,000ft per min
- Range 3,900 nmi
4. Maverick Solo Jet - Fastest Personal Jet
If you are in a hurry you won't get there faster in any other personal jet in the world. For a mere 1.2 million you could be flying this sexy Maverick Solo Jet at speeds of up to Mach .82.
SoloJet Performance (Source Maverickjets.com)
Max Speed: Mach .82
Rate of climb: 7,950ft/min
5. Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 "Foxbat"- Fastest Fighter Jet
The MiG-25 is a Soviet designed high-supersonic interceptor, entering service in January of 1970. The aircraft uses vacuum tube electronics, has two turbojet engines. At a top speed of Mach 3.2, the MiG-25 is the fastest fighter jet in the world. It's interesting to note; the plane itself was very unstable at these speeds.
Maximum Speed: Mach 3.2
Range: 1,075 mi
Ceiling: 67,915 ft
Rate of Climb: Max altitude in 8.9min
6. Tupolev Tu-114 - Fastest propeller driven Aircraft
The Tupolev Tu-114 is a turboprop powered long-range airliner that was flown between 1961 and 1975. It was capable of speeds of up to 541mph. A big feat for a propeller driven aircraft, especially for it's size and weight. It was capable of carrying 250 passengers.
Max Speed: 541 mph
Range 3,900 mi
Excluding any unmanned, experimental, or space air-craft. These are the fastest manned air-craft in the world. I found it very interesting that the only one of these that are still in service are the new Maverick private jets. It seems we have put much less emphasis on raw speed and power when it comes to the development of aircraft.