What is the fastest airplane in the world? This is one of those questions for which there will never be a definitive answer. Super fast airplanes are often the subject of very expensive defence research programs and as such, tend to be shrouded in secrecy. There could easily be some amazingly fast airplanes in the world right now, but most of us will be blissfully unaware they even exist.
So, brushing aside all those conspiracy theories that suggest there are a whole squadron of science fiction type super jets currently sitting in a massive airplane hangar in the Mojave Desert, the fastest plane in the world capable of flying without a pilot is believed to be the X-43. In case you have never heard of the X-43, it is an unmanned “scramjet” that is launched from a B-52 airplane once it attains a height or around 40,000 feet. According to NASA, this tiny airplane reached a speed of 7,000 miles per hour, or MACH 9.6 on 16th November 2004.
What is the fastest airplane in the world without a jet engine?
The X-15 is powered by rocket propulsion and was first developed by the US Air force in an attempt to reach the edges of space. Like the X-43, it is designed to be launched in mid air from a B-52. It is believed to have reached speeds of 4,520 miles per hour, so it is not as fast as the X-43, but it is more of an actual airplane than the unmanned X-43, so is therefore better qualified, even though it is half airplane, half rocket.
Interestingly, the original test pilots of the first X-15s were officially designated as astronauts many years after they flew the X-15s to the outer reaches of Earth’s atmosphere. In fact, many of them were also lucky to be alive as the test flights were incredibly risky at the time due to the speed and G Forces experienced by the pilots.
What is the fastest airplane in the world in the commercial sector?
Many people think of the iconic Concorde when asked what the fastest commercial airplane is, but there was a faster commercial airplane that operated for a short time. The Tupolev Tu-144 had the nickname Concordski or Konkordski. It was said to have reached speeds of 1,550 miles per hour during its flights, but after a number of technical and safety issues came to light, the plane was permanently grounded by its Russian operators.
Not only was the Koncordski extremely fast, it was also extremely loud. By all accounts the original designs for the airplane were stolen from early Concorde designs, but sadly the spies did not stick around long enough to obtain the plans for the airplane coolant system and unfortunately the Russian version was very noisy—so noisy in fact that lots of passengers refused to get back on for the return journey!
The legendary Concorde only ever reached speeds of 1,330 milers per hour, passengers could still enjoy flying from London to New York in less than three and a half hours—which is pretty fast compared to a Boeing 757.