Flight airspeed record
An air speed record is the highest airspeed attained by an aircraft of a particular class. The rules for all official aviation records are defined by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which also ratifies any claims. Speed records are divided into multiple classes with sub-divisions. There are three classes of aircraft: landplanes, seaplanes, and amphibians; then within these classes, there are records for aircraft in a number of weight categories. There are still further sub-divisions for piston-engined, turbojet, turboprop, and rocket-engined aircraft. Within each of these groups, records are defined for speed over a straight course and for closed circuits of various sizes carrying various payloads.
Records in "gray" font color are unofficial, including unconfirmed or unpublicized (wartime) secrets.
|17 December 1903||Wilbur Wright||6.82||10.98||Wright Flyer||Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, USA|
|1905||Wilbur Wright||37.85||60.23||Wright Flyer III||Huffman Prairie, Ohio, USA|
|12 November 1906||Alberto Santos-Dumont||25.65||41.292||Santos-Dumont 14-bis||Bagatelle Castle, Paris, France||First officially recognized airspeed record.:7|
|26 October 1907||Henry Farman||32.73||52.700||Voisin-Farman I||Issy-les-Moulineaux, France||9}|
|25 May 1909||Paul Tissandier||34.04||54.810||Wright Model A||Pau, France||:11|
|23 August 1909||Glenn Curtiss||44.367||69.821||Curtiss No. 2||Reims, France||1909 Gordon Bennett Cup.:37-38|
|24 August 1909||Louis Blériot||46.160||74.318||Blériot XI||Reims, France||:13|
|28 August 1909||Louis Blériot||47.823||76.995||Blériot XI||Reims, France||:13|
|23 April 1910||Hubert Latham||48.186||77.579||Antoinette VII||Nice, France||:18|
|10 July 1910||Léon Morane||66.154||106.508||Blériot||Reims, France||:13|
|29 October 1910||Alfred Leblanc||68.171||109.756||Blériot XI||New York, New York, USA||:13|
|12 April 1911||Alfred Leblanc||69.442||111.801||Blériot Blériot||Pau, France||:14|
|11 May 1911||Édouard Nieuport||73.385||119.760||Nieuport IIN||Châlons, France||:25|
|12 June 1911||Alfred Leblanc||77.640||125.000||Blériot|
|16 June 1911||Édouard Nieuport||80.781||130.057||Nieuport IIN||Châlons, France||:25|
|21 June 1911||Édouard Nieuport||82.693||133.136||Nieuport IIN||Châlons, France||:25|
|13 January 1912||Jules Védrines||87.68||145.161||Deperdussin Monocoque (1912)||Pau, France||:27|
|22 February 1912||Jules Védrines||100.18||161.290||Deperdussin monoplane||Pau, France||:27|
|29 February 1912||Jules Védrines||100.90||162.454||Deperdussin Monocoque||Pau, France||:27|
|1 March 1912||Jules Védrines||103.62||166.821||Deperdussin Monocoque||Pau, France||:27|
|2 March 1912||Jules Védrines||104.29||167.910||Deperdussin Monocoque||Pau, France||:27|
|13 July 1912||Jules Védrines||106.07||170.777||Deperdussin Monocoque||Reims, France||:27|
|9 September 1912||Jules Védrines||108.14||174.100||Kanav Wason (1912)||Chicago, Illinois, USA||:27|
|17 June 1913||Maurice Prévost||111.69||179.820||Deperdussin Monocoque (1913)||Reims, France||:31|
|27 September 1913||Maurice Prévost||119.19||191.897||Deperdussin Monocoque (1913)||Reims, France||:31|
|29 September 1913||Maurice Prévost||126.61||203.850||Deperdussin Monocoque (1913)||Reims, France||:31|
|1914||Norman Spratt||134.5||216.5||Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.4||Unofficial|
|August 1918||Roland Rohlfs||163||262.3||Curtiss Wasp||Not officially recognised.:140|
|1919||Joseph Sadi-Lecointe||191.1||307.5||Nieuport-Delage NiD 29V||Not officially recognised.|
|7 February 1920||Joseph Sadi-Lecointe||171.0||275.264||Nieuport-Delage NiD 29V||Villacoublay, France.||First official record post World War 1.:33|
|28 February 1920||Jean Casale||176.1||283.464||Spad-Herbemont 20 bis||Villacoublay, France||:37|
|9 October 1920||Bernard de Romanet||181.8||292.682||Spad-Herbemont 20 bis||Buc, France||:37|
|10 October 1920||Joseph Sadi-Lecointe||184.3||296.694||Nieuport-Delage NiD 29V||Buc, France||:33|
|20 October 1920||Joseph Sadi-Lecointe||187.9||302.529||Nieuport-Delage NiD 29V||Villacoublay, France||:33|
|4 November 1920||Bernard de Romanet||191.9||309.012||SPAD S.XX||Buc, France|
|12 December 1920||Joseph Sadi-Lecointe||194.4||313.043||Nieuport-Delage NiD 29V||Villacoublay, France||:33|
|26 September 1921||Joseph Sadi-Lecointe||205.2||330.275||Nieuport-Delage Sesquiplane||Ville Sauvage, France||:39|
|13 October 1922||Billy Mitchell||222.88||358.836||Curtiss R||Detroit, Michigan, USA|
|18 October 1922||Billy Mitchell||224.28||360.93||Curtiss R-6||Selfridge Field, Detroit, Michigan, USA||:232-3:41|
|15 February 1923||Joseph Sadi-Lecointe||232.91||375.00||Nieuport-Delage||Istres, France|
|29 March 1923||1st Lt. Russell L. Maughan||236.587||380.74||Curtiss R-6||Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, USA||:41:233|
|2 November 1923||Lt. Harold J. Brow||259.16||417.07||Curtiss R2C-1||Mineola, New York, USA||:235:43|
|4 November 1923||Lt. Alford J. Williams||266.59||429.02||Curtiss R2C-1||Mineola, New York, USA||:235:43|
|11 November 1924||Florentin Bonnet||278.37||448.171||Bernard-Ferbois V.2|
|4 November 1927||Mario de Bernardi||297.70||479.290||Macchi M.52 seaplane||Venice, Italy||Database ID 11828|
|30 March 1928||Mario de Bernardi||318.620||512.776||Macchi M.52bis seaplane||Venice, Italy||Database ID 11827|
|August 1929||Giuseppe Motta||362.0||582.6||Macchi M.67 seaplane||Unofficial|
|10 September 1929||George H. Stainforth||336.3||541.4||Gloster VI seaplane||Calshot, UK||Database ID 11829|
|12 September 1929||Augustus Orlebar||357.7||575.5||Supermarine S.6 seaplane||Calshot, UK||Database ID 11830|
|13 September 1931||George H. Stainforth||407.5||655.8||Supermarine S.6B seaplane||Lee-on-the-Solent, UK||Database ID 11831|
|10 April 1933||Francesco Agello||423.6||682.078||Macchi M.C.72 seaplane||Desenzano del Garda, Italy||Database ID 11836|
|23 October 1934||Francesco Agello||440.5||709.209||Macchi M.C.72 seaplane||Desenzano del Garda, Italy||Database ID 4497, current piston-engined seaplane speed record.|
|13 September 1935||Howard Hughes||354.4||567.12||Hughes H-1 Racer landplane||Santa Ana, CA (USA)||FAI Database ID 8748|
|11 November 1937||Dr.Hermann Wurster||379.63||610.95||Bf 109 V13 landplane||Augsburg, Germany||FAI Database ID 8747|
|30 March 1939||Hans Dieterle||466.6||746.60||He 100 V8||Oranienburg (Germany)||FAI Database ID 8744|
|26 April 1939||Fritz Wendel||469.220||755.138||Me 209 V1||Augsburg, Germany||Piston-engined record until 1969|
|2 October 1941||Heini Dittmar||623.65||1003.67||Messerschmitt Me 163A V4||Peenemünde, Germany||Rocket powered – World War II secret, not an Official FAI record but over the 3 km FAI distance:122|
|1944||Heinz Herlitzius||624||1004||Messerschmitt Me 262 S2||Leipheim, Germany||World War II secret, not an Official FAI record :122|
|6 July 1944||Heini Dittmar||702||1130||Messerschmitt Me 163B V18||Lagerlechfeld, Germany||Rocket powered – World War II secret, not an Official FAI record :122|
|7 November 1945||H. J. Wilson||606.4||975.9||Gloster Meteor F Mk 4||Herne Bay, UK||EE455 Britannia, first official record post World War II.:107|
|7 September 1946||Edward Mortlock Donaldson||615.78||990.79||Gloster Meteor F Mk 4||Littlehampton, UK||EE530, a long-span Mk 4.:107|
|19 June 1947||Col. Albert Boyd||623.74||1003.60||Lockheed P-80R Shooting Star||Muroc, California, US|
|20 August 1947||Cmdr. Turner Caldwell||640.663||1031.049||Douglas Skystreak||Muroc, California, US||First record flight to exceed secret October 1941 Me 163A V4 figure|
|25 August 1947||Major Marion Eugene Carl USMC||650.796||1047.356||Douglas Skystreak||Muroc, California, US|
|14 October 1947||Chuck Yeager||670.0||1078||Bell X-1 (flight #50)||Muroc, California, US||Rocket powered – Cold War secret, not an official FAI C-1 record|
|6 November 1947||Chuck Yeager||891.0||1434||Bell X-1 (flight #58)||Muroc, California, US||Rocket powered – Cold War secret, not an official FAI C-1 record, first record to exceed secret July 1944 Me 163B V18 figure|
|15 September 1948||Maj. Richard L. Johnson, USAF||670.84||1079.6||North American F-86A-3 Sabre||Cleveland, US|
|18 November 1952||J. Slade Nash||698.505||1,124.13||North American F-86D Sabre||Salton Sea, US|
|16 July 1953||William Barnes||715.745||1,151.88||North American F-86D Sabre||Salton Sea, US|
|7 September 1953||Neville Duke||727.6||1,171||Hawker Hunter Mk.3||Littlehampton, UK|
|26 September 1953||Mike Lithgow||735.7||1,184||Supermarine Swift F4||Castel Idris, Tripoli, Libya|
|3 October 1953||James B. Verdin, US Navy||752.9||1,211.5||Douglas F4D Skyray||Salton Sea, US|
|29 October 1953||Frank K. Everest USAF||755.1||1,215.3||North American F-100 Super Sabre||Salton Sea, US|
|20 August 1955||Horace A. Hanes||822.1||1,323||North American F-100C Super Sabre||Palmdale, US|
|10 March 1956||Peter Twiss||1,132||1,822||Fairey Delta 2||Chichester, UK|
|12 December 1957||USAF||1,207.6||1,943.5||McDonnell F-101A Voodoo||Edwards Air Force Base, US|
|18 May 1958||Cap. WW Irwin, USAF||1,404||2,259.5||Lockheed YF-104A Starfighter||Edwards Air Force Base, US||:147|
|31 October 1959||Col. Georgi Mosolov||1,484||2,388||Ye-6/3, a.k.a. Ye-66 (Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21)||USSR|
|15 December 1959||Maj. Joseph Rogers, USAF||1,525.9||2,455.7||Convair F-106 Delta Dart||Edwards Air Force Base, US||The record should have gone to Charles Myers, who flew a Delta Dart at 1544 mph in 1959, but Cold War pressures dictated that the award should go to a military pilot.|
|22 November 1961||Robert G. Robinson, US Navy||1,606.3||2,585.1||McDonnell-Douglas F4H-1F Phantom II||Edwards Air Force Base, US||:165|
|7 July 1962||Col. Georgi Mosolov||1,665.9||2,681||Mikoyan Gurevich Ye-166 – name adopted for the record attempt, originally a version of a Ye-152||USSR||a.k.a. E-166.:179|
|1 May 1965|| Robert L. Stephens|
and Daniel Andre
|2,070.1||3,331.5||Lockheed YF-12A||Edwards AFB, US|
|28 July 1976||Capt. Eldon W. Joersz and Maj. George T. Morgan||2,193.2||3,529.6||Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird #61-7958||Beale AFB, US|
Official records versus unofficial
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird holds the official Air Speed Record for a manned airbreathing jet aircraft with a speed of 3,530 km/h (2,193 mph). It was capable of taking off and landing unassisted on conventional runways. The record was set on 28 July 1976 by Eldon W. Joersz and George T. Morgan Jr. near Beale Air Force Base, California, US. SR-71 pilot Brian Shul reported in The Untouchables that he flew in excess of Mach 3.5 on April 15, 1986 over Libya in order to avoid a missile.
Although the official record for fastest piston-engined aeroplane in level flight is held by a Grumman F8F Bearcat, the Rare Bear, with a speed of 528.31 mph (850.24 km/h), the unofficial record for fastest piston-engined aeroplane in level flight is a held by a British Hawker Sea Fury at 547 mph (880 km/h). Whereas these were both demilitarised, modified fighters, the fastest piston-engined aeroplane in stock (original, factory-built) condition was the German Dornier Do 335 Pfeil, with a maximum speed of 474 mph (765 km/h) in level flight. The unofficial record for fastest piston-engined aeroplane (not in level flight) is held by a Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXX, which was calculated to have achieved a speed of 690 mph (1,110 km/h, Mach 0.96) in a dive on 5 February 1952.
The last new speed record ratified before the outbreak of World War II was set on 26 April 1939 with a Me 209 V1, at 755 km/h (469 mph). The chaos, and secrecy, of World War II meant that new speed breakthroughs were not publicized nor ratified. In October 1941, an unofficial speed record of 1004 km/h (624 mph) was secretly set by a Messerschmitt Me 163 AV4 rocket aircraft. Continued research during the war extended the secret, unofficial speed record to 1130 km/h (702 mph) by July 1944, achieved by a Messerschmitt Me 163B V18. The first new official record in the post-war period was achieved by a Gloster Meteor in November 1945, at 976 km/h (606 mph). The first aircraft to exceed the unofficial October 1941 record of the Me 163 AV4 was the Douglas Skystreak, which achieved 1031 km/h (641 mph) in August 1947. The July 1944 unofficial record of the Me 163B V18 was officially surpassed in November 1947, when Chuck Yeager flew the Bell X-1 to 891 mph (1434 km/h).
The official speed record for a seaplane moved by piston engine - still valid today - is 709.209 km/h, from the seaplane ("idrocorsa") Macchi-Castoldi M.C.72, attained on October 23, 1934 by Francesco Agello. It was equipped with the Fiat AS.6 engine (version 1934) developing a power of 3100 hp at 3300 rpm, with coaxial counter-rotating propellers. The original Macchi-Castoldi MC72 MM.181 seaplane that holds the record is kept in the Air Force Museum at Vigna di Valle in Italy.
On 12 November 1981, Space Shuttle mission STS-2 was flown through its gliding re-entry from Mach 24 through its entire approach and landing, so as to test the limits of the shuttle's stability and controls. The fastest manned atmospheric vehicle of all time was the Apollo Command Module, reaching speeds of around Mach 30 during re-entry. While different from most people's idea of an 'aircraft', the capsule did have a lift to drag ratio of around 0.368, which was used to control the flight trajectory.
Other air speed records
|24 March 1960||Ivan Sukhomlin, B. Timochuk & 4 crew||541.45||871.38||Tupolev Tu-114||Four-engined Turboprop powered Soviet airliner, fastest-ever record speed for a propeller-driven aircraft of any type.|
|3 October 1967||William 'Pete' Knight||4,519||7,274||North American X-15||Rocket plane; incapable of breathing air|
|14 November 1981||Joe H. Engle||17,500||28,000||Space Shuttle Columbia||Fastest manually controlled flight in atmosphere during atmospheric reentry of STS-2 mission.|
|15 April 1969||316||509||Bell 533||Compound jet helicopter|
|11 August 1986||Trevor Egginton||249||400.87||Westland Lynx||Fastest helicopter|
|11 June 2013||Hervé Jammayrac||293||472||Eurocopter X3||Fastest propeller compound helicopter|
|20xx||316||509||Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey||Tiltrotor|
|31 December 1988||L.P. Krantov||258.8||415||Tupolev Tu-134A||Fastest landing speed record (76 passengers aboard, no one harmed)|
|21 August 1989||Lyle Shelton||528||850||F8F Bearcat Rare Bear||Fastest straight-line piston-engined aircraft|
|22 April 2010||Unmanned||13,201||21,245||HTV-2 Falcon||Air-launched hypersonic glider; fastest unmanned aerial vehicle|
|16 November 2004||Unmanned||7,546||12,144||NASA X-43A||Air-launched hypersonic scramjet; fastest free-flying air breathing vehicle.|
|22 December 2006||Klaus Ohlmann & Matias Garcia Mazzaro||190.6||306.8||Schempp-Hirth Nimbus-4DM||Fastest glider (sailplane) over 500 km|
|12 June 2009||Robin Shrestha||155||250||SkySpark||Fastest electric only aircraft|
|14 October 2012||Felix Baumgartner||844||1358||None||Fastest unpowered descent|
|2 October 1985||Holger Rochelt||27.54||44.32||Musculair 2||Fastest human-powered aircraft|
Flying between any two airports allow a large number of combinations, so setting a speed record ("speed over a recognised course") is fairly easy with an ordinary aircraft; it does require some paperwork.
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- Speed records time line
- Speed Record Club - The Speed Record Club seeks to promote an informed and educated enthusiast identity, reporting accurately and impartially to the best of its ability on record-breaking engineering, events, attempts and history.
- Ground Speed Records - Breakdown of speed records by aircraft type