Fastest Aircraft

Fastest Planes In The World
North American X-15 Rocket Plane
X-15 On The Runway
X-15 Taking Off - Fastest Aircraft
X-15 Cockpit

Carried by a Boeing Stratofortress, the first of three X-15 hypersonic research aircraft was air-dropped above Rosamond Dry Lake. Major White ignited the two Reaction Motors XLR-11 rocket engines and with a burn time of 4 minutes, 13.7 seconds, the X-15 accelerated to Mach 1.9. That's 1,254 miles per hour (2,018 kilometers per hour).

Many of the X-15 test pilots achieved fame but not without risk and adventure. One pilot died, another was gravely injured. Beyond the test pilots were literally hundreds of others who contributed special talents and skills that were essential to the program.

The X-15 was not the first rocket-powered aircraft, but it is probably the best one ever built and flown. Before the first X-15 took flight in the late 1950s, the hypersonic aircraft reached a speed of Mach 3. The X-15 doubled that. And, remarkably, it also went on to fly into space more than a dozen times.

The X-15 program also boasts an exclusive club of pilots. Only a dozen aviators can claim to have flown the fastest aircraft in the world which made 199 flights in total. Before he landed on the Moon, Neil Armstrong flew seven X-15 missions between 1960 and 1962. The movie First Man vividly depicts one of these flights.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
SR-71 In The Clouds
SR-71 Over Mountains
SR-71 On The Runway

The SR-71 was developed as a long-range strategic reconnaissance aircraft capable of flying at speeds over Mach 3.2 and at 85,000 feet. It was created by Lockheed’s Advanced Development Division, commonly called “Skunk Works”. She made its first flight on 22 December 1964 and was delivered to the Air Force in 1968.

The story of the Blackbird is part of Lockheed Martin’s rich history of creating American aerospace, security, and defense technology. Before the Blackbird, Lockheed had developed other fastest aircraft marvels like the YF-12A for the U.S., which held the speed record of its time before the SR-71A.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States was heating up. One of the US’s most valuable assets to keep tabs on their adversary was the U-2 spy plane. The plane flew extraordinarily high and was able to perform reconnaissance deep inside Soviet airspace.

Designing a plane for sustained operation at these speeds required special considerations. Luckily, the team at Skunk Works was the best of the best. That team successfully produced an aircraft that met all of its expectations and lives on today as the fastest manned aircraft ever produced.

Lockheed YF-12 Interceptor
YF-12 In The Clouds
YF-12 Flying - Category: Fastest Aircraft
YF-12 On The Tarmac

The Lockheed YF-12 Blackbird is the prototype aircraft for interceptor missions created by Lockheed Martin back in the 1960s to serve the United States Air Force. The Lockheed YF-12 actually comes in two design variants; one is with single-seat design while the other one is of two-seat design.

The designing and the production phases for the Lockheed YF-12 Blackbird started back in the 1950s and the whole project was carried out under secrecy. The primary target of building tht fastest aircraft was to give it speed as well as stealth; a must-have for an interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft.

The YF-12A was quite similar in overall configuration to the A-12. It differed from the A-12 primarily in having a second crewman in a position immediately behind the pilot. This second crewman operated the extremely powerful and capable Hughes AN/ASG-18 pulse Doppler fire control radar, initially developed for the F-108 Rapier.

The YF-12 program terminated in the late 1970s when the NASA agenda had shifted from speed to efficiency. During its nine-year life, the YF-12 program logged 297 flights and 450 flight hours. Only one YF-12 remains in existence. It is displayed at the US Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.