Top 100 Airplanes: Platinum Edition

Flying Magazine proudly introduces Top 100 Airplanes: Platinum Edition, which celebrates our Flying book, entitled Flight: 100 Greatest Aircraft. In creating the book, we decided to include some airplanes that should not have been left off the original Top 100 Airplanes list; the hard part was kicking out 20 great airplanes to make way for the new guys. When you get to number one, you'll notice the old top dog has been dethroned. We won't give away the ending, but suffice it to say, the new number one is an airplane that perfectly captures the essence of what Flying has been for many, many decades. Enjoy!

Flight: 100 Greatest Aircraft, which provides more stunning full-color photography and delves even deeper into these beloved aircraft, is available to order here.

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100 Airplanes PlatinumFlying
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100. AH-64 Apache
With its squared-off lines and aggressive stance, the AH-64 Apache is one of the most aggressive looking aircraft ever. Produced from 1975 until today, more than 1,200 Apaches have been built by Hughes, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing. Powered by a pair of turboshaft engines producing up to 2,000 horsepower apiece, the $20 million Apache is a powerful and fast machine (nearly 160 knots). Pilots sit in a narrow tandem fuselage (hard to hit and easy to transport) and the four-blade main and tail rotors are remarkably damage tolerant. It can be fitted with a variety of armaments and is famous for its revolutionary helmet-mounted targeting system that have combined to make it the most feared bird of prey in the skies. (U.S. Air Force photo) Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Air Force
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99. Aero Commander
The design of the Aero Commander, later called the Twin Commander, was way ahead of its time when former Donald Douglas engineer Ted Smith conceived the idea in the late 1940s. While designed as a twin, the airplane’s single-engine performance was one of its selling points, so much so that Aero Design and Engineering Company, the company formed to build the Commander, organized a single-engine demo flight from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Washington, D.C. Its stellar performance earned it a spot as an Air Force One platform for president Eisenhower and also as an aerobatic performer with Bob Hoover at the controls. Originally built with two 260 hp piston engines, later models featured turbo props boasting as much as 820 hp. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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98. Fokker Dr.I Triplane
Using three wings instead of one or two gave the Fokker Dr.I extra lift for better maneuverability and a faster rate of climb than the airplanes it faced in air combat. The Fokker triplane became the most feared pursuit on the Western Front during World War I, flown most famously by Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron. Von Richthofen was a ruthless hunter, recording 19 kills in the Dr.I and an amazing 80 shoot downs overall. His favored hunting strategy was to fire a short burst when still far from his target. This began his quarry cutting desperate arcs across the sky, and in the process solidified the Dr.I’s place in history as a fearsome opponent. Related: - Photo Gallery: Fokker Aircraft and Sopwith Camel at Spruce Creek Fly-In Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Gary Rosier
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97. B-2 Stealth Bomber
Development of the Northrop B-2 bomber began in the 1970s when the Pentagon sought a replacement for the B-52. Northrop Grumman and Boeing spent more than a decade and billions of dollars developing the stealth bomber, a flying wing that uses angular faceting and other technologies to reduce its radar signature. The B-2’s radar-absorbent coating is so sensitive that the bombers must be kept in spotlessly clean hangars with precision controlled temperature and humidity. The winding down of the Cold War led Congress to slash B-2 orders from 132 to 21. A total of 20 remain in service with the U.S. Air Force after the 2008 crash of a B-2 on the runway in Guam, in which the crew safely ejected. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Air Force
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96. Aviat Husky
Carved and perfected in the deep rustic country of Western Wyoming, the Aviat Husky first emerged from that setting in the late 1980s as a backcountry pilot’s dream machine. Inspired by the Super Cub, the Husky retained all the fun-flying characteristics of the popular Piper taildragger while providing a slew of new capabilities. The airplane could go further, climb faster and pack more payload, all while providing for takeoffs and landings at even the shortest of backcountry strips. Whether your destination is a grassy meadow amid the mountains, a glacier in Alaska, or a sandbar off the coast, the Husky will not only get you there, it’ll give you a heck of a fun ride along the way. Related: - Aviat Husky
- Aviat Husky in Photos
- Manufacturer's Showcase: Aviat Husky Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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95. Yakovlev Yak-9
Produced by the thousands in the mid-1940s, the Yak-9 was one of Russia’s most notorious World War II fighters and one of the best performers before the jet age entered the war. It was successful enough that German Luftwaffe pilots were at one point told not to engage in combat with them. Designed by Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev, the Yak-9 was produced in more than 20 different versions with several engine configurations. Its winning points were excellent maneuverability and speed, greater than 400 mph with the 1,650 hp Kilmov VK-107A. Its downsides, like many fighters of its time, were poor engine reliability and the inability to carry large amounts of armament. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Gavin Conroy/Classic Aircraft Photography
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94. Hawker Sea Fury
A direct descendant of the Hawker Tempest, the Sea Fury came to fruition at the end of World War II. Lighter and more agile than its predecessor, the Sea Fury could reach speeds up to 460 mph, making it one of the fastest piston aircraft ever conceived and one of the few able to go toe-to-toe with jet fighters, even those of the likes of MiG-15s on occasion. While the Royal Navy eventually replaced the Sea Fury with more capable jet aircraft, the Fury’s speed has made her a favorite of modern day air racers, ensuring the aircraft’s legacy will continue to deepen for some time to come. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.USMC
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93. Ercoupe
Fred Weick’s little side-by-side flier was a revolutionary approach to personal aviation. Designed in the mid-1930s to be so safe that just about anyone could fly one, the Ercoupe, which was an 85 mph cruiser, featured many modern design approaches, including metal construction, excellent visibility and tricycle landing gear. The Ercoupe also boasted two-axis, rudderless, “stall proof” control. But for all of its safety advances, its safety record was no better than those of its contemporaries, and the design bounced around for decades between numerous manufacturers. Today, the Ercoupe is much loved by its hundreds of owners for being a stable, two-seat, fun little flier, just as Weick envisioned. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Baldur Sveinsson
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92. Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Designed by Consolidated Aircraft in the late 1930s to outperform the popular B-17, the B-24 Liberator could pack more payload, fly faster and go farther than its Flying Fortress contemporary. The all-metal airplane experienced reduced drag during combat, thanks to its unique roller shutter bomb-bay doors, and came equipped with the first tricycle landing gear outfitted on a heavy aircraft. While the B-24 never attained the kind of fame known by the B-17, it should have. The Liberator participated in all combat theaters and was produced in greater numbers than any other American aircraft during World War II. Related: - Like Father Like Son Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Air Force
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91. Canadair CRJ
The Challenger business jet heritage is evident when looking at the pointy nose and wide fuselage of Bombardier’s Canadair Regional Jet. With several variants offering seating capacities between 40 and 100 passengers, the CRJ line quickly became a favorite among regional airlines around the world after its introduction in 1992. The twin-engine jet design enabled not only quick and economical short hops, but also cost-efficient midrange flights previously serviced only by heavier aircraft, such as the Boeing 737, often flying with many empty seats. In addition to increasing load factors, the CRJs helped the airlines increase their route offerings significantly. More than 1,600 CRJs have been delivered to date. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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90. Mitsubishi Zero
More so than any other of its aircraft, the Mitsubishi Zero epitomized Japan's World War II air capabilities. Renowned for its strength as a dogfighter, the lightweight, agile airplane was the first naval fighter that could outperform land aircraft. The Zero would see prolific use throughout the war, as a total of approximately 11,000 of the fighters were produced through 1945, the most by far of any Japanese airplane. With the capability to reach speeds up to 350 mph and a range just shy of 2,000 miles, the aircraft gave the Japanese an early upper hand in combat, one that would subside later in the war with the introduction of more apt American fighters. Related: Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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89. Luscombe Silvaire
Initially produced in the late 1930s, the Luscombe Model 8 made its mark on the light aircraft scene with an all-metal monocoque design, the first construction of its kind to thrive on a large scale. The original Model 8 was equipped with a rag wing and a Continental A-50 flat-four engine, but later, more prolific versions of the aircraft traded in the fabric for aluminum and the A-50 for more powerful engines, like the A-65 and the C-90. Thanks to its responsive controls, the high-wing two-seater has garnered a reputation as an aircraft that demands an acute touch from a proficient pilot, a reputation that has endured throughout the decades along with the Luscombe’s appeal among classic aircraft enthusiasts. Related: - I Learned About Flying From That: Bringing it Home
- Sport Pilot: Luscombes, LSAs at Night, Medicals Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying archives
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88. Diamond DA40
Given more time, Diamond Aircraft’s four-place DA40 could climb dramatically on future lists of the most significant airplanes in history. With its slick, rivet-free fuselage, the DA40 easily outruns and outclimbs a new Cessna 172, despite having the same fuel-efficient, four-cylinder engine. Its long wings give it an impressive 10:1 glide ratio (though the trade-off of low wing loading is a rougher ride in turbulence) and the seats are designed to withstand a 26 G impact. The DA40’s best attributes, in our opinion? An exceptional safety record, good manners in flight, and visibility from the cockpit greenhouse that rivals the scene on an Imax movie screen. Related: - Flying the Diamond Star XLS
- Diamond DA40 XLS in Photos
- Diamond Introduces DA40 XLT for 2013 Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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87. Pilatus PC-12
There’s nothing in the skies remotely like this big, Swiss, pressurized turboprop single, an airplane that’s as comfortable in Cannes as it is in the Canadian Rockies. Introduced in 1991, the PT6-powered PC-12 has been a solid seller for Pilatus thanks to its remarkable versatility, rough-field-ready gear, midsize jet-class cabin, huge side-loading utility door, highly reconfigurable cabin, unreal short-field capabilities and the economies of a single with the payload of some turboprop twins. Today’s PC-12 has an improved gross weight, flat-panel avionics with all the bells and whistles and a high-end BMW-designed interior. Despite all the advances, the PC-12 is still an airplane that yearns for adventure. Related: - Pilatus PC-12 Pilot Report
- Pilatus PC-12 in Photos
- Why I Fly a Pilatus PC-12
- Pilatus PC-12 Versus the World Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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86. Hawker Siddeley 125
When the first Hawker Siddeley 125 prototype took flight in 1962, the aircraft became arguably the first official production business jet to take to the skies. Initially powered by twin 3,000-pound thrust Viper turbojet engines, the revolutionary aircraft was slightly slower than its competitors, but more than made up for it in cabin comfort and economy. Those attributes helped lay the foundation for one of the most top-selling bizjet lines in history. Sadly, the Hawker lineup is now out of production after Hawker Beechcraft's bankruptcy in 2013, though hope remains that it will reemerge under a new owner. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Chris Lofting
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85. Blériot XI
In 1908 Frenchman Louis Blériot designed the mono-wing Blériot XI — a wood and fabric design steerable by wing warping. Powered by a 25 hp Anzani engine spinning a wooden propeller, the airplane carried Blériot across the English Channel in a little more than 36 minutes on July 25, 1909, becoming the first airplane to complete the crossing. The popularity of the airplane, gleaned from the historic flight, inspired Blériot to mass-produce it. Many famous aviation pioneers flew the Blériot XI including Clyde Cessna, whose first airplane was a near twin of the Blériot XI. Related: - Rare Airplanes in Flight
- 51 Heroes of Aviation Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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84. F-4 Phantom
Initially designed for the U.S. Navy in the late 1950s, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 emerged from development in a class all its own. With the ability to travel more than 1,600 mph and reach altitudes approaching 100,000 feet, the F-4 swiftly shattered more than a dozen world records, all while making it look easy. The twin jet would go on to play a pivotal role in the Vietnam War, where it was flown by flying ace Steve Ritchie as he shot down five MiG-21s — two of them within the span of one minute and 29 seconds. The F-4 saw combat in Desert Storm as well, and ultimately would be produced in numbers greater than 5,000. Trivia: The F-4 could carry more than twice the bombload a B-17 typically did during World War II. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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83. Voyager
Great aviators don’t care that their dream project appears impossible. And though a round-the-world flight on one tank of gas appears unimaginable, Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager made it happen in 1986. The airplane that made the concept a reality was the Voyager — a minimalistic but aerodynamically efficient carbon fiber airframe designed by Dick’s brother, engineering legend Burt Rutan. The Voyager carried 7,011.5 pounds of fuel when it began its takeoff roll from Edwards Air Force Base, and it was barely able to evade disaster when the weight-laden wingtips sent sparks flying as they scraped the tarmac. After a little more than nine days, Rutan and Yeager completed their historic mission and landed the Voyager safely back at Edwards. Related: - The Awesome Airplanes of Burt Rutan
- What Burt Rutan Did
- Burt Rutan: Icon of Homebuilding...And Space Travel Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
NASA
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82. Eclipse 500
One of the most fascinating stories in all of aviation is that of the Eclipse 500 jet, which was the ultimate private pilot’s dream. With six seats, weighing just 6,000 pounds but capable of 41,000 feet and 370 knots, it seemed too good to be true. Its development and promotion, headed by Vern Raburn, took many years, cost a billion dollars and left hundreds of would-be owners out hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. After all was said and done, Eclipse went bankrupt, but the airplane survived. The new company has earned a production certificate for the Eclipse jet. It now does everything Raburn always said it would. Related: - New Eclipse
- Video: Eclipse Will Build New Jets Again
- Eclipse Jet Officially Back in Production Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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81. TBM 700/800/850
Originally a co-development product between Mooney and French company and current owner Socata (based in Tarbes, France), the TBM-700 was a new kind of airplane when it was introduced in the late 1980s and certified in 1990. The single-turboprop, pressurized speedster featured a compact-but-luxurious cabin for four and boasted speeds of around 300 knots with a range exceeding 1,500 nm. Over the years the airplane has gotten nothing but better, with true airspeeds of better than 320 knots on its higher-horsepower Pratt engine, additional gross weight, flat-panel avionics and updated interior. More than 500 TBMs have been delivered. Related: - TBM 850: A Jet With a Prop
- TBM 850 in Photos
- TBM 850: Cargo Hauler?
- TBM 850: 100 Years of History in Photos Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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80. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
Since the F-22 emerged in 2005, this fifth-generation fighter has combined cutting-edge stealth technology with supersonic cruise capability and superb air combat maneuverability unmatched by any fighter in the world. Powered by 35,000 pounds of thrust per engine, the single-pilot aircraft is able to reach speeds beyond Mach 2.0 with the use of afterburners and speeds above Mach 1.5 without them. The aircraft’s stealth technology gives it a radar signature the size of a steel marble, while the jet’s sensor fusion offers its pilots better situational awareness than ever. High development costs and operational glitches have plagued the Raptor but haven’t prevented the jet from staking its claim as the most advanced tactical fighter on the planet. Related: - The Newest Fighters
- F22 Raptor: The Deadliest Fighter Jet Goes Operational Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
U.S. Air Force
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79. Cessna 208 Caravan
With the carrying capability of the Caravan, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that FedEx contributed ideas to the design. Since dispatch reliability was also of primary concern for the small-package shipping giant, the 208 was equipped with a tried-and-true Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engine producing 600 hp (later upgraded to 675 hp). But versatility is probably the word that describes the Caravan best. The airplane can be equipped with a cargo pod and multiple types of landing gear, including bush tires, amphibs and skis. Excellent STOL capabilities allow this reasonably large airplane to get in and out of tight backcountry airstrips. Related: - Cessna Caravan Perfected?
- Canyonland Cruiser: Cessna 208B
- Cessna to Assemble Caravans in China
- Cessna Grand Caravan EX
- FAA Approves Wipaire Floats for Cessna Grand Caravans Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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78. Beechcraft Starship
The brainchild of legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan, the Beechcraft Starship was a radical departure from conventional designs, starting fresh with many untried concepts. Featuring twin-pusher turboprop engines, canard configuration and composite construction, the Starship was well ahead of its time when Beechcraft contracted with Rutan’s Scaled Composites in 1981 to build an 85-percent-scale proof of concept. That project culminated with the flight of the first production Starship in 1989. Despite excellent performance, in the end, only 53 Starships were built. Beechcraft blamed slow sales of the model on a down economy and the airplane’s unconventional looks. In 2003, Beech began buying back Starships and cutting them up. Only five privately owned Starships remain today. Related: - The Awesome Airplanes of Burt Rutan
- Hawker Beechcraft Through the Years Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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77. SPAD S.XIII
Societe Pour l’Aviation et ses Derives (SPAD), a company funded by famous airplane maker Louis Blériot and formed on the heels of the bankruptcy of an ailing airplane manufacturer, developed several World War I fighter airplanes, the most successful being the S.XIII biplane. Designed by Louis Béchereau, one of the pioneers of the monocoque fuselage design, the S.XIII first flew in 1917. The airplane was equipped with an eight-cylinder Hispano-Suiza engine that put out 200 or 220 horsepower. All that power allowed for a low aspect ratio wing, which enabled greater acceleration in roll — one of the qualities of the S.XIII that fighter pilots such as legendary World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker must have appreciated. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Air Force
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76. Bombardier Global Express
The Canadian-built Bombardier Global Express was the main competition to Gulfstream’s GV, and both were developed in the 1990s with the emergence of a new category of ultra-long-range business jet with range figures exceeding a then-unheard-of 6,000 nautical miles. The Global Express used the same Rolls-Royce turbofan engines as the GV, but the Bombardier jet actually had a somewhat roomier cabin than its main rival, and it quickly built a following when it hit the market in 1998. Today, Bombardier has dropped “Express” from the name and expanded the line to include variants spanning the Global 5000 and 6000 and, soon, the under-development Global 7000 and 8000. Related: - We Fly the Bombardier Global 6000
- Bombardier Global 6000 Photos Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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75. Robinson R22
After working for several helicopter manufacturers, including Cessna (yes, Cessna did sell a helicopter — the Skyhook), Bell and Hughes, Frank Robinson saw an opportunity to launch his own light design. After six years of development, Robinson Helicopters introduced the R22, which received FAA certification in 1979. With a reasonable purchase price and low operating cost, the two-seat, two-blade design became a huge success, enabling Robinson to expand his company’s product offering. Thirty-two years after the R22 was introduced, more than 10,000 Robinson helicopters have been delivered out of the ever-expanding factory in Torrance, California. Related: - Robinson Factory Tour
- Aspen Option for Robinson
- Robinson Doubled Production Last Year Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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74. Lockheed Electr
With its powerful Pratt & Whitney radial engines, twin tail fins, and graceful stature, few airplanes exude the glamour and romance of early aviation like the Lockheed Electra. Named after one of the stars that make up the constellation Taurus, the all-metal airplane was built as an airliner in the 1930s and featured seating for two crew members and 10 passengers. The Electra was a marvel in its own right, but what ultimately catapulted the airplane to fame was its use by one of aviation’s most iconic figures, Amelia Earhart, who disappeared over the Pacific while flying her Electra on an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Related: - State Department Joins Earhart Search
- New Amelia Earhart Search Mission Begins Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
NASA
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73. Antonov An-225
Despite arguments from backers of the Airbus A380 and Spruce Goose, the world’s largest airplane is most likely the Antonov An-225. The twin-tailed 1.5 million pound Soviet behemoth, which first flew in 1988, was made to carry the Soviet “space shuttle” Buran but was later used solely to carry cargo. Nicknamed Mriya (Russian for “Dream”), the 225 has a wingspan of 290 feet, a height of 60 feet and a length of 265 feet. It is outfitted with six turbofan engines of more than 50,000 pounds of thrust apiece. A second example was begun but has not been completed, meaning the An-225 is a one-of-a-kind airplane. Related: - Rare Airplanes in Flight Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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72. Bensen Gyrocopter
In the 1950s Russian immigrant Igor Bensen converted a WWII concept, the towed gyro glider, into a powered gyrocopter that could carry a person using a small surplus engine. The Benson Gyrocopter kit was inexpensive, decidedly low-tech and easy to build, incredibly fun to fly and, consequently, an instant sales success. Different from a helicopter, a gyrocopter uses an engine/prop for forward speed and obtains its lift from air passing under, up and through its free-spinning rotor blades. An amount of lift is also created by the autorotating blades. Benson delivered thousands of kits and plans-sets over 30-plus years. — Norm Goyer Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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71. Lockheed P-38 Lightning
The P-38 Lightning was one of only two American fighters in service throughout all of U.S. involvement in World War II, from Pearl Harbor to V-J Day. The airplane employed distinctive twin-boom tails, earning it the nickname “fork-tailed devil” by the Luftwaffe. The P-38 scored its biggest victories in the Pacific and was the primary long-range fighter of the Army Air Forces until the P-51 Mustang started arriving in large numbers toward the end of the war. Designed by Lockheed engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson and his team, the P-38 represented one of the most radical departures in the history of American fighter development. The Lightning was a complete breakaway from conventional designs, yet its odd looks yielded the power of two engines and, at long last, the ability to carry heavy armament. Related: - Two Sons and a Twin-Boomed Warbird Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Air Force
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70. Dassault Falcon 7X
The Dassault Falcon 7X holds many notable distinctions, two of the most important being its status as the first fully fly-by-wire business jet and as the first to be designed entirely on the Catia virtual platform. The resulting airplane is Dassault’s flagship model, combining three engines (a hallmark of the French airframer) with a high cruise speed, nearly 6,000 nm range and a roomy cabin. Unveiled to the public at the 2005 Paris Air Show, the model gained FAA and EASA type certification in 2007. More than 150 have been built to date. Related: - Falcon 7X Pilot Report
- Falcon 7X in Photos Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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69. Bede BD-5
Developed in the late 1960s, the homebuilt Bede BD-5 was an immediate hit with buyers, thanks to its unique promise of speed, performance and low cost, all combined in an ultra-compact package. More than 5,000 kits were sold as fliers lined up to build the bullet-shaped BD-5, which topped out at a max cruise speed of more than 170 knots and could perform a wide range of aerobatics. Few of those 5,000 kits were ever turned into flyable airplanes, however, as builders encountered numerous problems with the kit and engine. The company behind the model went bankrupt just a few years after the first BD-5 flew, cutting the airplane’s future short and leaving countless BD-5 pilot-hopefuls out of luck. A few dozen BD-5s still fly today, though, dazzling spectators and showcasing the perpetual appeal of the eye-catching homebuilt. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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68. Junkers Ju 52
The tri-engine Junkers Ju 52 earned a special affection among the German pilots who flew it during World War II. Originally designed as a passenger airliner, the Ju 52 featured a corrugated alloy skin, was deafeningly noisy to fly in and, perhaps worst of all, was almost comically slow. Still, the pilots who flew it loved the airplane, regarding it as a versatile, rugged and reliable workhorse that never let them down. The Ju 52’s main role was in carrying troops and supplies as the Luftwaffe’s major transport airplane. Nearly 5,000 were built, and they operated in every type of weather and terrain imaginable, from the brutal cold of Russia in winter to the Tunisian desert. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Markus Kress via Wikipedia
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67. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
Kelly Johnson's SR-71 was conceived during the 1950s as a stealthy reconnaissance ship that would fly too high and fast for enemy missiles to reach. Though limited to about 2,000 knots by aerodynamic heating, the SR-71's speed has never been surpassed by any manned jet. Its fuselage chines, conceived as stealth aids, became an important aerodynamic feature of many later aircraft. Lightly built of titanium and stainless steel, the Blackbird was leaky, not very maneuverable, and given to cantankerous engine behavior, but it remains possibly the most fantastic-looking — and to many eyes the most beautiful — airplane ever to fly. — Peter Garrison Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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66. Extra 300
The brainchild of modern composite guru Walter Extra, the Extra 300 burst onto the scene in the early 1990s as the ultimate competitive aerobat. A certificated or experimental airplane, the 300 was incredibly quick, nimble and strong (certified to plus/minus 10 Gs but thought much stronger), allowing competitors to do maneuvers no one had done before. It was a huge force in aerobatic competition, pushing the state of the art to new heights. Flown by aerobatics legend Patty Wagstaff in airshows and competitions far and wide and popularized in Microsoft’s Flight Simulator, the 300 also became the embodiment of the aerobatic monoplane. Related: - Video: Enjoying a Flight in an Extra 300L Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Jim Koepnick
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65. BAE Harrier
As the first successful strike fighter able to perform vertical landings, the BAE Harrier jet built upon the successes of its first generation predecessor and brought a slew of revolutionary capabilities to the forefront of Western air defense. The aircraft was a product of both American and British innovation and, like earlier Harrier jets, relied on thrust vectoring technology for its wide range of vertical and horizontal maneuverability. With that maneuverability, a more powerful engine, an airframe composed substantially of composites and more payload capacity, the BAE Harrier emerged as a multidimensional and very capable strike fighter. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Jim Koepnick
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64. Bell X-1
The Bell X-1 holds a place in aviation history as the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound in controlled level flight. The X-1 was also the first airplane in the X series of super-secret U.S. military experimental aircraft designed to test cutting-edge technologies. On Oct. 14, 1947, just a month after the Air Force had been created as a separate service, Capt. Charles "Chuck" Yeager broke the speed of sound in the rocket-powered Bell X-1 christened Glamorous Glennis, after his wife. The milestone earned the X-1 program the 1948 Collier Trophy and made its young test pilot a household name. Related: - Why Are Wings Swept Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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63. Beechcraft Baron
Beechcraft hit the jackpot in the early 1960s with the Baron, a sleek swept-tail personal twin derived from the somewhat clunky looking Travel Air and straight-tail Debonair single. Unlike Beech’s previous twins, the Baron captured the magic of the Bonanza. It was fast, easy to fly, comfortable and could haul a decent load. In the day of cheap avgas and twin-engine prestige, the Baron was king. Over the 50-plus years of Barons, Beech churned out thousands, from the original model 55, with 260 hp Continentals, to turbocharged and pressurized models to today’s million-dollar-plus flat-panel equipped G58 Baron. Related: - Half a Century of Beechcraft Barons
- Used Airplane Report: Bonanza vs. Baron
- Photo Gallery: Hawker Beechcraft Through the Years Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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62. Granville Brothers Gee Bee R Series
Created to win the Thompson Trophy Race, the iconic Gee Bee was dreamt up in the early 1930s by the Granville brothers of Springfield, Massachusetts. The idea was simple: mate the largest available Pratt & Whitney engine with a fuselage of the same circumference. Then it's full throttle and turn left! A notoriously tricky — some say downright dangerous — airplane to fly, only two of 24 Gee Bees survive, most of the rest lost in fatal crashes. Still, the Gee Bee was arguably the world's fastest airplane, with numerous air race wins in its short history, including Jimmy Dolittle's Thompson gold in 1932. A 750 hp model flew at better than 315 mph ... before a fatal crash. — Norm Goyer Related: - Rare Airplanes in Flight Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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61. Piaggio Aero P.180
The P.180 Avanti twin-pusher turboprop started as a collaboration between Piaggio of Italy and Learjet to design and produce a sleek, modern turboprop capable of taking on the Beech King Air and even business jets. Learjet dropped out of the program in early 1986, but Piaggio forged ahead, flying the prototype nine months later. Although U.S. and European certification was obtained in 1990, the project languished for the next eight years due to funding woes and, probably, buyer apprehension over the Avanti’s odd looks. In 1998, a group of investors led by Piero Ferrari became involved. By then the Avanti had proved its capabilities, and sales soon followed. In 2005 the improved Avanti II earned its certification and, with its updated PT6s and modern Rockwell Collins avionics, was an immediate hit. Piaggio has produced more than 200, and sales have stayed strong. Related: - Piaggio P.180 Avanti II
- Piaggio P.180 Avanti II in Photos Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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60. De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver
The de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver is an airplane worshipped by bush pilots and rightfully so. As big as the Beaver is, with room for up to seven passengers, it requires only light control input and the three engine control levers in the center of the glareshield give the airplane a unique look and feel. The airplane’s rugged tailwheel design and ability to haul a heavy load make it impossible to beat in the backcountry. The sound of the Beaver’s nine-cylinder Pratt & Whitney and the beautiful shape of the fuselage put a smile on the face of anyone who loves airplanes. "If I could have only one airplane, I'd keep my de Havilland Beaver. Mine's on gear, a great backcountry airplane. Prime, wobble-pump, start … a puff of smoke and the rumble of that 985 make you feel you've woken a dragon. In the air she's balanced, light on the controls. Trimmed up, you can fly with two fingers. Right hand up on the throttle, prop and mix. Feel how the thumb advances the engine and the index finger hooks over the prop lever to bring it back — perfect. Pump down the flaps, slow up and put her just about anywhere. A pilot's dream."Harrison Ford Related:__ - Safari in Beaver, Husky, and Wookie Land Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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59. Piper Malibu
The Piper PA-46 Malibu is the sole in-production example of a pressurized owner-flown piston single. When it came out in the early 1980s, it was a 200-plus-knot cruiser with a comfortable club-seating cabin in back while boasting a ceiling of 25,000 feet and a range of more than 1,500 nm. In the late ’80s, the airplane got a new, more powerful Lycoming engine and other improvements. That model, the Mirage, continues to be a good seller for Piper. Indeed, the airplane inspired a series of new designs, including the Malibu Meridian, a popular turboprop derivative of the Malibu, and the Matrix, a non-pressurized piston offshoot. Related: - Piper Malibu: Past and Present
- Piper Malibu: A New Airplane for a New Day Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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58. Embraer Phenom 100
While Embraer had been building private-jet versions of a couple of its successful regional airliners for a few years, it wasn’t until it launched the Phenom 100 that it committed to a purpose-built bizjet. The twinjet hits a sweet spot among private buyers and air-taxi firms seeking a lower-priced business jet with a usable cabin size (up to six passengers) and reasonably fast speed (390 knots) with decent range (1,176 nm) while doing it with an airline quality build. In addition to its remarkable entry-level performance, the Phenom 100 features large flat-panel avionics, fadec turbofans and operating economies that rival some turboprop twins. Related: - Phenom 100 Pilot Report
- Phenom 100 Photo Gallery Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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57. Cessna 195
First delivered in 1947, the stately five-place, all-metal Cessna 195 radial-engine taildragger was new in some ways but outdated in others — its big radial engine and conventional gear were 1930s technology. It was a relaxing airplane to fly, but with its heavy radial engine, it was a thrilling one to land in a crosswind. Some models featured a crosswind gear, which would allow the airplane to be pointed in one direction and the gear in another. In the end, the 195 could never compete with the truly modern Beech Bonanza (with tricycle gear and an opposed engine) and Cessna ended production of the 195 in 1954. "The Cessna 195 is one of the finest classics ever built by any manufacturer. Most people identify with the art deco styling of this plane, built between 1947 and 1954. The graceful cantilever wing, large roomy fuselage, radial engine and piano key switches are just some of the details that set this incredible machine apart from the rest. The 195 was the evolution of the original Cessna Airmaster and became known as the "Businessliner" thanks to its wonderful performance. The useful load, low fuel consumption, great handling characteristics and relatively high cruising speed set it apart in its day. Today it is still a very reliable, sought after classic. Just listen to one start up on the ramp and you will understand!"Jack Pelton Related: - Cessna Mandating Inspections for Skyhawks, Skylanes, Many More Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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56. Staggerwing Beechcraft
With a look at once arresting, sleek and classic, the Beechcraft Staggerwing endures today as one of the most aesthetically pleasing aircraft of all time. That allure didn’t come at the cost of power either, since the aircraft’s unique wing alignment, mighty radial engine and retractable landing gear allow it to top out at speeds above 200 mph without the threat of high stall values. Designed amid the Great Depression and considered a risky venture by some, the Staggerwing went on to become the premier aircraft for the elite, a celebrated air racer and versatile warbird. The airplane, each model handcrafted to perfection, would also set the standard for one of the most successful manufacturers in GA history. - Photo Gallery: Hawker Beechcraft Through the Years
- A Family Affair Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Gavin Conroy/Classic Aircraft Photography
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55. Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey
The V-22 tiltrotor is perhaps the first aircraft that went into a museum before it entered service. Originated in 1981 and followed by first flight in 1989, the V-22 wasn’t introduced to the Marine Corps or Air Force until 2007 and 2009, respectively. From the start, the V-22 was beset by setbacks, including crashes of two prototypes in the early 1990s that almost led to the program’s cancellation. The Clinton Administration was a strong backer of the tiltrotor concept, keeping the Bell/Boeing joint program alive. Today the V-22 is in full-rate production and is serving admirably as a replacement for the Sea Knight helicopter troop transport. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Navy
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54. Supermarine Spitfire
Proudly remembered as the aircraft that helped save the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain, the Supermarine Spitfire has gained iconic status as one of the most famous fighters of all time. The aircraft’s signature elliptical wings and sleek aerodynamic design gave it exceptional speed and maneuverability, which, combined with the fighter’s eight machine guns, made the Spitfire a formidable foe. First introduced in 1938, the Spitfire was continually improved and upgraded throughout the war. The fighter would go on to become the most-produced British aircraft of World War II and would eventually serve the country and its Allies in numbers greater than 20,000. Related: - Spitfires Buried in Burma to Be Excavated Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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53. Lockheed Constellation
The legendary Connie has to be one of the prettiest airplanes ever conceived. With its sinuously curving fuselage, triple tail and tapered wing, it is instantly recognizable. In 1939, TWA and Hughes asked Lockheed for a 40-passenger transcontinental airliner with a top speed of more than 340 mph, and the designers delivered. It wasn’t until after World War II that the Constellation truly came into its own as a fast, long-haul transport (this despite a number of high-profile crashes that temporarily grounded the fleet). Lockheed built more than 850, with the Connie and later the Super Connie ruling the skies until the introduction of turbojet airliners in the 1950s. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Navy
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52. Aeronca Champ
With its maiden flight in 1944, the Aeronca Champ emerged as an attractive training alternative in a world dominated by the Piper Cub. Complete with a wider cabin, the ability to solo in the front seat and user-friendly controls, the tandem trainer offered a roomy alternative to the Piper Cub, one that had the upper hand not only when it came to visibility, but also, many of its proponents will argue, in human engineering. While the Champ didn’t gain the kind of lasting prestige acquired by its Piper competitor, it nevertheless amassed its own substantial group of devoted admirers and was produced in numbers surpassing 10,000. Related: - Unusual Attitudes: Rules for Flying and Living Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Armchair Aviator's at Wikipedia
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51. Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six
A stretched Cherokee was an idea that came early to the folks in Vero Beach, Florida, and the result, the PA-32 Cherokee Six, was a huge hit. Piper built nearly 8,000 PA-32s, the early models of which feature the classic Piper Hershey Bar wing. The Six is a marvelous family airplane, with seating for six that outdoes its rivals’ in size, space and comfort. Not fast, at around 140 knots for the fixed-gear, 300 hp model, the Six makes up for it with a prodigious useful load and easy Cherokee flyability. There are several flavors of PA-32, including a retractable model, at first known as the Lance, as well as turbocharged versions. Related: - Six Seat Stalwart: Used PA-32 Review
- A New Take on the Faithful Cherokee Six Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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50. Vought F4U Corsair
The single-seat F4U Corsair was intended from the outset for carrier duty, ingeniously designed with its attractive “inverted gull” wing shape for extra propeller clearance and sturdy landing gear support. Yet the original Corsair, with its long engine and stiff gear, proved difficult for pilots attempting to land on carrier decks, to the point of being downright dangerous. As a result, Corsairs deployed in the early days of World War II were assigned to shore-based squadrons in the Pacific. Redesigned cockpit seat, canopy and gear solved the Corsair’s shortcomings, and the airplane went on to prove its fighting acumen in the war, achieving a kill ratio over Japanese Zeros of 11:1. Related: - Naval Aviation: 100 Years of Military Flight at Sea Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Navy
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49. Boeing 314 Clipper
The Boeing 314 Clipper, designed and built for Pan Am in the late 1930s and early ’40s, ushered in the era of transoceanic passenger flight. Built using the wings and engine nacelles of Boeing’s existing X-15 bomber prototype, the Clipper’s four 1,500 hp Wright Double Cyclone engines gave the 84,000-pound flying boat the muscle needed to complete the feat. With room for 10 crew and 74 passengers, the Boeing 314 treated those aboard to spacious dining and sleeping quarters as well as gourmet meals catered by four-star hotels, bringing luxury to commercial airline travel in a way that has never been replicated, before or since. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Government
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48. Curtiss Model D
This early pusher, introduced just six years after the Wright brothers’ breakthrough flight, triggered the dawn of naval aviation when 24-year-old Eugene Ely used it to complete the first successful takeoff and landing on a U.S. naval vessel. Equipped with tricycle landing gear, the biplane relied on ailerons operated via shoulder movement for lateral control, instead of the Wright brothers’ wing warping technology. Built for easy assembly and disassembly, the Curtiss Pusher was the first real mass-produced airplane, as well as one of the earliest aircraft purchased by the U.S. Army, second only to the Wright Flyer. And if that weren’t enough, the aircraft also set the basis for production of the world’s first seaplane, the Curtiss Triad. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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47. Hindenburg
At just 78 feet shorter than the Titanic, the Hindenburg remains the largest aircraft ever to take to the air more than seven decades after its maiden flight in 1936. Built on the success of its predecessor, the Graf Zeppelin, the Hindenburg was equipped to hold more than 7 million cubic feet of hydrogen and could produce 242.2 tons of gross lift, an amount 112 tons greater than its own weight. While the Hindenburg was originally designed to use helium, the United States refused to yield its monopoly on the substance to Nazi Germany, resulting in a recrafting of the zeppelin for hydrogen. The aircraft carried more than 2,500 passengers across the Atlantic before it burst into flames while landing in Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937, killing 36 people and attracting enough press attention to end the burgeoning era of passenger airship travel. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Navy
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46. Quicksilver MX-2
The ultralight craze of the early ’80s brought flight to the masses, with (one hopes) easy-to-fly and simple-to-build airplanes so affordable that almost anyone could own one. Personifying that goal were the Eipper Quicksilver models, especially the MX line, which was for a time the most popular airplane in the world. At the height of the movement, the company was shipping hundreds of airplane kits — per month. To date, the various Quicksilver manufacturers have turned out more than 14,000 sport airplanes, the vast majority of them characterized by simple aluminum tube-and-sailcloth construction, two-stroke engines and very low speeds, stalling and otherwise, along with the highest fun-to-weight ratio in the sky. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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45. Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
Initially designed as a high-altitude strategic bomber in the 1940s, the Boeing B-52 has endured decades of changing threats and demands, remaining in operational use for more than 50 years. With a range of more than 10,000 miles, a ceiling greater than 50,000 feet and a bomb payload of approximately 70,000 pounds, the B-52 was built to be a bastion of deterrence during the Cold War, but adapted over time to accommodate a variety of other roles, including low-altitude bombing, reconnaissance and combat support, just to name a few. During its lengthy history, the eight-engine, swept-wing aircraft has shattered more than a handful of speed and range records, and remains a key player in contemporary U.S. military operations. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Air Force
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44. Ford Tri-Motor
Designed and built in the mid-1920s, the Tri-Motor immediately carried the respect and trust endowed by the Ford name, as well as the strength and durability needed to substantiate it. Initially equipped with three 200 hp Wright J4 radial engines and later with more robust Pratt & Whitney Wasps, the all-metal aircraft helped grow the public’s faith in safe air travel and quickly became America’s most popular airline transport platform. As its use in that arena died down, it proved its worth and resilience in a variety of other uses, such as cargo and military transport, for years to come. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Jim Koepnick
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43. Cessna 210/P210
The company’s apex single for 25 years, the 210 Centurion was one of the most popular high-performance singles ever. Cessna built more than 9,000 of them between 1960 and 1986, a total composed of more than two dozen different varieties, including popular turbocharged and pressurized models. Over its lifespan the high-performance, retractable gear 210 got new wing designs, new cabin layouts (with four to six seats) and a variety of engine options. Despite its many different faces, at heart the 210 is a fast airplane that carries a great load while being rugged and reliable. No wonder its owners remain staunchly loyal to the type. Related: - Cessna Mandating Inspections for Skyhawks, Skylanes, Many More Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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42. Messerschmitt Bf 109
First introduced in the mid-1930s, what was to become the predominant German fighter in World War II initially struggled to gain governmental support. With an aerodynamically superior, low-wing design and an original max speed of 290 mph, however, the all-metal Messerschmitt Bf 109 eventually won over its skeptics. Retractable landing gear, a narrow fuselage and an enclosed canopy were just some of the combined design features that gave the stressed-skin fighter its edge. While the Fw 190 that entered the war scene in 1941 surpassed it in performance, the mass production of the Bf 109 — more than 30,000 were manufactured by the end of the war — cemented its reign as the most famous German fighter of World War II. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.D. Miller via Wikipedia Creative Commons)
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41. Sukhoi Su-27
When the United States was busy developing air superiority fighters in the 1970s, the Soviets kept pace with a couple of remarkable new fighters, including the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker, capable of better than Mach 2 and a ceiling of higher than 60,000 feet. With a swept delta wing and twin delta tails, the twin-engine Su-27 was the most maneuverable fighter of its day and made famous the Cobra maneuver, an abrupt pitch up to high-angle-of attack forward flight. The Su-27 design led to a number of follow-ons, including a carrier based version. Nearly 700 Su-27s were built by the Soviet Union and, later, Russia. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Military
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40. Learjet 23
When Bill Lear extracted the DNA from an obscure Swiss project and moved the works to Wichita, Kansas, the pure turbojet Lear 23 was born, and it changed the face of aviation. Within a few years of its first delivery in 1964 the term “Learjet” became synonymous with “bizjet.” The 23 personified the James Bond era. It was sexy, fast (450 knots), an amazing climber (better than 6,000 fpm max) and long-legged, with a no-wind range of around 1,500 nm. Though just over 100 Lear 23s were built, the airplane became the basis for a long lineup of Learjets, up through the midsize Lear 60. Related: - Learning the Learjet
- New Learjets Progress Toward 2013 Deliveries
- Was the Learjet the First VLJ?
- 50 Years of Learjets Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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39. Van's RV Series
You might forget your first kiss, your first love or possibly even your first name, but you'll never forget your first flight in an RV-3! (The RV-3 is the Van's design that got the ball rolling.) Richard VanGrunsven's first commercial design may well be his best. Originally designed in the late '60s, kits first became available by 1974. With a fully cantilevered wing and tail, the RV-3 set a new standard for performance in homebuilt aircraft and for ease of building. More than 250 RV-3s have been built and flown, and its flight characteristics are still the gold standard for light aircraft. The only drawback of the RV-3: It has only one seat. — Bruce Bohannon, world-record setter (Pictured: RV-14) Related: - Van's Aircraft and Those Amazing RVs
- Photo Gallery: The RVs of Van's Aircraft
- The RV Nation
- Van's Aircraft Factory Mysteries Revealed Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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38. Boeing B-29 Superfortress
The largest and most advanced bomber of its day, Boeing’s B-29 Superfortress brought a variety of new technologies into the grasp of American forces during World War II. With a gross weight that would eventually total 140,000 pounds, the heavy bomber boasted a 20,000-pound bomb load, a top speed of 365 mph and a range of almost 6,000 miles. In addition to its superior performance specs, the Superfortress was the first to offer its crew members pressurized compartments, as well as remote-controlled gun turrets. The B-29’s most lasting legacy, of course, was its nuclear capability — a power implemented during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, events abruptly followed by the Japanese surrender. Related: - The Airplane that Ended a War
- B-29 Superfortress: Bockscar
- Video: World's Only Flying B-29 in Action
- Photo Gallery: P-51 and B-29 Warbird Tour
- Doc's Friends to Revive B-29 Superfortress
- B-29 Flies Again but Big Questions Remain Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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37. Citation X
Until Gulfstream achieves full certification and starts delivering its G650, Cessna’s Citation X can still claim its spot as the fastest civil airplane in the sky. With its Fadec-controlled Rolls-Royce AE3007C1 engines, which are about the size of some single-engine airplane fuselages and each produce 6,674 pounds of thrust at sea level, the airplane can cruise near the speed of sound at Mach 0.92. The Citation X earned Cessna the Collier Trophy when it was introduced in 1996. In 2010, Cessna felt the popular business jet needed a face-lift and announced a slightly larger version, simply called “The Ten,” which is expected to hit the market in 2013 with a Garmin G5000 touch screen panel in place of the X’s Primus 2000 Elite and lots of other upgrades. "To say that I am not somewhat biased regarding the Citation X would be an understatement. I recommended to my friends at Cessna a few requirements that I wanted to see in a corporate jet prior to the Citation X. My main points were that it should have these key attributes: speed, range and a large cabin size. I had the honor of taking delivery of the first production Citation X in August 1996, and am delighted to say that it has been everything I envisioned. Fifteen-plus years later, we are still flying a Citation X (I traded in for a new one in 2002) and I could not be more pleased. It is reliable and still the fastest bird out there, looks great, and deserves to be ranked among the greatest airplanes of all time." — Arnold Palmer Related: - Capt. Arnie's Final Flight
- Citation X Grows Winglets
- Cessna Spells Citation X
- First Production Cessna Citation X Rolls Out
- Cessna Citation X Closer to Reclaiming Speed Crown Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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36. Mooney 201
Mooney hit a major milestone when it introduced the M20J in 1977. The airplane had a top speed of 201 mph with a 200 hp Lycoming IO-360 engine. To highlight this achievement, Mooney’s marketing department called the airplane the Mooney 201. The marketing paid off and sales skyrocketed. The 201 had the same stretched fuselage as its predecessor, the M20F, but the cowl, windshield and gear door redesign as well as drag-reducing gap seals and fairings brought the airplane huge speed gains. Even with today’s advanced composite fuselage technology, it’s hard to find an airplane that achieves the same level of performance and economy. Still, Mooney discontinued production of the 201 in 1998, opting instead to focus on faster, more powerful models. Related: - Magic Mooney 201
- Back to Prime Time
- Photo Gallery: Mooney M20 Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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35. Cessna 150/152
Produced between 1958 and 1985, the two-seat Cessna 150/152 is one of the most significant training airplanes ever to be produced. It is essentially a tricycle-gear version of the Cessna 140 — the tricycle landing gear being more conducive to flight training. The 150/152 is inexpensive to operate. Its 100 hp Continental O-200 burns only about 6 gph (the similarly thrifty Lycoming O-235 replaced the O-200 for the 152) and simple systems make the airplane easy to maintain. More than 30,000 of the two-seat, single-engine trainers were produced, most of which rolled out of Cessna’s factory in Wichita (some were produced by Reims Aviation in France). Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.FlugKerl2 at Wikipedia
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34. Messerschmitt Me 262
One of the greatest fears of the Allied World War II Air Force pilots, the twin engine Me 262 was the first operational jet-powered fighter airplane, introduced by the German Luftwaffe. First flight was completed in 1942 after initial testing of the airframe with a single propeller engine mounted up front, but the airplane didn’t see action until 1944. The early Junkers Juno 004 jet engines, which were each nearly the size of the Me 262’s fuselage, were notoriously unreliable. Nonetheless, good speed and climb performance made the Me 262 a successful fighter, and its introduction marked the beginning of the end for piston-engine fighter airplanes. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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33. Albatros D-Series
The Albatros D-series was a family of models built by German Albatros-Flugzeugwerke and used as fighters in World War I. Introduced in 1916 and powered by six-cylinder, watercooled engines ranging from 150 to 185 horsepower, these biplanes featured a semi-monocoque plywood covered fuselage supported by a minimal internal structure, making the airplanes lighter than their fabric-covered predecessors. Fighter aces liked the design for its climb rate and speed; however, a flaw in the lower wing of most models caused failures, prohibiting pilots from steep or prolonged dives. The Albatros fighters enjoyed an intensive but short production run with thousands of airplanes produced in about two years. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Albatros D.Va photo by Gavin Conroy/Classic Aircraft Photography
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32. Kitfox
In the early 1980s simplified-construction homebuilt airplane kits became all the rage, and the king of the emerging segment was Dan Denney’s Kitfox. The little two-place, side-by-side model was the hottest homebuilt going. At one point Denney Aircraft was turning out more than 50 Kitfox kits a month. Over the years, there have been nearly 5,000 kits for Kitfox aircraft shipped. In addition to the round cowl, the Kitfox also had flaperons, detached trailing-edge devices that serve as ailerons and/or flaps. Though nearly 5,000 kits have been delivered, how many have actually flown is harder to ascertain. Related: - The Alphabet Soup of LSA
- Kitfox-Lite Reborn as an Ultralight
- Photo Gallery: Popular Homebuilt Aircraft Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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31. Pitts Special
With a design that looks like it could be hung from a rearview mirror, the Pitts Special was not designed for stability. But its short wings and relatively large rudder make it an excellent aerobatic airplane. Curtis Pitts was way ahead of his time when he designed the airplane in the mid-1940s. Aerobatic performer Betty Skelton made the airplane famous, competing in Lil' Stinker — the second Pitts S1 one-place airplane built by Curtis Pitts, now on display at the Smithsonian. Since Skelton's days, the Pitts Special has won many aerobatics competitions and is still widely used in airshows today. The Pitts S1 and its two-seat brother, the S2, are still produced by Aviat Aircraft in Afton, Wyoming. Related: - I Learned About Flying From That: First Flight in a Pitts Special Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Gary Rosier
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30. Curtiss JN-4 Jenny
The Curtiss JN-4 Jenny taught a generation of early aviators to fly, starting with American military pilots in World War I. Though the airplane never saw action, 95 percent of all U.S. and Allied pilots who flew in the war learned at the controls of the various JN-4 models. After the war, thousands were sold to civilians at bargain prices and the Jenny was reborn as a barnstormer. Development of the Jenny began in 1913 when Glenn Curtiss visited Thomas Sopwith’s factory in England. Combining the best qualities of Curtiss’ early models, the J and the N, the JN series was born, culminating with the iconic JN-4 model in 1916. Because Sopwith was unable to keep up with wartime demand on his own, the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny was built by six other manufacturers, with a grand total of 10,900 produced. Related: - 100th Anniversary of Airmail Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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29. North American F-86 Sabre
Brought to fruition by the makers of the widely popular P-51 Mustang, the swept-wing North American F-86 Sabre was built using design principles gleaned from German aerodynamic research obtained at the end of World War II. Those principles went on to serve the F-86 well, helping it keep hold of world speed records for six straight years, as well as earning a 10-1 victory rate over Russian MiGs in the Korean War. Since its entry into service in 1951, the F-86 and its many variants have proved their versatility in a wide variety of roles as high-altitude day fighters, fighter-bombers and all-weather interceptors. All in all, close to 10,000 F-86s were produced, with the fast-flying aircraft serving not only the United States and Canada, but also the forces of 20 other nations. Related: -** Why are Wings Swept?** Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.U.S. Air Force
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28. MiG-15
As the Iron Curtain began to descend upon Eastern Europe at the close of the Second World War, Joseph Stalin demanded the development of an interceptor capable of providing sufficient protection against the West. The answer to that appeal took shape in the form of the MiG-15, a swept-wing fighter with a level of agility and speed that took Western forces wholly by surprise. Equipped with highly advanced jet engines, the MiG-15 outmatched Western forces until the F-86 entered service shortly thereafter. More than 12,000 MiG-15s were eventually produced, serving the Soviets and many of their communist counterparts. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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27. Stearman Biplane
Lloyd Stearman had no idea in the mid-'30s that his name would become synonymous with the word "biplane" or that his design would train the majority of the best military pilots in the world. The rugged construction, responsive flight controls and forgiving performance married to the dependable Continental 220 made the Stearman the ideal military trainer. Bill Boeing eventually bought Lloyd's design and his company produced more than 10,000 of the two-place bi-wing beauties over a seven-plus-year period ending in 1945. Many a fledgling aviator has honed his flying skills during and since, rightfully earning the Stearman a place of honor among the noteworthy aircraft of the last century. — John "Lites" Leenhouts, president and CEO of Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In & Expo and a Stearman owner Related: - Tuskegee Airmen Stearman Flies into History
- Photo Gallery: Tuskegee Airmen Stearman Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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26. Cessna Citation I
The Citation 500 launched Cessna’s hugely successful business jet line, which today spans a whole family of airplanes based on the original type certificate as well as follow-on, clean-sheet models. FAA-certified in 1971, the original turbofan-powered Citation 500 was immediately snubbed by the aviation press for being 120 knots slower than the turbojet-powered Learjet 25, earning it the nicknames “Slowtation” and “Nearjet.” Undeterred, Cessna improved the model with a longer wingspan, increased gross weight and thrust reversers that allowed operations from shorter runways, rechristening the airplane the Citation I. Cessna improved the model yet again with a single-pilot version known as the Citation I/SP, which became an instant hit. Decades later, nobody would dare ridicule the Cessna Citation, which has earned a coveted place as one of best-selling and most-loved business jets of all time. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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25. North American AT-6
North American launched the AT-6 Texan in the late '30s, just before America's entry into World War II. During the war and for a short time afterward, the United States and its Allies built more than 15,000 Texans and variants. To the Air Force, it was the Texan; the Navy designated it the SNJ, and the British called it the Harvard. Regardless of its name, it proved the perfect advanced trainer: If you could fly a T-6, you could fly any fighter in the world. The Texan had a perfect match of power — the 600 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340 — weight and control effectiveness. The Texan remains a popular warbird and airshow performer. — Norm Goyer, Texan owner and restorer Related: - The T-6 Texan Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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24. Sopwith Camel
So named because the tight grouping of the engine, guns and pilot gave it a humped appearance, the Sopwith Camel was the most famous British fighter of World War I. When introduced in 1917, the Camel quickly earned a reputation as being difficult to fly. It was slow to turn left, but in right-hand turns it came around amazingly swiftly due to the torque of its 130-horsepower Clerget nine-cylinder radial engine. It was also light on the controls and quick to enter a nasty spin, meaning it needed a skilled pilot to fly it without getting into trouble. Still, Camels proved their mettle in combat, shooting down nearly 1,300 enemy airplanes, more than any other Allied fighter of the war. Related: - Photo Gallery: Fokker Aircraft and Sopwith Camel at Spruce Creek Fly-In Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Gary Rosier
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23. Boeing 737
Sometimes the most impactful products seem the least ambitious. Such was the case with the Boeing 737, an airplane introduced into service in 1968 to be the narrow-body, twin-engine domestic workhorse to replace the aging, fuel-thirsty tri-jet 727. The “Seven-Three” would go on to become the most prolific airliner ever, with more than 7,000 delivered and nearly 3,000 more on order. Today there are numerous variants, including one with a capacity of as many as 215 passengers. Modern improvements include flat-panel avionics, winglets, and extended range. One variant, the Boeing Business Jet, comes with bedroom suites and showers. Related: - Photo Gallery: Homemade Boeing 737 Flight Simulator Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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22. Piper Cherokee
When Piper introduced its new, all-metal, low-wing airplane in the early 1960s, it caused an uproar among loyalists. Different from the Cub and offshoots as well as the later short-wing models, like the Pacer, the all-metal, tricycle-gear, low-wing Cherokee had a modern look and feel and flew great. It also set the stage for the biggest years in Piper’s history, with offshoots galore, from the Archer to the Arrow, from the Pathfinder to the Seneca, and it became a remarkably popular trainer. Still in limited production today, the PA-28 is one of the icons of light aviation. Related: - Piper Archer: A Lengthy Legacy Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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21. Gulfstream G650
A study in superlatives, the Gulfstream G650 sets a new standard for luxury private jet travel, combining the highest top speed of any civil jet (Mach 0.925), the longest range (7,000 nm at Mach 0.85) and the widest, tallest and longest cabin in its class. The G650 achieves such remarkable performance thanks to a sleek, aerodynamically optimized fuselage and its new Rolls-Royce BR725 turbofan engines, which provide more thrust and better fuel efficiency than previous generation engines. Despite the crash of a prototype during flight testing last year, the G650 earned its provisional type certification on schedule last fall and is slated to enter service on time this year. But if you want one, you’d better start saving now — list price is a cool $64.5 million. Related: - Gulfstream G650 Snags Provisional Certification
- Gulfstream G650, 280 Arrive at EBACE in Style
- New Gulfstream G650
- We Fly Gulfstream G650 Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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20. Gossamer Albatross
Designed by aeronautical engineer Paul MacCready, the Gossamer Albatross was a human-powered airplane that in 1979 made the first human-powered flight across the English Channel. Piloted by cyclist Bryan Allen, the Albatross made the trip in two hours and 49 minutes, winning the Kremer Prize. Two years earlier, MacCready won a prize for the first human-powered aircraft, the Gossamer Condor. The Albatross was even more ambitious. Constructed of carbon fiber with a strong yet light Mylar covering and a wingspan of nearly 100 feet, the canard-configuration Albatross brought to the attention of the world the work of forward-thinking aircraft designers and opened people’s eyes to the wide-open future of flight. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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19. Lockheed C-130
Named after a Greek god with superhuman strength, the C-130 Hercules participates in military combat missions worldwide but is also used for some civilian operations. A marvel in size, the C-130 is a four-engine heavy-hauler that can carry up to 42,000 pounds in and out of rough strips. Lockheed Martin delivered the first C-130s to the Air Force in the mid-1950s. With more than 2,400 delivered to date, the airplane is still in production as the improved C-130J Super Hercules, featuring technologically updated avionics, Rolls-Royce AE 2100 DE turboprop engines and composite propellers. Related: - Vintage Video: Hercules Carrier Landing
- Photo Gallery: Flying Fat Albert
- Dangerous Flying Jobs Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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18. Cessna 182
Introduced shortly after the all-time sales champ, the 172 Skyhawk, the 182 Skylane, also a four-seater, is arguably a better airplane. Introduced in 1956, the Skylane hauls more, goes faster and still uses precious little runway while being marvelously simple to fly. It burns slightly more fuel than the 172, but it seems well worth it. While it shares much of the same basic design and utility, today’s 182 is a very modern airplane, with Garmin flat-screen avionics, a fuel-injected engine, airbag seat belts and synthetic vision. Its good payload, comfort and visibility have helped make the Skylane one of the best-selling singles of all time. Related: - Don Stephens and his Cessna 182
- Pilot Report: Cessna Turbo Skylane
- Pilot Report: Cessna 182 JT-A Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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17. Airbus A380
The double-decker Airbus A380 is the largest airliner in the world. It’s so big, in fact, many airports have had to make upgrades just to accommodate its unprecedented 261-foot wingspan. Airbus launched the project as the A3XX in 2000 to compete with the Boeing 747. The A380 made its maiden flight from Toulouse, France, where Airbus is based, in April 2005. The design incorporates advanced materials including carbon-fiber reinforced plastics in the wings, fuselage sections and tail, as well as highly capable avionics and four quiet and fuel-efficient turbofan engines. The jet can carry a maximum of 853 passengers in an all-economy-class layout, though it’s typically sold with 525 seats. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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16. CitationJet
When Cessna introduced the model 525 CitationJet in the early 1990s, it was an attempt by the company to get back to its roots as makers of the ultimate entry-level bizjet. The new jet, known affectionately as the “CJ,” was a single-pilot-friendly jet sized right and powered with new Williams turbofan engines. It would go on not only to great sales success, with many hundreds sold, but to spawn an entire lineup of light jets up to the 450-knot, 2,000-mile-range CJ4. Today, the spirit of the CJ lives on in the form of Cessna’s new M2, with flat-panel displays, 400-knot performance and high-end interior appointments. Related: - CitationJet: Evolution Through the Years
- The CitationJet Up Close
- Twenty Years of the CitationJet
- Cessna's Amazing CJs Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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15. Beechcraft King Air
Ten years after the successful Beech King Air 90 took to the skies, Beech Aircraft Corp. introduced the King Air 200 series in 1974. Powered by Pratt & Whitney’s reliable PT6, the twin-engine turboprop airplane was designed to carry eight to nine passengers. Known for its excellent carrying capacity, speed and durability, the 200 and 300 series were originally marketed as the “Super King Air” family. Beech has delivered more than 2,000 King Air 200s and another 600 Beechcraft 1900s — a model derived from the B200. It is no wonder the series is still alive after nearly four decades. The model currently in production is the King Air 250. Related: - King Air 250 Pilot Report
- King Air 350ER: Flying Fuel Tank
- A Faster King Air Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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14. Wright Flyer
The airplane that started it all, the Wright Flyer, made history on a gusty morning on Dec. 17, 1903, at Kill Devil Hills in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The Flyer was launched into the air for a mere 12 seconds over a distance of just 120 feet with Orville Wright at the controls, but it was an honest to goodness heavier-than-air powered flight, a feat that a number of pioneering individuals and teams were feverishly chasing. On the fourth and final flight of the day, Wilbur piloted the Flyer for 59 seconds over a distance of 852 feet. With these first trips aloft, the Wright brothers proved that sustained, controlled, powered flight was possible, and their place in history was assured. Today the Wright Flyer hangs in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Related: - First Flight
- Wright Brothers Model B Flyer Replica Crashes
- Fly & Dine: First Flight Airport (KFFA)
- Wright Brothers: Little Known Secrets to their Success Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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13. Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle (first flight in 1982) must go down in history as the most revolutionary advancement in aviation ever. Flight at hypersonic speeds in an operational aircraft had never been done previously, and the Space Shuttle achieved this along with being a "space delivery truck." Solid boosters and LOX/hydrogen engines providing 7,500,000 pounds of thrust enabled it to carry more than 30,000 pounds of cargo into orbit. The Space Shuttle was the first and only spacecraft to carry large payloads back to Earth. This remarkable vehicle performed satellite rescues and made repairs, launched the Hubble Space Telescope and helped build the International Space Station. — Robert "Hoot" Gibson Related - Video: Final Shuttle Launch Brings Program to a Close
- Photo Gallery: A Look Back at NASA's Shuttle Program Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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12. Boeing 747
With a tail the height of a six-story building and a wing area bigger than a basketball court, the Boeing 747 truly earned its keep as the world’s first jumbo jet. Despite the aircraft’s whopping 735,000-pound weight, the 747-100’s four P&W JT9D-3 engines each provided 43,000 pounds of thrust, allowing the aircraft to achieve a range of 6,000 miles and a cruising speed of 640 mph. Initially flown by Pan Am in 1970, the 747 held the top spot in terms of passenger capacity for nearly 40 years, with later models capable of carrying up to 550 people on a given flight. In addition to logging enough miles to fly to the moon and back more than 100,000 times, the 747 has also served as the Air Force One aircraft of choice in a modified version for more than two decades and as a carrier for NASA’s space shuttle fleet. Related: - Video: Mojave's 747 Weather Vane Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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11. Cirrus SR22
The dream of brothers Alan and Dale Klapmeier, the four-place, all-composite Cirrus SR22 was a planned outgrowth of the SR20. The company prided itself on innovation, and it has delivered in spades. The airplane was the first all-composite GA bird produced in any numbers. It came with a whole-airplane recovery parachute system (WARPS), a spin-resistant wing design, a side-yoke controller, lots of room and lots of glass. Cirrus continued by being first to offer flat-panel avionics (from Avidyne), enhanced vision, envelope protection, TAWS, traffic, charts and much more. Today there are more than 5,000 Cirrus aircraft in the field. Related: - 2012 Cirrus SR22
- Cirrus SR22 in Photos
- 10 Years of the Cirrus SR22
- 10 Ways the SR22 Changed Flying
- Generation 5 Cirrus SR22 Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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10. Cessna 172
In the early 1950s, the American airplane manufacturing industry was at a crossroads between the old and the new worlds. The new was symbolized by sheet-metal construction, tricycle landing gear and modern, opposed engines. Though an outgrowth of the taildragger 170, the all-metal four-seat 172 crystallized the modern mood and brought people into aviation by the tens of thousands. An affordable, easy-to-fly, safe and remarkably utilitarian design, the 172 was a fun flier, trainer and cross-country machine all in one: It is arguably the most pleasing compromise in aviation history, along with being, not coincidentally, the most popular airplane ever. Related: - The Evolution of the Cessna 172
- Cessna 172: Still Relevant
- A Cessna 172 Links Three Generations
- Redhawk 101 Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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9. Boeing B-17
A beloved American icon, the B-17 Flying Fortress remains one of the most celebrated warbirds in U.S. history. The 65,000-pound four-engine bomber came equipped with 11 to 13 machine guns and a 9,600-pound bomb payload, characteristics that gave it the military might worthy of its name. The airplane was launched in the 1930s and built using principles borrowed from both the Boeing XB-15 and the Model 247. A vital component of the Allied offensive in Europe, B-17s dropped more than half a million tons of bombs on Germany during World War II, and in the process earned a widespread reputation for their ability to withstand severe damage during combat. Related: - Photo Gallery: B-17 Memphis Belle
- Video: Memphis Belle Gets a Facelift
- B-17 Destroyed, Seven People Walk Away Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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8. McDonnell Douglas F-15
When it first arrived on the scene at the height of the Cold War, the F-15 constituted a quantum leap in fighter technology. The single-seat tactical fighter could outmaneuver any aircraft flying at the time, friend or foe, and its advanced avionics gave pilots the new ability to operate radar and missile systems without taking their hands off the controls. Flying the F-15 proved an unparalleled experience: After pushing the throttles to max afterburner on takeoff, the airplane would pitch up more than 60 degrees as it climbed to 20,000 feet within just a mile or two. With over 100 victories and no losses, no fighter past or present can match the F-15 Eagle's record of air-to-air combat effectiveness. — Stan Whitfield, former F-15 pilot and 58th Fighter Squadron Operations Officer during Desert Storm Related: - Video: Ejecting at 800 mph Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying
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7. Concorde
Probably the most ambitious civil aviation project ever, Concorde gave space age dreamers a Mach 2, 60,000-foot ceiling, delta-wing jetliner that somehow overcame the economic and environmental realities of building and operating supersonic transports to enjoy a 25-year flying career. The engineering challenges — the heat of Mach 2.02 cruise, the fuel-hungry turbojet engines, the high loads at very high speed, the forces on the landing gear on rotation and the lack of visibility on landing — were all ingeniously overcome. The sole crash of the type, at Paris in 2000, sounded the death knell for the world's only supersonic transport. Concorde made its last flight in 2003. Related: - Concorde in Photos Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.NASA
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6. P-51 Mustang
With the distinctive roar of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and striking design lines, the P-51 Mustang has become an airshow classic. But its military heritage is even more impressive. Introduced in the early 1940s, the Mustang became an instant hit with fighter pilots, with its nimble handling characteristics, high-altitude capabilities and good speeds. The Mustang was deployed in more than 50 countries worldwide, and more than 15,000 P-51s were produced by North American Aviation (NAA). With a surplus of military airplanes after the war, Mustangs could be purchased for $1 — a nice investment for someone with a crystal ball since the going rate today is around $2 million. "P-51 Mustang, designed by North American Aviation (NAA), was a well-designed airplane and most World War II fighter aces found it was the best fighter in the war. The A-model with the Allison engine was not very effective above 15,000 feet because it did not have a supercharger, but it was still a crackerjack airplane. The Rolls-Royce engine made it a tremendously different airplane. It gave it the ability to fight all the way up to 40,000 feet and defend the bombers from the time they got over enemy territory until they returned to friendly territory. It was the first airplane capable of doing that." — _Bob Hoover Related: - A Jet Jockey Flies the P-51 Mustang
- Troubled P-51 Lands Safely After Help from Bob Hoover
- Photo Gallery: P-51 and B-29 Warbird Tour Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Scott Slocum
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5. Predator drone
The Predator drone dramatically changed the shape of 21st century combat, triggering the dawn of an age in which unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are no longer used solely as reconnaissance vehicles, but also as attack aircraft. Since the Predator’s development in the mid-1990s, the UAV has accumulated more than 1 million hours of total flight time and has played an integral role in U.S. post-9-11 strategy within the Middle East. Armed with laser-guided Hellfire missiles and remotely operated by pilot and crew, the Predator has engaged in deadly strikes within Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya, among other countries. The growing use of the Predator in modern warfare has brought sweeping implications for civilian airspace as well, accelerating the debate over the prospect of drones and unmanned aircraft sharing the skies and raising a slew of questions as police departments and other agencies begin to employ the drone for their own purposes here in the United States. Related: - Congress to Open U.S. Skies to Drones in Three Years
- Drones a Coming Crisis for GA
- Map Shows Drone Use Throughout U.S. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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4. Piper Cub
The airplane that taught a generation to fly, the Piper Cub is as instantly recognizable today as it was when production began almost 75 years ago. Introduced in 1938, the J-3 Cub was an immediate hit based on its simplicity, affordability and forgiving flying characteristics. During World War II, the L-4 military version of the Cub proved an excellent observation platform from which to spot German tanks, and at the height of production a new Cub was rolling out of the factory in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, once every 20 minutes. After the war, William T. Piper priced the Cub at $2,195, perfect for returning GIs with a yearning to fly. All told, Piper had produced some 20,000 J-3 Cubs and L-4s by the end of production in 1947. Related: - AirVenture 'Cubs 2 Oshkosh' Event Celebrates J-3's 75th Anniversary
- Piper Cub Seaplane Discovery Flights Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Jim Koepnick
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3. Spirit of St. Louis
The Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis is a highly modified Ryan M-2 single-engine airplane made famous when Charles A. Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic in May 1927. Powered by a Wright Whirlwind J-5C engine producing 223 horsepower, the Spirit of St. Louis flew 3,610 miles in 33 hours and 30 minutes from New York to Paris, proving that flying could be a viable option for transatlantic transportation. The airplane's fuel tanks were located in front of the cockpit, so Lindbergh had to either slip the airplane significantly or use a periscope on the left side to see ahead. Despite its fame, the airplane never went on to serial production. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Ad Meskens
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2. Douglas DC-3
Greater than the sum of its parts: an apt description for an airplane that has earned the right to be called "timeless" more so than any other. First flown on Dec. 17, 1935, the Douglas DC-3, an iteration of the DC-1 and DC-2, married reliability with performance and comfort in a way no other airplane had before. The DC-3 saw service for the airlines (major and regional) and in wartime (World War II, Korea, Vietnam), hauling cargo and corporate officers alike, in every corner of the world. Hundreds still fly today, connecting us with an aviation thread that continues on. — Julie Filucci, author, Together We Fly: Voices from the DC-3 Related: - DC-3, A Real Man's Airplane
- Video: DC-3 "House Tour"
- Video: A DC-3 Tribute
- Jetman Flies with the DC-3
- Famed DC-3 Returns to the Skies Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.
Flying
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1. Beechcraft Bonanza
When Beechcraft rolled out the Bonanza after World War II, it was defining half a century of personal aviation in the process. A four-seat, all-metal, tricycle landing gear speedster with a pretty V-tail, the Bonanza was the first really modern personal transportation airplane, and it sold like hot cakes while Beechcraft’s competitors took a decade to come out with comparable models. Not only did the Bonanza spawn a number of new singles, from the straight-tail Debonair to the still-in-production six-place A36 (now known as the G36), it also inspired the Beech Baron, the prototypical twin of the era, and the Beech T-34 Mentor, the dominant military trainer of the day. Related: - Hawker Beechcraft Through the Years Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying archives
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Keep the countdown going and check out Flying's 51 Heroes of Aviation list of the most inspirational figures in aviation history. Click here to view the list. Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.Flying