Ask an Explainer
What is the fastest recorded flight by a plane?
When it comes to fastest airplane flight records, there are different categories and records.
The fastest airplane that can take off and land by itself is the Lockheed-SR-17 Blackbird. In 1990, it flew from California to Virginia at a record speed of 3,451.7 kph (2,144.8 mph) which is over Mach 3.3.
However this isn’t the fastest manned flight. The North American X-15 experimental aircraft flew to a speed of 7,274 kph (4,519mph) or Mach 6.7 in 1967. It was a rocket propelled aircraft and it had to be lifted up by a B-52 bomber to reach altitude before its flight.
The fastest unmanned airplane absolutely shattered both records. The NASA X-34a unmanned aircraft reached a speed of 12,144kph (7,546mph) or Mach 9.6 in 2004. At that speed it was powered for only 10 seconds before it ran out of fuel.