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Flight airspeed record
An air speed record is the highest speed attained by an aircraft of a particular class.
The rules for all official aviation records are defined by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), and they also ratify any claims. Speed records are divided into multiple classes with sub-divisions. There are three classes of aircraft: landplanes, seaplanes and amphibians; then within these classes, there are records for aircraft in several mass bands. There are still further sub-divisions for piston-engined, turbojet, turboprop and rocket-engined aircraft. Within each of these groups, records are defined for speed over a straight course and for closed circuits of various sizes carrying various payloads. There are still further records for the speed between specified cities such as London to New York.
Official records versus unofficial
The SR-71 "Blackbird" holds the official Air Speed Record for a manned airbreathing jet aircraft with a speed of 3,529.56 km/h (2,188 mph). It was capable of taking off and landing unassisted on conventional runways. The record was set on 28 July 1976 by Eldon W. Joersz near Beale Air Force Base, California, USA.
However for many people the term 'air speed record' implies simply the fastest aircraft. Other aircraft have flown faster without breaking the official air speed record. This is because they do not comply with FAI rules. For example, experimental high-speed aircraft are often unable to take off under their own power, and require a carrier aircraft.
For a period of time, during and immediately following World War II, the unpublicised absolute speed record of 1004.5 km/h (623.8 mph) set by the Messerschmitt Me 163A third prototype rocket aircraft, on October 2, 1941 was actually the fastest velocity any aircraft had been measured as traveling to that time. That figure, set during wartime, was achieved by the Me 163 A V3 in an essentially air-launched mode, as it was towed behind a Bf 110 from the ground to altitude, to set the record. Many record attempts were stated as being "set" after World War II by such aircraft as the Gloster Meteor, claiming to have exceeded the 755 km/h (469 mph) velocity record of the Messerschmitt Me 209 V1 piston engined aircraft, but none of these so-called "records" actually exceeded the Me 163 A V3's figure, until the Douglas Skystreak did so on August 20, 1947.
The Space Shuttle is the fastest aircraft, but it is unable to take off solely under its own power, requiring two solid rocket boosters during its ascent to orbit. During its ascent through the atmosphere the Shuttle's airspeed is under Mach 2. However, during re-entry it flies into the atmosphere at 17,500 miles per hour because of its residual orbital velocity, making it easily the fastest manned aircraft (in this case a glider).
The Boeing X-43A is the fastest air-breathing aircraft, having set a speed record of 11,200 km/h (7,000 mph), or Mach 9.68, on November 16, 2004. However, it is unmanned, and relies on a carrier aircraft to reach altitude, and a discardable booster rocket to reach the operating speed of its scramjet engine. It is incapable of landing.
The rocket-powered X-15 was the fastest powered, manned aircraft, reaching a top speed of 7,274 km/h (4,510 mph) on October 3, 1967. However, it was a rocket-powered test aircraft incapable of taking off from the ground and was launched at altitude from a carrier aircraft and operated at the margins of the atmosphere.
|1955||unknown||623||1003||Republic XF-84H||propellor driven plane record|
|1967||'Pete' Knight||4510||7258||North American X-15||rocket plane; incapable of breathing air|
|1981-2010||several||Mach 2 on launch
17,500 mph on descent
|NASA's Space Shuttle||rocket boosted, rocket powered glider with disposable tank|
|1986||John Egginton||249.1||401.0||Westland Lynx||helicopter world speed record|
|2004||unmanned||7000||11270||NASA's X-43A||hypersonic scramjet, but unable to take off, unable to land,
requires air launch and is unmanned
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