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Aircraft record-holders

Bell X-1Bell X-1The first aircraft to fly faster than sound in level flight was the rocket-powered aeroplane, Bell X-1, nicknamed "Glamorous Glennis". On 14th October 1947 Chuck Yeager (born 1923) of the US Air Force flew the plane at a speed of 1126 km/h (699 mph) 13,700 metres (45,000 feet) above the Mojave Desert in California, USA. Although the speed of sound is 360.8 metres per second, or 1299 km/h (807 mph), at sea level, it is actually lower at high altitudes where the air is cooler.

X-15 in flightX-15 in flight

Fastest aircraft

On 3rd October 1967 US pilot William Knight flew a rocket-powered plane at a speed of 7274 km/h (4518 mph)—nearly seven times the speed of sound. This aircraft, the X-15, could not take off from the ground and was carried aloft underneath a large transporter plane. When the transporter reached its maximum altitude, the X-15’s rocket engines ignited and it blasted away to the record.

The Dornier Do-X flying boat was the largest plane of its day when it first flew in 1929. Equipped with 12 engines, it strained to reach a maximum altitude of 500 m (1640 ft) when fully loaded.

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