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The Top 10 Planes Of All Time: WARNING: This List Goes To 11.

No holds barred. If it flies in the air with a pilot at the controls, it qualifies. This list plays no favorites, takes no nostalgia into account. And we guarantee that you’ll hate some of these. Nevertheless, we proudly present our list of the most outrageously great planes ever.

Neil Armstrong with a North American X-15
Neil Armstrong, who in 1969 became the first human to set foot on the moon, posing with the rocket-powered North American X-15, the fastest powered atmospheric aircraft to ever take wing. In 1962, Armstrong flew the X-15 at nearly 4,000 mph. In August of 1963, Joe Walker flew the X-15 to an altitude of nearly 350,000 feet, a feat for which NASA awarded Walker astronaut wings.
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Two of the most popular questions, at least for pilots and other students of aviation history, are: What are the top 10 planes of all time, and which one’s the greatest of them all? 

Seems impossible, but we think we did it. Here’s how. 

We started with a group of really great airplanes, which automatically turned into cross section of airplane types.   

Then we narrowed things down even more by asking if there was a top dog among them. Usually, surprisingly, there was. That one made the list.

We think you’ll agree with at least two-thirds of our picks. 

After our Top 10 Planes Of All Time, we present 25 others that a lot of you will argue belong on the main list. In many cases, you’d have a strong argument. Enjoy! 

6. North American X-15

6. North American X-15
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North American X-15

It’s impossible not to include on this list the fastest and highest-flying plane of all time, though there were two things about it that we weren’t crazy about: It didn’t take off by itself, and it was a glider for most of its trip. The North American X-15, as was the case for the Bell X-1, which was the first supersonic airplane, was launched by a mother ship. The X-15’s boost was courtesy of a Boeing B-52 specially outfitted to carry the X-15 aloft. But apart from that, this thing is mind-bogglingly awesome. It holds the record for the fastest aircraft—in fact, it holds all 199 top spots. In climb, it was faster than the next-fastest plane ever, the SR71, was in level flight. It was also the highest-flying plane ever, with a ceiling of better than 350,000 feet. Several of its dozen pilots earned astronaut wings for their flights. After the X-15 ran out of fuel, it became, like the Space Shuttle, a really bad glider. Landings were made on Rogers Dry Lake on skids at about 200 mph. Its pilots call the X-15 the most challenging and rewarding plane they ever flew.

Margin of error: Zero. Contenders: You’re joking, right?

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