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Top 25 Planes Of All Time

Across all segments of aviation, these 25 airplanes have stood above the rest and have weathered the test of time.

Atlantis on a shuttle carrier aircraft - Top 25 Planes Of All Times

With the tens of thousands of airplane models that have been built and flown since the days of the Brothers Wright, how is it even possible to come up with a list of the greatest planes of them all? 

It’s a fair question, and it’s one we’ve spent a great deal of time discussing before we even embarked upon the journey. At first glance, the exercise seems a bit silly. After all, planes come in so many different shapes and sizes, with an equal number of mission types to match. How could you possibly choose just one? 

But the more we thought about it, the more sense it made to us. To start with, we needed to acknowledge that there are a lot of great airplanes. There are also a lot of historically significant airplanes, which is a more exclusive club, we decided. But finally, there is a level of greatness that you can indeed measure using a few distinct and, in most cases, at least somewhat quantifiable categories, such as how many were built or what its top speed is or how long it was in service. 

But looking at the different kinds of mission types, i.e., training, personal transportation, commercial transportation, fighters, bombers, reconnaissance and more, we decided to narrow things down even more by asking ourselves if there were a top dog among those planes. 

Surprisingly, the answer to that question was often an unequivocal, “Yes!” That surprised us to no end, but the more we reflected upon it, the more we knew it was true. 

So without further ado, we proudly present our list of the Top 25 Planes of All Time. Enjoy! 

Concorde

Concorde
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The inclusion of Concorde on our list of amazing planes will be among the least controversial. Anytime the goal is to do the impossible and you pull it off, well, that deserves recognition. But when you look at what Concorde did to become the world’s only supersonic commercial passenger-carrying aircraft, it’s even more impressive. And it’s remarkable the plane made it into production at all, that the team, composed of British and French groups (itself noteworthy for its degree of difficulty) overcame huge aerodynamic, regulatory, legal, environmental, human-factor and commercial hurdles to build a Mach 2.02 commercial airliner. Was it a commercial success? Hardly. It was subsidized throughout its service life because, with its combination of limited available routings (since it couldn’t overfly land at supersonic speeds), low passenger capacity (a maximum of 128 passengers, though most carried closer to 100), too-loud engines and very high fuel usage, it wasn’t a winning commercial or environmental proposition. Its technical achievements, however, are mind-blowing, such as anti-skid brakes, a droop nose for better visibility when landing, full-time autothrottle and autopilot, fly-by-wire flight controls and in-flight fuel distribution to combat CG changes in flight. All that, and it’s one of the most beautiful airplanes ever built.

Photo via Shutterstock


Do you want more great airplane lists? Take a look at “10 Cheapest Planes In The Sky,” “10 (More) Cheapest Planes In The Sky,” and “8 Great Used Planes.”

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