From the Wright Brothers’ first powered flights during 1903, the evolution of aircraft has been swift and stunning. As aviation pioneers, thereon, demonstrated their aeronautic inventions, it was clear that the progression of more complicated and more sophisticated air-borne machines was undeniably unstoppable.
According to the International Air Transport Association, nearly 4 billion passengers flew through the friendly skies in 2017; and that was on just commercial flights. A myriad of other types of planes share the heavens, too; and here are five types of aircraft that offer their own design and purpose.
Planes of a military nature can boast of being the most sophisticated and fastest aircraft in the skies. It should come as no surprise that America’s military planes are the most advanced since they are designed to not only attack enemy locations on land and water using impact bombs and computer-controlled missiles, but some can perform feats such as vertical take-offs, namely, the McDonnell-Douglas Harrier which does not require a runway. Then, there is the F/A-18 Hornet which can be dispatched from military bases and US aircraft carriers and has a combat radius exceeding 900 km. Having the capacity to fly at supersonic speeds, the F/A-18 can be fitted with missiles and laser-guided bombs.
Business jets are extremely popular aircraft for corporations who wish to fly VIPs across continents and across the seas, offering luxurious amenities. Business jets vary in size and can accommodate 7 people, like the Learjet 354A, and much larger versions would include Canada’s Global 7000, the largest jet ever designed for corporate use. It comes in with a price-tag of $73 million and offers four living spaces, a permanent rest area for crew members, and can comfortably cater to 19 passengers.
Smallest Private Planes
Some plane manufacturers have a passion for creating the tiniest metal birds one could imagine. The one-seater Cri-Cri is the smallest electric plane, in the world. This cutie twin-engined aircraft reaches a top speed of 137 mph with a wingspan of only 16′ 1”. It weighs a mere 185 pounds, has a pair of two-stroke 15-horsepower engines, and climbs at 1,000 fpm. An electric version is powered by lithium ion batteries. Acceleration of the Cri Cri is swift, leaving the ground quickly at about 50 mph and climbing at 75 mph and 1,000+ fpm.
Light Sport Planes
Light sport aircraft are types of planes that are not only small in size, but are simple to fly. They, like all aircraft, must meet weight and performance regulations, as established by the National Aviation Authority. A few of the FAA guidelines that define light sport planes include: 1) maximum gross takeoff weight of 1,320 lbs 2) maximum stall speed of 51 mph 3) maximum of 2 passengers – including the pilot 4) maximum speed of 138 mph in level flight and 5) a propeller that is fixed-pitch or ground adjustable.
Light sport planes get credit for generating America’s love affair with general aviation that began in the 1930’s and post-war 1940’s. Their minimalist design is appealing since they are easy to repair; and they are, largely, affordable. From vintage Piper Cubs to Aeronca Champs and Luscombes, light sport planes cater to pilots who ‘just wanna have fun with flying!’
Sail planes are a type of glider aircraft used for sport purposes. These planes are aerodynamically streamlined so they can gain altitude when operated in rising air. The long, thin wings help to produce the least amount of drag for any given amount of lift; and the narrow cockpit and thinly-shaped fuselage contribute to minimal drag, as well.
Sailplanes are soaring aircraft that require being towed by another aircraft to a predetermined location, and then cast off. Towing is necessary since sailplanes have no engines, yet, can glide great distances at high speed, in still air. When aero-towed to the desired altitude, an attached rope about 200 feet in length is simply released to allow the sail plane to do what it does best: soar the skies like an eagle!