10 Most Famous Aircraft in the World

When picking through the rich history of aviation, it can be difficult to select from just ten aircraft that have played the biggest roles.  However, I recently came across an article from privatefly.com that presents a top 10 rundown of the world’s most famous aircraft:

Wright Brothers plane

The Wright Flyer: As the plane that performed the world’s first-ever powered flight back in 1903, it’s no surprise that this plane would make the list.  It was built with spruce wood, with the engine and other parts all made by hand.  To fly the plane, Wilbur Wright had to lay on his stomach on the lower wing to reduce drag, with the steering controlled with a hip cradle that pulled wires to warp the wings.

Concorde airplane

Concorde: Widely recognized as one of the most significant aircrafts in aviation history, this supersonic airliner, the first of its kind in world history, allowed passengers to travel across the Atlantic in just 3 ½ hours.  It entered service in 1976, and continued commercial operations for British Airways and Air France until 2003.  The Concorde featured a pointed, adjustable nose that allowed it to achieve optimum aerodynamic efficiency in flight while also allowing the flight crew a full view during take-off and landing.

Air Force One plane

Air Force One: While it’s been immortalized as a symbol of American power, the Air Force One isn’t any specific aircraft, but rather an air traffic control call sign most often used by the private aircraft designated to transport the President.  However, this call sign can be used by any US Air Force aircraft while the President is on board.  The term was first developed in 1953 after a security glitch occurred when Eisenhower’s plane entered the same airspace as a commercial airliner with the same call sign.  Several different aircraft have been used as Air Force One since, with Boeing now the exclusive manufacturer of choice.

Supermarine Spitfire

Supermarine Spitfire: Designed by RJ Mitchell of meet the RAF’s need for a new fighter aircraft, this is arguably one of the most universally respected and loved aircraft in the world.  It first flew in 1936, and was produced in greater numbers than any British aircraft before it.  It’s most famous for its role in securing British air superiority in World War II, winning the hearts of the British public.

Airbus A380

Airbus A380: Nicknamed the “Superjumbo”, this is currently the largest passenger airliner in the world, that can carry up to 853 passengers in a double-deck seating configuration.  Designed by manufacturer Airbus to challenge Boeing’s monopoly, it entered commercial service in October 2007.  Its huge size meant that specially-designed ships, barges and roads had to be built for surface transportation.  The A380 features highly innovative passenger provisions and pilot technology, along with an avionics suite based on that of advanced military aircraft.

Charles Lindbergh Spirit of St Louis

Spirit of St. Louis: When he made the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1927, Charles Lindbergh made this plane famous.  One of the most fuel-efficient and aerodynamic designs of its time, the aircraft was designed by Ryan Airlines and named after Lindbergh’s hometown of St. Louis.  The fuel tanks were at the front of the plane to improve safety and balance, although this meant that there couldn’t be a front windshield in the tiny cockpit, so a periscope was needed to provide front visibility.

Amelia Earhart Lockheed 5B

Lockheed Vega 5b: When Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly non-stop across the Atlantic, she made the six-seater monoplane famous.  At the time, that specific design was a popular choice for record attempts due to its long-range and rugged design.

Gulfstream GIV plane

Gulfstream GIV: As the first truly global business jet, the Gulfstream IV has a special place in the hearts of all aviation enthusiasts.  After its 1987 launch, it became a firm favorite, with an unmatched range that allowed private jet passengers to travel anywhere in the world with just one fuel stop.

Cessna Citation XL

Cessna Citation XL: Since its first flight in early 1996, the Citation XL revolutionized the private aircraft market by offering a cost-effective competitor to the twin turboprop aircraft.  It quickly won the hearts of private jet passengers and aircraft operators due to its speed, high passenger capacity and relative low cost in comparison to its competitors.


SpaceShipTwo: With its open cabin and large viewing windows, this suborbital spacecraft is a leader in the race to take commercial air passengers into space.  It might still be in testing, and if the October 2014 crash is to be believed, still has some kinks to work out, but the thought of taking a flight into outer space is exciting indeed.