High-Flying Feats: 5 Amazing Flights in Aviation History
5 Cessna Held the First Place for the Longest Flight
The record for the longest flight ever is held by … a Cessna. That’s right, a tiny little Cessna 172, the plane that looks like a remote-controlled toy until you’re up close to it. And it was set back in the late 1950s. Two pilots, who likely ran out of things to talk about pretty early into the endeavor, flew the little trooper in circles for 64 days without stopping. Their plane was refueled by a truck trundling along underneath it, and food and drink were sent up on a rope. This epic, albeit slow-moving and likely boring as hell, flight was all part of a publicity stunt set up by a Las Vegas casino. The prevailing wisdom must have been “If people hear about a plane that flies for a long time, then they’ll want to … gamble?”
4 Daredevil Felix Baumgartner Beat the World’s Record for Altitude Skydiving
The longest “flight” ever by a human being who didn’t bother to use a plane or spacecraft was achieved recently, in 2012. Daredevil Felix Baumgartner shattered world records for high altitude skydiving when he stepped off a platform suspended more than 128,000 feet in the air. That’s more than 24 miles … straight up. Baumgartner’s free fall lasted more than four minutes. Try sitting perfectly still for that long, and you’ll get some sense of what it was like for him. Except that you won’t actually at all.
3 Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXX – the Fastest flight
On February 5, 1952, a record was set that is unlikely to ever be broken: the fastest ever flight by a piston-engine airplane. With its engine at full power in a steep dive, a Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXX achieved the speed of 690 mph. That’s within 80 mph of breaking the sound barrier in a propeller plane!
2 Thomas Knauff’s Flight
The most amazing non-powered flight in American history was achieved in 1983 by glider pilot Thomas Knauff, who piloted a glider on a journey more than 1,020 miles. That’s more than a third of the way across the entire continental United States without an engine! Not only is his record flight impressive for its distance and duration, but it also scores points for being eco-friendly.
1 Orville and Wilbur Wright’s Flight
The most impressive flight of a powered airplane goes to the granddaddy of them all: In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright changed the history of the world in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina with the successful flight of their aptly named Flyer. Ah, if only they had known that within a few short generations, people would be complaining to flight attendants that their seatback TVs were stuck on MSNBC.