While we can name hundreds of really smart, powerful, utilitarian or awesome airplanes, there are far, far fewer of them that we would call truly beautiful. Beauty in an airplane comes from a symmetry of components, a coherent identity and a compelling presence. While you might come up with an airplane or five you think we should have included, we doubt you'll find fault with the ones that did make the cut.
Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde is a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger jet airliner. It featured a maximum speed over twice the speed of sound at Mach 2.04, with seating for 92 to 128 passengers. First flown in 1969, Concorde entered service in 1976 and continued commercial flights for 27 years until 2003.
Lockheed ConstellationLockheed Constellation
Another Kelly Johnson creation, and instigated by TWA's major shareholder, Howard Hughes, the 'Connie' was produced from 1943 until 1958 in several variants, first as the Constellation and then in stretched form as the Super Constellation. They could fly up to 5,400 miles, and cruised at 295 knots/340 mph, and at altitudes usually around 20,000 ft
Lockheed SR-71 BlackbirdLockheed SR-71 Blackbird
Another extraordinary creation by Kelly Johnson, the true capabilities of this plane are still not fully known, but it could fly faster and higher than any other plane and evade missiles. Some people suggest it exceeded 100,000 ft in altitude and could exceed Mach 3.5.
Dassault RafaleDassault Rafale
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, and nuclear strike missions.
Vickers VC10Vickers VC10
The British-built VC10 is perhaps the most beautiful sub-sonic jet airliner ever built, an elegant machine with perfect, sweeping lines. It was the only western airliner to ever use a rear-mounted, 4-engine configuration, a defining feature that accentuated its uncluttered, streamlined look. The VC10 entered airline service in April 1964 but was not a big success; only 54 were built and the last was retired by British Airways in 1981.
F-22 RaptorF-22 Raptor
The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a single-seat, twin-engine, all weather stealth tactical fighter aircraft developed for theUnited States Air Force (USAF). The result of the USAF’s Advanced Tactical Fighter program, the aircraft was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities including ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles.
Supermarine SpitfireSupermarine Spitfire
The WW2 fighter plane that 'won the Battle of Britain' with distinctive elliptical wings, giving it better performance than traditional wing designs, due to its original role not as a fighter plane but a racing plane.
Learjet 85Learjet 85
The Learjet 85 fits between the midsize and the super midsize segments of the market. It is the first Bombardier Aerospace business jet to feature a composite structure. The plane is expected to have a high-speed cruise of Mach 0.82 and a transcontinental range of up to 3,000 nautical miles (5,600 km).
The French-built Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle just might be the sexiest airliner of all time. It possessed a certain intangible, indefinable mystique; even the name was sexy. Was it the curves of the fuselage? The unusual rounded triangular windows? The one-of-a-kind tail? We can't explain it and we really don't care to analyze it; the Caravelle was simply gorgeous and that's that.
Piaggio Aero AvantiPiaggio Aero Avanti
The Piaggio P180 Avanti is an Italian executive transport aircraft with twin turboprop engines mounted in pusher configuration. It seats up to nine passengers in a pressurized cabin, and may be flown by one or two pilots. The design is ofthree-surface configuration, having both a small forward wing and a conventional tail plane as well as its main wing, with the wing spars passing outside of the passenger cabin area.