With so many different airplanes making their mark in history to shape the modern landscape of aircraft that we have available today, we have taken a look at our list of the ten most impactful airplanes that transformed aviation. From the early flight by the Wright Brother and their Wright 1905 airplane to key military aircraft such as the B-29 and the MiG-15 to personal and commercial planes such as the Learjet23 and the Boeing 747, our list covers aircraft spanning all types of uses. Take a look at our top ten airplanes that transformed aviation throughout history:


Have an airplane you thought should have made our list, but didn’t? Let us know in the comments section below!

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10 Airplanes That Transformed Aviation

1. Wright 1905

Description: The Wright 1905 was the world’s first practical airplane. In modern parlance, the 1905 Wright Flyer constituted a pre-production prototype for subsequent Wright production designs—and a template for the world’s aircraft that followed.


  • Year introduced: 1905
  • Uses: Prototype
  • National origin: United States
  • Top speed: 30 mph (48 km/h)

2. Junkers F13

Description: The F13 was essentially the first aircraft to anticipate the onset of ‘modern’ air transport. It is the first practical cantilever (internally braced) wing aeroplane. The Junkers adopted the thick wing, which produced greater lift and enabled construction of cantilever wings. More than 300 Junkers F13 were delivered around the world, and it spawned a series of similar-looking descendants.


  • Year introduced: 1919
  • Uses: Passenger transport
  • National origin: Germany
  • Number Built: 322
  • Range: 1,400 km (870 mi; 756 nm)
  • Top speed: 107 mph (173 km/h)

3. Spirit of St. Louis

Description: The Spirit of St. Louis (Registration: N-X-211) is the custom built, single engine, single-seat monoplane that was flown solo by Charles Lindbergh on May 20-21, 1927, on the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris for which Lindbergh won the $25,000 Orteig Prize.


  • Cost to build: $10,580 (equivalent to $144,932 in 2015)
  • Year introduced: 1927
  • Uses: Long-range aircraft (record attempt)
  • National origin: United States
  • Number Built: 1
  • Range: 4,100 mi (6,600 km)
  • Top speed: 133 mph (214 km/h)

4. The Enola Gay (B-29)

Description: The B-29 was the world’s first nuclear-capable aircraft. This plane was used to drop the first atomic bomb to the city of Hiroshima. It also was the first with a pressurized compartment for the flight crew. It also was the first U.S. bomber with an integrated radar to supplement its Norden bombsight.


  • Year introduced: 1945
  • Uses: Military (Superfortress)
  • National origin: United States
  • Number Built: 3,970
  • Range: 2,900 mi (4,670 km)
  • Top speed: 365 mph (588 km/h)

5. Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15

Description: The MiG-15 was one of the first successful jet fighters to incorporate swept wings to achieve high transonic speeds. The MiG-15 is believed to have been one of the most widely produced jet aircraft ever made; in excess of 12,000 were manufactured.


  • Year introduced: 1947
  • Uses: Military (fighter)
  • National origin: Soviet Union
  • Number Built: ~12,000 + ~6,000 under licence
  • Range: 1,240 km (771 mi; 670 nm)
  • Top speed:
    • 1,059 km/h (572 knots; 658 mph) at sea level
    • 1,033 km/h (558 knots; 642 mph) at 5,000 m (16,000 ft)
    • 992 km/h (536 knots; 616 mph) at 10,000 m (33,000 ft)

6. Bell XS-1

Description: The X-1 was the first manned airplane to exceed the speed of sound in level flight and was the first of the so-called X-planes, a series of American experimental rocket planes designated for testing new technologies and often kept secret.


  • Year introduced: 1946
  • Uses: Experimental rocket plane
  • National origin: United States
  • Number Built: 4 (1 cancelled)
  • Flight Legnth: 5 minutes (powered endurance)
  • Top speed: 957 mph (Mach 1.26) (1,541 km/h)

7. Cessna 172

Description: The Cessna 172 is the most successful mass-produced light aircraft ever, with some 36,000 built and still counting. This 172 model has a lowered rear deck allowing an aft window, which is called as “Omni-Vision”. A Cessna 172 was used in 1958 to set the world record for flight endurance; the record still stands.


  • Cost to build: US$8,700 (1956)
  • Year introduced: 1956
  • Uses: Civil General Aviation
  • National origin: United States
  • Number built: ~43,000
  • Range: 696 nm with 45 minute reserve
  • Top speed: 122 knots (140 mph; 226 km/h)

8. Learjet 23

Description: Introduced in 1964, it was Learjet’s first model and created a completely new market for fast and efficient business aircraft. This jet has set a new class of aircraft, “the personal jet”. The first Learjet was called the model 23 because it was certificated under Federal Aviation Regulations Part 23. The Learjet evolved from a Swiss P16 fighter jet.


  • Year introduced: 1963
  • Uses: Business Jet (Private, Military)
  • National origin: United States
  • Number Built: 104
  • Range: 1,830 mi (1,591 nm, 2,945 km)
  • Top speed: 561 mph (488 knots, 903 km/h, Mach 0.82)

9. Boeing 747

Description: Nearly 40 years after its first flight, it remains, along with the photograph of Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon, the most recognizable symbol of U.S. engineering brilliance. Since it entered service in 1970, 96 carriers around the world have used the wide-bodies to fly 3.5 billion people to their destinations.


  • Year introduced: 1969
  • Uses: Passenger airliner, Military aircraft
  • National origin: United States
  • Number Built: 1,520 as of February 29, 2016
  • Range: 5,300 nm – 8,000 nm
  • Top speed:
    • 100B, 200B, 300: Mach 0.89 (594 mph, 955 km/h, 516 knots)
    • 400, 400ER, 8I: Mach 0.855 (614 mph, 988 km/h, 533 knots)

10. Douglas DC-1

Description: The Douglas DC-1 was the first model of the famous United States DC (Douglas Commercial) commercial transport aircraft series. Although only one example of the DC-1 was produced, the design was the basis for the DC-2 and DC-3.


  • Year introduced: 1933
  • Uses: Prototype and testbed
  • National origin: United States
  • Number Built: 1
  • Range: 1,000 mi (870 nm, 1,610 km)
  • Top speed: 210 mph (183 knots, 338 km/h)