Records

The Absolute World Speed Record

Before WW1 there were no regulated distances or altitudes for absolute world speed records, and records were often set on closed courses. Between 1920 and 1923 the regulated distance was 1 kilometre, at less than 100 meters above the ground. This course had to be covered four consecutive times, twice in each direction. 1923 – 1953 the regulated distance was extended to 3 kilometres, since the measured times got too short for accurate measurments with the equipment of the time - less than ten seconds. After 1953 a distance between 15 and 25 kilometres at any altitude was allowed as an alternative to the low-level 3 km runs. This course has to be covered twice in opposite directions. After 1955 all absolute world speed records have been set over a high-altitude 15/25 kilometre courses.

The Absolute Speed Records list below also contains FAI homologated records for longer distances, when those records were faster than the contemporary Absolute records. Absolute records are indicated by bold font, while "non-absolute" records are indicated by normal font. Seaplanes are indicated by an asterisk (*).

You will notice that the exact speed figures might differ between this and other published record lists. We don't claim that this list is accurate in all respects, but the most accurate sources have been used, and the conversion between km/h and mph has been done to seven figures of accuracy. Even the FAI itself messed up the calculations a couple of times! Most of the data comes from works by Ferdinand Käsmann.

Record speed figures are usually given with several decimals in tables of this type. This is a rather ridiculous practice, since neither the distances or the times used for calculating the speeds have ever been measured to this accuracy. In order to give this accuracy distances would need to be measured to centimetres and times to ten-thousands of seconds. This has never been done. A reasonable accuracy for the figures is probably only to the nearest whole km/h or mph.

Apart from the list presented below there is also a complete PDF format list (155 kB), containing more model-oriented data. We need your assistance for filling that list with information. If you have any information that you think should be added or corrected, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Much of the work on the lists was done by Keith Davidson – a big thanks!

Absolute Speed Records

km/h mph Date Aircraft Pilot
41.300 25.663 12 nov 1906 Santos-Dumont Type 14bis Alberto Santos-Dumont
52.768 32.789 26 oct 1907 Voisin-Farman I Henry Farman
54.795 34.048 20 may 1909 Wright A Paul Tissandier
69.822 43.385 23 aug 1909 Curtiss Reims Flyer Glenn Curtiss
74.319 46.180 24 aug 1909 Blériot XII Loius Blériot
76.956 47.818 28 aug 1909 Blériot XII Loius Blériot
77.409 48.099 23 apr 1910 Antoinette VII Herbert Latham
106.509 66.182 10 jul 1910 Blériot XI Léon Morane
109.756 68.199 29 oct 1910 Blériot XI bis Alfred Leblanc
111.801 69.470 12 apr 1911 Blériot XI bis Alfred Leblanc
119.760 74.416 11 may 1911 Nieuport II N Edouard de Niéport
125.000 77.671 12 jun 1911 Blériot XXIII Alfred Leblanc
130.058 80.814 16 jun 1911 Nieuport II G Edouard de Niéport
133.136 82.727 21 jun 1911 Nieuport II G Edouard de Niéport
145.161 90.199 13 jan 1912 Deperdussin Course Jules Védrines
161.290 100.220 22 feb 1912 Deperdussin Course Jules Védrines
162.455 100.945 29 feb 1912 Deperdussin Course Jules Védrines
166.821 103.658 1 mar 1912 Deperdussin Course Jules Védrines
167.910 104.335 2 mar 1912 Deperdussin Course Jules Védrines
170.778 106.117 13 jul 1912 Deperdussin Course Jules Védrines
173.098 107.558 9 sep 1912 Deperdussin Course Jules Védrines
179.820 111.735 17 jun 1913 Deperdussin Course Maurice Prévost
191.898 119.240 27 sep 1913 Deperdussin Course Maurice Prévost
203.851 126.667 29 sep 1913 Deperdussin Course Maurice Prévost
275.862 171.413 7 feb 1920 Nieuport 29V Sadi Lecointe
283.465 176.137 28 feb 1920 SPAD-Herbemont S.20 bis4 Jean Casale
292.683 181.865 9 oct 1920 SPAD-Herbemont S.20 bis6 Bernard de Romanet
297.521 184.871 10 oct 1920 Nieuport 29V bis Sadi Lecointe
302.521 187.978 20 oct 1920 Nieuport 29V bis Sadi Lecointe
309.013 192.012 4 nov 1920 SPAD-Herbemont S.20 bis6 Bernard de Romanet
313.043 194.516 12 dec 1920 Nieuport 29V bis Sadi Lecointe
330.275 205.224 26 sep 1921 Nieuport-Delage Sesquiplan Sadi Lecointe
341.232 212.032 21 sep 1922 Nieuport-Delage Sesquiplan Sadi Lecointe
358.923 223.025 18 oct 1922 Curtiss R-6 William Mitchell
375.000 233.014 15 feb 1923 Nieuport-Delage Sesquiplan Sadi Lecointe
380.751 236.588 29 mar 1923 Curtiss R-6 Russell Maughan
392.379 243.813 3 oct 1923 Curtiss R2C-1 Alford Williams
417.590 259.478 2 nov 1923 Curtiss R2C-1 Harold Brow
429.025 266.584 4 nov 1923 Curtiss R2C-1 Alford Williams
448.133 278.457 1 dec 1924 Bernard V.2 Florentin Bonnet
456.506 283.660 26 sep 1927 Supermarine S.5* Sidney Webster
479.290 297.817 4 nov 1927 Macchi M.52* Mario de Bernardi
512.776 318.624 30 mar 1928 Macchi M.52R* Mario de Bernardi
535.090 332.490 7 sep 1929 Supermarine S.6* RLR Atcherley
665.798 407.494 29 sep 1931 Supermarine S.6B* George Stainforth
682.078 423.824 10 apr 1933 Macchi MC.72* Francesco Agello
709.209 440.682 23 oct 1934 Macchi MC.72* Francesco Agello
746.606 463.919 30 mar 1939 Heinkel He 100 V8 Hans Dieterle
755.138 469.221 26 apr 1939 Messerschmitt Me 209 V1 Fritz Wendel
975.464 606.125 7 nov 1945 Gloster Meteor Mk IV Hugh Wilson
990.786 615.646 7 sep 1946 Gloster Meteor Mk IV Edward Donaldson
1003.594 623.604 19 jun 1947 Lockheed P-80R "Racey" Albert Boyd
1030.820 640.522 20 aug 1947 Douglas D-558 Skystreak Turner Caldwell
1047.130 650.656 25 aug 1947 Douglas D-558 Skystreak Marion Carl
1079.600 670.832 15 sep 1948 North American F-86A Sabre Richard Johnson
1124.137 698.506 19 nov 1952 North American F-86D Sabre James Nash
1151.883 715.747 16 jul 1953 North American F-86D Sabre William Barnes
1170.760 727.477 7 sep 1953 Hawker Hunter F.3 Neville Duke
1184.000 735.703 25 sep 1953 Supermarine Swift F.4 Michael Lithgow
1211.746 752.944 3 oct 1953 Douglas XF4D-1 Skyray James Verdin
1215.298 755.151 29 oct 1953 North American YF-100A Frank Everest
1323.312 822.268 20 aug 1955 North American F-100C Horace Hanes
1822.000 1132.138 10 mar 1956 Fairey FD.2 Delta 2 Peter Twiss
1943.500 1207.635 12 dec 1957 McDonnell F-101A Voodoo Adrian Drew
2259.538 1404.012 16 may 1958 Lockheed YF-104A Starfighter Walter Irwin
2388.000 1483.834 31 oct 1959 Mikoyan E-66 Georgi Mossolov
2455.736 1525.924 15 dec 1959 Convair F-106A Delta Dart Joseph Rogers
2585.425 1606.509 22 nov 1961 McDonnell XF4H-1 Phantom Robert Robinson
2681.000 1665.896 7 jul 1962 Mikoyan E-166 Georgi Mossolov
3331.507 2070.102 1 may 1965 Lockheed YF-12A Robert Stephens
3367.221 2092.294 27 jul 1976 Lockheed SR-71A Adolphus Bledsoe
3529.000 2192.819 28 jul 1976 Lockheed SR-71A Eldon Joersz

Landplane records while absolute records held by seaplanes

km/h mph Date Aircraft Pilot
473.820 294.418 3 sep 1932 Gee Bee R-1 James Doolittle
490.080 304.522 4 sep 1933 Wedell-Willams "44" James Wedell
505.848 314.319 25 dec 1934 Caudron C-460 Raymond Delmotte
567.115 352.389 13 sep 1935 Hughes 1B "H-1" Howard Hughes
610.950 379.627 11 nov 1937 Messerschmitt Bf 109 V13 Herman Wurster
634.473 394.243 5 jun 1938 Heinkel He 100 V2 Ernst Udet

Piston-powered records while absolute records held by jets

km/h mph Date Aircraft Pilot
755.668
(xxx km)
469.550 10 dec 1947 North American P-51B Jaqueline Cochran
776.449
(3 km)
482.463 16 aug 1969 Grumman F8F-2 "Conquest I" Darryl Greenamyer
803.152
(3 km)
499.059 14 aug 1979 North Amer. RB-51 "Red Baron" Steve Hinton
832.120
(15/25 km)
517.056 30 sep 1983 North Amer. P-51D "Dago Red" Frank Taylor
850.263
(3 km)
528.329 21 aug 1989 Grumman F8F-2 "Rare Bear" Lyle Shelton

3 km records while absolute records held at high altitude

km/h mph Date Aircraft Pilot
1452.777 902.719 28 aug 1961 McDonnell YF4H-1F Hunt Hardesty
1590.450 988.260 24 oct 1977 Lockheed F-104RB "Red Baron" Darryl Greenamyer

Seaplane records while absolute records held by landplanes, and some non-FAI-homologated absolute records held by seaplanes

km/h mph Date Aircraft Pilot
280.155 174.080 28 dec 1922 Savoia S-51* A. Passalova
302.684 188.079 25 oct 1924 Curtiss CR-3* G.T. Cuddihy
364.924 226.753 13 sep 1925 Supermarine S.4* Henry Biard
395.439 245.714 27 oct 1925 Curtiss R3C-2* James Doolittle
416.618 258.874 17 nov 1926 Macchi M.39* Mario de Bernardi
541.100 336.224 10 sep 1929 Gloster VI* George Stainforth
575.700 357.723 12 sep 1929 Supermarine S.6* A.H. Orlebar