Flight altitude record: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

These are the records set for going the highest in the atmosphere from the age of ballooning onward. Some records are certified by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.


Fixed-Wing Aircraft

Year Date Altitude Person Aircraft Power Notes
imperial metric
1903 December 17, 1903 10 ft m Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright Wright Flyer propeller Record uncertified. The Wrights made hundreds of flights with increasing altitude in 1904 and 1905, none witnessed by an official body.
1906 October 23, 1906 10 ft 3 m Alberto Santos-Dumont 14-bis propeller First officially witnessed and certified flight.
1906 November 12, 1906 13 ft 4 m Alberto Santos-Dumont 14-bis propeller
1908 December 18, 1908 360 ft 110 m Wilbur Wright Biplane propeller at Auovors
1909 July 1909 492 ft 150 m Louis Paulhan Farman propeller Douai Air Show
1909 3,018 ft 920 m Louis Paulhan Farman propeller Lyon
1910 January 9, 1910 4,164 ft 1,269 m Louis Paulhan Farman propeller Los Angeles air meet [1]
1910 June 17, 1910 4,603 ft 1,403 m Walter Brookins Wright biplane propeller Washington Post; June 18, 1910; Indianapolis, Indiana, June 17, 1910. Walter Brookins, in a Wright biplane, broke the world's aeroplane record for altitude today, when he soared to a height of 4,603 feet (1,403 m), according to the measurement of the altimeter. His motor stopped as he was descending, and he made a glide of 2 miles (3.2 km), landing easily in a wheat field.
1910 October 30, 1910 8,471 ft 2,582 m Ralph Johnstone Wright biplane propeller International Aviation Tournament was at the Belmont Park race track in Elmont, New York [2]
1912 June 21, 1912 900 ft 270 m Curtiss A-1 propeller seaplane record [1]
1932 16 September 43,976 ft 13,407 m Cyril Unwins Vickers Vespa propeller
1936 28 September 49,967 ft 15,230 m Sqn Ldr Francis Ronald Swain Bristol Type 138 propeller
1938 30 June 53,937 ft 16,440 m M J Adam Bristol Type 138 propeller
1938 22 October 56,850 ft 17,083 m Lt.Col Mario Pezzi Caproni Ca.161 propeller record to date
1957 28 August 1957 70,310 ft 21,430 m Mike Randrup English Electric Canberra B.2 With Scorpion Rocket Motor Turbojet plane
5 years of records go here.
1962 17 July 1962 59.6 mi 95.9 km Robert Michael White X-15 rocket plane
1963 19 July 1963 65.8 mi 105.9 km Joseph Albert Walker X-15 rocket plane
1963 22 August 1963 66.9 mi 107.7 km Joseph Albert Walker X-15 rocket plane
2001 13 August 2001 18.3 mi 29.5 km unmanned Helios propeller solar-electric aircraft - record for non-rocket plane
2004 4 October 2004 69.6 mi 112.0 km Brian Binnie SpaceShipOne rocket plane

Piston-driven propeller aeroplane

The highest altitude obtained in a piston-driven propeller aeroplane (without a payload) was 17,083 m (56,047 ft) on October 22, 1938 by Mario Pezzi at Montecelio, Italy in a Caproni Ca.161 driven by a Piaggio XI R.C. engine.

The highest altitude for horizontal flight without a payload is 14,301 m (46,919 ft) set on November 15, 2003 by Bruce Bohannan flying his Bohannon B-1 driven by a Mattituck/Lycoming IO-540 (350 hp) engine over Angleton, Texas.

Jet plane

The highest current world absolute general aviation altitude record -General Aviation World Records- achieved by a manned air-breathing jet propelled aircraft is 37,650 meters (123,523 feet) set by Alexandr Fedotov, in a Mikoyan Gurevitch E-266M (MiG-25M), on 31 August 1977.

The highest American altitude obtained by a manned air-breathing jet propelled aircraft is 103,000 ft (31,394 m) by the Streak Eagle aircraft. The highest such altitude obtained in level flight is 25,929 m (85,069 ft) set by Robert C. Helt and Larry A. Elliott, in a Lockheed SR-71, on 28 July 1976.

Rocket plane

The highest altitude obtained by a manned aeroplane (launched from another aircraft) is 111,996 m (367,441 ft) by Brian Binnie in the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne (powered by a Scaled Composite SD-010 engine with 18,000 lb of thrust) on 4 October 2004 at Mojave, CA. The previous (unofficial) record was 107,960 m (354,199 ft) set by Joseph A. Walker in an X-15 on August 22, 1963.

The highest altitude obtained by a rocket propelled aeroplane (self-launched—i.e. not launched from another aircraft) was 24,217 m (79,452 ft) on May 2, 1958 by Roger Carpentier over Istres, France in a Sud-Ouest Trident II aircraft.

All balloons

(see discussion page for correct altitude values)

  • 1783—August—24 m (79 ft); Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier of France, made the first ascent in a hot-air balloon.
  • 1783—1 December 1783—2.7 km (8,900 ft); Jacques Alexandre Charles and his assistant Marie-Noel Robert, both of France, made the first flight in a hydrogen balloon to about 610 m. Charles then ascended alone to the record altitude.
  • 1784—4 km (13,000 ft) Pilâtre de Rozier and the chemist Proust in a Montgolfier.
  • 1803—18 July 1803—7.28 km (23,900 ft) Etienne Gaspar Robertson and Lhoest in a balloon.
  • 1839—7.9 km (26,000 ft) Charles Green and Spencer Rush in a free balloon.
  • 1862—5 September 1862—11.887 km (39,000 ft)—Coxwell and Glaisher in a balloon. Both lost consciousness during the ascent due to the low air pressure and cold temperature of −11 °C (12 °F).
  • 1927—4 November 1927—13.222 km (43,380 ft)—Captain Hawthorne C. Gray of the (United States Army Air Corps) in a helium balloon. Gray dies when he exhausts his oxygen.
  • 1931—27 May 1931—15.787 km (51,790 ft)—Auguste Piccard & Paul Kipfer in a hydrogen balloon.
  • 1932—16.2 km (53,000 ft)—Auguste Piccard and Max Cosyns in a hydrogen balloon.
  • 1933 30 September—18.501 km (60,700 ft) USSR balloon USSR-1.
  • 1933—20 November—18.592 km (61,000 ft) Lt. Comdr. Thomas G. W. Settle (USN) and Maj Chester L. Fordney (USMC) in Century of Progress balloon
  • 1934—30 January—21.946 km (72,000 ft) USSR balloon Osoaviakhim-1. Pilots killed in crash.
  • 1935—10 November—22.066 km (72,400 ft) Captain O. A. Anderson and Captain A. W. Stevens (United States Army Air Corps) ascended in the Explorer II gondola from the Statobowl, near Rapid City, South Dakota, for a flight that last 8 hours 13 minutes and covered 362 kilometres (225 mi).
  • 1956—8 November—23.165 km (76,000 ft) Malcolm D. Ross and M. L. Lewis (United States Navy) in ONR Strato-Lab I, using a pressurized gondola and plastic balloon developed by Winzen Research, taking off near Rapid City, South Dakota, and landing 282 km (175 mi) away near Kennedy, Nebraska.
  • 1957—2 June—29.4997 km (96,784 ft) Captain Joseph W. Kittinger (United States Air Force) ascended in the Manhigh 1 gondola to a record-breaking altitude.
  • 1957—19 November—31.212 km (102,400 ft) above sea level, Major David Simons (United States Air Force) ascended from the Portsmouth Mine near Crosby, Minnesota in the Manhigh 2 gondola for a 32-hour record-breaking flight. Simons landed at 5:32 PM on 20 November, in an alfalfa field in northeast South Dakota.
  • 1960—16 August—Joseph Kittinger parachutes from Excelsior III over New Mexico at 102,800 ft (31,300 m). He sets unbeaten (as of 2005) world records for: high-altitude jump; free-fall by falling 16 miles (26 km) before opening his parachute; and fastest speed by a human without motorized assistance, 614 miles per hour (988 km/h).[3]
  • 1961—4 May—34.668 km (113,740 ft); Commander Malcolm D. Ross and Lieutenant Commander Victor A. Prather, Jr. (US Navy) in Strato-Lab V, using an unpressurized gondola and balloon developed by Winzen Research. After descending, the gondola containing the two balloonists landed in the Gulf of Mexico. A hovering helicopter lowered a rescue hook, and although Ross slipped partially out of it, he was able to recover before falling completely into the water. A few minutes later Prather slipped off the rescue hook into the ocean and drowned in spite of heroic efforts by Navy divers to rescue him.

Hot air balloons

Year Date Altitude Person Aircraft Notes
imperial metric
2004 December 13, 2004 4.1 mi (22,000 ft) 6.614 km (6,614 m) David Hempleman-Adams Boland Rover A-2 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale record for hot air balloon as of 2007
1783 15 October 1783 0.016 mi (84 ft) 0.026 km (26 m) Pilâtre de Rozier Montgolfier tethered balloon

On November 26, 2005, Vijaypat Singhania set the world altitude record for highest hot air balloon flight, reaching 21,290 m (69,800 ft). He took off from downtown Bombay, India and landed 240 km (150 mi) south in Panchale. The previous record of 19,811 m (65,000 ft) had been set by Per Lindstrand on June 6, 1988 in Plano, Texas.

Unmanned gas balloon

The altitude record for unmanned balloons was (1991 edition of Guinness Book) 51.8 km (170,000 ft). The vehicle was a Winzen-Balloon with a volume of 1.35 million cubic metres, which was launched in October 1972 in Chico, California, USA.

In 2002 Japan achieved a new record: an ultra-thin-film balloon named BU60-1 made of polyethylene film 3.4 µm thick with a volume of 60,000 m³ was launched from Sanriku Balloon Center at 6:35 on May 23, 2002. The balloon kept ascending slowly at a speed of 260 m per minute and successfully reached the altitude of 53.0 km (174,000 ft), establishing a new world record for the first time in 30 years. [4]


The highest altitude obtained in an unpowered aircraft is 50,722 ft (15,460 m) on 30 August 2006 by Steve Fossett (pilot) and Einar Enevoldson (co-pilot) in their high performance research glider, breaking the previous record by 1,713 ft (522 m).[2] This record was set as part of the Perlan Project. The previous record was 49,009 ft (14,938 m) on February 17, 1986 by Robert Harris in lee waves over California City, USA.[2]

See also

External links


  1. ^ Swanborough, Gordon, and Bowers, Peter M., "United States Navy Aircraft since 1911", Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1976, Library of Congress card number 90-60097, ISBN 0-87021-792-5, pages 108-109.
  2. ^ a b "Fédération Aéronautique Internationale - Gliding World Records". http://records.fai.org/gliding/history.asp?id1=275&id2=1&id3=98. Retrieved 2009-07-24.  


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