Take a break, step outside and peer into the heavens for a minute or two – chances are good that you’ll spot a silvery bird streaking through the skies above you. In this, the 21st century, airplanes are now so common that at any given moment, there are thousands of them rounding the Earth. But do you really know anything about famous and common aircraft?
What began as a dream in the Wright Brothers’ minds has become a reality around the globe. From small ultralight aircraft to shockingly large military jets, planes perform a mind-boggling number of vital tasks that even Orville and Wilbur couldn’t comprehend. Do you know how much it costs to make just one of the most popular airliners? Or the kind of cash that goes into building a presidential jet?
If you’ve ever taken a ride in a tiny plane into the Alaskan bush, there’s a good chance you were riding in a very common plane. Do you know which plane it was? And if you’ve ever taken a cross-country flight, you might know the name of the company that manufactured the plane – any ideas?
Of course, not all planes are for civilian purposes. Many of the most-manufactured planes ever were built for war. Do you think you can name these powerful machines of death and destruction?
Strap yourself into the cockpit and put on a helmet for good measure. It’s time for you to take our famous aircraft quiz!
The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is one of the most numerous airplanes in the history of manufacturing. The little four-seat plane has been made since the 1950s, and more than 40,000 have been built.
Robert Timm and John Cook kept their little Cessna in the air for nearly 65 days. That's nearly 20 days longer than the second-place record, which was set in 1949.
The 757 is an iconic airliner that was made by Boeing from 1981 to 2004. These are big planes that can carry up to 300 passengers for thousands of miles without refueling.
In 1927, daring pilot Charles Lindberg flew the single-seat monoplane "Spirit of St. Louis" from New York to Paris, a distance of around 3,600 miles. It was the first nonstop transatlantic flight ever.
The "Spirit of St. Louis" wasn't exactly a speedster, as it topped out at around 130 mph. It took Lindbergh around 34 hours to make the 3,600-mile journey.
The Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, flew his last missions in a Fokker Dr.I. The plane had a triple-wing configuration at a top speed of around 115 MPH thanks to its 110hp engine.
The B-25 was first introduced in 1941 as a bomber meant to beat back the Axis. Most of these medium bombers were deployed to the Pacific Theater to destroy Japanese targets.
The president and his close advisors have room to stretch out on Air Force One, the call sign used for the presidential plane -- a Boeing VC-25A that is, of course, customized for technological and comfort purposes.
No one said presidential planes come cheap. The heavily-modified VC-25s used for the president cost about $325 million, and it's equipped with all the luxuries of a regular home.
During WWII, the B-29 Superfortress was one of the most advanced bits of weaponry ever to fly through the skies. A B-29 named the "Enola Gay" was the first ever to drop an atomic bomb in combat; the second was dropped by a lesser known B-29 named "Bockscar."
In 1909, pilot Louis Blériot used the tiny Blériot X to make the first manned flight across the English Channel. The plane had a wooden propeller mounted on a 25hp engine.
Flight 1549 was crippled by the bird collision, so pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles ditched the huge Airbus A320-214 in the Hudson. Thanks to savvy piloting and luck, no one died in the crash, which made headlines around the world.
After the Boeing 777-200ER carrying more than 200 people went missing, governments in the area launched the longest and most expensive search in history. A few pieces of the craft were found in mid-2015, but until larger pieces of the plane are located, officials won't have an explanation for why the plane crashed.
In 1937, Earhart used a twin-engine Lockheed Model 10 Electra for her around-the-world flight. The propeller-driven plane was outdated by the time WWII rolled around, but the government still used many of them during the conflict.
The Piper PA-18 Super Cub is an exceedingly popular monoplane that was first built in 1949. These little planes have relatively powerful 150hp engines and are very useful in areas with small landing strips.
The Bell X-1 was an experimental rocket plane that was used to break the sound barrier for the first time in 1947. The plane had an XLR-11 engine, which burned liquid oxygen, alcohol and water to create supersonic speeds.
The Cessna 180 is a small civilian plane with a maximum of six seats. First built in the early '50s, it's a very common personal aircraft with a maximum speed of around 170 mph.
The Merlin was a little engine from the WWII era. The 757 is a huge plane that relies on either the Rolls-Royce RB211 or Pratt & Whitney PW2000 series turbofans.
The U.S. used the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver as a naval dive bomber during WWII. It used a single 1,900hp radial engine to hit speeds of nearly 300 mph, and it could be armed with guns, rockets and bombs.
The 172 Skyhawk is just a little plane that carries a maximum of four people. Its wingspan measures just a bit over 36 feet.
As you can probably tell from the name, the Chotia Weedhopper is an ultralight plane. During the 1970s, ultralight planes were all the rage … and the Weedhopper led the way thanks in large part due to its price tag of around $9,000.
During WWII, the Soviets churned out tens of thousands of the Ilyushin Il-2 ground-attack plane. In the end, they built more than 36,000 of them, making it the most-produced combat aircraft ever.
The Sopwith Camel was a bi-plane fighter built by the British for World War I. It was the most successful (and iconic) fighter of the entire war, and helped bring down nearly 1,300 enemy planes.
The 757 was a long-term investment for airlines all over the world. The initial investment of around $70 million was steep, but the craft's long life meant that it had the potential to earn back that amount and a whole lot more.
The 757 is a very large plane meant to ferry hundreds of people long distances. The 737 carries roughly 200 passengers, tops.
The Rutan Model 76 Voyager was designed to fly all the way around Earth without stopping or refueling. It took off in December 1986, and nine days later it landed safely after traveling nearly 26,400 miles … all the way around the planet.
The bitty 172 Skyhawk isn't meant to be a fast plane. And it should never exceed speeds of 188 mph, otherwise, you might regret it in crater-like fashion.
The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer was built for speed. Fossett flew around the entire world in just 67 hours, at an average speed of nearly 370 MPH, a record that still stands.
The Voyager had a wingspan of more than 110 feet, wide enough to help the plane stay aloft at high altitudes. Empty, the plane weighed just over 2,000 pounds.
The Beechcraft Bonanza is six-seat, single-engine civilian plane that's been in continuous production longer than any other aircraft. More than 17,000 of this model have been created since 1947.