10 Mind-Blowing Facts About Modern Day Flight

Although it might be cool to hop in an old-timey air contraption, there’s no denying that flying has come a long way since the Wright Brothers.

1. There are almost 10 million commercial flights a year in the US alone.

Michael Gray / Via Flickr: kathika

9,801,116 to be exact in 2012, according to the US Bureau of Transportation.

2. Commercial airplanes are faster than ever.

Erik Simonsen / Getty Images

The Boeing 777-200LR can travel 10,793 miles at a max speed of 560 mph at a cruise altitude of 35,000 feet.

3. But unmanned experimental hypersonic planes can go faster (MUCH faster).

NASA / Via en.wikipedia.org

The X-43A Scramjet can reach a speed of more than 7,000 miles per hour, nine times faster than the speed of sound.

4. Modern jet engines would turn the Titanic into a speedboat.

The new GE90 engine generated 127,900 pounds of thrust, more than a rocket ship and the Titanic combined.

5. These complicated controls can literally fly themselves.

ERIC CABANIS/Staff / Getty Images

Today even smaller planes come equipped with digital electronic autopilot combined with a flight director.

Read more about how auto-pilot works.

6. Even the bathrooms are high-tech.

Craig F. Walker/Contributor / Getty Images

Some planes, like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, even have hands-free sinks.

7. Some commercial planes are so big they hold 500+ passengers.

Harold Cunningham/Contributor / Getty Images

The Airbus A380 seats 525 people.

8. The annual US usage of jet fuel is more than 20 billion gallons.

Gary D’Ercole / Getty Images

That’s a whole lot of jet fuel. To produce the same amount of energy of 22 pounds of aviation fuel, you’d need a ton of batteries.

9. But electric planes are a reality, and could be the future.

(NASA/Bill Ingalls) / Via en.wikipedia.org

Although still in infancy, they exist. Pipistrel’s Taurus G4 can travel 200 miles in less than 2 hours, on the electricity equivalent of less than one gallon of fuel per passenger.

10. Most impressively, commercial space flight is (almost) a reality. You can pay to go to space.


Companies like Virgin Galactic are trying to build and maintain a passenger spaceplane that will take tourists 70 miles above the Earth for short flights in space. Other companies like Golden Spike and Planetary Resources, Inc. are trying to privatize lunar expeditions and asteroid mining.

Learn more incredible facts about flight:

Video available at: http://youtu.be/VfCRTeUzhSI.

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