Modern aircraft travel at average speeds of 600 miles per hour. While today, the majority of planes fly at a high speed, in the early days of aviation, planes traveled much slower.
This was mainly due to design and their different uses.
We take a look at how slow a plane can fly, and we even have some examples of the slowest planes in history.
What’s The Minimum Speed A Plane Needs To Travel?
The minimum speed a plane needs to fly is around 155 miles per hour.
However, this can vary depending on the overall weight of the plane and the size. Smaller planes, such as a Cessna, will only need around 30 miles per hour to lift off the ground.
This very low speed, however, does mean the aircraft won’t be stable and it may tip over if you try to take off.
This is the reason why commercial airliners need to get to a minimum speed of around 155mph for take-off.
What’s Stall Speed?
Stall speed is the minimum speed that a plane needs to lift off the runway. If an aircraft can’t get to this minimum speed, then it cannot produce enough lift.
The stall speed can depend on several factors, such as altitude, weather conditions, aircraft weight, and dimensions.
Why Do Planes Have Different Speeds?
Aircraft have different speeds because they are designed for different purposes.
For instance, a small commuter jet may need to travel at high speeds to reach airports quickly and efficiently, while a large passenger airliner must maintain a slower speed to conserve fuel.
What Happens When A Plane Is Too Slow?
If a plane doesn’t have enough speed, it will not be able to gain enough lift to take off or land. This means it will crash into the ground.
Many planes have crashed due to being too slow. For example, the Air France Flight 447 crashed after its pilots were unable to control the plane when it became too slow.
What Are Ultralight Aircraft?
Ultralights are smaller than normal aircraft and are often used for recreational flying. They’re also known as gliders or sailplanes.
They’re usually made out of lightweight material. These types of aircraft are popular with aviation hobbyists who are keen to learn flying.
They’re typically powered by a small, electric motor and are controlled manually.
These aircraft don’t require a normal pilot’s license but they may require special licenses or permits.
In addition, some rules and regulations apply to these types of aircraft.
The Slowest Planes In History
When designing an airplane, modern engineers consider many things, including its maximum speed, length, wingspan, wing area, and other features.
However, many of these factors were not known in the past, and planes were made often based on trial and error.
Here are a few examples of the slowest planes in history.
Zlín Z-XII (93 mph)
The first aircraft ever built by Czechoslovakia, the Zlín Z-X II took flight in 1927. It had a top speed of 93 mph.
It was also one of the smallest planes ever built. It was developed as a tandem two-seater. The low wing design was made of wood and powered by an engine that produced 45 horsepower.
The Z-XII was used by the German Luftwaffe in World War II, as well as the Slovakian air force. However, it was also used as a leisure aircraft until 1939 when production of this aircraft stopped.
Braunschweig LF-1 Zaunkönig (88 mph)
Developed during the Second World War, the Braunschweig LF 1 Zaunkönig was a single-engine biplane fighter with a top speed of 88 mph.
It was based on the Messerschmitt Bf 109, but with a more powerful engine. This is the reason why this plane looks very similar to our modern lightweight aircraft.
The LF-1 was used by the German air force from 1942 to 1944. After the war, the plane was sold to private owners and remained in service until 1958.
Blériot XI (47 mph)
The Bleriot XI was the world’s first practical fixed-wing aircraft. It was designed by the famous Louis Blériot in 1909.
This plane was capable of flying at 47 mph, and it could carry up to 2 passengers.
The Bleriot 11 was used by the French army during World War I. It was also used by the British Royal Flying Corps.
After the war, the Bleriot 11 was sold to private owners but it continued to fly until 1931.
Bleriot designed this plane with a tractor propeller, developing a tractor monoplane. It was powered by a 30-horsepower engine, which ran a four-bladed propeller.
Gossamer Albatross (18 mph)
The Gossamer Albatross was a lightweight, human-powered glider that became famous in 1979 when it crossed the English Channel.
The flight covered 22 miles in 3 hours. This light aircraft was made of carbon timber tubes and wrapped in mylar.
This made it easier to disassemble and transport.
While modern, commercial planes typically fly at speeds of around 650 miles per hour, smaller planes can fly much slower.
An aircraft does need to achieve a certain speed to get the right lift to take off from the runway.
When it doesn’t reach these speeds, it will not be able to take off and the pilot might lose control of the aircraft.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Slow Can Commercial Jets Fly?
Commercial jets are designed to cruise at speeds between 480 and 510 knots. This makes them more efficient.
At What Speed Do Planes Take Off?
Most commercial airplanes can take off at a speed of 155 miles per hour. However, some smaller aircraft, such as a Cessna, can take off at a much slower speed of 62mph.
In comparison, some ultralight aircraft can take off at even slower speeds.
At What Speed Do Airplanes Land?
Landing speeds vary depending on the type of airplane. Some large passenger jets have landing speeds of 160 mph or slightly higher.
However, most small commuter jets land at around 100 mph.