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Your pick for most influential aircraft?

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: November 04, 2011 
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Aviation History Reader Poll

In "Game Changers," we pick 15 aircraft that had the greatest influence on aviation development. What trendsetting aircraft have we overlooked, and why were they important?

Give us your thoughts in the comments box below.


6 Responses to “Your pick for most influential aircraft?”


  1. 1
    Steve McCarty says:

    I'm not sure about "trend setting", but IMO one of the most important aircraft of all time is the Boeing 747. It has been in the air now for well over a quarter of a century and what it did to commercial aviation has been monumental.

    Not far behind the big guy is the wonderful old C-47/DC-3. To this day no aircraft can do what it did as well as it did it.

    When discussing amazing aircraft one cannot overlook the MIG-15. While she had her issues, her performance caused the US to work hard to defeat that wily, canon firing, little MIG.

    The Fokker D-VII was astounding in its time and better than any other aircraft in the air in 1918.

    Then there is the Buff. Talk about a game changer! When those B-52's join up and fly over their target and drop their bomb load, they removed a grid square.

    I love the debate, which was better the Spit or the BF-109. Both wonderful aircraft. They must have been exciting to fly!

    I haven't been in the aviation biz for some time now, and I'm not up to snuff on this F-18, but it seems to be a fine and versatile aircraft.

    Now you may find this strange, but I put that little bitty Cessna 150/152 in the relm of great aircraft. We have all flown them, and they are a ball to fly. I've tossed my sleeping back in the back and flown into little FBO's all over the West, sleeping in the line shack. I love Taylorcraft too and that little AirKnocker.

    The B-17, F6F, F4U, Ford Trimotor, P-51, Phantom, F-86, DC-4, The Conney; all interesting and important aircraft. I loved flying the little Skyhawk and she did do much more than she was expected to do, but we lost a lot of them.

    I can't fly anymore. I probably miss most landing a light plane in a 90 degree cross wind on a short, narrow, dirt strip someplace in the mountains with tall trees on either end. That was fun! I also miss that lump in the throat you get when the aircraft falls over on its back and into a spin. Gosh that was thrilling!

  2. 2
    Don Caldwell says:

    I was very pleased to see the Windecker Eagle included in Stephan Wilkinson's list of "Game Changers". The very plane illustrated in flight forms the centerpiece of the Lake Jackson (Texas) historical museum. I'll send you a letter with a photo of it as it hangs in the museum for the letters column. I'm urging the museum to use your article to publicize the museum and its most significant artifact (by far), but the article contains an error that makes the staff reluctant to use it. The Eagle was intended for the civil market, but could not compete in cost with the Navion, Bonanza, and other conventional all-metal designs. "Stealth" was an unknown concept until air traffic controllers began reporting that they could not see the plane on their radar screens, and the handful of owners had to attach metal strips to them so that they could be controlled. Only then did Dr. Windecker have his "aha!" moment, see a potential value in radar invisibility, and try to interest the Air Force in the design and/or its technology. If Stephan Wilkinson sees this, I would be very interested in his comments.

  3. 3
    krb says:

    Most influential in all of history would be difficult as there were so many, but I'd select a few based on War related, and Civilian related.

    In War Related category, I'd have to pick the Spitfire as it was instrumental in the defense of England during the Battle of Britain. Had Britain fell, history may have had a different outcome.

    In the Civilian Category, I'd have to pick either the Wright Brothers Flyer, or The Spirit of St. Louis. Both were instrumental in ushering in a new era.

  4. 4
    terry Smith says:

    I thought it would be a neat test to come up with my own list and see how it matched yours. NOT EVEN CLOSE! I only hit three. Where was (in no particular order): the Concorde, Wright Flyer, Jenny, PanAm Clipper, 747, Connie, P-51, Spitfire, B-17, C-130, Ford Trimotor, Bell X-1, 727, Huey, Comet, etc.

    I'm going to propose the "test' to some friends, one of whom is a docent at The Smithsonian, to see if the do any better.

    Anyway, your magazine should be of great interest to all of them.

  5. 5
    Richard Bolt says:

    I think the most influential aircraft would be the one's that ushered in the jet era. The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the first swept wing, single seat jet fighter that all others followed, and the DeHavilland Comet showed the way for all future airline travel.

  6. 6
    John Roller says:

    There are to many to list. Most all first of a kind. The change from prop jobs to jets. The first use of rocket motors. The first to carry passengers, etc. If I had to name one, I would say the X-15.



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