Classic Airplanes

French fighter pilots who were seriously challenged by top-rank German airplanes during World War I welcomed the rugged SPAD VII. See more flight pictures.

In a sense, all airplanes are classic airplanes, because each one represents the very best its designer and builder could do, given the talent, materials, and time available at the moment. No development group ever set out to make a second-best airplane. Instead, every aircraft, and especially every classic aircraft described and pictured within these pages, was the product of the loving care of an intelligent design team.

Flight Image Gallery

The following pages in this article provide links to profiles of classic airplanes built over the last century. You'll begin with classic airplanes of the Early Years, including the Wright Flyers first successful flight. Learn about the military fighter airplanes of World War I and World War II, and explore the aircraft built during the Golden Age of Flight. Then fast-forward to the present day Jet Age and see how much classic airplanes have progressed over the last 100 years.

Lockheed's immortal P-38 Lightning was a multi-role fighter-bomber that was a scourge of the Axis, particularly the Japanese, during World War II.

Each and every one of these classic airplanes was manufactured by skilled and motivated people who worked long hours -- often at their own expense -- to turn out a world-beater. Each was flown by test pilots who risked their lives to make the designers' dreams come true. Each was flown in war or for commerce by equally dedicated pilots who wanted only to use it in the most effective manner. And each was maintained by loyal workers, often unappreciated, who were responsible for the lives of all who piloted and flew in the craft.

In truth, classic airplanes are no more than mirrors in which we find reflected the human beings who created and used them. See the next page for links to profiles of classic airplanes built between 1903 to 1913.

To learn more about airplanes, see: