What is the fastest unpressurized aircraft with oxygen masks that can carry people?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Living people or dead (dying) ones? $\endgroup$ Jul 24 '19 at 22:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What was the highest start for a skydive not involving a pressure suit and how fast did the skydiver get going? Or did you mean in level flight? Also see other comment - consider any WW2 fighter, nearly all of which were unpressurized. With a mask you can go way above 16K without pressurization! $\endgroup$ Jul 25 '19 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ I'd say X-15. Don't think it was pressurized and it can go mach 6. $\endgroup$
    – Pheric
    Jul 25 '19 at 3:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Pheric all of the X planes were in some capacity pressurized going back to the X-1 and including the X-15. The all mainly used a Nitrogen pressurization system with pilot fed oxygen to effectively keep the cockpits fireproof. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Jul 25 '19 at 5:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Being petty here perhaps, but aircraft capable of being pressurized are also capable of dumping cabin pressure. Therefore an F-18 Hornet could be unpressurized and still go mach 1. So what you are really asking is "what is the fastest aircraft that is incapable of being pressurized?" $\endgroup$ Jul 25 '19 at 16:54

Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was unpressurized, rocket powered WWII interceptor.

The operational ceiling was limited by what the pilot could endure for several minutes while breathing oxygen from a mask, without losing consciousness. Pilots underwent altitude chamber training to harden them.

Special diets were prepared for pilots to prevent gas expansion in the intestinal tract during ascent.

The "never exceed" speed of this aircraft officially was 900 km/h but that has been exceeded anyway, when the test pilot Heini Dittmar reached 1,130 km/h.

About 370 were built.

  • $\begingroup$ There's a repro ME163 in flying condition (at least as of a few years ago, when I read about it). Said to require care to avoid transonic effects. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jul 25 '19 at 16:02

In the height of 16000 feet, a human can survive on normal atmospheric pressure. Above 16000 oxygen level keep getting down and changes on pressure. So we are talking about the aircraft which flies till 16000 feet. Cirrus SR22, Beechcraft Bonanza, Cessna 172, Cessna 182 Skylane, Cessna 310 are some fastest unpressurized aircraft.

  • 11
    $\begingroup$ Er... Even DC-3 (which is still flying) is faster than any of these, and it is surely unpressurised. There are/were plenty of much faster ones. Nearly any airplane of WW2, for example. $\endgroup$
    – Zeus
    Jul 25 '19 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, absolutely right. $\endgroup$ Jul 25 '19 at 1:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Bianfable A family's friend had a Cessna TR-182 some 20 years ago and he used an oxygen mask when he flew without passengers to be able to fligh at higher altitudes. But he also had extra fuel tanks allowing him to stay airborne for 9 hours, so I don't consider it a normal configuration. $\endgroup$
    – PerlDuck
    Jul 25 '19 at 9:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Cirrus SR22 ... are some fastest unpressurized aircraft citation needed $\endgroup$
    – zymhan
    Jul 25 '19 at 12:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But that would depressurize it and invalidate the comparison $\endgroup$ Jul 26 '19 at 4:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.