What Are Some Different Types of Planes?

Many different types of airplane exist, including human-powered, jet airplanes, seaplanes, combat airplanes and others. These various airplanes have a huge variety of applications in warfare, transport, travel and geographic mapping.

Fixed-wing aircraft rely on forward momentum and the lift physics of stiff wings to achieve flight with a heavier-than-air airframe. These airplanes encompass passenger jets, many combat planes, and aircraft powered both by jet turbines and by propellers. They see the most commercial use of any kind of airplane and are produced in many, many makes and models suited to short-distance and long-distance flight and to landings on water and land.

Human-powered flight is a subfield of heavier-than-air flight. A human being uses pedal power to drive a propeller and to generate lift for a very small, lightweight airframe with comparatively minimal actual labor. Such planes are typically limited in range but have achieved feats of trans-Atlantic flight under the direction of fearless pilots.

Some aircraft are powered by rockets or fly without power, gliding on thermals and taking advantage of air resistance to remain in the sky. These different types of aircraft have applications ranging from use in experimental physics testing to extreme sports and other forms of daredevil flight that rely on the grit of the pilot.