From tanks to roller-coasters, biplanes to spaceships, the story of speed records is also the story of human development – how we have pushed the boundaries of technological possibilities in order to defy nature and travel faster than ever before.

37.57 km/h Human (running)

On 16 Aug 2009, Usain Bolt (JAM) won the World Championships 100 m in 9.58 sec in Berlin, Germany. His average speed was 37.57 km/h (23.34 mph), with a peak speed nearer 44 km/h (27.34 mph).

56 km/h Land animal (long distances)

The pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is an antelope-like ungulate found in the USA, Canada and Mexico. It has been observed moving at 56 km/h (35 mph) over 6 km (4 mi).

67.32 km/h Greyhound

On 5 Mar 1994, a greyhound named Star Title was timed at 67.32 km/h (41.83 mph) on the straightaway track at Wyong in New South Wales, Australia. It blitzed the 400-yd (366-m) course in just 19.57 sec.

82.23 km/h Tank

A production standard S 2000 Scorpion Peacekeeper tank developed by Repaircraft PLC (UK) achieved a speed of 82.23 km/h (51.10 mph) at the QinetiQ test track in Chertsey, Surrey, UK, on 26 Mar 2002. Powered by an RS 2133 high-speed diesel engine, the tank was fitted with appliqué hull armour, ballistic skirts and a replaceable rubber pad track.

98.464 km/h Monowheel motorcycle

Riding WarHorse, Kevin Scott and the UK Monowheel Team (all UK) achieved a speed of 98.464 km/h (61.18 mph) at Elvington Airfield in North Yorkshire, UK, on 20 Sep 2015. It took four engineers two years to build the carbon-fibre-framed vehicle.

104.4 km/h Land mammal (short distances)

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia can maintain a steady maximum speed of approximately 100 km/h (62 mph) over short distances on level ground.

127 km/h Bird (level flight)

In a report published by researchers working in the sub-Antarctic, the mean estimated groundspeed recorded for a satellitetagged grey-headed albatross (Thalassarche chrysostoma) was 127 km/h (78.9 mph). This speed was sustained for more than 8 hr while the albatross made for its nest at Bird Island, South Georgia, in the middle of an Antarctic storm.

139.45 km/h Human-powered vehicle

Riding his Team AeroVelo’s Eta bike at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge, Todd Reichert (CAN) achieved a speed of 139.45 km/h (86.65 mph) on 19 Sep 2015. It was the third time in three days that the fearless Canadian had set a new record during the event, which was held near Battle Mountain in Nevada, USA.

240 km/h Roller-coaster

Formula Rossa at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, UAE, can accelerate up to 240 km/h (149.1 mph) and travel 52 m (170 ft) upwards in 4.9 sec. It opened to the public on 4 Nov 2010.

263 km/h Tennis serve

On 9 May 2012, Samuel Groth (AUS) served an ace recorded at 263 km/h (163.4 mph) during an ATP Challenger event in Busan, South Korea. It came during Groth’s secondround tie against Uladzimir Ignatik (BLR). The Aussie pro also hit serves of 255.7 km/h (158.9 mph) and 253.5 km/h (157.5 mph) during the match – both of which surpassed Ivo Karlovic’s (HRV) previous record of 251 km/h (156 mph). Although he gained a world record, Groth lost the match 6–4, 6–3.

300 km/h Bird (in a dive)

The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) has reached an estimated terminal velocity of 300 km/h (186 mph) in a diving stoop. No animal is capable of reaching a faster speed than the falcon in full flight.

315 km/h Quad bike

Terry Wilmeth (USA) reached an average speed of 315.74 km/h (196.19 mph) over two runs at Madras Airport, Madras, Oregon, USA, on 15 Jun 2008. His ALSR Rocket Raptor version 6.0 was a modified Yamaha 700 Raptor with a hybrid rocket thruster.

371 km/h Wind

On 12 Apr 1934, a surface wind-speed of 371 km/h (231 mph) was recorded at Mt Washington (elev. 1,916 m; 6,288 ft) in New Hampshire, USA.

511 km/h Boat

The official world water speed record is 275.97 knots (511.11 km/h; 317.58 mph) by Ken Warby (AUS) in the jet-powered hydroplane Spirit of Australia on Blowering Dam Lake, NSW, Australia, on 8 Oct 1978.

520 km/h Biplane

In 1941, the Fiat CR.42DB attained a speed of 520 km/h (323 mph). The Italian biplane was powered by a 753‑kW (1,010‑hp) Daimler-Benz DB 601A engine. Despite its speed only a single prototype was ever built, as biplanes were eclipsed by new monoplanes.

603 km/h Maglev train

The Series L0 (A07) is a magnetically levitated (maglev) train series operated by the Central Japan Railway Company. On 21 Apr 2015, the L0 achieved a speed of 603 km/h (374.69 mph) on the Yamanashi Maglev Line, a test track in Yamanashi, Japan.

1,227.985 km/h Car (land-speed record)

Andy Green (UK) drove Thrust SSC at 1,227.985 km/h (763.035 mph; Mach 1.020) on 15 Oct 1997 in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA. Powered by two Rolls-Royce jet engines, Thrust SSC was the first car to break the sound barrier.

1,357.6 km/h Human (in freefall)

Felix Baumgartner (AUT) fell from the edge of space to Earth at 1,357.6 km/h (843.6 mph) during the Red Bull Stratos mission above New Mexico, USA, on 14 Oct 2012.

2,587 km/h Airliner

First flown in the former USSR on 31 Dec 1968, the Tupolev Tu‑144 was reported to have reached Mach 2.4 (2,587 km/h; 1,600 mph), although its normal cruising speed was Mach 2.2. Following two crashes, the aircraft was withdrawn from service in 1978.

3,529.56 km/h Manned aircraft

The highest recorded speed in a manned aircraft capable of taking off and landing under its own power is 3,529.56 km/h (2,193.17 mph). It was achieved by Captain Eldon Joersz and Major George Morgan Jr (both USA) in a Lockheed SR-71A “Blackbird” near Beale Air Force Base in California, USA, on 28 Jul 1976.

7,274 km/h Aircraft (rocket‑powered)

On 3 Oct 1967, USAF test pilot Pete Knight reached Mach 6.7 (7,274 km/h; 4,520 mph) over California, USA. Knight was flying the experimental X-15A-2 aircraft, which was launched in mid-air from beneath a B–52 bomber.

39,897 km/h Human (absolute)

On 26 May 1969, the command module of Apollo 10 reached 39,897 km/h (24,790.8 mph) on its trans-Earth return flight. It carried a threeman crew of American astronauts: Col Thomas Stafford, Cdr Eugene Cernan and Cdr John Young.

1,508,400 km/h Atmospheric entry into Earth’s atmosphere

On 15 Jan 2006, NASA’s Stardust spacecraft successfully returned to Earth after a seven-year mission to collect samples of comet Wild 2. It entered Earth’s atmosphere at a velocity of 29,000 mph (46,660 km/h).

172,248 km/h Planet

Mercury orbits the Sun at an average distance of 57.9 million km (35.9 million mi), and has an orbital period of 87.9686 days. Its average orbit speed – 107,030 mph (172,248 km/h) – is almost twice as fast as that of the Earth.

1,508,400 km/h Approaching galaxy

Although the universe is expanding, there are a small number of galaxies that are coming closer to our own. M86, a lenticular (lens-shaped) galaxy situated around 52 million light-years away in the Virgo Cluster, is moving towards our Milky Way at a speed of 419 km/sec (260 mi/sec).

2,400,000 km/h Star

On 8 Feb 2005, astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts, USA, announced the discovery of a star, SDSS J090745.0+24507, travelling at 2.4 million km/h (1.5 million mph).

1,079,252,848.8 km/h Speed possible

The fastest speed possible in the universe is the speed of light. This is achieved only by light itself and other forms of electromagnetic radiation such as radio waves. When travelling through a vacuum, the speed of light peaks at 299,792,458 m/sec (983,571,056 ft/sec).

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