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Types of Aircraft

What is an Aircraft?

An aircraft is a machine that uses the force of the air to fly. Airplanes are a type of aircraft. Other aircraft include helicopters, hot air balloons and blimps.


Types of Aircraft

There are a LOT of different kinds of aircraft out there. Let’s look at a few.


Zeppelin: There are few pilots in the world that get the chance to fly these!

When we say “aircraft” we normally think of airplanes. But a big Zeppelin like this is an aircraft too! You may have seen these fly over your city on rare occasions, especially at sporting events!



The Piper J-3 Cub has been used as students’ first airplane for over 80 years!

Most pilots learn to fly in a light airplane. For many years, the Piper Cub was a very common trainer that students. They are still a well-loved airplane, although many students now learn to fly in Cessna and Piper airplanes.







The Boeing 787

For many pilots, flying for airlines is their career goal. The pinnacle of a pilot’s career might be flying something like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This airplane first flew in 2009, and now operates some of the longest flights in the world. One new 787 route is a flight from Australia to London non-stop!


Embraer 175: One of the newer regional jets in the U.S. market

Not all jets need to fly long distances, though. Many jets, called regional jets, are used to take passengers between smaller cities. An Embraer 175 like the one pictured above might be common on routes between cities like Los Angeles and Sacramento.




Q-400. This is a regional turbo-prop common in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and East Coast.

Turbo-props use a jet engine to turn a huge propeller! They are less common these days, but many turboprops can still be found around the country.





An F-22 Raptor flies over Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 23 on a routine training mission. The F-22 is deployed from the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway)

The military uses airplanes for all sorts of roles. The F-22 Raptor is one of the most advanced fighter jets in history.


F/A-18. The U.S. Navy is one of several countries that operate this fighter jet.

The F/A-18 (F/A stands for Fighter/Attack) is another common U.S. fighter jet. Pilots of these airplanes often learn to do one of the most challenging feats in aviation: landing on an aircraft carrier.