MailOnline Travel has scoured the internet and spoken to insiders at the Royal Aeronautical Society and carriers such as British Airways and easyJet to bring you 39 incredible plane facts.
The Boeing 747 wingspan (195ft) is longer than the distance travelled during the Wright Brothers’ first flight (120ft).
The longest endurance flight (refuelled and manned) lasted almost 65 days in a Cessna 172 in 1968 to promote a Nevada hotel. That record still stands.
The P-51 Mustang – America’s best fighter in WW2 – was designed from scratch and built in under four months (117 days).
Due to supersonic heating of the airframe at Mach 2, Concorde’s airframe stretched by 6-10 inches on every flight.
There are more US astronauts than Concorde pilots.
The wingspan of the Airbus A380 is longer than the aircraft itself – the wingspan is 80m/262 feet and the length 72.7m/238 feet.
Golden oldies? While the average age of a U.S. domestic commercial airliner is 11 years, it is not uncommon for aircraft to still be in service at 30.
Some airlines will charge you for two seats if you can’t fit into a seat with the armrest down.
Most Boeing 777 and 787 airliners have a secret stairway that leads to a bedroom area for the crew.
A child born in US airspace is a US citizen by birth.
The events that are more likely than a plane crash to affect you include being killed by lightning and an asteroid impact. The chances of being killed in a plane crash are 1 in 4.7million.
The country with the biggest number of fatal plane crashes since 1945 is America. Russia and Brazil occupy the second and third slots in this depressing table.
In 1987 American Airlines, eager to increase their margins, saved $40,000 by removing one olive from each salad served in first class. Definitely food for thought.
To prevent food poisoning endangering a flight, pilots and co-pilots are required to eat different meals.
Talk about staying power. The world’s oldest airline is Dutch carrier KLM, which was established in 1919.
Passengers on a three-hour flight will shed up to 1.5 litres of water.
Enjoy mile-high luxury? You can thank Qantas, which invented business class in 1979.
Nervous fliers might like to try Qantas, which has a zero-fatality safety record.
Most commercial pilots aren’t paid by the month, but by the flying time they put in.
The language all international pilots must be able to speak? English.
Airplanes are designed to withstand lightning strikes.
Lights are dimmed in the cabin on landing not to save money, but so that if the landing goes badly and the lights fail, passengers’ eyes will already be adjusted to the darkness.
Even though smoking is banned on planes, rules state that they must carry ashtrays to be deemed airworthy. Airlines don’t trust passengers, so they put ashtrays in the toilets just in case.
Oxygen masks on planes last between 10 and 20 minutes – hopefully enough time for the plane to descend to 10,000 feet, where oxygen isn’t needed.
Pilots and co-pilots are required to eat different meals in case of food poisoning.
In nearly half of Britain’s largest airports parking a small plane costs less than parking a car.
People fall in love with flight attendants at first sight more than any other profession.
An Airbus A320 takes off every two seconds.
The world’s first international scheduled airline service ran between London (Heston) and Paris (Le Bourget) on 25 August 1919, thanks to British Airways’ forerunner, Aircraft Transport and Travel.
British Airways’ predecessor, Imperial Airways, started the world’s first luxury on-board service. The 18-seat ‘Silver Wing’ flights started in 1927 from Croydon, departing from Croydon in London.
On October 4, 1958, British Airways’ forerunner, BOAC, started the first ever commercial jet passenger services using a British-built De Havilland Comet 4 aircraft, powered by Rolls Royce Avon jet engines. That day, simultaneous eastbound and westbound crossings were made between London Airport and Idlewild Airport, in New York.
On June 10, 1965, British Airways’ forerunner, BEA, was the first airline to have a fully automatic touchdown of a commercial aircraft carrying fare-paying customers – a BEA Trident landing at Heathrow from Paris.
Concorde’s fastest ever transatlantic crossing was on February 7, 1996 when it completed the JFK to London Heathrow sector in just two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds.
At 1.7 miles, the shortest scheduled airline flight in the world (as of December, 2016) was the British Airways/Loganair (codeshare) Westray to Papa Westray route. Flights were scheduled for two minutes, but the actual flying time was closer to one minute.
Each year British Airways customers drink nearly ten million bottles of wine and champagne every year, including full and quarter sized bottles.
Only five per cent of the world’s population has ever been on an aeroplane.
Mr Heinrich Kubis was Germany’s – and the world’s – first flight attendant in 1912.
Aircraft share the skies with some high-flying wildlife. Bumblebees have been spotted at 18,000ft.
There are three million people in the air on planes at any one time.
Photo: Shutterstock/Artem Anikeyev.