The highest altitude ever reached by an airplane is 85,069.2 ft (25,929 m) by the SR-71 Blackbird, a reconnaissance aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin. The SR-71 was designed to fly at high speeds and altitudes to avoid detection and evade enemy defenses. It was capable of reaching a top speed of 2,193 mph (3,529 km/h) and flew at altitudes of up to 85,000 ft (25,918 m) during its operational career.
The SR-71 Blackbird first flew in 1964 and was in active service with the United States Air Force from 1964 to 1998. It set several speed and altitude records during its operational career, including the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft, which still holds today. The SR-71 was capable of flying at speeds of over 2,000 miles per hour, and could fly at altitudes of over 85,000 ft, above the reach of most surface-to-air missiles and interceptor aircraft.
The SR-71’s performance was due to its unique design, which featured a slender fuselage and long, pointed chines that reduced drag and provided stability at high speeds. Its engines were also specially designed to operate at high altitudes, where the thin air required them to produce more thrust. The SR-71 was retired in 1998, due to high maintenance and operating costs, but it remains a significant achievement in aviation history.