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Speed Demons: Men On the Move

On most days, most American men achieve a top speed of not much more than 3.1 miles per hour on foot, or up 60 or 70 miles an hour, with that speed coming from an automobile. Some of us often reach speeds of around 575 miles per hour while flying. For the average gentleman, that’s top speed.

Then you have other people who move a bit faster. Like… way faster. Like fast enough to set records that are goddamned mind bending. Like the guy who shattered the speed of sound in free fall. Or the guy who flew a plane at more than 7,250 miles per hour. We call these men: Speed Demons. (Or at least we call them that from now on, so get with the program.)

The Fastest Man on Foot

Man Power
Man Power

As far as we know, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is the fastest human being alive. And it’s likely he’s one of the fastest humans to ever have lived, by the way: his natural prowess and modern training techniques have propelled him to speeds so fast he could get ticketed while running through a school zone. That’s because Bolt has a set a running speed record of 27.78 miles per hour.

The Fastest Man on Water

Ready to "Sail"
Ready to “Sail”

Believe it or no (and, y’know, believe it, because it’s fact), the water speed record was set more than 30 years ago! And it was set by a man in a wooden boat. Granted, the Spirit of Australia was a powered by a jet engine, but still, with its largely wooden body, you can fairly call it a wooden boat. On October 8th, 1978, Ken Warby climbed into that wooden jet engine boat and set a water speed record of 317.5 miles per hour.

The Fastest Free Fall

From the Edge of Space
From the Edge of Space

At sea level, the speed of sound is around 760 miles per hour under normal conditions. When Felix Baumgartner stepped off the platform of a specially designed extremely high altitude balloon on October 24th, 2012, he was not at sea level, and he did not reach the speed of sound: he was at 127,852 feet above the earth, and he in fact blasted past the speed of sound when he set a free fall speed record of 843.6 miles per hour.

The Fastest Car

You Will Be Pulled Over
You Will Be Pulled Over

OK, “car” might not be the right word here… how about Rolls-Royce Spey Turbofan Afterburner Engine Powered Super Jet Car, instead? The “car’s” name was the ThrustSSC, and its driver was RAF fighter pilot Andy Green. In the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, on October 15th, 1997 (notice how October is a big month for record? Good air temperature, see?), Green “drove” the ThrustSCC fast enough to set a new land speed record of 763 miles per hour.

The Fastest Flight

Rocket Planes Are Fast
Rocket Planes Are Fast

The X-15 is a rocket powered plane developed by NASA and the USAF to demonstrate that mankind can, if it so wishes, fly from NYC to LA in about 20 minutes to get some ramen. Or maybe there was some other research involved, whatever. The point is that once again it was October, this time the 3rd of October, 1967. The man was pilot William Knight, and the flight set a new manned airspeed record of 7,259 miles per hour.

The Fastest People Ever

Not Moving So Fast Now...
Not Moving So Fast Now…

We’re proud to report that the fastest human speed record is not held by one single man, but by the crew of the Apollo 10, the 4th manned mission of the Apollo program, and the last Apollo mission not intended for an actual moon landing. In the capsule were astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, John W. Young. and Eugene A. Cernan. During their return trip to earth after orbiting the moon, these three Americans set an all-time top human speed record of 24,791 miles per hour.