20 Incredible Vintage Planes You Can Still Fly In
31 Oct 2016

In 2016, there are plenty of new planes to get excited about: the slim, sleek Bombardier CS100, the innovative Airbus A350 XWB, and, of course, the low-flying Boeing 737 MAX.

However, these sleek, beautiful aircraft can’t quite instill the nostalgia that vintage planes do. The Bleriot XI, which transported Louis Bleriot across the English Channel in 1909, the de Havilland Dragon Rapide, the aircraft that carried Charles de Gaulle and General Francisco Franco on various expeditions, and the Tupolev Tu-134, which was the go-to plane for the Soviet bloc, are all aircrafts that served a unique and significant purpose in aviation’s history.

Despite their age, many of the planes from the past century are still functional and available for passengers to fly.

Listed below are 20 of our favorite planes and how you might go about getting a ride in one.

If you like these, you should also view CNN’s guide to groundbreaking planes of the modern era.

READ: 20 planes every aviation fan should experience

Bleriot XI
First flight: 1909

Louis Bleriot, a pioneer in French aviation, was the first to cross the English Channel, which he did in 1909. For his achievement, he was awarded £1,000, which equates to $144,000 today. The plane he used was the Bleriot XI, and there are a few today that are still available to fly.

Despite the Bleriot XI being airworthy, it is extremely rare to find, thus making chances of flying in one miniscule. However, it is still technically possible to take a trip in this plane.

Where can you fly it?

Two Bleriots that were built in 1909 are still preserved today, preserved in the Shuttleworth Collection in the UK and the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in the United States, respectively. These aircraft are the oldest in the world, but due to their antiquated condition, they are only flown on special occasions for very short distances.

A Bleriot XI built in Sweden in 1918 is kept at the Museum of Science and Technology in Sweden, where it is occasionally displayed during air festivals. In Montreal, Canada, a replica of the Bleriot XI is kept at the Canadian Aviation Heritage Centre. It was last flown in 2014.

READ: Greener skies: Frenchman prepares for history-making zero-carbon Atlantic flight

Junkers F13
First flight: 1919

Hugo Junkers, a German aviation businessman formulated an idea for an aircraft that would far surpass those of the time period. The F13 was the first plane to be crafted entirely from metal. The cantilever wing design it possessed was a precursor to the modern plane designs of today.

Most aircraft of the time were made almost entirely out of wood and cloth. To further set itself apart from its competitors, the F13 also had a cabin that could be heated for comfort.

Where can you fly it?

Soon, it will be possible to fly on the Junkers F13. While it will not be the original plane, it will be an exact replica crafted by RIMOWA, a German luggage manufacturing company. The RIMOWA F13 currently sits at an airfield in Dubendorf, Switzerland and will be open to the public in the near future.

MORE: Back from the dead: The legendary Junkers F13 flies again

Junkers Ju 52
First Flight: 1930

This aircraft, which was nicknamed “Tante Ju,” was first created in the 1930s to serve as a civilian airliner. It was also used by the military to transport the Luftwaffe during World War II, and was further used by airlines and air forces after the war had ended. Its main distinctive features are its tri-motor configuration and grooved metal frame.

Where can you fly it?

An airworthy Ju 52 is kept by Lufthansa, a German airline, and is able to flown on special occasions. Ju-Air in Switzerland offers Ju 52s for casual flights. This airfield is based in Dubendorf, the same location where the Junkers F13 replica is kept. Other functional JU 52s are kept in South Africa, the United States and France.

READ: Sky pioneers: A light aircrafter revolution is taking off

De Havilland Dragon Rapide
First Flight: 1934

The biplane aircraft created from wood was integral in two occasions that set the course for European history. In 1936, General Francisco Franco used the Dragon Rapide to fly from the Canary Islands to Spanish Morocco during the beginning of the military rebellion that started the Spanish Civil War. In 1940, the aircraft was also used to whisk away General Charles de Gaulle to England right before France fell.

Even without these achievements, the Dragon Rapide still proved itself to be a plane of great reliability. The Dragon Rapide was used by multiple airlines before and after World War II. British Airways also featured it on a commercial in 2011 called “To Fly. To Serve.”

There are several Dragon Rapides owned by private operators who offer pleasure flights.

Where can you fly it?

An airfield based in Duxford, UK named Classic Wings. A Dragon Rapide G-AHAG is owned by Scillonia Airways and kept at Membury airfield in Berkshire, UK.

Douglas DC-3
First flight: 1934

The Douglas has been established as one of the most important planes in aviation’s history. It has even been referred to as the first modern airliner.

It was used by U.S. airlines to provide coast-to-coast passenger flights. Over 600 had already been built by the time the United States became involved in the war, and the planes were quickly modified for military use and garnered the designation C-47. Thousands of these planes were created during World War II and were staple aircraft for Allied armies during the entirety of the conflict. A Soviet version, called the Lisunov-L2, was also created during this time.

After the war, the DC-3 was used by many different airlines.

Even though more than 80 years have passed since they were first created, multiple DC-3s are still in service, and it is even possible for passengers to book flights on one.

Where can you fly it?

Netherland-based DDA Classic Airlines operates a DC-3 that is available for booking. Yellowknife, a province in Canada’s Northwest Territories, is home to Buffalo Airways, an airline that regularly uses a DC-3. The airline was featured on a reality television show called “Ice Pilots.” Springbok Classic Air, an airline in South Africa, uses a DC-3 for scenic flights.

MORE: DC-3: The unbelievable airliner that just won’t quit

Lockheed Constellation and Super Constellation
First flight: 1943

The Constellation and Super Constellation, which were known respectively as “Connie” and “Super Connie,” were a grand spectacle to lay eyes on. The triple tail it possessed could frequently be seen at airports during the years after the war until around the mid-1960s. It was also the last of this type of aircraft, as it could not compete with the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8, which eventually served as replacements.

A small amount of Super Connies were used as both passenger flights and in military operations, even up into the 1990s.

Where can you fly it?

There are two Super Constellations still in use, one with Breitling, a Swiss watch manufacturer, and the other with the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society, which is located in Australia. Both of these planes regularly appear at airshows.

Convair CV-580

Convair created an entirely family of airliners, the first of which was the CV-240. Their aim was to replace the DC-3 with an aircraft that had a more advanced design, which featured a pressurized cabin.

Between 1947 and 1954, over a thousand of these aircraft were manufactured and utilized by a vast array of airlines and air forces.

Duane Emeny, the general manager of Air Chathams, lauded the undying reliability of the Convair 580. “The Convair 580 was truly ahead of its time, and it comes with an exceptional level of system redundancy.”

“It is very robust and able to operate effectively in all sort of climates. It has enabled us to fly direct to Auckland and to bring to market the Chatham Islands’ main export: rock lobster.”

Where can you fly it?

Air Chathams, which is located in New Zealand, has three that are available to passengers.

Boeing 707
First flight: 1957

The Boeing 707 was integral in causing air travel to boom in popularity. Once the Boeing 707 became frequently used by airlines, nowhere was too far to travel.

This aircraft was far more efficient and faster than planes that used propellers. The standards that it set in terms of passenger comfort and overall design are the foundation for airlines today.

Where can you fly it?

Since 2011, the Boeing 707 has not been used in commercial airline services.

The only current options to fly one are to receive an invitation from a government that operates one. That, or ask actor John Travolta; he keeps one for his own personal use.

Hey, not everything worth doing is easy.

Douglas DC-8
First flight: 1958

Yet another plane that upgraded from propellers to jets, the DC-8 rivaled the Boeing 707 in performance. Despite only lasting for 16 seconds, it was the first aircraft to ever break the sound barrier. It was a reliable airliner that was used by many airlines and governments for decades after its creation.

Where can you fly it?

For the average citizen, there is virtually no chance to ever step inside of one.

A small handful of DC-8s are currently being used as freighters. In addition to that, NASA also uses one as a flying laboratory.

Antonov An-24
First flight: 1959

While the An-24 may not be the most glamorous aircraft, it more than makes up for its appearance with its durable reliability. It was the aircraft of choice to travel across the vast Soviet Union. It is currently used today in areas where the ground infrastructure is lacking. It provides both civilian and military services.

Where can you fly it?

Ukrainian airline Motor Sich Airlines uses AN-24s for passenger flights, but most are used for freighters or military transportation.

Boeing 727
First flight: 1963

The Boeing 707 and DC-8 set new standards for long flights; the Boeing 727 raised the bar for short and medium routes. The aircraft sported three engines and a capacity of 150 passengers, making it a staple airliner in the industry.

More and more airlines began to utilize the Boeing 727, and it began to replace more and more propeller aircraft.

Where can you fly it?

Bolivia, Mongolia and a select few governments use the airliner today, but mainly for military operations. For your best shot at flying in a Boeing 727, Iran Aseman Airlines in Iran frequently operates this type of plane for passenger flights.

If you’re up for a less conventional flight on a Boeing 727, you could also look into booking a zero gravity flight.

Tupolev Tu-134
First flight: 1963

The second half of the 1960s saw the Tu-134 as one of the main airliners in the Soviet Union. Over 800 were used across many different Communist airlines and air forces.

The defining characteristics of the Tu-134 are its sweptback wing and glass nose. Both of these features are derived from the Tupolev Tu-16 bomber, which the Tu-134 is based on.

Where can you fly it?

Only a few of this aircraft remain in commercial service.

Air Koryo of North Korea and Alrosa and Kosmos Airlines in Russia are current operators of the Tu-134. The Russian airlines charter flights from Moscow to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

READ: Belarus to North Korea: Ultimate tour for aviation geeks

Illyushin II-62
First flight: 1963

The II-62 served as the Soviet’s response to the DC-8 and Boeing 707. It served as the main airliner to embark on long flights for the communist regime, and was in service with Aeroflot and East German airline Interflug, among other airlines as well.

Where can you fly it?

Only Air Koryo in Russia offers passenger flights on the II-62.

McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and MD-80/90 series
First flight: 1965

This aircraft proved to be widely successful, well known for its iconic twin engines that were located at the rear of the aircraft. The DC-9’s small size allowed it to become the main aircraft to operate on less-traveled routes where not many passengers booked flights. Later on, it was modified into the MD-80/90 series, where it competed in the industry with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.

In 1997, Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas and the MD-80 series ceased to be produced. It can be argued that the DC-9 now takes the form of the Boeing 717, since Boeing renamed the smallest aircraft of the MD-80/90 group after they acquired McDonnell Douglas.

Where can you fly it?

African airlines African Express Airways and Fly-Sax of Kenya and Laser Airlines of Venezuela offer commercial flights on DC-9s. Perris Valley Skydiving, which is based in California, utilizes a DC-9 for some of its flights.

Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante
First flight: 1968

This aircraft was Brazil’s first dive into manufacturing in the industry. The airliner was so successful that Embraer, 50 years later, is now creating regional and executive jets.

In 1985, the Bandeirante was the first aircraft used by Ryanair, a small and relatively unknown Irish airline.

Where can you fly it?

The Cook Islands and the Bahamas are home to Pineapple Air, which still regularly uses Bandeirante aircraft.

Airbus A300
First flight: 1972

This aircraft was the very first that was designed and produced by Airbus.

The European airline industry greatly benefitted from its launch, as it was finally able to compete on the same level as American manufacturers.

Today, the Airbus organization has made such progress that it is now one of the top two competing companies in the global industry for aircraft manufacturing. The A300 possessed a wide body and two engines, which made it ideal for short and medium haul routes with a large cargo.

READ: Could Russia’s Frigate Ecojet take on Airbus and Boeing?

Five A300s were modified by Airbus to carry aircraft components from one factory to another, and thus were given the name A300-600ST. Due to their whale-like shape, they are known as “Belugas.”

READ: Airbus’ Beluga: The world’s strangest-looking airplane turns 20

Where can you fly it?

Most A300s are freighters, but they are still used by Kuwait Airways and Mahan Air for commercial flights.

Tupolev Tu-154
First flight: 1968

Its three engines on the back are reminiscent of the Boeing 727, and serve as the main aspect of its iconic image. The sleek form of the Tu-154 is misleading, as it is very strong, durable and reliable and has been flown in virtually every runway and landing condition.

Where can you fly it?

While over 1,000 Tu-154s were manufactured, but those looking to fly one are quickly running out of options. Recently, many airlines have been making it a priority to take them out of service. However, Air Koryo in North Korea, Alrosa of Russia and Belavia of Belarus still have this aircraft in their possession.

McDonnell Douglas DC-10/MD-11
First flight: 1970

Douglas responded to the creation of the Jumbo Jet with the DC-10. Its triple-engine design made it stand out among competitors. Its first flight was in 1970, and was succeeded by modernized aircraft named MD-10 and MD-11.

Where can you fly it?

Since Biman, of Bangladesh and KLM operated their last MD-11 flights in 2014 and 2015, respectively, it has become exceedingly difficult to find one in service.

While a few are used for freighting, the most significant DC-10 in use was, until recently, the Flying Eye Hospital, which was flown by Orbis International, a charity that uses the aircraft as a center for ophthalmological services to patients all across the globe. Currently, Orbis is working on replacing the DC-10 with an MD-10, which offers more modern services.

Fokker 50
First flight: 1985

Not too long ago, the Netherlands was a major force in the aircraft manufacturing industry. The Fokker 50 was a propeller aircraft designed to transport passengers across the region, and it was one of the most popular products of the Dutch firm Fokker, which had been around since the beginning of aviation.

Where can you fly it?

Amapola Flyg in Sweden and Denim Air in the Netherlands are both viable options for those looking to fly on the plane. In 2014, DJ Armin van Buuren did just that during one of his tours.

MORE: Plane-spotting 101: A beginner’s guide to commercial jets

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