Airline travel has become a staple of contemporary life, so much so that, save for the stealth programme, the innovation and ingenuity of airline travel is almost taken for granted.

Indeed, we’ve come a long way since aviation pioneers, the Wright brothers, designed and built the very first controlled airplane. Here is a look at four of the most awe-inspiring planes of all time.

Concorde

The Concorde programme has been discontinued. Aviation enthusiasts can only view such aircraft in museums. Manchester airport is home to one such museum, as is Heathrow. The legendary status of Concorde was cemented following its record flight from New York to London – in a shade below three hours. The dipped nose facilitates increased visibility throughout take off and landing. On October 24th 2003, Concorde’s final transatlantic flight was recorded. The plane has been retired ever since.

Harrier

One of the most prolific RAF planes of all time, the Harrier has inspired a wealth of memorabilia. RAF watches have proved to be very popular with aviation enthusiasts. Today, the Harrier draws guests to museums across the world. The unique characteristics of the Harrier, being able to lift off vertically, hover for ninety seconds, turn in different directions and move forwards or backwards will never be viewed by members of the public again – or will they?

Antonov

The size of this plane is simply immense. The AN-225 is the largest plane in the world, with the capacity to carry a space shuttle across its wingspan. The world has only seen a single AN-225 in existence as its twin was never completed. Recent flights include a journey to the Dominican Republic to assist Haiti with rescue and clean-up after the devastating earthquake in 2010.

Orlyonok WIG

This aviation vehicle is unlike any other in existence today. The plane has the featured of an aquatic vehicle, balancing on water, before taking to the air in flight. WIG is an abbreviation of Wing in Ground Effect. Kept top secret until after the fall of the Soviet Union, these planes can carry a heavy payload and have the capacity to settle on sea as well as land.

These planes are examples of aviation ingenuity at its finest. Some have been retired, yet the skies are still filed with these marvels of the modern aviation age.