With that caveat, we can still attempt an answer. If having a pilot on board is not a criteria, then the X-43 is said to be the fastest airplane in the world. The X-43 is an unmanned scramjet,
which launches not from the ground but from a B-52 at about 40,000 feet
(12.2 kilometers) in the air. On 16 November 2004, the X-43 reached
Mach 9.6 (7,000 miles or 11,265 kilometers per hour) according to NASA.
Some claim that it reached Mach 9.8.