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The Need for Speed: 10 Shots Showcasing the Thrill of Speed

Let's face it: we all love a good adrenaline rush from a roller coaster—or from skydiving. These incredible photos will give you a rush!

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speed skydivePhoto: Shutterstock

The Great Dive

One-hundred and seven years ago, American Albert Berry was the first person ever to dare to jump out of a plane. Nowadays, skydiving almost counts as a recreational sport. Even so, it still requires a lot of courage to jump out of an intact aircraft at some dizzying height and plummet to earth at a speed of nearly 300 kilometres an hour.

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speed race carPhoto: Action Sports Photography/Shutterstock

Drag Racing

So-called “funny cars” have several thousand horsepower under the bonnet when they line up for a drag race. Some of the drivers in these races cross the line at over 500 kilometres per hour. At that speed only a braking parachute secures a safe end to the thrilling ride.

Check out the best car chases from classic movies.

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speed roller coasterPhoto: Pit Stock/Shutterstock

The Fastest Ride


Measuring a whopping 52 metres and running at 240 kph, the Formula Rossa is the world’s fastest roller coaster. The trains modelled after red Formula One Ferraris accelerate from zero to 100 metres in the span of two seconds. You can find the torpedo it in Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari theme park—but watch out for your eyes! Passengers are made to wear goggles to make sure they’re protected from the desert sand.

Learn about the Yukon Striker: the world’s longest, tallest and fastest dive roller coaster.

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speed-boltPhoto: Petr Toman/Shutterstock

The Running Man

Usain Bolt could end up with a speeding ticket if he goes sprinting in areas with traffic-calming measures. The Jamaican athlete broke the world record at the 2009 World Championships by running the 100 metres in 9.58 seconds, reaching speeds of more than 44 kph in the process.

Find out how this senior marathon runner stays fit!

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speed hummingbirdPhoto: Shutterstock

Sweet Beak

Hummingbirds aren’t the fastest birds in the animal kingdom, but these diminutive aerial acrobats can beat their wings up to 200 times per second, faster than any other bird. This skill combined with the rest of their anatomy enables them to hover in mid-air like a helicopter and even fly backwards.

Don’t miss these beautiful Canadian birds captured on camera.

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speed jetPhoto: Shutterstock

Jet Set

A jet races by overhead. Shortly thereafter, there’s a loud bang. The plane has broken the sound barrier. At speeds of over 1,200 kph, sound waves ahead of the aircraft are compressed and spread out behind it in a conical shape. Whoever the cone passes over hears the sonic boom.

Read about the scariest experiences pilots have had on the job.

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speed japanese trainPhoto: VDB Photos/Shutterstock

Even faster than flying!

On a test run, the Japanese Maglev became the world’s fastest-ever train by reaching an astonishing 603 kph. A Maglev link between Tokyo and the city of Nagoya is set to open in 2027. A section of the journey covering 350 kilometres will take about 40 minutes. That’s 20 minutes quicker than by plane!

Trigger your wanderlust with these stunning photos of Canadian railways.

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speed barracudaPhoto: Shutterstock

Sea Monster

Barracuda, blue sharks and Atlantic bluefin tuna can only rub their eyes in astonishment when this torpedo snatches their prey in the water right from under their noses. The sail fish can reach speeds of 110 kph, making it almost twice as fast as its competitors and other fastest fish in the sea.

Dive into these photos of the rarest animals on Earth.

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speed cheetahPhoto: Shuttertock

Spotted Athlete

Not only are they beautiful, cheetahs are the fastest land animal—their powerful legs can propel them up to 120 kph! Masters of the hunt, these cats will stealthily stalk their next meal before a burst of speed helps them outrun their prey. Now, cheetahs are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union of the Conservation of Nature as there are only about 71,000 adults left in the wild.

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speed of lightPhoto: Shutterstock

Speed of Light

Danish astronomer Ole Rømer recognized as far back as 1676 that light has a quantifiable speed. With the help of Jupiter’s moons he calculated that it must be around 220,000 kilometres per second. Even though his calculations were slightly off, this was an astonishing achievement given the lack of technology at his disposal. Light actually travels at around 300,000 kilometres per second. Nothing in the universe is faster.

Catch your own thrill with these strange vacation ideas.

Originally Published in Readers Digest International Edition