The New Supersonic Boom

Aeronautical engineers strive for a fresh start two decades after Concorde's demise

11 min read

The Concorde, an Anglo-French supersonic airliner that flew for the first time in 1969, used a triangular delta wing [left]. The same is true for the Overture, an airliner being developed by Boom Technology for introduction in 2029 [right].

Left: AP; Right: Boom Supersonic

On 9 April 1945, less than a month before the end of hostilities in Europe, a young Luftwaffe pilot named Hans Guido Mutke put his jet-propelled Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter-bomber into a steep dive, intending to come to the aid of a fellow airman below. As the Messerschmitt accelerated downward, the plane began to shake violently, and the controls became unresponsive. Mutke managed to regain control and lived to describe the incident, in which he later laid claim to having exceeded the speed of sound, a controversial but plausible assertion.

This and similar episodes during and after World War II led some to believe that aircraft would have great difficulty ever "breaking the sound barrier"—a phrase that led to a popular misconception that there is some kind of brick wall in the sky that a plane must pierce to fly at supersonic speeds.

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