Throughout history, exceptional people have sought to break with the conventional barrier. Before May 6, 1954, conventional wisdom said that a human could not-fly a mile in less than 4 minutes. Roger Banister proved on that day the fallacy of this notion and since that day, many have conquered the mile in less than 3 minutes. In similar fashion, the speed of sound was treated to the same conventional wisdom until Chuck Yeager made his famous jet flight.
Just like the 4-minute mile, travelling at the speed of sound was thought to be impossible to achieve by humankind. The problem that became the “stumbling block” of this kinetic energy of 760 miles per hour at sea level (Sound travels at different speeds at different altitudes and different temperatures or air density) were the questions of what happens next. The engineers, physics experts and scientists were uncertain of the consequences that would envelope objects moving or approaching the incredible speed of sound. The trusted laws of aerodynamics suddenly seemed to go ‘out of whack’ when they were met with the sound barrier.
The first plane that was built to sustain controlled flight in 1909 was chugging along at 42mph and within 60 years, planes were moving at speeds at 1500mph easily. Taking the gigantic leap within this short period, it was no wonder that these exceptionally minded individuals were bewildered. The tests on planes approaching the speed of sound revealed planes losing control, severe vibrations, tendencies to nose over. Thus the term was coined ‘the sound barrier’ to consolidate problems they faced into one seemingly accurate phrase. To flight engineers, it seemed there was an invisible wall or force field in the sky that restricted objects moving at this speed. Countless fatal accidents transpired during this period. The pilots that took part in these extreme experiments signed on dotted lines that stripped them of any right should anything go wrong.
To break this wall and penetrate the ‘force field’ of sound aircraft engineers ventured deeper into the woods to study and understand the physics of sound and the unexplored realms of aerodynamics. They soon realised that they were looking at the problem through a keyhole instead of breaking the door down. Aerodynamics was only the problem was ‘all of the above’ including the fact that any plane likeВ private jet charter flight,that is flying through air displaces the air that it is flying through, creating pressure waves that radiate from various points on the plane’s surface like ripples that are formed by a boat moving through water. At subsonic speeds, these waves dissipate harmlessly out ahead of the plane, but at sonic speeds, the situation changes drastically.
As we continue to explore the history of flight through this blog, let us take our hats off to all the pioneers such as Chuck Yeager who officially broke the sound barrier, Harold Com stock and Roger Dyer who laid claim to that feat in 1942, and Hans Guido Mutke in 1945. Regardless of actually broke the barrier first, all were men of extraordinary courage who deserve our gratitude. The lessons learned in the aviation industry by the engineers who designed, and the brave men who flew the aircraft in the tests have led us to where we are today. Because of their efforts whether we are chartering a private jet charter flight along the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles or booking a private jumbo airliner for our conference to Las Vegas, we can do so swiftly and safely.