It was heard for the first time 73 years ago. A pilot had broken the sound barrier. It was October 14th. It was the first supersonic flight. The feat belongs to an American pilot. His name was Chuck Yeager and he was at the controls of a Bell X-1.
Before that, Yeager served as a fighter pilot during World War II. His ship was a P-51 Mustang. Yeager later became a test pilot for many types of experimental rocket aircraft. On October 14, 1947, it reached Match 1:06. What does that mean? That was 1,100 kilometers per hour at an altitude of 13,700 meters.
The aircraft was a Bell X-1, the first of the so-called X aircraft. It was a series of aircraft designed to test new technology and generally kept top secret. The 50th test flight took place on October 14th. The airplane piloted by Yeager was christened “Glamorous Glennis”. It took off from the belly of a modified B-29 and landed on a runway at Edwards Base after activating the rocket and exhausting its fuel. Just a few days later, this aircraft reached an altitude record of 21,372 meters.
This machine is currently on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. It is accompanied by Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and the SpaceShipOne.
However, there is controversy. Some say Yeager’s flight wasn’t exactly the first to break the sound barrier. The German pilot Hans Guido Mutke told a different story. He claimed he was the first to achieve this speed on April 9, 1945 in a Messerschmitt Me-262. There are also disputes over whether pilot George Welch broke the sound barrier in his XP-86 Saber during a dive on October 1, 1947. That is, a few weeks before the first recorded supersonic flight.
That first crash that broke the sound barrier must have sounded great to Yeager.