Hello, my dear co-pilot!! Fasten your seat, for we are about to take off in our very own supersonic aircraft. Supersonic aircraft are capable of flying beyond the speed of sound. They deliver the supersonic experience, obviously, as the name itself explains. As you may know by now, the longer the trips and hauls, this supersonic aircraft shall be your travel partner. If you want to travel at the speed of sound, here we go fighter pilot! Supersonic is a term that refers to traveling higher than the speed of sound. Supersonic planes are mostly fighter planes.
A supersonic plane can cost more than 10 Million dollars. Boom is developing a new generation of passenger supersonic airplanes. United Airlines reportedly ordered more than 15 planes from Boom. Each boom plane costs north of 200 Million.
Do fighter jets belong to supersonic aircraft?
The second half of the 20th century witnessed the bloom of these types of aircraft. Due to the highest range of speed, they are deployed mostly for medical purposes and research. Fighter jets that hover around are common examples of supersonic aircraft. Sometimes they are also called fast jets. The era of fighter jets as supersonic aircraft is still in the development stage by most of the developed and developing countries. You should at this point have a question of ‘How on earth does one accelerate to that high speed and still be stable? Read more about Subsonic Aircraft.
The aerodynamics of supersonic planes
The branch of dynamics that is reliant on the study of the motion of air is called aerodynamics( Wanna know in detail? Check out the blog on the history of aerodynamics). The working of supersonic flight is based on compressed flow. This compression is usually associated with shock waves or the ‘sonic boom’. I must confess that there is nothing in the world that can be more perfect than a sweet supersonic plane. You can consider supersonic planes to exist at least at the bare minimum requirement of every air force by now. I can confidently say to you that this is not the case 60 years ago.
Cold war and Supersonic flight
Your average supersonic planes are direct results of the Cold war between the US and the USSR. The Soviet Union saw a fatal flaw in its geographical design. You should have the question that ‘why does a country that expands into two continents have a geographical flaw?’. Isn’t having a wider and bigger country easier to defend? Technically yes. But you see there is always a downside to every upside. The Soviet military had to travel quickly between cities and bases to defend themselves. Additionally, read more about Thrust In An Airplane.
The United States on the other hand had the same issue. But the problem is much more than just defending own territory for the US. The NATO countries saw Soviet Union’s closest presence to be deadly. You’re not a superpower until you ensure your allies will be secure under your umbrella. I can see the issue so do you and sure enough. Both superpowers saw this and decided to develop Supersonic planes. Is possessing tech more important or showcasing power? I think both go hand in hand. You should read about Jet Aircraft, it is a fascinating story of modern wonder.
X-plane program – specifity matters
Faced with a deadly but unlikely scenario, the United States started the X-Plane program. The X-plane program is a pilot project of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). X-plane project involved scientists from both NACA and the US army. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) later became NASA ( National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Additionally, the X-plane program is a huge success for the United States army. It brought the first US-made Supersonic plane named the Bell X-1. Bell X-1 set a record for the fastest plane in the world. Read more about Drag Coefficient.
Bell X-1 broke the sound barrier ( speed of sound ) on 14th October 1947. Chuck Yeager is the first man to fly a rocket-powered plane. Yep, Bell X-1 not only broke the sound barrier but also used Rocket powered engine. Bell X-1 looked like an alien airplane for the aviators of the time. Bell X-1’s supersonic records sent an alarm to the Soviet Union. Chuck Yeager flew at a record speed of 1066 Km/h above the California desert at an altitude of 13,000 feet. Read more about the History Of Aviation.
Cultural influence of Supersonic planes
X plane project brought the culture of innovation to modern society in a way that is path-breaking. Supersonic travel was considered to be a god-level achievement. ‘There is an invisible wall in the sky that will not let you cross the speed of sound’. There were many theories calling supersonic travel a myth. You can easily say that supersonic planes are just engineering products. Supersonic travel changed the way humans thought about aerodynamics, technology, and innovation. Early Supersonic planes enabled a new way of travel. Supersonic travel soon evolved into modern jets. The studies that led to the X-1 plane are still the basics of every plane design. Read more about Thrust In An Airplane.
Soviet Supersonic planes
The soviet union had the tools and courage to start a supersonic civilian airplane service. Tupolev Tu-144 was the first Supersonic civilian airplane to ever fly. Tupolev Tu-144 flew from as early as 1969. Western countries replied to Tupolev Tu-144 with Concorde. Concorde is a joint venture between BAE ( British Aerospace ) and Airbus ( French aviation manufacturer ). You must’ve heard about Concorde at least once in your life.
Mikoyan-Gurevich – MiG 19 airplane
MiG 19 fighter jet revolutionized modern warfare. MiG 19 was capable of flying supersonically continuously, unlike its US counterparts. Soviets always had one up in engineering and innovation against the US. But the problem is that they are so big that even a small percentage of backlash is huge. Also, the soviet union had lesser allies. The lesser the allies, the lesser the cash flow of military equipment. We should get back to supersonic planes and their technical details now. Additionally, read more about The History Of Aerodynamic Laws.
Shock waves or sonic boom explained in detail:
When an object travels at the speed of sound it produces shock waves through the air. These shock waves travel through the air producing a large amount of energy. Supersonic airplanes will constantly generate Sonic booms. Sonic booms are unavoidable in the early stages of supersonic aviation. Engineers had to come up with materials and designs to withstand the extreme effects of Sonic booms. In addition, you can read about Basics Of Aerodynamics
The rise in the aerodynamic drag needs to be sharp( read about drag in aerodynamics). This is done by employing heavy engine power and a more narrow-lined aircraft frame. Also, the wingspan is limited to reduce drag. Usually, a swing-wing is used for supersonic flight. I can not tolerate constant bangs in the sky all day and night. So do everyone right? This is the main reason Supersonic travel is far from widespread reality.
A supersonic flight – What is it?
Generally, a supersonic aircraft must be able to take up both subsonic and supersonic roles. This makes the aerodynamic design complex. At very high-speed much heat will be generated. The aircraft must be designed in such a way to tolerate the amount of heat generated. Materials like titanium and stainless steel fit the criteria for supersonic flight.
When the duration of the flight is varied as subsonic flight and supersonic flight constantly, it is called transonic flight.
When the speed of the aircraft is above Mach 5, it is termed hypersonic flight.
A sustainable supersonic flight that is used for cargo, passengers, and weapon load is called a supercruise.
Wanna know about the other types of aircraft? Dig in to find out(Types of aircraft).
Hope this article made you wear your thinking caps and reading glasses. The era of inventory of life in the air is still in progress. Hope you enjoyed this fun flight travel in the supersonic aircraft. It’s time for landing! For more information on aviation and related stuff do check out our blog page at Criss Cross Tamizh. Until then, bye crewmate!