Introduction: Flying Supersonic (04:00)
As the result of collaboration, the Concorde flew twice the speed of sound, revolutionizing air travel and inspiring new technologies. Test pilot Nils Larson describes flying at Mach Two. The supersonic plane flew from Europe to the United States in four hours; flight attendant Sally Armstrong recalls sights and expediency of the plane.
Breaking the Sound Barrier (02:38)
On October 14, 1947, Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager flew the Bell X 1 faster than the speed of sound. The first sonic booms were heard; when a plane flies supersonic, sudden release of compressed air causes thundering shockwaves. Jay Dryer discusses engineering challenges and biological concerns of early attempts at the feat.
Technological Alliance (03:48)
In 1962, Britain and France cooperated on supersonic commercial prototypes; engineering challenges made solo endeavors too costly. Flight relies on forces thrust, drag, gravity and lift. Concorde designers invent the Delta Wing; Bob Van Der Linden explains its advantages.
Political and Technological Race (04:04)
President of Pan Am Juan Trippe ordered six Concordes at the 1963 Paris Air Show; having goals for American aviation, President Kennedy negatively viewed the purchase, announcing United States' commitment to commercial supersonic flight the next day. See Soviet bomber Tu-22 demonstration attended by Premier Nikita Khrushchev; aeronautics engineer Amelushkin Alexei Nikolaievitch discusses industry reconnaissance.
Collaborating Efforts (02:15)
Concorde was Britain and France's first shared engineering feat; the former rivals adapted to language and measurement differences. Dominique Berger and Michel Polacco discuss challenges and logistics of designing in two countries. Double production lines resulted in ten times the originally estimated costs.
Learning to Fly Supersonic (02:32)
Pilots tested in simulators; Mike Bannister explains Concorde's complex instrumentation. Its unique nose moves into different positions; John Hutchinson describes landing challenges before the modification mitigated visibility issues.
Technological Reconnaissance (06:24)
On December 11th, 1967, the Concorde 001 prototype was not ready to fly; Bob Van Der Linden explains international competition to complete supersonic projects. Boeing designed the 2707. The Soviet Union Tupolev 144 took off on December 31st, 1968, but did not achieve supersonic speeds; Hutchinson and Vladimir Rigmant describe industrial espionage.
Success, Expense, and Failure (06:42)
On October 1st, 1969, Concorde flew supersonic; test pilot Jean Pinet recalls the flight. President Nixon canceled the United States' program; global manufacturers sought sales options, but canceled after researching operational prices. At the 1973 Paris Air Show, the Russian Tu-144 and the Concorde demonstrated together; the Soviet plane crashed, killing all on board.
Moving People and Petrol (03:36)
On January 21st, 1976, Concorde is ready for commercial flight; passengers boarded Air France and British Airways planes for simultaneous takeoff; Alain Verschuere and Katie John recall travelers' excitement. Supersonic speeds create drag increasing shockwaves; Van Der Linden explains fuel transfers shifting gravity's center.
Noise Pollution (06:31)
New York City was Concorde's biggest potential market, but supersonic civilian flight over land was banned in 1973. NASA scientists researched quieter designs, studying sound wave shape; Larson performs risky maneuvers to reform and soften sonic booms. Peter Coen explains changes to nose and engine placement; Alexandra Loubeau tests public sound tolerance.
Elite Transport (03:34)
A court decision allowed New York landings with modification; Dominique Berger discusses challenges of maneuvers slowing and quieting the planes. On November 22nd, 1977, two Concordes arrived, jump starting its popularity. Flying on the supersonic craft was a privilege for crew and passengers; requiring twice the fuel increased operational costs and pollution.
Wrecked Plane and Market (02:34)
On, July 25th, 2000, a controller observed flames at the tail of an Air France Concorde at takeoff; a combination of problems caused fire and engine loss. It crashed, killing 113; all the planes were temporarily grounded.
Engineering Legacy (03:11)
Boeing and Airbus are working on hypersonic planes for commercial use. Boom Technology builds on existing technologies; Blake Scholl discusses markets for more environmentally friendly and affordable supersonic flights. Concorde's last flights were in 2003; pilots describe taking part in aviation history.
Credits: Flying Supersonic (00:50)
Credits: Flying Supersonic
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