Bell X-1: First Supersonic Flight

On October 14, 1947, a Bell X-1 research aircraft first exceeded the speed of sound. The X-1 was flown by USAF Captain Charles Yeager. On that day, after being launched from a B-29 at an altitude of 23,000 ft, the rocket-powered vehicle achieved a recorded speed of Mach 1.06 (700 mph) at 43,000 ft. The breaking of the sound barrier was heralded by a sonic boom heard miles away at Muroc Army Air Field, the X-1's home base.

Bell X-1 r1 Bell X-1 46063 Bell X-1 46062
Bell X-1 46063 top Bell X-1 0497a Bell X-1 USAF 6062

  Manufacturer: Bell
  Length: 30 ft, 11 in
  Empty weight: 7,000 lb
  Service ceiling: 71,900 ft
  Engine: Reaction Motors XLR-11-RM3
                 4-chamber rocket engine
  Propellant: ethyl alcohol and liquid oxygen
  single seat experimental aircraft
  Wing span: 28 ft, 0 in
  Maximum speed: Mach 1.45
  Max. thrust: 6,000 lb
                        (1,500 lb each chamber)
  Height: 10 ft, 0 in
  Max. gross weight: 12,250 lb

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