The first man to break the sound barrier was Chuck Yeager, a captain in the United States Air Force, on October 14, 1947. After several unsuccessful attempts in his plane, the X-1, he consulted Captain Jack Ridley who told him to change the angle if incidence in his flight by small increments for better control. On October 14, he took a number of test flights with this new technique and finally, at 43,000 feet, was able to achieve a top speed of Mach 1.06, or 700 miles per hour. His achievement wasn’t made public until 1948, when he effectively became a celebrity and dubbed “The Fastest Man Alive.”
The first time we broke the sound barrier was actually with a bullwhip, the very same type of whip Harrison Ford uses in the Indiana Jones movies. That sound of the whip cracking (when used properly) is actually the sound of breaking the sound barrier, with the end of the whip reaching 700 miles an hour. Evidence of bullwhips date back three thousand years, in both Chinese and Egyptian cultures. Since then, bullets and canons both have broken the sound barrier, and then of course the more famous event was in an airplane flown by US Air Force’s Chuck Yeager in October 1947 while flying the Bell XS-1.
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