Aces Wild: The Race for Mach 1

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Rowman & Littlefield, 1999 - Technology & Engineering - 282 pages
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They were in a two-man race to break the sound barrier.

It was October 1947, a time before high-speed digital computers, when predictions of what would happen to fighter planes at such speeds were nebulous. Chuck Yeager and George Welch, two great fighter pilots from World War II, were about to explore the unknown in the bright blue sky over the Mojave Desert. Aces Wild: The Race for Mach 1 is the story of these two courageous men who dueled to become the first to fly at supersonic speed, Mach 1, in an aircraft. The book attempts to set the record straight as to who actually broke the sound barrier first.

One pilot, the more celebrated of the duo, is still alive today. Aces Wild also tells the story of the other aviator, George Welch, who lost his life in 1954 while once again flying beyond the technological wisdom of his day over the Mojave Desert. Aces Wild traces the story of fighter planes from the start of World War II at Pearl Harbor through the transition to jets in the 1950s. The author reveals the views of supersonic flight before and after 1947 by pilots, scientists, engineers, business interests, the government, and the media. This dramatic tale will appeal to aviation buffs and all readers, especially those who enjoyed Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff.
 

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Contents

From the Laboratory
4
From the Drawing Board
8
Fromthe Pentagon to the Executive Suite
13
From the Launch Pad
18
From the Mythmakers
22
The Challenge
26
Out Of My Own Logbook
30
THE UPPER RIGHTHAND CORNER FEBRUARY 7 7956
43
SABRE DANCE FIRST FLIGHT
140
PERSISTENT BOOM MEISTER
146
EARLY STORK BUT CLEARLY SUBSONIC
148
FURTHER FLIGHTS OF FANCY MACH WORK
153
ON THE RECORD AT LAST
164
SHOW ME THE DATA
174
SUMMING UP
181
Hindsight The Supersonic a Commonplace
184

SUPERSONIC FLUTTER MARCH 23 1956
50
The Clanks
58
The Contenders
68
Victory Margin in an Unforeseen War
72
A Tale of Two Aces
80
From Hamlin West Virginia to the Majave via the Air War over Europe and Wright Field
103
Events Markers Milestones and Record
124
SeptemberOctober 1947
126
Fromthe Laboratory
204
From the Drawing Board
211
From the Pentagon to the Executive Suite
212
From the Launch Pad
222
From the Mythmakers
236
Bibliography
270
Index
272
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

Al Blackburn is an aeronautical engineer and former test pilot.

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