Aviation speeds have stagnated. In the first half of the 20th century, the United States led the globe in developing better and faster aircraft. Commercialization led many to conclude that a world of widely available and affordable supersonic flights from New York to L.A. in two hours was just around the corner.
And it was.
In 1903 Orville Wright piloted the first powered flight at a speed of 7 miles per hour. Forty-four short years later, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier at 700 miles per hour in the Bell X-1 with the help of a rocket. Then in 1958 an unassisted fighter pilot reached twice the speed of sound, 1400 mph or Mach 2. A decade later and Mach 2 speeds were commercialized in the form of the Concorde, the French- and British-made supersonic passenger jet that flew its milestone transatlantic flight in 1969.
That's right: We went from two brothers with a rickety wooden bi-plane to a 100-person, Mach 2 passenger jet in about sixty years, while in the sixty years hence we've actually regressed.
Instead of improving on supersonic transport by reducing costs and increasing options, in 1973 Congress and the FAA bowed to the pressure of anti-Concorde activists by issuing a complete ban on civil supersonic flight overland—a ban that exists to this day. In turn, private sector investment into quiet, affordable and environmentally sustainable supersonic technology was hobbled indefinitely. Today, the only existing commercial supersonic jets collect dust in museums.
The time has come for the FAA to end its ban and create a supersonic noise standard that will allow aviation innovation to once again flourish in the United States. This site serves to answer frequently asked questions about supersonic transport, and bust some myths along the way.