Contributor: Barry Fetzer
Sources: Robert Lea, NASA
Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving to all readers of the Moore County Airport Website.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, think turkeys can’t fly?
See the video here to settle the argument once and for all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWyMbMTAvgY
“Turkey” can be used as a synonym for a slow, lumbering aircraft. Turkeys are not known to be high and fast flying birds. A turkey—either of the living or manufactured version—wouldn’t break any speed records. And it takes a pretty sleek, powerful “bird” to break the sound barrier.
When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s during the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the beginning of the space race, sonic “booms” were common. We kids thought the breaking the sound barrier that resulted in rattling our homes was pretty neat or “peachy keen”. Many parents thought otherwise and ultimately convinced lawmakers to make overland sonic booms “illegal”. According to NASA, “Currently, U.S. law prohibits flight in excess of Mach 1 over land unless specifically authorized by the FAA for purposes stated in the regulations. Officially put into effect on April 27, 1973, the ban’s introduction was strongly influenced by public opinion surveys in cities where supersonic military jets were flown overhead, and many folks said they didn’t like what they heard or the way their windows rattled because of the sonic booms.”
So, most of us alive today have never heard a sonic boom. NASA’s so-called “quiet” supersonic jet may change that according to writer Robert Lea in his column, below.
NASA’s X-59 ‘quiet’ supersonic jet heads for a new red, white and blue paint job
The X-59 Quesst may be “quiet” when it breaks the sound barrier, but it now supports a loud color scheme.
Artist’s illustration of NASA’s X-59 Quesst aircraft in flight. (Image credit: Lockheed Martin)
NASA’s experimental supersonic jet is ready to rock a red, white and blue color scheme ahead of its first flight in which it will quietly shatter the sound barrier over Earth.
The X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (Quesst) jet moved to the paint barn at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works’ facility in Palmdale, California, on Nov. 14, 2023. The jet’s color scheme was changed from green to a white body with a sonic blue underside and red wing accents.
The patriotic new paint job is more than just aesthetic, however. The paint will help protect the X-59 from moisture and corrosion, and the design also features key safety markings that will assist with ground and flight operations. Once the paintwork is completed, the team behind the experimental jet will take final precise weight and shape measurements to improve the modeling of the X-59.
“We are incredibly excited to reach this step in the mission. When the X-59 emerges from the paint barn with fresh paint and livery, I expect the moment to take my breath away because I’ll see our vision coming to life,” Low Boom flight demonstrator project manager Cathy Bahm said. “The year ahead will be a big one for the X-59, and it will be thrilling for the outside of the aircraft to finally match the spectacular mission ahead.”
Breaking the sound barrier with a bump not a boom
The X-59 is designed to not only fly faster than sound, but also to make less noise when it breaks the sound barrier. Rather than creating a sonic boom when it hits Mach-1, the jet should create a sonic “thump” similar to the sound of a distant car door slamming.
The jet is being built by Lockheed Martin through its Skunk Works advanced aircraft manufacturing facility in Palmdale, California. Once it is completed, the X-59 will fly will rocket over communities in the U.S. that have yet to be selected, and its operators will then gather data from the population about the noise created by the jet.
The X-59 program, if successful, has the potential to reshape rules that currently prohibit the flight of supersonic jets over land.
Onward and upward (with a few bumps along the way)!