Beyond the Sound Barrier: The Insane Speeds That Jets Can Achieve

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There have been some inventions and breakthroughs that have changed the face of the earth. Perhaps the first in this series of inventions was the discovery of fire. It was such an important achievement for humanity at that time because it allowed us to see in the dark and fend off animals. It allowed a level of permanence that would directly influence how human society would structure itself. What was the most important effect of this was the fact that humans began to prosper at a much greater level beyond that point. Families started to prosper even in the harshest of cold weather. There were social effects of this as well, such as the fact that people began to organize themselves in groups together. The night was no longer just sheer darkness that swallowed everything in its gaze. After the invention of fire, the night would open up a new avenue for human perception and imagination to run rampant. Today, we are going to be talking about how the invention of the jet engine and the speeds that it has allowed us to achieve have had a similar effect on society as the discovery of fire did.

The invention of the jet engine sent the world of aircraft into truly another dimension. The end of the 1920s saw the idea of the jet engine first take shape. Frank Whittle officially submitted the idea of a jet engine to his direct seniors. This would end up starting a domino effect which would result in the Heinkel He 178, the very first aircraft that was able to utilize the power of the turbojet engine. The Heinkel company was a German establishment. It was the vision of Ernst Heinkel who thought that technology that could facilitate speed would be the need of the future. Interestingly enough, the Heinkel He 100 was an aircraft that the same company had produced and was the fastest aircraft in the world in 1939.

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The Flight Airspeed Record

In 1944, the famous aviator Heini Dittmar would man the Messerschmitt Me 262 to the very height of speed itself. It became the fastest aircraft in the world at that point as well as the first jet-powered engine to have held the record. Slowly, everyone was starting to understand the fact that the jet engine was indeed what would power the aircraft of the future. Once this invisible wall had broken down, everything else seemed just in sight for this particular jet.

After the second world war had reached its much-anticipated end, the US emerged as the supreme power of the world. They not only had made a lot of money from the war by supplying weapons to the Allied Forces throughout, but the deployment of the atomic bomb meant that they were on another level technologically. While the warring nations of Europe were stuck in internal conflicts, the US had been slowly chipping away at the gap and would finally overtake the British Empire. They had the greatest abundance of money as well as a growing entrepreneurial spirit that was one of their biggest cultural icons. In 1947, the Bell X-1 took on a legendary challenge to break the sound barrier. At that point, the sound barrier haunted many daredevil pilots. Many wondered exactly what it would mean to reach this level. The Bell X-1 would break it on its 58th flight and reach a speed of 891 miles an hour. It would be a stretch to even call the Bell X-1 a plane as it is more of a rocket than anything else.

Legends of Old

You are very much inclined to find people who search stuff along the lines of ‘mach 10 speed’ or ‘how fast in mach 20’. Unfortunately, when it comes to the world of jet aircraft, the fastest we have ever gone is in the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Perhaps the most legendary aircraft to have ever taken to the skies, this aircraft was envisioned as a reconnaissance aircraft. If you need a spy plane, the most important thing that you need to keep in mind is that it needs to be quick on its feet. The Blackbird was so fast that it could simply outrun enemy missiles, making it a cheat code of nuclear proportions. In 1976, the aircraft would reach a scary top speed of 3529 km/h. That is over 3 times the speed of sound. The achievement was so momentous even at that time and so ahead of the curve that the record still stands unbroken today. Some would simply chalk this up to the fact that priorities have changed, and the advent of unmanned drones and the end of the cold war simply meant that shows of technological prowess do not mean much anymore. Somehow the US is much more reluctant to spend big on these projects when there isn’t the big bad wolf of Soviet communism knocking at the door.

Why Jets Are Superior to Turboprops

Chances are that you are not a flight instructor in the Top Gun school, so you probably do not have access to a fighter jet. What you might be more interested in is a private aircraft. In the world of private jet charter, luxury is one of the greatest concerns. When you are paying a decent bit of money to charter a Phenom 300 to take your wife to Paris, you would be more than justified in wanting the absolute best when it comes to private jet charter.

One of the choices that you need to make when chartering a private aircraft is to choose between a turboprop and a jet. The turboprop has a jet engine that is powering a propeller which provides the lift that the aircraft needs in order to become airborne. They are extremely reliable and much cheaper compared to jet aircraft. This is mainly due to the fact that they use inferior technology which is cheaper to produce than jet engines.

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Comfort All The Way

The fact that there isn’t a propeller attached that is rotating at thousands of revolutions per minute makes jets much more comfortable than turboprops. This is usually more evident when you are taking a long flight. As time goes on, the slight vibrations of the turboprop aircraft will start to really get to you. For people with back problems or anyone who is much more sensitive when it comes to comfortability, a proper jet aircraft is a way to go.

Cost

While it is true that jet aircraft are more expensive to charter compared to turboprops, I would argue that they are a much better bang for your buck. If you take a first-class flight from London to Paris and compare the cost of a jet over that same distance, you’d be surprised. While at the surface level, the jet would seem more expensive, you would have to take into consideration the fact that a Phenom 300 for example can seat 11 people. So, the actual cost needs to be compared on a per-passenger basis. The hourly cost of the Phenom 300 in order to charter that jet is to be divided by 11 in order to get the per-passenger cost. 3,350 USD is the average rental rate for a Phenom 300. The cost per passenger comes out to nearly 300 USD, which is a bargain. In fact, there are many situations in which chartering a jet would basically come at a similar cost to getting a first-class ticket. If you compare the fact that you would still be sharing a plane with many others (and their wailing babies) while in a private jet aircraft, you would be with your closest friends, it really seems like a no-brainer.

A thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that chartering a jet is an experience. It is not simply a means to get from one point of the earth to another. In other forms of transport, you are simply biding the time and the clock seems to run as slow as possible. On the other hand, in a private jet aircraft, you are there for the experience of traveling in it. There is no better feeling to be sipping your favorite champagne as you look toward the horizon. The impressive speed of a jet aircraft can only be understood when you see the sun up close and personal in the skies. It is a meeting with nature that you have to attend, a love affair that you have to feel in your bones.

A New Global World Order

Jets have been pushing the envelope since they were first invented. Their technology has allowed humanity to structure itself differently. The speed and comfort at which a jet can transport you over long distances allowed businessmen to travel all over the world to make investments. It is solely due to the greatness of the jet engine that we have companies that can run be run effectively. An executive that has to go to Australia from the UK knows that his private jet is going to be waiting patiently for him. It is dependable so he knows that he can make commitments to the people on the other side, knowing that his jet will get him to his destination. He knows that he will be quite okay after landing (with a bit of jet lag) so he can start working on the pitch right away. If the only option he had were ships that would take weeks to just reach his destination, he would be much less confident about his ability to broker deals and present himself in the best condition possible.

Making Traveling A Hobby

Apart from making business much more extensive and introducing a world order that is much more global, jet aircraft also allow the average consumer to go wherever they want. Want to go to Ibiza to spend the week with your best friends right before your wedding? All you need to do is to bring your passport and pay for your ticket. In a few hours, you will actually be there anyway.

From the advent of the very first jet, the story of the jet aircraft is one that has always been about challenging the very limits of what is possible. It took an immense amount of courage to even commandeer the very first flight in a jet. It took even more strength to break the sound barrier on technology that was considered to be unproven even by that point. It probably took something completely inhuman to go to a point where no other human had been before in the Blackbird. A level of speed where everything becomes a blur and you are crossing entire countries in a few minutes, a true world of insanity.

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