Wednesday 15th October 1997
Less than three weeks after breaking the elusive 700mph land-speed barrier, British fighter pilot Andy Green set a new land-speed record in the Thrust SuperSonic vehicle, jet-powering through the sound barrier along a one-mile course in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Coached by previous land-speed record-holder and Thrust team leader Richard Noble, Green roared across Black Rock Desert at 764.168 mph, or 1.007 percent above the speed of the sound. An hour later, Green flashed across the dusty desert floor again, moving 1.003 percent faster than the speed of sound. The second run was required before the feat could be officially entered into the record book, a requirement that may have prevented past records. In 1979, at Edwards Air Force Base, American Stan Barrett is reputed to have reached 739.666 mph, or Mach 1.0106, in a rocket-engined three-wheeled car called the Budweiser Rocket. But the speed was unsanctioned by the United States Air Force, and the official record remained unbroken until Green’s historic run. Appropriately, the first official breaking of the sound barrier by a land vehicle came on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the first supersonic flight, achieved by American pilot Chuck Yeager in 1947.