# Supersonic Flight Introduction

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Air travel was revolutionised on the 14th of October 1947 when American Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager broke the “sound barrier” piloting the experimental Bell X1 aircraft over Mach 1 at 35000ft. Up until then air travel was limited to speeds under the mythical “sound barrier” i.e. the speed at which sound waves move through a medium. This development was a catalyst that accelerated the way we looked at flying. Just about 10 years later, on 4th of October 1957, Russia triggered the “space age” by launching earths first artificial satellite – Sputnik 1 into orbit. It orbited the earth at 18,000 miles per hour or nearly 30,000 kilometres per hour. Such high velocities were thought unachievable only 10 years earlier. This was followed by Yuri…show more content…
Supersonic flight is the obvious solution to the problem, however it was easier said than…show more content…
This large increase in drag can be attributed to the region of fully supersonic flow over the aerofoil. In this region, the drag can increase tenfold with only a small increase in Mach number. This sudden rise in drag however peaks at the region around Mach 1 and then drops. Hence aircraft need to be designed to overcome this region of “drag divergence” to propel themselves supersonic. These design variables and many more necessitate the need for a wind tunnel where such designs variables can be experimentally obtained before a flight test can be made. A wind tunnel that operates at Mach numbers greater than 1.2 are known as Supersonic Wind Tunnels. One of the most integral parts of a Supersonic Wind Tunnel is its Nozzle section i.e. the section that is used to accelerate a subsonic flow into a supersonic flow. From the One-Dimensional steady flow analysis of flow through a tube of varying area, we have the Area – Velocity relationship as: (i) Where: A – Area of Tube, V – Velocity, and M – Mach number The following conclusions can be