World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

The 1960s. The leading aircraft building countries start their race in creation of a supersonic passenger aircraft. The Soviet Union was one of the participants of this race, by 1969 its supersonic aircraft Tu-144 performed its first flight. It was the first supersonic passenger aircraft that flew high in the sky. Only two months later it was followed by the Franco-British aircraft “Concorde”. What was happening later was not so good for the Soviet vehicle, though. Its destiny was full of dramas and tragedies.

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

Tu-144 was the world first aircraft that overcame sound velocity in the beginning of June, 1969 being eleven kilometres high over the ground. The second velocity of sound was taken in the middle of 1970 – the Tu-144 was flying at the height of 16.3 km. This vehicle involved many technical and design innovations such as a horizontal canard. While Tu-144 could land in about twenty airports, “Concorde” aircraft could land only in one certified airport. Constructors of the Tupolev design bureau did a great job. Thus, the wings of the new aircraft were tested on the flying laboratory – specially remodified MiG-21I aircraft.

World First Supersonic Aircraft

In 1973 the Soviet Tu-144 crashed in Le Bourget and all the crew died. There were many versions explaining why it happened but today the most probably of them says that the pilots tried to use the new experimental equipment for automatic flight control to perform a complicated maneuver. However it’s known that it was not the fault of the crew. That accident affected the reputation of the aircraft but its development continued and soon it started to be used for passenger transportation.  However the plane was not used for long, cause it was rather expensive – they flew half empty because people could rarely afford to buy tickets.

The plane broke some world records when was used in various flight tests. During one of such test flights in May 1978 there happened another catastrophe. It was the modified Tu-144D to perform the crash landing on the field. The reason was destruction of the fuel supply line which caused fuel ignition in the plane. Two flight engineers died, others managed to leave the plane through windows and the front door.

World First Supersonic Aircraft

1995-99. Tu-144D, tail number 77114, was used by NASA as a flying laboratory for creation of an American supersonic aircraft for passenger transportation.

World First Supersonic Aircraft

Built in general — 20.

Flying today — 0.

Never flied — 3.

Preserved — 7.

Crashed — 2.

Scrapped — 8.

Year 2000.

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

World First Supersonic Aircraft

 

18 thoughts on “World First Supersonic Aircraft”

  1. Not the first supersonic aircraft but airliner. The first supersonic aircraft was the American Bell X-1 flown by Chuck Yeager.

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  2. “While Tu-144 could land in about twenty airports, “Concorde” aircraft could land only in one certified airport”.

    You’re comparing apples with pears. Both aircraft could physically land at any airport with sufficient runway length.

    Concorde flew for almost 24 years between London, Paris and New York without a major accident. During the early years there was also scheduled service to Washington DC. Other routes, such as Mexico City, Dallas-Fort Worth and Singapore were tried, but were not successful.

    Although Tu-144 was the first supersonic airliner, it flew for less than a year between Moscow and Alma-Ata that was halted after a crash.

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  3. I think the Concorde could land at more than one airport. Otherwise, there’s no point in it even taking off. Can’t really go anywhere if it has to keep landing at the same place.

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  4. Such a beautiful …… but star crossed aircraft …….. its designers and builders still have reason to be proud ……

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  5. I am sorry but saying the Tu-144 is a copy of the Concorde is a mistake. I saw both & compared them and they are quite different. They just look similar but this is it. The characteristics are also different: flight altitude, speed, shape…
    Moreover if I remember correctly the development of the TU-144 started 2 years before the Concorde 😉
    Greetings from a French guy!

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    • Helps to read the captions and not just look at the pictures: 1995-99. Tu-144D, tail number 77114, was used by NASA as a flying laboratory for creation of an American supersonic aircraft for passenger transportation.

      Reply
  6. Concorde was developed in the 1950’s. The reason the Tupolev was the first to fly is because, as was common during the Cold War industrial espionage days, the Soviets rushed it ino production to show its people how superior it was to the West. I have flown twice in Concorde and it was a marvellous, if a little cramped, experience. I have also seen the Tupolev in action, when I lived in Russia in the early 90’s. Having flown on thousands of Soviet era aircraft, I know which one I prefer!

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