This day, December 31st, but forty six years ago in 1968 the first supersonic passemger jet in the world, the TU-144 took its first flight. Today we are going to remember it with pictures from that event and a story. See inside:
Two thousand three hundred fifty kilometers per hour? Three hours to fly from Moscow to the Pacific coast? Are you joking me? That’s what people said back in 1968. Michail, the engineer who was working on this plane, said people were afraid of making something like this reality. “We are OK with making this distance in eight hours, why do we need to fly that fast?”, people were constantly asking him.
And even now, can you imagine flying from New York to San Francisco in just an hour and a half instead of the normal six hour flight? Or New York to Hawai in two hours? And all this was possible with this jet.
However, engineers didn’t listen to the questions being asked. Humanity had just recently switched their old propeller driven passenger and cargo planes (like the DC-3) to the new at that time jet propelled planes (like the Boeing-707). The jet planes were as fast compared to the old propeller planes as the new TU-144 supersonic plane was when compared to the existing jet planes. So they were making this plane as the next step in the air transportation revolution of the age.
A lot of on-ground tests were conducted, and then finally the plane was ready to take off from the ground. On December 31st, 1968. The day of New Year’s Eve.
“It was not a test of the jet, it was a test of our nervous system!” – remembers Michail.
“It was very misty foggy morning”, the engineer goes on to say, “We have dispatched special cloud-dispersing airplanes to help us get the weather conditions better, they arrived but couldn’t help much! So we waited and waited and didn’t know what would come first – the good weather or the dark night”.
However, the weather became clearer pretty soon and the crew – four people – two pilots and two engineers, boarded the plane.
Just twenty seconds run on a runway and the TU-144 goes up into the skies. For the first time ever.
There was also a TU-144 plane that was accompanied by TU-124 support jet.
It was a pretty short flight – less than an hour, but it was a big deal for the team.
The pilots and engineers celebrating, two things at once – the successful first flight and a New Year, so we here at English Russia also wish you a fruitful year to come!