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News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

NASA's 'Quiet Supersonic' Plane Could Change Airports Forever

•, By Kelsey D. Atherton

In the heady days after the end of World War II, back when NASA was NACA (the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), going faster than sound meant finding a willing pilot, building a capable plane, and then tearing up an empty swath of sky over a vast and unpopulated desert.

Chuck Yeager did it first, in a loud NACA plane called the Bell X-1. From there, it was a short leap to jet fighters, the most common form of supersonic craft today.

In the war theaters and training grounds where supersonic fighters operate, their supersonic booms are at most a secondary concern. No one's worried about noise pollution when bombs are falling. But turning that innovation, the ability to travel faster than sound, into a viable, commercial business? That's a harder project, and one far more bound up with problems of noise than it is with the physical limitations of existing craft.

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