QUADRANT / FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY QUADRANT / FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Sound barrier attempt. De Havilland D.H.108 Swall- ow aircraft used in an attempt to break the sound barrier. It took off on 27 September 1946 from Hatfield airfield near London, Britain, piloted by Geoffrey Raoul de Havilland (seen here). He was trying to break the speed record of 985 kilometres per hour, a speed just below that of sound. The aircraft disintegrated and was found in the Thames estuary the next day; de Havilland's body was found 10 days later. Engineers began to speculate that severe shock waves would destroy any aircraft flying at the speed of sound, a phenomenon they named the "sonic wall" or "sound barrier".
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