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Sonic Boom Basics

SR-71 in flight Imagine you and your friends are at an air show. You've been waiting all day to catch a glimpse of the famous SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest plane in the world. The announcer reports that it's now overhead—but you can't see it because it's flying so fast! After about a minute, you hear an enormous "BOOM," louder than any thunder or fireworks you've ever heard! What do you think made the noise happen?

The plane is traveling at subsonic speeds.

Excessive thrust causes the engines to backfire.

Shock waves have built up.

Photo: Lockheed Martin Skunk Works

Men of the X-1 | Secret History | Sonic Boom | Speed Machines
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