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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jet Racer Outruns Sound On Land

GERLACH, Nevada -- A British jet car has broken the sound barrier on land for the first time, 50 years after American pilot Chuck Yeager made the first supersonic flight.


Driver Andy Green, a Royal Air Force fighter pilot, made two supersonic runs in the Thrust SuperSonic Car on Monday, but narrowly failed to set the first supersonic world land speed record because the runs were 61 minutes apart -- one minute more than allowed by international rules.


He broke the sound barrier on land 50 years, almost to the day, since Yeager made the first supersonic flight in the X-1 rocket plane on Oct. 14, 1947.


The menacing black car, powered by two Rolls-Royce engines from a Phantom fighter, raced across Nevada's Black Rock desert at 764.2 miles per hour (1,222.7 kilometers per hour), about 6 miles per hour (10 kilometers per hour) above the speed of sound, on its historic run.


Scores of reporters and spectators heard a sonic boom as the car hit supersonic speed, leaving clouds of dust streaming in its wake.


"We have actually achieved the first-ever timed supersonic run in history. It's a great moment," team leader Richard Noble, 51, said.


Green, 35, could not use the car's two braking parachutes to stop it because they had been damaged by heat from the afterburners, and the car came to a halt 2.4 kilometers beyond the end of the 21-kilometer track.


The team of mechanics rushed to get the car ready to run again. The car raced back up the track at 760.14 miles per hour (1,216.2 kilometers per hour) -- slightly over the speed of sound -- but there was a minute too much time between the runs for them to count as a record.


"So near but yet so far," Noble said.


To set a world land speed record, a car must make two runs at record speed in opposite directions within one hour.


Thrust set a new world land speed record of 714 miles per hour (1,142 kilometers per hour) on Sept. 25, shattering the previous record of 633 miles per hour (1,012 kilometers per hour) set in 1983 by Noble.


Team members said they would examine the car and, if all was well, would try again for a supersonic world record in a day or two.


Although there was disappointment at the failure to set a supersonic world record, team members were delighted that they had disproved critics who said it was impossible to break the sound barrier on land because the car would take off.


Green said it was "tremendous" to be the first to break the sound barrier on land. "What we said we believed was true we actually proved was true. ... We did it," he told reporters.