Seventy-four years ago, Captain Charles Yeager of the U.S. Air Force became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound. Once that barrier was broken, modern aviation took off, pun intended. These are some of the Air Force’s supersonic jets.


The First Supersonic Jet

On October 14, Chuck Yeager’s Bell X-1 was dropped from a B-29, rocketing away at over Mach 1. The Bell X-1 was an experimental jet, purpose-built to attempt speeds unheard of till that point. As such, it was not a production craft or a regular part of the Air Force’s inventory. The X-1 relied on another aircraft to get it to altitude, then basically fired rocket motors to reach speed. Though it had landing gear, flight controls, and working engines, the jet was not meant to take off from the ground.