Faster Than Sound, second edition


This is an enlarged and updated book now published by Haynes and written
by a leading aviation writer. Any aircraft book that has Bill Gunston as the
author comes with solid authenticity.

NAME: Faster Than Sound, second edition

FILE: R1561
DATE: 061009
AUTHOR: Bill Gunston
BINDING: Hard back
PAGES: 234
PRICE: GB £25.00
GENRE: Non fiction
SUBJECT: aviation, technology, hyper-sonic, sound barrier, area rule,
trans-sonic, near-sonic, measurement.
ISBN: 978-1-84425-564-1
IMAGE: B1561.jpg
DESCRIPTION: This is an enlarged and updated book now published by
Haynes and written by a leading aviation writer. Any aircraft book
that has Bill Gunston as the author comes with solid authenticity.
The author has a command of his subject from a lifetime of experience.
He demonstrates an ability to convey his understanding of a complex
technology in a way that even a novice can take aboard. This is a
rare and valuable ability. This book demonstrates the ability in one
of the potentially confusing aspects of aviation. On land a vehicle
can travel over the ground at a measured speed. The fastest vehicle
may have taken vehicle technology to its current limits, but the
speed measurement is a relatively simple matter of timing the vehicle
over a measured distance on each of a number of runs. The average
speed may be taken as the average of the best two attempts, or an
average of each of a number of runs. The surface does not move and
the air temperature, wind conditions and other variables may affect
the maximum speed achieved, but do not affect the method of measurement.
At sea matters become more complex because a vessel on speed trials
is travelling across a fluid. The distance over ground/water may be
very different from the actual distance travelled because the currents
produce a similar affect to a motorized walkway, carrying the vessel
away from or towards the destination, with the added possibility that
the course is diagonally across any currents. In the air, the aircraft
is travelling within a fluid environment that is three dimensional.
It faces similar challenges to a ship in that wind is essentially
similar in effect to the currents in water. At high altitudes jet
streams are super fast winds that flow around the Southern and
Northern Hemispheres in much the same way as the Trade Winds that
significantly affected sailing ships. Where a vehicle on land or a
ship at sea travel normally between two marked points for the purposes
of speed trials, an aircraft could be flying at any altitude from
near ground to high altitude on the edge of space. A distance marked
on the ground will be shorter than the distance travelled at a higher
altitude. Just to make life more interesting, air is not a constant
density. In general terms, it becomes thinner as the altitude
increases, but temperature can vary within a particular band of air
at a specific altitude. Therefore, an aircraft may have to use more
power for a given speed on one day than it did on the day before to
travel the same distance in the same time. Once we consider speed in
terms of the speed of sound, the speed at which sound travels varies.
Gunston explains these complexities very well as he tells the story
of high speed flight. He also explains that the speed of an aircraft
may be lower than the speed over parts of the aircraft wings and body.
This is most dramatic in a helicopter that may fly over ground at a
few hundred miles per hour, but the tips of the rotary wings are
travelling at super-sonic speeds. Attempting to convey these concepts
and realities in words and drawings is not easy for a novice audience
or even for a technical audience. In this book the author has been
able to work carefully and logically through all of the key points
as he reviews aircraft development over a period of some seventy years.
He tells of the successes and failures, explaining why some attempts
at faster aircraft failed to meet expectations. Although much of the
book is given to the story of flight within the atmosphere by
aeroplanes, space travel is also covered. The American X-15 is more
rocket than aeroplane and the Super Sonic Transport of which the
beautiful Concorde is the ultimate functional expression and already
in museums the first steps have been taken to produce space craft
aeroplanes. The American Space Shuttle is reaching the end of its
operational life and is perhaps most accurately a space craft that
becomes a glider for its return flight. Economics are driving the US
to return to the large rocket and space capsule, but the space plane
is struggling to lift off the drawing boards. Several designs are
being promoted and Gunston reviews these and the engine that is part
jet and part rocket. This is an excellent book that must be highly
recommended and it has been produced well at an affordable price. There
are many excellent images, including full colour photographs and
clear drawings to illustrate aerofoils and air flow.

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