After Hours

Geek Trivia: The Quibble of the Week for December 18

This week's quibble comes from the December 4 edition of Geek Trivia, "(Sonic) boom or bust."

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of this week's Geek Trivia, "And called them by name(s)," just post it in the discussion area. Every week, yours truly will choose the best quibble from the assembled masses and discuss it in a future edition of Geek Trivia.

This week's quibble comes from the December 4 edition of Geek Trivia, "(Sonic) boom or bust." TechRepublic member jmbiii disputed my contention that SpaceShipOne was the first entirely privately funded manned aircraft to break the sound barrier.

"SpaceShipOne wasn't the first. Just a quick search of [Wikipedia] pulled up this:

"'Although the Concorde and Tu-144 were the first aircraft to carry commercial passengers at supersonic speeds, they were not the first or only commercial airliners to break the sound barrier. On August 21, 1961 a Douglas DC-8 broke the sound barrier at Mach 1.012 or (1,240 km/h, 660 mph) while in a controlled dive through 41,088 feet (12,510 m). The purpose of the flight was to collect data on a new leading-edge design for the wing. Boeing reports that the 747 broke the sound barrier during certification tests. A China Airlines 747 almost certainly broke the sound barrier in an unplanned descent from 41,000 ft (12,500 m) to 9500 feet (2,900 m) after an in-flight upset on February 19, 1985. It also reached over 5g.'"

Perhaps I should have been more specific. SpaceShipOne was the first entirely privately funded manned aircraft to break the sound barrier as part of its normal flight profile. These incidents above likely would not qualify for FAI records, as they were extreme testing or emergency maneuvers (though I'd have to check on that).

Still, that's not to denigrate their place in aviation history or Geek Trivia. Thanks for the tidbit of aviation lore, and keep those quibbles coming.

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About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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