The British version of the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner made its first sonic-boom test over land on Tuesday (September 1).
The British version of the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner made its first sonic-boom test over land on Tuesday (September 1). The sonic-boom was heard at points along its flight path from the north of Scotland down along the west coast of England and Wales to Cornwall. Special measurements were taken at certain historic monuments in the flight path -- such as St David's cathedral in Wales.
St David's was the main test centre for the sonic-boom reaction for Tuesday's flight -- the first of many such tests. Highly sensitive recording devices were placed at points inside the 12th century cathedral. In addition to noise meters, the cathedral was rigged with wax-threads, sheets to catch dust, strain gauges and other devices to measure the slightest movement or damage.
On its 800-mile (1280 kilometres) run, Concorde 002 reached its fastest speed of Mach 1.68 (about 1,100 mph, 1,700 kph). There was a lot of speculation as to how the sonic-boom would affect such things as old buildings and dairy cows.
The 800-year-old St David's Cathedral was especially a source of concern. Its western end is already subsiding gently and cracks are appearing in its walls even without assistance from supersonic booms.
A small army of officials, scientists, pressmen and sight-seer gathered to personally monitor the effect of the shock waves on St Davit's stained glass windows. For several days previous to the tests, wires had jutted out from the stonework and gauges flickered gently to the sound of passing traffic.
However, no immediate damage was visible after the boom was heard But even the experts agree that one test run would not show very much. It was the cumulative effect of the planned series of Concorde flights that would give a clearer picture.