Supersonic car pilot Andy Green describes setting the land speed record
Next week, the Bloodhound Project folks will stage an event on a 1.7-mile runway at Cornwall Airport Newquay in southwestern England. There, RAF Wing Commander Andy Green will attempt to hit 200 mph in 9 seconds — a key test for the team’s ultimate goal of 1,000 miles per hour.
The event comes on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the team’s previous and still-standing world land speed record of 763.035 mph, set in the Nevada desert on Oct. 15, 1997, with the Thrust SSC, the only car ever to travel faster than the speed of sound. And oh, hey — Bloodhound even released a new video commemorating that incredible feat.
Video footage of the record run has been around for years, of course, but this one adds fresh and illuminating commentary from Green, a former fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force. He’s the guy who drove the 10-ton jet-with-wheels, which was powered by two Rolls-Royce Spey turbojet engines that generated 50,000 pounds of thrust.
“It’s a popular misperception that driving a land-speed record in a straight line is about anchoring the steering wheel, plotting your foot to the floor, and just waiting until you run out of fuel. If only it were that simple,” Green says in the video.
For starters, the car moves around a lot at such high speeds. “The wheels are now skimming across the surface, the shock waves are now generating uneven forces, gusts of crosswind, the car is sliding all over the track,” he says. And in fact, Green explains, the car tended to pull to the left, requiring him to yank the wheel nearly 90 degrees to the right, which is incredible at such breakneck speeds.
After starting out slowly, the Thurst SSC accelerated around 25 mph every second until the airspeeds went supersonic both above and below the car. “It’s the loudest, highest-pitched scream I’ve ever heard,” Green says. You get a sense of the sound from the video.
You can read more about that project on the Thrust SSC website, which itself is a time capsule back to the early days of Internet 1.0. (“Best experienced with Microsoft Internet Explorer,” it says.)
Meanwhile, we can’t wait to see the high-def video footage that emerges from the Bloodhound SSC test on Oct. 26.