Change, they say, is the only constant thing in life. Although people are quite reluctant to accept change, it is a crucial aspect of life. As a fact, the self-actualized individuals are open to changes and take things as they come. Some call it living one day at a time. Perhaps the hardest thing about change is the fact that it tends to wipe off old habits, people, places, career and even lifestyle. Coping and adapting to something new can prove to be too hard a task, but then again it is part and parcel of life. Changes are affiliated with new opportunities and challenges alike. In the field of commercial aviation, one particular change and development is speed. Airplanes have been designed to move at fast speeds, each model faster than its predecessors. However, the engineers have been so focused on speed that they are overlooking other crucial factors. This paper is going to establish whether there was the need for speed or it was just a meaningless quest for more and more.
Air transport is the fastest means of transport there is today. Besides from that, it assures a certain level of comfort that other ways cannot. For that reason, it is slightly expensive as compared to other means of transport. The effort to “break the sound barrier” had both its advantages and disadvantages. There are a couple of reasons why it was a meaningless quest as it significantly reduced the quality of the other factors such as comfort and safety. On the other hand, speed had its important roles, and its significance could not be downplayed (“High-Speed Machining Really Does Result in High-Speed Manufacturing”).
The effort to “break the sound barrier” was at its peak in the late 1940s. This was the same time that World War II had begun. In the event of war, speed is a key factor. The countries with the fastest airplanes could stand a better chance of winning the war as they could efficiently and timely send troupes in combat areas. Similarly, they were in a better position to replenish the supplies of the troupes such as food and weapons. The Axis had aircraft dominance as they had developed great fighters and bombers. Germany and Japan had made fast airplanes, and for that reason, they could maneuver quickly even in the most rugged airframes. This gave them an upper hand against the Allies who took some time to catch up (Pivko, Svetopolk).
The fresh outbreak of hostilities in the year 1939 prompted the improvement of aircraft’s design, speed, and performance. The quest for more speed in the late 1940s therefore, cannot be regarded to as meaningless because it was an attempt to stay safe and ahead in the war. During the World War II, Germany’s Hans von Ohain developed a prototype that was the first jet-propelled flight. The prototype redefined speed as it could move at more than 540 miles per hour. On that note, most of the successful attacks and nearly all Me-262 kills by the Allied pilots were directly linked to the plane. Ohain’s prototype was the first aircraft to fly faster than the speed of sound, Mach 1 (Salay, C. R. and D. W. Elliott).
In conclusion, in any form of transport speed is crucial, air travel is no exception. Speed matters in a lot of fields and war is just one of them.
“High-Speed Machining Really Does Result In High-Speed Manufacturing”. Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, vol 73, no. 3, 2001, Emerald, doi:10.1108/aeat.2001.12773cab.009.
Pivko, Svetopolk. “Pressure Distribution and Aerodynamic Properties of HighSpeed Aircraft”. Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, vol 28, no. 8, 1956, pp. 259-261. Emerald, doi: 10.1108/eb032722.
Salay, C. R. and D. W. Elliott. “Matching Engine and Aircraft Lapse Rates for High Speed Civil Aircraft”. Journal of Aircraft, vol 33, no. 1, 1996, pp. 61-67. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), doi:10.2514/3.46903.