Specialty Press' Aviation Records in the Jet Age


William Flannigan


Specialty Press




Scott Van Aken

Notes: 192 pages, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1-58007-230-4

Aircraft have been breaking records since the first one flew, but to really get a sense of 'higher, faster, farther', one has to move into the jet age. It was the development of powerful turbojets and reliable rockets the really clicked in the imagination of the aviation minded and of the casual citizen.

While this book seems to focus just on the jet age (which would be from about 1945 until the present), it starts off the first few chapters discussing and highlighting aviation records in general. The actual 'jet age' starts with the third of eight chapters and covers those few turbine powered aircraft that participated in WWII. This is followed by the real leap in records starting with the X-1 breaking the sound barrier and moving onto other X-planes and the various production jet aircraft that broke speed and altitude records. The late 1950s and early 1950s were truly a time of wonder and experimentation.

For sure, it wasn't only the military that was breaking records. The move to jet airliners also let to those types flying faster and farther while carrying more and more passengers. No one can doubt the impact of the Boeing 707 or DC-8 on general airline travel, both in the US and overseas. This led to jumbo jets like the 747 and DC-10 a well as the supersonic Concorde. On the military size, speed was the key and fighters had to fly at least mach 2 with some types, such as the XB-70 and SR-71 being able to fly at mach 3 or better.

There is, of course, much more to the book than what is covered here. The development of digital fly by wire, civilian type records, the X-15 and so on, but I'll leave that to you to discover for yourself. The book is also heavily America-centric with the accomplishments outside the US barely touched. To be sure, the British and Soviets also had aircraft that set records, but perhaps those are to be saved for another volume. In all, it makes for an excellent read and I dare you not to learn things you did not know. Highly recommended and a fine read.

April 2017

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