Throughout his career, Christopher Milam has maintained a forward thinking, innovative mindset which has guided his interest in supersonic air travel and aviation technology.
In 1947, Chuck Yeager piloted the first manned airplane to break the sound barrier, opening the doors to opportunities for supersonic flight technology. From there, many new models have been designed, taking the technology to new heights, speeds, and capabilities including:
- X-15: First manned hypersonic aircraft capable of suborbital flight (1959)
- X-35: Evolved into the F-35 fighter jet (2000-2001)
- X-57: Experimental aircraft designed by NASA to demonstrate technology that reduces fuel use, emissions, and noise levels (2016)
Today, Christopher Milam is following along closely with research and new updates to supersonic aviation technology as NASA looks to revive the possibility of supersonic flight for the public.
In 1976, the Concorde, a turbo-jet powered passenger airliner, provided services for commercial supersonic air travel, allowing for travel from New York to London in under 4 hours. However, the aircraft created such a loud boom as it broke through the sound barrier that regulators banned the plane from flying at supersonic speeds over many populated areas in Europe and the United States. With only a few transatlantic routes remaining, the Concorde was eventually retired in 2003.
This year, NASA has announced that a new, quieter plane is being designed to overcome these ear-shattering challenges. On April 3, 2018, NASA awarded a $247.5 million contract to Lockheed Martin to design and test an aircraft that can break the sound barrier while creating a small sound as loud as the closing of a car door.
This aircraft will be part of the X-plane series. It is planned to be 29 meters long and set to fly at about 55,000 feet with a speed of 940 mph, which is 1.4 times the speed of sound.
Christopher Milam is excited to see the final product which is lined up to be completed and released in 2021. This first version, however, will only have a pilot and no passengers. The goal of this aircraft is to first demonstrate the possibility of traveling faster than the speed of sound without creating the intense shock waves that lead to the extreme, deafening sounds of a sonic boom.