AVIATION: Through the Sonic Barrier

On the flat land of Edwards Air Force Base in California, a cluster of scientists and Air Force brass watched a silvery, swept-wing jet fighter roar down the runway and into the air for a test flight. It climbed high in the air, then leveled off and shot across the air base with a roar like a thunderclap. This week Long Island's Republic Aviation Corp. proudly announced the results of the flight: its XF-91, powered by a General Electric J47 turbojet and a Reaction Motors rocket engine, had become the first U.S. combat...

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