Science: Supersonic Yaw

The designer and the pilot of the world's fastest airplane, the rocket-pushed Douglas Skyrocket, loosened up a little last week and told a few new facts about how the plane behaves. High above the speed of sound, said Designer Ed Heinemann and Pilot Bill Bridgeman, there is a new peril of the sky: "supersonic yaw."

As designers and test pilots pushed their planes up toward the speed of sound, the danger they feared most was the beating they took in the "transsonic zone." When an airplane is moving close to sonic speed, shock waves'(powerful sound waves) form on its wings and...

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