SOVIET UNION: Christening the Concordski

Noisy debut for the Tu-144

Although the Soviet Tu-144 became the first civilian aircraft to break the sonic barrier in 1969, the Anglo-French Concorde soon shot several sound-years ahead of its Russian rival with the inauguration of regular transatlantic passenger service in 1976. Last week the Soviet Union belatedly entered the supersonic sweepstakes by initiating regular Tu-144 flights on a little-traveled run between Moscow and Alma-Ata, an industrial city of 860,000 near the Chinese border. Price of a one-way ticket on the once-a-week flight: $113. TIME Moscow Bureau Chief Marsh Clark was the first Western passenger to step aboard the...

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