The Science of Flight—Breaking the Sound Barrier and Beyond

Taught by Professor James Gregory, Ph.D.

During and just after World War II, the quest for ever faster fighter planes reached an apparent natural barrier—the speed of sound.

On approaching this limit, aircraft became unstable and uncontrollable. It became clear that new developments in engineering were going to be necessary in order to advance air speed travel beyond this natural speed limit. In this full lecture, discover how a new approach to aircraft design solved the problem of compressibility and shock waves, paving the way for supersonic flight.

This lecture is from the series The Science of Flight, produced in partnership with Smithsonian.
Taught by Professor James W. Gregory, Ph.D.


  1. That us a great presentation, done in a very understandable format. I. Have flown B-737’s thru B-777’s and learned a lot more about the aerodynamics of the airplanes I flew.

  2. Never heard of a B737 or a B777 but I guess you are giving the B for Boeing. But B47, B29, B1 and B2 usually refers to bomber aircraft of the U.S.

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