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Cyclic Hotline
23rd Feb 2001, 22:35
Pilot Claims He Broke Sound Barrier

By BURT HERMAN, Associated Press Writer

BERLIN (AP) - A former Luftwaffe pilot says he broke the sound barrier first - not Chuck Yeager. But the German's claim cannot be verified, at least not yet.

Flying alone over Austria on April 9, 1945, at the end of World War II, Hans Guido Mutke pushed his Messerschmitt 262 to full throttle in hopes of reaching a friend who had bailed out under U.S. attack.

Mutke says he later realized the shaking and loss of control he felt before the plane reached 690 mph meant he had broken the sound barrier.

"I knew nothing about a sound barrier,'' he said Thursday from Munich. "I just went full speed to help a comrade.''

Now age 79 and a retired doctor, Mutke has asked an aeronautics professor to help substantiate his claim using computer simulation.

By all accepted accounts, on Oct. 14, 1947, Yeager was the first human to break the sound barrier when he flew his rocket-powered X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake in southern California.

Mutke said he was cruising at 40,000 feet when he heard of his friend's trouble and went into a dive. As his jet accelerated, he said he felt his plane "buffeting'' - a known phenomenon of vibration before reaching the speed of sound.

Mutke believes he then went supersonic - something test pilots hadn't done previously because they usually backed off when their planes shook.

"It's like when you pass a finger slowly through a candle flame and your finger gets burned. When you move it quickly, then nothing happens,'' said Mutke. "I went so fast through the buffeting area that it was only heavily damaged, both engines lost function and the rivets flew out of the wings.''

After landing because of the damage to his plane, Mutke denied to superiors that he had exceeded 590 mph - the top speed then allowed.

There had been several unexplained Me262 crashes earlier that Mutke speculates were caused when pilots broke the sound barrier and paid with their lives.

"I always said the first person who broke the sound barrier is the unknown pilot, exactly as we have the unknown soldier,'' Mutke said.

For the last several years, Otto Wagner, a professor at Munich's Technical University, has done computer simulations to try to verify Mutke's claim. He has been able to simulate the Me262 at Mach 1.02 - just above the speed of sound - but he says the basic data on the plane's aerodynamics are not reliable. He's now trying to obtain wind tunnel studies from 1944 at the Messerschmitt factory in Berlin to do a more accurate simulation.

"If I had better data, then I could say it was faster than sound or not,'' Wagner said. "Now I can't say anything.''

But the head of the Deutsches Museum air and space collection - which houses another Me262 flown by Mutke - rejects the pilot's claim.

"In science, you have to be able to reproduce something to put it on the record,'' said Matthias Knopp, a physicist. "If someone says they did it, but it can't be reproduced, then many could say that they have done it.

Flintstone
24th Feb 2001, 16:05
Wouldn't you just love this to be proven?

Boomer
24th Feb 2001, 20:14
It might be true though. After the war, the American Air Force took over all the remaining Messerschmitts and flight tested them in the States. There were still a good number of the planes - they never had to fly a mission during the war because of fuel shortage (even the V2 rocket was powered on schnaps in the last stages...). Handbooks have been discovered now, and one chapter describes the handling characteristics of the aeroplane just before AND after breaking the sound barrier. The author has still to be found.

harry gordon albertwalker
27th Feb 2001, 19:16
Wasn't there some Ealing Studios post-war film about test pilots doing wacky things with tempests and typhoons etc. and early jets doing big dives? Good 'ol british stuff, rest assured, we did it after all! (sic)

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Fatel Burt


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