Black Rock Desert is a very flat and open expanse 100 miles north of Reno, Nevada. It’s also the home of two successful land speed records. This is not the story of one of those.
A professional race car driver, Craig Breedlove, was determined to set the land speed record in his Spirit of America Sonic Arrow. The Sonic Arrow was a jet-powered vehicle designed to break Richard Noble’s 633 mph land speed record. The Spirit of America was propelled across the desert by a turbo-jet engine from a Navy F-4 Phantom II.
Breedlove attempted a run at Noble’s record and it sounds like in the video below he could have beaten it. On October 28, 1996, Craig began his run at the record. However, he mistook a vocalized wind speed reading of One Five to mean 1.5 when it was actually 15 mph. As he continued to accelerate beyond 600 mph a crosswind put his car onto its side and out of control. Take a minute to watch the video and you’ll see that he not only survived the world’s fastest car crash but also the world’s fasted u-turn.
After the close call, when Craig climbed out of the Sonic Arrow and inspected the damage he stated, “Looks like I’ve got some work to do. You guys want to go to lunch?”
Actually, we will close with a world land speed record from the Black Rock Desert. The current land speed record of 763 mph was set there on October 15, 1997. A British Jet Car named ThrustSSC was driven by Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green. It is the first land vehicle to officially break the sound barrier. Hear ThrustSCC break the sound barrier in this video, “Thrust SSC (breaking the sound barrier) 763.1mph”
If you want to watch a great video showing Craig Breedlove’s 600+ mph u-turn, we have embedded it below. If you enjoy this video, please share our page with your friends and colleagues. If you like jet-powered aircraft then check out all our many other #JetFriday posts.