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When we think of supersonic passenger air travel, most people will think of Concorde, the joint British & French design which operated from 1976 until 2003 and up until this day, has been the only long term supersonic passenger jet service to operate.
What many people don't know is that in the 60's a 70's there were three other competing designs from the United States and Russia.
The Russian Tupolev Tu-144 was the first commercial supersonic transport aircraft (SST) which had its first flight 2 months before Concorde on 31st December 1969.
However, after a crash at the Paris air show of 1973 and another in 1978 it was grounded after just 55 flights, though it remained in use as a research platform well in to the 1990's.
The other two American designs are less well known about because despite huge government backing and that supersonic transport was to be the next big thing after the moon landings neither of the designs by Boeing and Lockheed made it in to the air.
The story starts in 1962 when the British and French governments announced that they jointly build a new airliner that could travel at over twice the speed of sound which was to be called the âConcordeâ.
This was to be the most advanced civilian aircraft in the world, showing that European aircraft manufacturers could create the most leading-edge designs, something that the Americans believed that they were the best at.
To meet this new challenge and rescue American national pride, President John F Kennedy stated that America would build it's own supersonic transport aircraft and that it would be both bigger and faster than the European design.
Two designs, one from Boeing and the other from Lockheed were selected for further development and as an incentive the US government would pay for 75% of the programs cost.
The Lockheed L-2000 design was almost a scaled up Concorde and intended to fly at up Mach 3.0 or 2300 mph while carrying 270 passengers for a range of 4,000 miles.
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