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Jet-powered car breaks sound barrier twice

Car October 13, 1997
Web posted at: 7:58 p.m. EDT (2358 GMT)

GERLACH, Nevada (CNN) - A British jet-powered car broke the sound barrier on land twice on Monday, officials said, making it the fastest object to have ever moved on wheels.

On the first run, the Thrust SuperSonic car roared across Nevada's Black Rock Desert at 764.168 mph, or 1.007 percent above the speed of sound, according to the official timekeepers.

The car, driven by British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green, left a muffled boom in its wake as it raced across the desert in clouds of dust.

About an hour later, Green rocketed past, moving 1.003 percent faster than the speed of sound. The second run was required before the feat could be officially entered in the record book.

Watch and listen to the car as it passes reporters
video icon 944K/20 sec. QuickTime Movie
icon 298K/13 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

But the two runs had to occur within an hour of each other to set a record, and the second run missed that window by a minute.

Green, 35, achieved the milestone on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the first supersonic flight, by American test pilot Chuck Yeager on October 14, 1947.

Green and team leader Richard Noble have worked for years to crack the sound barrier with a car on land, and in recent weeks they intensified their quest.

The sound barrier, which varies according to altitude and temperature, is currently 755 mph on the Black Rock Desert. Green set the previous world speed record for a car on September 25 when he took Thrust up to 714 miles per hour.

On Sunday, the "Spirit of America" team led by Craig Breedlove made a test run of 517 miles per hour following a 531 mph run on Saturday. It's not clear what's next, if anything, for the Americans.

Correspondent Don Knapp and Reuters contributed to this report.


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