British team take Thrust through speed record

They have been dogged by bad weather and technical problems but yesterday the British Thrust team finally broke the supersonic land speed record, as Kate Watson-Smyth describes.

The RAF pilot Andy Green, streaked across the Nevada desert for the fourth time yesterday afternoon and straight into the record books.

Thrust roared over the desert track on its first run at 759.333mph (1,214.933kph) or 1.5 per cent above the speed of sound, according to the official timekeepers from the United States Automobile Club.

Some 55 minutes later it sped back down the track reaching 766.609mph (1,226.574kph) or 2 per cent above the speed of sound for an average two- way speed of 763.035mph (1,220.856kph).

"Thrust is now genuinely the Thrust Supersonic Car. This is the first supersonic team. We did it," said Mr Green afterwards.

Richard Noble, the team leader, said they had achieved what they set out to do and would now return home.

Mr Green and Mr Noble, waved the Union Jack and others sprayed bottles of champagne as a microlight aircraft flew overhead trailing a banner reading "M-1", standing for the speed of sound.

"It's a fantastic moment, absolutely fantastic moment." Mr Noble said, likening the achievement to Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic.

Under international rules both runs must be made within one hour for the attempt to qualify but earlier in the week, when Mr Green broke the sound barrier twice, it took 61 minutes for engineers to prepare Thrust for the second run and the attempt did not count.

Mr Noble, 51, held the land speed record, set here on 4 October 1983, at 633.46mph until Mr Green, 35, broke his mark on 25 September with a two-way average speed of 714.144mph, making him the first person to break the sound barrier on land.

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