How Niagara Falls broke the sound barrier


If you’re a good history student, you know that Chuck Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier in 1947.

What you may not know is that Niagara Falls played a crucial role in this.

The need for speed

The year was 1944. The world was at war, and the United States had heard of a supersonic engine plan that the British were developing. Cutting a deal for an information swap (then pulling out of said deal), the US was able to “obtain” some key factors to make supersonic flight a possibility. Bell Aircraft had already been working on an engine, but the British tests were just what the company needed to balance their designs.


Supersonic Cataract

The US, loving what Bell Aircraft was doing, orders three XS-1 prototypes. These prototypes would eventually become the X-1, the plane that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in.

The plane that was built by Bell Aircraft: based out of Niagara Falls.

Specifically, it was built in Wheatfield: right next to the current Niagara Falls International Airport.

If it wasn’t for the Wheatfield plant, Chuck Yeager wouldn’t have broken the sound barrier. Bell also created parts for the Apollo project, putting a man on the moon.


Just another thing you can thank this wonder of the world for.


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