From the first flight of the U-2 to the flashing speed of the famous SR-71 Blackbird, Supersonic Thunder is a portrait of the jet as it comes of age. Aviation genius is personified in famous engineers such as Kelly Johnson and Ben Rich and in test pilots like Tony LeVier and Tex Johnson in this fast moving story of military and commercial jet aviation.
Under the guidance of test pilot and engineer, Vance Shannon, the reader is present at every major event in jet aviation in the 1960s and 1970s. As the ever-changing industry begins to speed up beyond Vance’s grasp, he turns to his two sons, Tom and Harry, to keep the family business on the cutting edge. Though they’ve followed in their fathers’ footsteps for many years, the stress from trying to stay ahead of the curve is destroying their families--as well as fueling a long hidden rivalry between the two brothers.
As the Shannon family struggles with their personal and professional lives, Supersonic Thunder reveals the great leaps of the aviation industry during this astonishing era, from Gary Powers’ U-2 shoot down to the first flight of the Russian Supersonic Transport. With historic and dramatic detail, we are taken behind the scenes, revealing the motivations of top Russian, English, and American designers as they push the limits of engines and airframes and confront the difficulties of the pursuit of Mach 2.0 speeds.
From the luxury of the 747 to the abject despair of a cell in the Hanoi Hilton, Supersonic Thunder tells the real story of this amazing chapter of jet aviation in terms of the men and women who lived and died to make it a part of our everyday life.