Thrust maintains impact 20 years on

Aerospace Test & Validation Vol 2 No. 1


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❱ ❱ Despite its dormant disposition on a museum display, Thrust SSC continues to gain accolades due to its enduring record and pioneering engineering heritage


ore than two decades have gone by since Thrust SSC made headlines as the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier and in doing so, set a world land speed record that is still yet to be broken. With its Rolls-Royce Spey engines and Air Force pilot behind the wheel, Thrust SSC truly brought pioneering aerospace

technology down to earth in perhaps one of the most extreme and enduring examples of technology transfer. Earlier this year, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) presented the team behind the vehicle and the museum in which it’s housed, with the Engineering Heritage Award. Previous recipients of the award include Concorde, The Channel Tunnel, The E-Type Jaguar and Alan Turing’s Bombe at Bletchley Park. Currently housed at the Coventry Transport Museum, the 54 ft long Thrust SSC (Super-Sonic Car) reached a speed of 763mph at Black Rock Desert in Nevada in October 1997 and has since been on permanent display in the museum’s land speed gallery. The Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor John Blundell, said: “Coventry is known for its innovation and our inventions have helped to change the world. Thrust SSC is a vehicle that means so much to the city and now it takes its rightful place among some incredible, iconic achievements in engineering.” According to John Wood, chairman of the IMechE Engineering Heritage Award, deciding which feats of engineering to honour was a challenging task. Commenting on the award, he said: “When it comes to individual artefacts, it’s not an easy decision to make and our aim is always to ensure that only the very best and unique are honoured by the award. “We are now in our 36th year and Thrust SSC is only the 125th award to be given. The vehicle and the team behind it were working in completely unchartered territory and what they achieved was quite extraordinary. “We are very pleased to honour this vehicle with this award and hope it inspires the young engineers of the future in particular to head to the museum to see it in all its glory.” Francis Ranford, Cultural & Creative Director of Culture Coventry – which

manages Coventry Transport Museum, added: “The museum tells the story of the past, present and future of transport and the Thrust SSC is one of our star objects. We are thrilled that this pioneering vehicle has been presented with this important accolade and we are delighted to accept the award alongside the team behind the development of the vehicle.”

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