By Bill Stansbeary
Steve Fossett has set his sights on breaking the world land speed record by going to supersonic speeds in the “Spirit of America-USA.” A model is on display in the Jet West FBO lobby at Reno/Tahoe International Airport. The real vehicle is now under construction at an undisclosed location. It will use a single General Electric J-79 afterburning turbojet engine long used on many military supersonic jet fighter aircraft.
There’s another challenger to the world supersonic land speed record. It’s the North American Eagle, using the Lockheed F-104 jet fighter aircraft fuselage without wings, but on special wheels designed to go fast.
The British designed and built Thrust SSC (Super Sonic Car) holds the present world land speed record. On Oct. 15, 1997, it achieved a speed of 763 mph to become the first and only land vehicle to break the sound barrier officially. Andy Green drove this special purpose car in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Two afterburning Rolls Royce Spey turbojet engines (used in the British F-4 Phantom II jet fighter) powered it.