Supersonic Air Travel Is Coming Back

Money |


Of all the hateful things in life, there is perhaps no more universal object of displeasure than air travel. It's something we all seem to have in common. Nobody enjoys battling through airport crowds, standing in a security line for an hour, having a stranger scan your body with science fiction rays, being crammed into a seat that's too small and having your sinuses worked while babies scream in your ear. It wasn't always such a chore, though. Or, at least, it wasn't considered one.

In the "golden era" of air travel, taking an airplane was a luxury affair. People wore their Sunday best. The security was nothing to speak of, the food didn't come in little cellophane packets, the flight attendants didn't appear to secretly despise you. Luxury flying is definitely still a phenomenon that is alive and well, just not for the unwashed coach masses. Private jets abound.

One very notable luxury flying experience that came and went in recent years was supersonic flying. Flying faster than sound has long been the province of the world's militaries. It wasn't until the late seventies that the technology became available for the commercial market, with the advent of a plane called the Concorde. The Concorde was, for a few years, the absolute pinnacle of luxury flying. Then, through a series of accidents and tragedies, it went the way of the dinosaur.

Now, supersonic flight is back on the table. A handful of startups, backed by government money, are developing new possibilities for supersonic passenger travel. In the not-so-distant future, you may be able to reach your destination in a fraction of the time it takes you on a standard jetliner. If you have the money, that is.