The New York Times bestselling author of Viper Pilot chronicles another thrilling chapter in American aviation history: the race to break the sound barrier.
In the aftermath of World War II, the United States accelerated the development of technologies that would give it an advantage over the Soviet Union. Airpower, combined with nuclear weapons, offered a formidable check on Soviet aggression. In 1947, the United States Air Force was established. Meanwhile, scientists and engineers were pioneering a revolutionary new type of aircraft which could do what no other machine had ever done: reach mach 1—a speed faster than the movement of sound—which pilots called "the demon."
Chasing the Demon recreates an era of excitement and danger, adventure and innovation, when the future of the free world was at stake and American ingenuity took the world from the postwar years to the space age. While the pressure to succeed was high, it was unknown whether man or machine could survive such tremendous speeds.
A decorated military pilot with years of experience flying supersonic fighter jets, Dan Hampton reveals in-depth the numerous potential hazards that emerged with the Air Force’s test flights: controls broke down, engines flamed out, wings snapped, and planes and pilots disintegrated as they crashed into the desert floor. He also introduces the men who pushed the envelope taking the cockpits of these jets, including World War II ace Major Dick Bong and twenty-four-year-old Captain Chuck Yeager, who made history flying the Bell X-1 plane faster than the speed of sound on October 14, 1947.
Chasing the Demon recalls this period of the emerging Cold War and the brave adventurers pursing the final frontier in aviation.
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“Chasing the Demon flows very smoothly and tells a great story about the pioneers of high-speed flight, primarily from the pilots’ perspective. Whether you are a pilot, engineer, or an aviation-history enthusiast, reading Dan Hampton’s book is time well spent.”
John D. Anderson Jr., curator of aerodynamics at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum
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About Dan Hampton
Dan Hampton (US Air Force, Ret.) flew more than 150 combat missions during his twenty years as a Wild Weasel fighter pilot. For his service in the Iraq War, Kosovo conflict, first Gulf War, and elsewhere, Hampton received four Distinguished Flying Crosses with Valor, a Purple Heart, eight Air Medals with Valor, five Meritorious Service Medals, and numerous other citations. He is a graduate of the USAF and USN Fighter Weapons Schools and the USAF Special Operations School. A recipient of several awards for tactical innovation, Hampton pioneered air-combat tactics that are now standard and was named his squadron’s Instructor Pilot of the Year six times. A graduate of Texas A&M University, he has published articles in the Journal of Electronic Defense, Air Force Magazine, and Airpower, as well as several classified tactical works for the USAF Fighter Weapons Review.
About John Pruden
John Pruden is an Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator. His exposure to many people, places, and experiences throughout his life provides a deep creative well from which he draws his narrative and vocal characterizations. His narration of The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers was chosen by the Washington Post as a Best Audiobook of 2010.