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NASA Photographs Supersonic Shockwaves from Two T-38

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NASA captures a stunning photo of the supersonic Shockwaves from two T-38. ( Mais...

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Kenneth Schmidt 8
The article did not go into detail how they produced the images, but the link to NASA's own article did. The camera they used is not your run of the mill Nikon either. Very impressive, even in their original monochrome versions.

It's a neat way to better visualize those shock waves for a novice to the subject.

Thanks for posting this.
John Fischer 3
Here's NASA's original article on the subject.
Dave Fisher 2
1,400 fps is a looong ways from a run-of-a-mill camera. :)
racinron 8
T-38 supersonic jetliners????
Dave Fisher 2
what do expect from 'popular mechanics'? their writers do double shifts at the national enquirer.
Rene Kunz 5
What exceeds everything from 'popular mechanics' is.."The images were made possible by a NASA B-200 King Air aircraft, which ferried an updated camera imaging system up to 30,000 feet. At altitude, it followed the jets from a distance of 2,000 feet,..??
Holy moly, a B-200 King Air "following" the two T-38's going at Mach 1+.!!
Martie Williams 1
I got a chuckle out of that, too...
lynx318 2
Same here. 😜
Mark Weiser 3
As a pilot and a photographer - this is crazy awesome - I saw some F4F's in Thailand break the mach, but his is very interesting, so good it looks photoshopped

Kudos to NASA - tax dollars doing some good!
bentwing60 5
Good squawk Matthew! The following video on the AC130 is worth viewing as well. Awesome weapons system, and an awesome bird that has been around as long as the BUFF. And the Talon is no spring chicken.
Kenneth Schmidt 2
It's interesting that there are more than 500 T-38's still out there, as you say, with over 50 years of service. Their capabilities, as witnessed from the NASA photos, will probably keep them in active until the new "T-X" program aircraft appears.

I got to see one of them, in of all places, at a regional airport in Owatonna, MN.
Matthew Peterson 2
My apologies everyone, I originally intended to post NASA’s article but it did not work even after trying it 3 times. Again sorry everyone for the inconvenience.
Bruce McDanel 2
I didn't know the T-38 had become an airliner. I always thought it was an advanced trainer. Thank you Popular Mechanics.
Leander Williams 2
On Tuesday, NASA released a series of stunning images that show two T-38 supersonic jetliners tearing through the atmosphere, creating sonic shock waves.
When did the T-38 become a supersonic jetliner? Last I heard, it was still a 2 seater trainer.
Bernie20910 2
One pilot, one pax. A very exclusive jetliner.
WhiteKnight77 2
I like the pics so well that I saved them and use one of them as a wallpaper on my work laptop. I found them in the article at Gizmodo 2 weeks ago. Who know where this will lead supersonic flight?
ken young 2
Popular Mechanics, for decades a respected publication has also fallen into the depths that has plagued print media.
One only need to observe the low quality of writing, use of grammar, poor punctuation and an absence of grasp on the facts
Bernie20910 1
It is not like it was in the days of Joe Oldham, that's for sure. Joe would have pulled what was left of his hair out reading through an issue today.
ToddBaldwin3 2
Pretty cool photos, but I wouldn't classify the T-38 and a "jetliner".
ToddBaldwin3 1
Pardon my typing. Replace AND with AS.
Alan Hume 2
What? How was it that a B-200 King Air "followed the jets from a distance of 2,000 feet, snapping their trek through the sound barrier at 1,400 frames per second." This can't be right. A King Air maxes out at about 310 kt/574 km/h. The sound barrier is 667 kt/1,235 km/h, so what gives?
Leander Williams 1
I totally agree.. That's like a volkswagon trying to pace a NASCAR racer...
Robert Cowling 2
Popular Mechanics pushes a lot of junk though. Just saying...
Alan Brown 1
It is kind of interesting that the Air Force wasn't interested in the F-5 when it was first brought out, but did buy it as the T-38 once it became popular with other countries overseas. I am glad to see that it is still in use, even if it is coming up for replacement. Proves it was a good airframe to start with.
Kevin Haiduk 1
So cool!
Daniel Griscom 1
This was done using airborne background-oriented Schlieren photography. Basically, the King Air did high-resolution video of the T-38s flying over textured terrain. The video is then processed to measure the apparent displacement of the terrain by the shockwaves.

Details: and


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