The Soviet Union had many technological firsts, such as sending both the first man and woman into space. They also had the first supersonic aircraft, with the Tupolev Tu-144 first flying on 31 December 1968, just over two months before Concorde.

Aeroflot operated the aircraft in passenger service between Moscow and Almaty (previously Alma-Ata) from late 1977, ceasing services in 1978 after just 55 flights. Let’s find out why.

Tupolev Tu-144 Video

Following on from last weeks video on the Bristol Brabazon is another video by the same people, this time on the Soviet supersonic airliner.

With a capacity for 140 passengers, the Tupolev Tu-144 was larger than Concorde and flew faster at Mach 2.15. It was so loud inside that passengers resorted to passing notes to one another as voices could not be heard.

There were lots of issues with the aircraft, with engines that needed to use afterburner to maintain the supersonic cruise. Testing hours were far less than Concorde, and this led to problems later on.

While it was the first passenger jet to fly supersonic and also the first to exceed twice the speed of sound, it was not a success. The aircraft ended up being used mainly for research purposes.

Overall Thoughts

While the Tupolev Tu-144 did not fly for very long, at least it made it into commercial service. The efforts by the United States to design and operate a supersonic aircraft, the Boeing 2707, did not get off the drawing board.

It would have been something else to fly on board this Russian aircraft and those who have done so had a rare experience indeed. Do you remember the Tupolev Tu-144? Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by clipperarctic via Wikimedia Commons.