Transonic

November, 16, 2021 by Kyle Boas

This is a VFA-106 Gladiators F/A-18.

Photo credit to Camden Thrasher

This aircraft is transonic, not supersonic, which you can tell by the angle/location of the shocks. At transonic speeds the aircraft is not moving through the air faster than sound, but airflow has to locally exceed the speed of sound to navigate around parts of the aircraft like the wings (especially the tops), control surfaces, and other protrusions.

An aircraft in fully supersonic flight will typically have large shocks at the nose and tail (causing the double boom often heard) as well as a number of minor shocks caused by different parts of the shape, especially where the cross-sectional area changes.

Kyle Boas is the Founder of the IFATC Education Group. He is an IFATC Supervisor and Infinite Flight Appeals team member. — More