A Sequel for Supersonic Flight?

Overcoming the grounding of the Concorde.

September 2023

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A Sequel for Supersonic Flight?

Photo: Richard Vandervord

Its motto boasted “Arrive Before You Leave,” and, in a sense, the Concorde delivered. In September 1973, the supersonic jet made its first transatlantic voyage in 3 hours and 32 minutes, a record-setting clip that meant westbound flights would arrive in the United States well before their departure from Europe, in terms of local time. But within three decades, the Concorde—and civilian supersonic travel—had disappeared, defeated not least by the ear-splitting noise that got it banned from overland routes. Tim MacDonald, MA ’15, PhD ’20, and Norris Tie, MBA ’19, hope to overcome that challenge. The founders of Exosonic have plans for the world’s first “low boom” supersonic passenger jet—capable of breaking the sound barrier with more of a whimper than a bang. They face a range of economic, environmental, and regulatory hurdles but say subsonic limits can’t last forever. “Aviation has gone backwards, and that’s not supposed to happen,” Tie, Exosonic’s CEO, told Stanford in 2021.

Sam Scott is a senior writer at Stanford. Email him at sscott3@stanford.edu.

Vintage 1973 Collection

Stanford is 50! It turns out we’re not the only one. Walk with us down memory lane as we sample some of the wonders and horrors of the 1973–74 academic year on the Farm, and in the world around.

Start the Presses

Were Golden

89 Rodins Find a New Home

A Godfather Delivers a Ransom Payment

A Splashy Debut

The Winds of Freedom

SLE Club

‘Until the Birds Took Over the Singing’

The Poet and the Coup

Steps Toward Saving Salamanders Are Set in Motion

A Sequel for Supersonic Flight?

The First Stanford Astronaut Returns from Space

The End of the Nursing Education Era

Keepers of the Flame

50 Years After the Stanford Murders, Three of Four Families Have Answers

A Classic Is Released

A Young Lawyer Wins an Educational Equity Case

Joining the Force


The Axe Is Stolen One Last Time

Fit to Be Tried

For Commencement Speaker, a Watergate Special Prosecutor

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