Imagine a car that is a blend of a jet fighter, Formula One and space rocket technology, capable of touching a speed of 1,000 mph. You will have to see the Bloodhound SSC to believe it. A project initiated by Wing Commander Andy Green, British fighter pilot, Royal Air Force (RAF), the car is testament to Green’s love for speed and penchant for technology.
Green had always wanted to be a fighter pilot and was thrilled to bits when he got an opportunity to work with the RAF. “It’s the best job in the world,” he says, “I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I left school and was very lucky to be accepted by the RAF, which also sponsored me to study mathematics at Oxford University. With this background, I’m ideally prepared for the challenges of driving the world’s fastest car.” The car, Bloodhound SSC, is all about pushing the boundaries of physics and technology, he says.
Green has had a lot of fun putting the car together and he says that the process itself has been very rewarding. “The engineering process is very much based on aerospace technology. We’re building a car that will travel at over 1600 kph (1000 mph), faster than any jet fighter has ever been at ground level. The car has to control 21 tonnes of thrust, up to 12 tonnes per square metre of aerodynamic load, up to 30 tonnes of force through the front suspensions. We’ve also had to find the perfect shape for the vehicle, develop a hybrid rocket system, and prepare the world’s best race track (on Hakskeen Pan, in the Northern Cape of South Africa). Every bit of it has been challenging and fascinating,” he muses.
Green has always lived the fast life, so to speak, and this is definitely not his first tryst with speed. In fact, he already holds the record for being the first person to break the sound barrier on land, when he zoomed his ThrustSSC, a jet-propelled car, at over 714 mph in 1997. He hasn’t driven the Bloodhound yet, but he hopes to start testing it sometime next year. His advice to youngsters is: work hard and stay safe. As a RAF pilot, Green’s greatest takeaway has been about the importance of risk management. “Aviation can be a very unforgiving environment. Learning how to do it safely, every time, is the key to success and takes a lifetime of practice,” he says. And has he made any mistakes? “Mistakes? Fighter pilots never make any that they will admit to!” he adds.
Green was in India recently to deliver the Annual Lord Austin Lectures, organised by IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology), UK. IET is an international professional society for the engineering community and has over 10,000 members in India.
We’re building a car that will travel at over 1600 kph (1000 mph), faster than any jet fighter has ever been at ground level. every bit of it has been challenging
Andy Green, british fighter pilot