The quest to fly an airplane faster than sound is chronicled in this episode of Nova. The documentary begins in the final years of World War II, when fighter pilots began to notice that their airplanes began performing strangely as they began to attain great speeds during dives. The aircraft became unstable, the controls froze, and pilots who couldn't come out of the dive crashed helplessly to earth. Survivors of such terrifying ordeals speak on camera about what they experienced and reminisce about how flying at the speed of sound was thought to be an impossibility. Plans to develop faster planes are discussed, with looks at Allied and German designs during the war, and the eventual obstacles American designers faced in creating a plane to break what had become known as "the sound barrier" are shown with considerable detail. The plane built for the task, the Bell X1, is shown, and the pilot chosen to fly it on its monumental flight in 1947, Captain Chuck Yeager, recounts his experiences at the controls of an inherently dangerous piece of machinery.

Film Duration: 58 min