1 Mach

3 min read Jun 11, 2024
1 Mach

1 Mach: The Speed of Sound

What is 1 Mach?

1 Mach is the speed of sound, which is a critical value in aerodynamics and physics. The term "Mach" is named after Austrian physicist Ernst Mach, who was a pioneer in the study of supersonic motion.

Defining 1 Mach

1 Mach is equal to the speed of sound in the medium through which an object is moving. In dry air at a temperature of 59°F (15°C) at sea level, the speed of sound is approximately 768 miles per hour (mph) or 1,236 kilometers per hour (km/h). This value can vary depending on factors such as altitude, temperature, and air composition.

Importance of 1 Mach

The speed of sound, or 1 Mach, is a critical value in aerodynamics because it marks the boundary between subsonic and supersonic flight. When an object breaks the sound barrier, it produces a sonic boom, which is a shockwave that produces a loud noise.

In aircraft design, understanding 1 Mach is crucial for optimizing performance, stability, and safety. Supersonic aircraft, such as military jets and some experimental planes, are designed to operate above 1 Mach, while commercial airliners typically cruise at subsonic speeds.

Breaking the Sound Barrier

Breaking the sound barrier, or achieving Mach 1, was a significant milestone in aviation history. On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager, a US Air Force test pilot, became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound in the Bell X-1 rocket-powered aircraft.


In conclusion, 1 Mach is a fundamental concept in aerodynamics, marking the threshold between subsonic and supersonic flight. Understanding the speed of sound is essential for designing and operating aircraft, and has played a critical role in shaping the history of aviation.

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