Tupolev 144


On 31 December 1968, the prototype of the Russian Tupolev 144 took to the skies. This was the climax of a competition between the engineers of the British/French Concorde and those of the Russian Tupolev TU-144 to get a supersonic commercial aircraft into the air! The “Concorde“ first followed on 2 March 1969. 
The roll-out of the virtually fully developed TU-144 commercial aircraft took place on 21 May 1970 at Moscow’s Scheremetjewo airfield. Five days later, it was the world’s first passenger plane to reach Mach 2, with a speed of 2150 km/h. At its first appearance in the West a few years later the TU-144 had already topped 2433 km/h in training flights. However, the project suffered a major set-back in 1973 when a TU-144 crashed at the Paris Air Show, killing all seven on board and eight on the ground.
After several years of further development the TU-144 finally commenced scheduled service between Moscow and Almaty. But in May 1978 following an emergency landing because of a fuel leak, all flights were discontinued.
In 2001, Germany’s Auto- und Technikmuseum Sinsheim succeeded in acquiring a TU-144 which now boasts a fully walk-in interior and receives thousands of visitors year after year!

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