In the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy pledged that Americans would go to the moon and develop a supersonic commercial airliner. By the end of that decade, the country witnessed in awe Neil Armstrong’s “small step for man…” It was the idea of supersonic intercity travel that proved the unattainable “moonshot.” A half-century after Kennedy’s promise, with the European Concorde in retirement and no American supersonic plane ever cleared for takeoff, airliners still travel at the same speed as did President Kennedy’s 707 Air Force One.
We like to talk about the dizzying rate of technological change these days, but when it comes to intercity travel, we’re stuck back in 1959, when the 707 made its inaugural trans-continental flight. Why is that? And are we now on the eve of startling innovations in flying, or will it still take five hours to fly across the country in 2059? Join Future Tense for lunch in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 11 to discuss these questions, and the future of aviation.