A lady + jet engine = land-speed world record?
A metal worker and former TV personality, American Jessi Combs is fast and feminine. This year, climate-change permitting, she will try to break the women’s absolute land speed world record.
Follow this link to see a video of Jessi Combs: Meet Jessi, the fastest woman on four wheels
Jessi drives the North American Eagle, an aircraft-cum-car. It has a General Electric J79 axial-flow turbojet engine so strong, it was once used in fighter planes in the Vietnam war. Jessi’s using it in her fight to snatch the title from Kitty O’Neil, who set it back in 1976 by hitting a speed of 825 km/h.
Jessi feels her vocation is a direct and positive influence on her driving skills, but it goes both ways.
“I became a builder because I wanted to be better, stronger, faster, lighter than the guys, and I have a competitive nature and so I learnt how to fabricate” she told Falken Digital. “I think it gives me a better understanding of vehicle dynamics. You know, I have this mechanical mind where I literally see [into] what I’m driving.”
The supersonic metal machine she drives was recently re-upgraded to support her goal. It has a filter that removes contaminants and improves flow to the engine so that the driver can control the speed. But at that speed capacity, the jet-propelled drive is as hungry as it is hasty. It burns 606 litres of kerosene fuel per minute. That’s 10 litres PER SECOND. Quite the carbon belcher.
The vehicle can technically reach speeds of up to 1 343 km/h. Actual running speed is affected by a variety of other factors besides engine capacity and efficiency, including the surface of the ground, which delayed a recent attempt.
In 2018, the sand in Diamond Valley, Nevada, USA was too soft from winter snow to provide enough traction for the tyres. Jessi will launch between the northern hemisphere’s summer months of July through September 2019.
She’s done this a few times, prompting CEO of the North American Eagle project Keith Zanghi to assure Wired that she’s “’the most qualified person in the world’ to helm the vehicle”. She has more than 6 test runs over 644 km/h and a best run of 768 km/h. And you thought going 130 was hardcore!
But does she feel the difference each time? “Yes, I can feel a good run when it’s happening,” she posted on Facebook in March. “The afterburners in full thrust, and the difference between 300 and 400 miles per hour (483 and 644 km/h). Coolest experience ever!”
Let’s hope Jessi gets to feel that record smashing as she goes “so fast it’s slow, so loud it’s quiet, so bumpy it’s smooth” this coming year. And plants a forest or four to make up for all that four-wheeled world record-breaking fuel it’ll burn…