Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Scaled Composites earlier this week completed the first maiden flight of a new experimental plane, the Model 401, for an unnamed customer.
Details of the first flight are sketchy, though Scaled posted a video on Facebook showing the takeoff of Vehicle Number 1. The Model 401 prototypes have an identical outer design with a 38-ft (11.6 m) wingspan and identical performance characteristics. Lightweight construction allows for an empty weight of 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) and a takeoff weight of 8,000 lb (3,628 kg).
The Model 401 uses a single Pratt & Whitney JTD-15D-5D engine punching 3,045 lb of thrust. This provides for a speed of Mach 0.6 (456 mph, 735 km/h) and a service ceiling of 30,000 ft (10,000 m) with a flight endurance of three hours.
Two of these have been built, so far. The picture of the plane at the link suggests it is stealth designed so that radar will have trouble detecting it. The specifications above suggest to me that it is possibly a military training plane. I would welcome the speculations of my many aviation readers