On Oct. 7 the results of Scholl’s scouting missions and subsequent years of hard work will be revealed to the public. His startup, Boom Technology Inc., founded in 2014, will unveil the completed version of its XB-1 supersonic jet.
Blake Scholl just kept turning up. For months he would rent a plane in Silicon Valley, fly himself to California’s Mojave Air and Space Port, and get a table at the Voyager restaurant, a well-known hangout for modern-day aviation mavens. Scholl would sit for hours, listening to conversations and introducing himself to pilots and engineers from aeronautics pioneers such as Virgin Galactic Holdings
Inc. and Scaled Composites LLC. Visit by visit, Scholl, an aerospace outsider, began to figure out the kinds of people and skills needed to bring a revolutionary new aircraft to life. “I’ve not seen such a practical approach before or since,” says Elliot Seguin, a test pilot who knows Scholl.
For the first time, an independent company has built a supersonic jet and plotted a reasonable path toward a not-so-distant future full of overseas routes to many of the world’s major cities. Even still, it will take at least until the end of this decade to move plans from the drawing board to the commercial production line—and that’s without any major mishaps. The hope is that, by then, demand for air travel will have long rebounded after this year’s steep declines because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Six years ago, I didn’t think we had great odds of ever getting here,” says Scholl, 39. “It took longer than I thought it would, but it actually happened.” Built out of carbon fiber, the sleek white and black craft resembles a fighter jet more than a passenger transport.
The 71-foot XB-1 will start making its first flights early next year, reaching a speed of Mach 1.3 before going even faster as testing progresses. If all goes well, Boom will turn its focus in late 2021 to completing the design of its first commercial plane, dubbed Overture.