Peering through a windscreen no wider than a letterbox RAF Wing Commander Andy Green puts his foot down and goes from nought to 210 mph (310km/h) over 1.7 miles, in less time than it takes the average person to walk 10 yards.

Eight seconds later it's all over, the first test run carried out by Bloodhound SSC in front of the public successfully completed.

Within a few minutes the 14.65 yards long (13.4 metres) supersonic car sets off again down the runway at Newquay Airport, in Cornwall, flames shooting out of its exhaust engine as it once more reaches 200 mph.

Yesterday's display - witnessed by more than 3,500 enthusiastic spectators - was certainly impressive, but it will pale when the supersonic car makes its attempt to smash the 1,000mph barrier in South Africa in 2019.


The test runs were the first significant step on the long road to the dried-out Hakskeen Pan lakebed in Northern Cape, where W/C Green will attempt to smash his own world land speed record of 763 mph, set in 1997.

For an hour and a half Newquay Airport was closed to air traffic while the tests took place.

As Bloodhound thundered down the runway cheers from the crowd rang out - or at least they would have done had they not been drowned out by the 180 decibel roar of its engine.

Afterwards, W/C Green, hailed the day a success. "This is the longest ride we have done and the highest speeds we have done," he said. "It was hotter and harder work than I was expecting.

"But the car itself just behaved brilliantly. A five tonne car doing zero to 200 in eight seconds and then slowing down. That is unparalleled.

"We wanted to demonstrate the car is ready to go faster and the team is ready to go faster. We did that in spades."

The low slung cylindrical vehicle is powered by a Rolls Royce EJ200 jet engine, capable of producing more than 135,000 horsepower - more than six times the combined power of all the Formula 1 cars on a Grand Prix starting grid.

Specially designed suspension helped W/C Green deal with the violent thrust of the engine as well as ironing out bumps in the runway.


Inside the cockpit is a bank of high-tech controls to steer, monitor fuel flows and, crucially, brake.

Pilot Andy Green climbs into the cockpit as Bloodhound SSC is prepared to be towed out of the hangar by technicians. Photo / AP
Pilot Andy Green climbs into the cockpit as Bloodhound SSC is prepared to be towed out of the hangar by technicians. Photo / AP

The jet intake is as high above the ground as possible to avoid being clogged by desert dust when more advanced tests take place.

W/C Green joked that one thing Bloodhound does not need is wing mirrors. After all, nothing is likely to overtake it.

The mastermind behind Bloodhound - distinctive for its orange snout and towering tail fin designed to cut through desert winds - is 85-year-old Ron Ayers, who has come out of retirement in an attempt to break his own record.

Ayers designed the Thrust SSC, in which W/C Green established his record 20 years ago with a speed of 763.035mph.

Determined to build a car capable of reaching 1,000mph he once again teamed up with W/C Green and Richard Noble - holder of the land speed record between 1983 and 1997 - to build Bloodhound.

Ayers, the project's chief of aerodynamics, worked on the first prototype of the Victor bomber.

He did not need much persuading to roll his sleeves up again, saying, "I don't need talking into it if there's an opportunity and a challenge to meet".

For the Thrust SSC the team used two jet engines. This time they opted for one, a donated Eurofighter engine, said to be the best in the world.

On Bloodhound's tail are two rival teams, the Aussie Invader 5R and North American Eagle.

But Ayers is confident it's the Brits who are most likely to make history, because, he says, "we've done it twice before".

He added: "We rather suspect we're ahead of we might also push the record outside their reach."

Ayers and the team hit on the 1,000 mph target because it is the " physical limit you can reach on land" before "science becomes a barrier".

His interest in planes began as a child during the Blitz, when he would watch Spitfires and Hurricanes flying in the sky.

Seventy five years Ayers hopes Bloodhound will inspire the next generation to pursue a career in engineering.

"We firmly believe that the technology we're creating is of value to the country," he said. "We're not doing it just for the sake of the record. We are doing it for educational reasons because children love studying fast cars and it keeps them interested in engineering".