From Illinois Tech Magazine: Breaking the ‘Boom’



By Tad Vezner
Michael Buonanno

Like some prodigious inventors, Michael Buonanno (AE ’01) truly understood the importance of his project when his first child was born.

He’d just started working on a new supersonic aircraft design for NASA, and one evening at his southern California home, he was trying hard to convince his newborn to catch some sleep. He eventually succeeded—then imagined a plane flying overhead, breaking the sound barrier. All his effort, destroyed with an indelibly distinct sonic boom.

“That’s when it went from, ‘What’s the big deal?’ to, ‘Absolutely, this would not be acceptable,’” Buonanno laughs.

His decade-long project, the X-59, is the pinnacle of his passion: from a kid who loved drawing airplanes all the way to his current gig as an air vehicle lead and fellow at Lockheed Martin, he’s been fascinated by advances in aviation. Advances which, along one vector at least—speed—halted in the 1960s. Eventually, sonic booms led to international bans on speeds above roughly 700 mph over land.

But Buonanno, heading a multidisciplinary team under a NASA contract, wants to change that.

To read more, visit the Illinois Tech Magazine website.