When British RAF fighter pilot Andy Green smashed the sound barrier and the world land speed record on American soil in 1997 he also broke the heart of American speed freak Ed Shadle. . On July 19th 2012 Richard Noble and Andy Green unveiled Bloodhound SSC at The Farnborough Air show. The Eagle team had long been aware of their rival's proposed follow-up to Thrust SSC, but they had believed that the Brits were at least five years behind in terms of production. But the surprise announcement of two new sponsors means that the Bloodhound could well move to a record attempt inside a year. This time they're aiming for a speed of 1000 M.P.H. - a truly dizzying figure and one well beyond the capabilities of the Eagle. www.bloodhoundssc.com
That bitter experience sparked an all-consuming obsession in the retired computer technician to win back the world land speed record for the Stars and Stripes that will reach full throttle this autumn (2014) aboard the North American Eagle.
The 72-year-old Shadle will sit astride the remnants of 1957 Lockheed F-104 Starfighter jet knowing, however, that this time he will have Australian drag racer Rosco McGlashan on his tail, along with his nemesis Andy Green
Progress on the North American Eagle, as the repurposed Starfighter was christened, has been sustained through its eleven-years of challenges by the sheer dedication of a team of unpaid volunteers working evenings and weekends.
Last year Per Wimmer, a 40 year-old Danish self-styled adventurer, global financier and philanthropist, entered as a "white knight", bringing much-needed sponsorship from his own company Wimmer Space and adding his special brand of derring-do to the mix. Now if the Eagle succeeds Shadle will enter the history books as the fastest man on Earth, but he will do so sharing the glory with Wimmer who is set to be his co-driver. Wimmer is quite a character in his own right. A compulsive high-achiever, his website describes him as a cross between "Indiana Jones and James Bond". He holds the world record for the highest tandem sky-dive (29.5 thousand feet over Everest); he has spent time with the Indians in the Amazon; dived with sharks in the Fiji Islands; and having recently completed his astronaut-training is set to be the first Dane in space on Virgin Galactic. So what is it that makes Per Wimmer run? Beyond sheer adrenaline-seeking his motivation is to transcend the stifling constraints of the centuries-old Danish Jante Law- a cultural imperative restraining individualism and success. www.wimmerspace.com
Shadle isn’t motivated by fame and seems quite happy to share the results of his efforts with others, as long as the North American Eagle gets all the credit it deserves. In the male dominated motor racing world, Shadle will make sure his baby delivers at least one sure record: the absolute land speed record for a female driver. The current candidate to drive is two multi-world-record holding motorcyclist Jessi Combs.
This larger than life adventure story will focus on one man’s single-minded pursuit of an apparently impossible dream and the radically different men from Britain and Australia determined to deny him his one last wish.
First and foremost is the fastest man on earth. Wing Commander Green has flown Tornado jets and is poised to take the wheel of Bloodhound SSC, which boasts a state of the art Eurofighter jet Engine, as well as a professional back room team.
With a projected top speed of 1,000mph Bloodhound is the brainchild of buccaneering former paint salesman, engineer and entrepreneur Richard Noble, who once held the world record himself, and wants to smash the 763mph record.
By contrast McGlashan has relied on a team of volunteers and academics to design, develop and deliver the Aussie Invader 5R, which the 61-year-old is determined to drive at 1,000mph in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert later this year.
McGlashan has been obsessed with becoming the world’s fastest man ever since he was a boy watching the legendary Donald Campbell attempting to break the record at Australia’s Lake Eyre in the early 1960s.
Honed in McGlashan’s Perth garage, Aussie Invader boasts four rockets and is designed to propel its driver from a standing start to 1000mph in just 20 seconds when it attempts to break the record in South Africa later this year.
Shadle epitomises America’s can-do spirit despite a childhood scarred by poverty. Of Wenatchee decent and Brought up in a remote two room cabin, in the Coleville Indian Reservation the former American air force pilot boasts precious few advantages in life other than a drive for success.
So far Shadle has spent US$150,000 of his own money on the project with the Starfighter costing him $25,000 but the bittersweet fact is that with a top speed of 800mph they can never be Top Gun for long.
The prospect of seeing any record they set fall to the Brits or Aussies, however, does not faze Shadle in the least. He welcomes the challenge.
"I can always go and take the record straight back from them," he chuckles. "Not a problem. We'll show those young studs this old guy can still lay down a good run."
Our film will focus on this three way battle through the prism of Shadle and his 20-year quest to become the world’s fastest man and the story of his relentless pursuit of this prize will take viewers on an emotional roller coaster.
The story of Shadle acquiring and adapting the plane once dubbed the Flying Coffin and his discovery that the jet had once been flown by American military icon and test pilot Chuck Yeager will resonate with both aviation and motor sport fans.
Interviews will encompass friends and family, as well as Shadle and his team, as we understand their contrasting motivations for pursuing this potentially lethal venture. It is a story that will draw in viewers with its combustible human-interest appeal.
We will also contrast this with the British Bloodhound team, which offers an extraordinary combination of cutting edge technology and the buccaneering spirit of its founder Richard Noble who helped break the record with Green in 1997.
This former paint salesman, engineer and adventurer is another self-made man, who held the world land speed record himself for 14 years until he organised the successful record attempt by Andy Green and the car Thrust SSC in 1997.
We will follow the Bloodhound team as they prepare for their record attempt in South Africa – destined for late 2012 or early 2013 – and talk to Noble and Green as they try to fulfil their ambition to break the record by the largest ever margin.
So too with McGlashan who will be interviewed, along with his team, as they prepare for their attempt in South Africa.
The film will expand on the basic structural elements of interviews, observational footage and archive material to include more stylised sequences – such as dramatisations of what Shadle feels as he is about to pilot the vehicle beyond the speed of sound, or what happens to the human body under the stress of G-forces.
Voiceover narration will be by a well-known actor whose own personality chimes with this pioneer philosophy.
This will be an inspirational film with a bittersweet paradox at its centre. Shadle’s battle with The Aussie Invader, above all else, is almost certain to end in defeat because the Australian’s car’s top speed far outstrips the capacity of the Eagle. But in terms of the Eagle’s quest none of that matters because Shadle will surely have tasted glory for that one and all enduring moment. A moment that will resonate with all viewers.