The first design for the Lightning included an experimental drive for nearing lightspeed in atmosphere. When the drive project lost funding (let’s face it; it was always going to), the Lighting looked like it was going to with it. Then Brad on the shop floor stole a copy of the blueprints and drew in a low Earth orbit rocket where the lightspeed drive was going to be. He probably meant it as a joke, but since the design already called for a frontal force field projector to take air friction, strapping on the rocket turned out to be perfect. After a few short months, the Lightning hit the airways. And yes, it still managed to break most airspeed records.