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Dec 18


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Toyin Wura Oke


Concorde - Once upon a Supersonic Aircraft

The history of aviation and aeronautics will be incomplete without giving due reference to Concorde, an amazing aviation invention.

Today, aviation enthusiasts are fascinated by aircraft like the long haul Airbus 380 jumbo jet and the Boeing 777 Dreamliner.  However, in the 1970s, right up to 2003, when it was retired, Concorde was the aircraft of choice and fascination, and travelers eagerly looked forward to their personal “Concorde Experience”.

Concorde was a project conceptualized, developed and manufactured by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) of the United Kingdom and Aerospatiale of France. 

The name Concorde, which means harmony or union, aptly reflects the co-operation between both countries in developing the aircraft. In the UK, it was simply known as Concorde, without an article like “the” or “a”.

It was a turbojet powered supersonic passenger aircraft that could travel at a maximum velocity of over twice the speed of sound (Mach 2.04 or 1,354mph/2,180kmph).

Concorde sat 100 passengers, and was highly favored by wealthy passengers; celebrities, royalty and business executives who could afford the significantly high price in exchange for the ‘Concorde Experience’ of speed and luxury service.  Although it lacked inflight entertainment and reclining seats, much was compensated by seamless quality service through the entire experience; dedicated check-in counters, ultra fast track through to boarding, all star on board meals, and of course, leaving London at 8am, and arriving New York early enough to go to bed before heading to work at 8am.

Photo: nms

Photo: nms

Air France and British Airways were the only airlines to purchase Concorde. This was largely due to the fact that although it was an aviation icon, it was commercially flawed, and never met the original sales projections, despite initial interest from several airlines.  Concorde flights originated from London Heathrow and Paris Charles De Gaulle Airports only.  A typical Trans-Atlantic flight to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, and Dulles airport in Washington amongst other destinations took less than half the time a regular commercial flight took.  Precisely three and a half hours to New York.

Photo: sur la terre

Photo: sur la terre

From an engineering perspective, Concorde was simply amazing; it flew up to 60,000ft.  At this height, it was possible for passengers to see the curvature of the earth. The aircraft stretched between 6 and 10 inches during flights.  This was as a result of the intense heat generated by the airframe. Every surface on the aircraft, including the windows was warm to the touch after a flight.  The aircraft was actually painted in special white paint to help cool the plane after a supersonic flight.

Photo : aronline

Photo : aronline

Concorde provided the ideal flying option for the very busy business executive, as it afforded the opportunity and convenience to meet same day appointments in Europe and America.

Sadly, the aircraft was retired in 2003 as a result of declining patronage due to environmental concerns, high oil price, as well as the Concorde crash of 2000 in Paris.

Some Facts About Concorde

·      Concorde was developed and built by British and French engineers, as a result of a treaty by both countries.

·      20 Concordes were built, and 14 flew commercially

·      The first Concorde, 001 was built in France, and made its first test run on the 2nd of March 1969.

·      The second Concorde, 002 was built in United Kingdom, and first flew on the 9th of April 1969.

·      Its first commercial flight was from Heathrow to Bahrain, and from Paris to Rio on January 21st 1976.

·      Concorde travelled at more than twice the speed of sound with a loud rumble so noisy that it was not allowed to fly over some countries, such as Saudi Arabian, so it doesn’t affect their camel breeding.

·      Its fastest journey was New York to London on January 1st 1983, 2hrs and 56mins.

·      Air France recorded its last Concorde flight on May 31st 2003, and British Airways on October 24th 2003.

Where are the Concordes?

The Concordes are on Display in United Kingdom, France, Germany, and United States

British Development Fleet

G-BSST (002) Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm Museum, Somerset, UK

G-AXDN (101) Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambs, UK

G-BBDG (202) Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrey, UK

G-BOAA (206) Museum of Flight, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

G-BOAB (208) Heathrow Airport, London, UK

G-BOAC (204) Manchester Airport, Manchester, UK

G-BOAD (210) Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, USA

G-BOAE (212) Grantley Adams Airport, Barbados

G-BOAF (216) Aerospace Bristol, UK

G-BOAG (214) Museum of Flight, Seattle, USA

French Development Fleet

F-WTSS (001) Air and Space Museum, Le Bourget, France

F-WTSA (102) Mus�e Delta, Orly, France

F-WTSB (201) Airbus, Toulouse, France

F-BTSC (203) Crashed (read Final crash report here)

F-BTSD (213) Air and Space Museum, Le Bourget, France

F-BVFA (205) Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, USA

F-BVFB (207) Auto & Technik Museum, Sinsheim, Germany

F-BVFC (209) Airbus, Toulouse, France

F-BVFD (211) Broken up, 1984

F-BVFF (215) Charles de Gaulle, Paris, France
Ref: Club Concorde

Will Concorde Ever Return?

It will be nice to see a return of this iconic supersonic aircraft. 

Were you privileged to fly the Concorde?  Please share your ‘Concorde Experience’ in the comments box.

- Terence Mc Arthur

“We’re going to take you to the edge of space, where the sky gets darker, where you can see the curvature of the Earth, we’re going to travel across the Atlantic twice the speed of sound, faster than a rifle bullet, 23 miles every minute, we’re going to travel so fast we’re moving faster than the Earth rotates and the world will be watching us.”

- Mike Bannister - Prior to the last commercial Concorde passenger flight (G-BOAG) from NewYork to London Heathrow JFK 2003

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