Concorde’s Maiden Flight – The 50th Anniversary

Concorde completed its maiden flight in Toulouse on 2 March 1969.

London Air Travel » Concorde

British Airways Concorde G-BOAB at London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Today, Saturday 2 March 2019, marks the 50th anniversary since Concorde’s first flight.

The French prototype Concorde 001 completed its maiden flight in Toulouse on 2 March 1969. The flight was crewed by flight Captain Andre Turcat, co-pilot Jacques Guignard, flight engineer Michel Retif and mechanical engineer Henri Perrier. On its first flight the aircraft was limited to flying at 250 knots and 10,000 ft.

The British prototype Concorde 002 completed its first flight on 9 April 1969. Piloted by Brian Trubshaw and co-pilot John Cochrane, the aircraft flew from Bristol Fulton airport to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. London received its first sighting of the aircraft two months later when it flew over Central London on the Queen’s official birthday.

The history of Concorde is of course well documented. Events are taking place at a number of sites today to mark the anniversary. Aerospace Bristol will also be holding events throughout the year.

There are many still seeking to develop a supersonic replacement including Aerion Supersonic, Boom Supersonic, and Lockheed Martin (in conjunction with NASA).

Aviation has always attracted dreamers and it would remiss to not encourage progress. However, we live in industry where efficiency and discipline, in good times and bad, rules.

Even if a new aircraft was to come to fruition it is unlikely that the major airline groups would be prepared to buy it. Nor would major corporate clients be willing to give the revenue guarantees it would require to be profitable. The era of overt corporate largesse is over.

The future is, sadly, not speed, but flying as efficiently as possible for both the airlines and those paying for the tickets.

For day flights, speed is less important with in-flight connectivity. For night flights, whilst some way short of your own bedroom, there are of course reasonably comfortable flat beds in business class.

Progress will be linking new city pairs that were previously not feasible either due to aircraft efficiency or distance. For the next innovation, all eyes are on Qantas to see whether it will order aircraft capable of flying from London to Melbourne and Sydney non-stop.

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Supersonic – The Design And Lifestyle Of Concorde

“Supersonic – The Design And Lifestyle Of Concorde” looks at the design of Concorde by Air France & BA ahead of its 50th anniverary.

London Air Travel » Concorde

Supersonic, The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde, Lawrence Azerrad.
Supersonic, The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde, Lawrence Azerrad.

This week marked 15 years since Concorde completed its final commercial passenger flight.

On 24 October 2003, members of Concorde’s exclusive club of regular patrons such as the late Sir David Frost and Dame Joan Collins gathered in the Concorde Room at New York JFK. After a farewell speech from Concorde Captain Mike Bannister, they boarded BA2 for the final time, to land at Heathrow before the world’s media.

15 years on Captain Mike Bannister gathered with guests in The Design Museum earlier this week to mark the launch of a limited edition timepiece with Bremont.

Designed in collaboration with BA in advance of the airline’s centenary and the 50th anniversary of Concorde’s maiden flight in 2019, each watch features aluminium from one of BA’s seven Concordes, G-BOAB – pictured here at Heathrow. There are three editions, limited to 500 in total, which are handsomely priced from “just” £9,495 to £17,995.

A more affordable means of remembering Concorde is a recently published book “Supersonic: The Design And Lifestyle Of Concorde”.

It is written by Lawrence Azerrad who founded Los Angeles based design studio LAD Design and has gathered hundreds of Concorde related artefacts. The book focuses less on the engineering and the politics behind the Concorde, and more on the evolution of its marketing and the design of its cabin interiors and branding by both Air France and BA.

It features a foreword by Sir Terence Conran who, in conjunction with factorydesign designed the last Concorde cabin interior for BA and the Concorde Room in New York JFK and the former Concorde Room in London Heathrow Terminal 4.

At a time when there are forces at work determined to take the Western world backwards, Concorde does reflect a spirit of international co-operation and optimism about the future. It is unlikely that supersonic transatlantic travel will return. But progress remains in other areas. There are more US cities that can be reached directly from London then ever before. This time next year, we should know whether direct flights from London to Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney could be launched.

Back to the book, Lawrence Azerrad will be in conversation with designer Sebastian Conran at the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington on Friday 8 February 2019.

“Supersonic – The Design And Lifestyle Of Concorde” is published by Prestel Publishing and is on sale now.

Concorde at London Heathrow Airport

British Airways Concorde G-BOAB pictured at London Heathrow airport.

London Air Travel » Concorde

British Airways Concorde G-BOAB at London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

It is nearly 15 years since Concorde undertook its last passenger flight.

Many new aircraft have entered service since. But none the captured the imagination like Concorde.

As equally elegant as it is imposing, Concorde’s ability to turn heads has not diminished. Interest in a possible supersonic replacement, however far away it may be, still remains.

Here are images of British Airways Concorde G-BOAB at London Heathrow, pictured at the BA Engineering base a few years ago.

As you’ve no doubt seen for yourself, this Concorde resides on the airfield at Heathrow. It may sit alone and static, but everybody notices the delta winged needle nosed aircraft over its younger upstarts.

It’s not possible to visit Concorde at Heathrow. However, the other six BA Concorde aircraft are positioned around the world for visitors including Barbados, Aerospace Bristol, Manchester Airport, The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum New York, The Museum Of Flight Seattle, and The National Museum Of Flight Scotland.

British Airways Concorde G-BOAB at London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
British Airways Concorde G-BOAB at London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
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Concorde: A Supersonic Story

BBC4 takes a look back at the much-loved Concorde at 9pm on Tuesday 10 October 2017.

London Air Travel » Concorde

British Airways Concorde G-BOAB at London Heathrow Airport (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

It is almost 15 years that Concorde ceased commercial operations. However, the First Lady of aviation is still held in huge affection by passengers all over the world.

Concorde may sit stationary on the airfield at London Heathrow, but its delta wings and imposing needle nose still have the ability to turn heads.  Concorde more than holds its own against younger next generation aircraft in terms of presence on the tarmac.

In advance of the new Bristol Aerospace Museum opening on Tuesday 17 October which will house one of the Concorde aircraft, next week, BBC4 will take a look back at Concorde with Concorde: A Supersonic Story.

The BBC promises rare footage and a cast of engineers, frequent flyers and celebrities (including Dame Joan Collins naturally…) to tell the story of one of the most elegant and elusive aircraft ever made.

It premiers at 21:00 on Tuesday 10 October 2017. It will be also be available to stream / download for 30 days from the date of broadcast for viewers in the UK.

Also available on the BBC iPlayer’s “From The Archive” section is Perpetual Motion Concorde which was first shown on the BBC in 1994.