At just after 9:00 am on the 29th May 2003, I achieved a lifetime ambition and flew Concorde ! Concorde had six months of service remaining with British Airways so the rush was on for fellow Aviation geeks to organise the trip of a lifetime.
The journey was perhaps the last occasion that I could describe as an example of glamorous air travel. The dedicated Concorde lounge at JFK’s Terminal 7 had a real buzz about it, although the usual compliment of banker and celebrity passengers was supplemented my people such as myself who were here for the ride..
Clearly visible through the wall to celling windows was the flagship of British Airways fleet, G-BOAC. After the obligatory glass of champagne it was time to board and I took my seat 6D inside as everyone says the rather cramped cabin, similar to a modern Embraer E jet .
I had specifically chosen to fly back from New York to London on flight BA002 as my Concorde experience for what happened next.. Anyone who flew on Concorde will tell you the take off was like no other experience after all it was the only commercial airliner to take off using afterburners ! But the take off from New York was even more special, because of the need to carry out noise abatement procedures very quickly after take off, Concorde made a hard left turn, enough to make you feel both pushed down and back into your seat from the acceleration – very roller-coaster like !
This video give you some sense of this unique departure..
Very quickly after take off the afterburners are switched off and there is a noticeable deceleration and reduction in noise. After a few minutes and another glass of Champagne and canapés, it was time to really get going.. the Captain made a short announcement switched on the afterburners again which felt like a kick in the back and we rapidly accelerated to Mach 2.0 1330 MPH and an altitude of 56,000 feet.
At such a speed and altitude there was no real impression of speed, other than perhaps from the heat felt when touching the small windows, the heat a product of air friction.
Looking out of the window produced a view quite different to the 747 flying only half as high as Concorde. The sky was much darker and it is possible to just about see the curvature of the earth, and the thin blue line which represents the vital but very fragile part of the atmosphere in which we all live.
I will never in all likelihood be as high or travel as fast again in my life as I did for those couple of hours ten years ago, indeed the captain made the point at that moment there were only five people higher than the 100 passengers in Concorde, and they were on the International Space Station !
I completely understand the economics of why Concorde no longer flies, but is still seems wrong that the technological masterpiece on which I flew now sits in a Museum at Manchester Airport !
Written and submitted from home (51.425N, 0.331W)