The first Concorde !
What an amazing year 1969 must have been, I’m too young (yes really) to remember it, but the year features two amazing technological achievements, in July Armstrong and Aldrin became the first men on the moon and a few months earlier on the 2nd of March Andre Turcat performed the first flight of this aircraft, the prototype Concorde 001.
Many describe the development of Concorde as Europe’s Apollo programme in terms of cost and complexity, it was important enough to be covered live on television by the legendary Raymond Baxter. (As a sidenote – compare the knowledgeable and quite technical commentary provided by Baxter a ex-spitfire pilot with today’s so-called aviation experts on TV)
The prototypes are noticeably different to the later pre-Production (101,102), Development (201-201) and Production aircraft (203-216) in having a different wing shape, air intakes, nose and tail design. Most obvious I alway think is the “Buck Rogers” style visor design.
Concorde 001 went on to break the sound barrier in October and Mach 2 the following November.
As you would expect Concorde 001 is a well maintained and presented aircraft on display in the Hall of Concordes at Le Bourget’s Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace alongside Concorde 213 F-BTSD.
As part of the display this is an interesting exhibit documenting the role Concorde 001 undertook to monitor a solar eclipse in 1973. Flying at the maximum possible speed of Mach 2.05 along a great circle route the scientists were able to view the total eclipse for 74 minutes. There is a great simulation of the flightpath at this site.
Concorde 001 was retired on arrival to the museum in October 1973, having made 397 flights covering 812 hours, of which 255 hours were at supersonic speeds.
Entry to both Concordes costs €9 and is well worth it, the interior of 001 in particular is very evocative for a test aircraft 40 years old !