I love flying, but my knowledge of aircraft is on a par with my knowledge of motor vehicles … zilch. I view them as a way to get from A to B. Yet, some time ago, I actually fell in love with an aircraft – Concorde. OK it is fair to say that a member of my family was hugely involved with the development and testing of this Anglo/French aircraft. In fact it has to be said that all those involved in the development and testing of Concorde became one big family. There was something uniquely different about Concorde. Not only because she was the first supersonic passenger aircraft, but it was something about the delta shaped wings, that made her look so serenely beautiful in the sky.
I was lucky enough to fly on Concorde twice. The first time was from Heathrow to Toulouse, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of her maiden flight on 3rd March 1989, which ranks in the top 10 best days of my life.
At that time there were 13 Concordes still in operation which were expected to last another 20 years.
My second trip in Concorde was from Heathrow to … err, well, Farnborough actually, so no opportunity to go supersonic on my second trip, but a thrill non-the-less. When she was scrapped from service, this image for me was the final straw:
On the 13th April 2004, 110 tonnes of Concorde, the beautiful, sleek and streamlined aircraft, which once offered the quintessential flying experience, was loaded onto a special barge and shipped to her final resting place at the Museum of Flight near Edinburgh. The British public, always staunch supporters of Concorde, stood alongside the Thames witnessing the end of a spectacular breakthrough in aviation history which had taken years to achieve. It was a very sad day for them and the hundreds of people involved in her development, ‘The Concorde Family’, who had dedicated their lives to see her in service, as well as the test pilots who risked their lives to fly her for the first time. It was the end of an era.
I am not sure why it has taken so long for those in the aviation world to pick up the pieces and build another supersonic aircraft, but in 2013 Spike Aerospace took up the challenge. By 2018 it is likely that we will see a new supersonic shape in the sky – the Spike S-512 Supersonic Jet.
It looks small doesn’t it? Well you would be right, 18 passenger capacity. So I guess you will have to be extremely rich to take a flight. Sadly, it would appear that there is no supersonic passenger aircraft being designed to fill Concorde’s skies. It seems such a waste, supersonic flight has always been the way forward and the technology is there to be built on.
A Tribute to Concorde Test Pilots Andre Turcat (France) and Brian Trubshaw (UK) – Text taken from http://www.concordesst.com/
Concorde prototype 001, registered as F-WTSS, was now packed with ten tons of test instruments. Its first flight from Toulouse had been delayed for several days due to bad weather. At 15:40 hrs, captained by chief test pilot Andre Turcat, Concorde 001 started its first take off run, with afterburners lit, the four Olympus 593 engines briskly accelerated the aircraft, and after 4,700 feet of runway and at a speed of 205 knots captain Turcat, flying manually throughout, rotated 001. The aircraft climbed steeply away accompanied by two chase aircraft, one taking film and the other to serve the calibration of Concorde’s airspeed indication systems. For this historic flight the landing gear was left in the down position and the “droop-snoot” nose left lowered. Accompanying Andre Turcat that day was copilot Jaques Guignard, and engineer observers Henri Perrier and Michel Retif. At 16:08 hrs Concorde 001 made a perfect landing.
Concorde 002 (G-BSST) made its first flight from Filton. Concorde 002’s crew for that flight was chief test pilot for commercial aircraft BAC, Brian Trubshaw; copilot John Cochrane; and Brian Watts the engineer observer. After carrying out the specified test items G-BSST made its approach to RAF Fairford that had been equipped as the main Concorde flight test centre. With both radar altimeters failed, and the crew being 35 feet above the landing gear, Brian Trubshaw made an impeccable landing.