As a Concorde enthusiast, I am luckier than most; I flew on her twice, and my late stepfather was Chief Test Pilot, Brian Trubshaw.
It grieves me to say I have no memory of 9th April 1969 – the day Brian and his crew roared along the runway at Filton in 002 lifting her off the ground for the first time. Fifty years ago, I was a horse-obsessed teenager enjoying the Easter holidays. Brian was not yet a part of my life. It would be another three years before he married my mother, and I became an extended member of the Concorde Family.
The Concorde Family. The words will be forever be etched on my heart. The core family members made up from the team who worked on the Anglo-French Concorde Project. Brian lived and breathed Concorde. My mother and I willingly embraced his passion, as Concorde became a huge part of our lives.
Fast-forward to 1989 and my first flight on Concorde. She had been in commercial service for thirteen years, after completing almost seven years of gruelling flight-testing. To coincide with the 20thAnniversary of Concorde’s maiden flight, Goodwood Travel, with the assistance of BA, organised a Concorde flight from Heathrow to Toulouse. Brian was delighted when Goodwood asked him to join the flight as their special guest, with his plus one, my mother – who had already flow on her a few times – notably to Bahrain and back. Goodwood asked Brian if he would be prepared to provide an in-flight commentary, he said he would be delighted to do it if his stepdaughter could be included on the passenger list
Thanks to Brian, and Goodwood Travel, the 2nd March 1989 became one of the most momentous days of my life. With Tony Meadows in the Captain’s seat, we took off from Heathrow. That exhilarating, heart-stopping moment when, at maximum acceleration, 78 tons of Concorde lifts into the sky like a majestic swan. We cruised around the Bay of Biscay before landing at Toulouse to enjoy a spectacular birthday celebration in one of the hangers, to honour this magnificent aircraft’s 20th birthday.
It was a magical day, which passed too quickly, like flying at Mach 2 in a euphoric haze of excitement and bubbles.
After an amazing lunch in a stunning medieval castle, we flew back to Heathrow much later than scheduled. I missed my connection home to Jersey, only managing to rock up for work after lunch the following day. Fortunately, I had a very understanding Concorde-loving boss.
I never expected to fly on Concorde again, but ten years later, I was presented with another opportunity, thanks to Brian, of course. This flight was quicker than most, even by subsonic standards, as we flew all the way from Heathrow to Farnborough for the Air Show, which took about 10 minutes.
With Jock Lowe at the controls, Brian was sitting a window seat, and I was sitting next to him. We were being flown in for a book signing for Brian’s first book, Brian Trubshaw – Test Pilot. My excitement was bubbling over.
When Raymond Baxter leant over me to chat to Brian, I thought swapping seats with him was the least I could do. I will never find myself flying with such revered names on a passenger list again. My point and shoot camera captured many celebrated faces on that short flight, from Concorde pilots to politicians to broadcasters.
Once on the ground, there was another treat in store for me when Brian, Jock and I were whisked off to lunch in a limousine… with police outriders. After lunch with a host of famous aviators from World War II aces to test pilots, Brian and I spent much of that afternoon signing books.
Memories like these can never be erased, and I would have never experienced them had I not been privileged to be an extended member of the Concorde Family.
I miss Brian every day and, like so many others, I miss that sleek miracle of modern technology gracing our skies. Concorde, an icon of the 20thCentury, was born thanks to the determination of every individual involved with the Anglo-British alliance, who worked tirelessly to make the dream of supersonic transport a reality.
HAPPY 5OTH BIRTHDAY CONCORDE 002