Concorde – The fastest, highest flying and most beautiful airliner ever built.

Much has been written about Concorde by engineers, enthusiasts, environmentalists and economists alike. Detailed technical information, photo rich books, documentaries and endless analysis of her life and death are available. I’m not going to try and replicate all that here.

I’m just an enthusiast who never thought the past tense would be required to write about this wonderful, beautiful, incredible, awesome machine.

When I was growing up we used to spend a week of the summer holidays staying at my Mum’s aunt’s house in London, and a trip to the spectator gallery at Heathrow was always an exciting day out for me (probably not my mum though!). The first question asked when we got there was “When does Concorde take off”. The noise and power were incredible to an 8 year old. It seemed impossible that this was a creation of engineering and science – she seemed to be alive.

Back at home we were lucky to see Concorde quite regularly as she was crew training out of Prestwick. The easterly days were best as she’d turn onto left base directly in front of our school. I moved to the island in 1999 and never saw her fly again. I was in London in 2000 but didn’t make the time to go and see her – had I only known she had a few years left…

We visited G-BOAA at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune in 2006, and it was a mixed experience for me. I was right next to her, we had a look onboard and read all the displays about her – she was still as beautiful as ever, but she seemed cold. Dead. I was more than a little sad that day. I was glad to have seen her up close again, but longed to see her alive and departing from Prestwick in full reheat.

However, regarding her as a museum piece is not doing her justice – she is a monument to all the engineers, technicians and flight crew that gave such a machine to the world. She is a reminder that we must always push the boundaries of the world in which we live, we must dare to dream, and not be constrained by artificial limits.

I decided there and then to visit all of the remaining aircraft. (F-BVFD was scrapped in France in 1994, and F-BTSC was tragically lost on the 25th of July 2000). I knew seeing them would make me sad again, but within 30 minutes the ten year old in me would be boring Catherine senseless with an endless repertoire of Concorde trivia. I don’t know if I’ll ever complete the plan, but there’s always a chance.

In 1904 Robert H Goddard wrote: “It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and reality of tomorrow.” Unfortunately for Concorde tomorrow is the past. The dreams of today are the reality of yesterday and hope of tomorrow. I fear it’s unlikely we’ll ever see her like again – she was designed for a different world where speed was the only goal. She was designed for a future that never arrived.

G-BOAE - October 2008

G-BOAE - October 2008

Concorde G-BOAE, Barbados

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