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Concorde: Fifty Glorious Years

 

Added by Keith Bradshaw on 14 February 2019

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André Turcat addresses a press conference
André Turcat, the first man to fly Concorde, addresses a press conference

Back in March 1969 - the second of March to be precise - test pilot André Turcat gathered his thoughts and his crew. Together, they walked out of their office at the Aerospatiale works at Toulouse, home of the Caravelle, and across the tarmac to the waiting plane. However today it was not a Caravelle they were going to fly. It was the Anglo-French Concorde prototype. André was to have the honour of taking this revolutionary new supersonic airliner, built both at Toulouse and Filton in the UK, aloft for its maiden flight.

This was to be the beginning of 34 years of operation for the world’s only successful supersonic airliner. Sadly, it was only to be operated by British Airways and Air France, but it became the watchword for speed, elegance and beauty. Attributes which, to this day, 50 years on, have not been surpassed by any other aircraft. British Airways found many ways to use the aeroplane apart from transatlantic routes. Displays at major air shows and sporting events kept it in the public eye, helped by its formation flypasts with the Red Arrows and flypasts over Buckingham Palace for royal events.

British Airways also ran ‘trips round the bay’ with a supersonic leg to the Bay of Biscay and back so that those with more modest means could enjoy the aircraft. Thanks to these flights and other charter operations, it's fair to say that Concorde was much loved by the public. It was a sad day when the flying had to stop, as the manufacturers were no longer able to carry the cost of supporting such a small fleet of aircraft.

She was loved, not only by the public, but also by those who flew and maintained her. We are fortunate to have a contribution about a flight to New York, from the view of the flight engineer. For this insight into Concorde operations we have to thank retired British Airways Concorde flight engineer, Trevor Evans. Here, in his own words, is the story.

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