So long, Concorde...

Concorde to be grounded forever - both the Air France ones and the British Airways ones.

It was a great dream, but the entire project was hideously over-budget, and design compromised; the Anglo/French concorde of the project was fraught with a lack of détente; it was designed at the taxpayers’ expense, yet from the word go it was available only to the privileged.

One of these (due to my wife’s airline connections rather than our riches) was me. I was fortunate enough to get a ride in an Air France Concorde in '99, from Shannon to Paris. The plane was returning from New York where it had ferried Irish lottery winners over for a shopping spree (they returned on the QE2). It had to land in Shannon because Dublin airport’s runway isn’t long enough.

We drove down from Dublin the night before, stayed in the airport hotel, and got up at dawn. Irish coffees were served to the bleary-eyed passengers in the terminal as we met the crew, and then, fortified with caffeine and whiskey, we boarded.

Sleek, beautiful, plush, but tiny inside. After taxiing to the end of the runway, and a pregnant pause, the engines roared, and a serious blast of acceleration pinned us back in our seats. Then the nose came up, and we climbed at an intense angle - I don’t know what it actually was, but it felt pretty near vertical at the time. And we climbed, and climbed, and climbed, for something like ten minutes, accelerating all the time. We hit our cruising altitude of around 58,000 feet. The acceleration seemed very controlled, much more so than regular airliners - almost like the pilot would choose a target speed, then hit a button to get us up to it. I felt a slight jump as the pilot took us from subsonic to supersonic.

The pilot flew us into the Atlantic south-west of Ireland so that we could really get up to speed. Another tiny jump as we hit Mach 2, then eventually Mach 2.9 - didn’t cross the next barrier, unfortunately. The pilot had told us that at speed, the plane stretches 6 inches due to wind resistance - and when I went to the toilet at the back, I saw that the bulkhead, which had formerly been up against the final row of seats, was now three or four inches from them.

At one point I saw a tiny little plane way, way below us, that we were overtaking at a huge rate. I looked again and was blown away to see that it was a transatlantic 747. At this altitude, we were way above any clouds, the sky above us was a deeper blue, almost purple, and curvature of the earth at the horizon was very obvious.

Eventually we turned around, and headed for France, returning to a regular aircraft speed. Suddenly the experience became more like riding in a cramped commuter jet. The seats were first-class and leather, but they hardly reclined at all, and the fuselage curved low over them. Our champagne was served in thick-bottomed tumblers to avoid spillage with all the acceleration and steep angles. The cockpit was tiny.

We spent the day hanging out in Paris, and returned to Dublin on a regular, distinctly unmagical, plane.

All good things must come to an end. In 2000, I heard the sad news of the crash. Turns out it was the same plane we’d flown in a year before. Same crew, too. Alas, the dreams of supersonic commuting were never going to happen. Was it an idea before its time? Or is supersonic travel for the masses always going to be a pipe-dream? Whatever, now Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and all those other stinking rich are going to have to join the rest of us grunts on normal planes from now on.

Au revoir, Concorde, you were pretty damned lovely.

I saw Concorde only a few weeks ago when I was over in London on business. Beautiful plane. I would have loved to fly in it but alas it was way beyond my reach.

Sad that it’s going. It was so far ahead of all the passenger planes.

Wow, you got to fly it. That is SO cool. And how morbid that you flew the same plane that didn’t reach mach 1 that fateful day over Paris. :frowning:

I love Concorde. By the way, the Beeb article erroneously states the manufacturer is Airbus. It’s actually Aerospatiale. It’s too bad that Concorde will fly no more, but it was inevitable. They have always been loss-makers IIRC, mostly because the fuel efficieny at sub-mach speeds is horrific, making even partially overland flights completely unaffordable.

And I think all of them should be grounded for good. But the cynical part of me thinks that with the dire straits the airlines are in, BA or Air France will end up selling one or two to some dodgy company willing to exploit it some more - it’s been done before. But high-tech and defect-prone as it is, that would almost certainly be a recipe for disaster. :frowning:

The closest I ever got to a Concorde was when I was in a KLM 727 taxiing towards the runway at Heathrow. Ahead of us was Speedbird One, departing for JFK. I was on the right side of the aircraft so see Concorde take off with a thundering roar. Very impressive! Apart from the noise, I’ve never seen anything other than an F16 accelerate so fast.

She’ll be missed. So long, Concorde

BTW, that first link seems to suggest Concorde could indeed land at Dublin, jjimm. But I can see how noise regulations may have been a factor?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t that a BA plane with the ghastly sponsorship colours (Spice Girls tie-in or Britney or something, wasn’t it?).

I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind would be able to run one. The expertise one would have to employ full-time to keep it runnign would be staggering. Maybe Bill Gates…?

I think we’re gonna see lots of them in museums - then the masses will finally be allowed on board.

The Dublin/Shannon thing was told to me by an Air France employee - that’s my only cite, so maybe it could.

Yeah, it was a 7 day lease to Pepsi, which isn’t exactly the same as a sale, I know. It’s just that that scenario scares the shit out of me: you’re right, it WOULD be unafforable to maintain it properly. But maybe someone could do it half-arsed and make a profit filling it with curious Concordophiles, you know? THAT scares me.

And, “maybe it could” land in Dublin? Ye Gads man, look at the picture, I can see your friggin’ house in the background. :smiley:

:smack: Didn’t recognise the terminal.

One of the Concordes made an appearance at the Prestwick airshow back in the early eighties when i was a lad. The sheer power of the thing was frightening, but so so beautiful.

The other memory of Concorde is from the Reading music festival.
The festival ground must be under the flight path because every day the beast would pass overhead as it was climbing - loud enough to drown out the band playing on the main stage!

Its definitely the end of an era.

My mum actually flew on the very first non-test concorde flight - she was the secretary of a senior BAe figure at the time and he’d wrangled her a place on the “demo to senior management” flight (ostensibly to take notes for him, but really because he knew she’d enjoy it).

She said it was one of the most amazing and memorable experiences she’s ever had.

Just to add that i’ll also miss it because whilst i was at uni i lived directly under the flight path, i didn’t need an alarm clock because i knew when concorde roared over it was about 11am and i should probably be thinking about getting up :slight_smile:

Yeah the noise was something else. I stayed in a hotel in Heathrow and attended a course in the area. Every morning we took a coffee break just before she took off. Nobody could hear anything in the room while that animal was roaring overhead.

The first time I saw Concorde was on my 10th birthday. My dad took me to Farnborough Air Show, and while we were watching all sorts of mad supersonic military planes and upside-down-flying helicopters, a Concorde was on its way to Heathrow, unladen, with about an hour to kill, so the pilot radioed down to the show and asked if they’d like him to land. They said yes, of course. He put the wheels down on the runway and then shot back up into the air, then went around and landed again, and let some kiddies on board to have a look. An amazing sight, and a hell of a noise.

I saw it in Heathrow, once. so I have nothing personal to add to this thread, apart from the fact that I would love to be in the financial bracket of a Concorde passenger. (Hah! Dream on)

However, a pal of mine sailed from San Francisco to Kinsale in Cork in a race last year and she said that for a week or so, somewhere past the halfway point, every night there was the most ferocious boom, the loudest thing she had ever heard in her life. It was Concorde breaking the sound barrier over the Atlantic.
She said it was really eerie to be in the middle of the pitch black ocean, with nothing at all in sight, in any direction and then hear this deafening boooooooooooooooooom.

Concorde was never allowed to break the sound barrier over any habitable area, so however few people can claim to have travelled on it, (jjimm, I am SO jeaous!) she is surely part of a very select club ; The “I heard Concorde break the sound barrier” club.

Several years ago, on a lark I called British Airways to find out how much a flight on Concorde would have cost me.

Me: Yes, I’m interested in a First Class ticket on Concord.

BA lady: Well sir, there are no classes on Concord, the entire craft is First Class. And do you know when you will be traveling.

Me: Uh… not exactly sure yet, but I believe it will be in May.

BA: Alright. Are you in New York?

Me: No, I live in California. I’ll be flying to New York first, and then hoping to catch the Concord from there. How much is a flight?

BA: Currently a New York to wherever she said, I don’t 'member is around $10,000. (I kid you not. She wouldn’t give an exact number. I have no idea why)

Me: Uh. Wow. That’s good to know. I’ll be calling again when I find out when my trip is…

Tristan, when I was living in the States, there was a deal on that if you bought a return ticket to London from JFK, you got another return BA first class ticket to anywhere in the world. Naturally I made an enquiry… $8K. I didn’t take them up on their offer.

curly chick - your friend’s story is amazing.

My former boss told me how, when he worked for Barclays in the Big Fat 80’s, he’d occasionally take the morning Concorde to JFK, only to transfer to a helicopter that brought him straight to the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper.

No that’s the fucking life, lads and lasses. None of that $20K a ride stuff happening in banking right now, lemme tell you.

We all knew that this had to happen eventually.

When the Concords are retired, will there be no other supersonic passenger jets in service, or is there another one out there somewhere?

I was always under the impression that you don’t actually hear it if you’re inside the aircraft.

Well, there’s the Tupolev Tu-144, the Russian Concorde-copy. A few of them are still in use for testing purposes, one of them by NASA IIRC. Browse the pictures to read the remarks: there’s more info there. I doubt you can book a flight on one of them, though.

One of the Tu-144’s sadly crashed at a French air show in 1973 as it was taking evasive actions to avoid a Mirage.

Cisco, the girl was on a boat in the Atlantic, so she heard the sonic boom.

Seems the Tupolev Tu-144 suffered yet another crash, and was lastly used commercially in 1978.