Concorde was a supersonic British-French project for the sky and in the sky, flown by Air France and British Airways. The undeniably sleek passenger jet airliner flew at twice the speed of sound (at Mach 2.04 — that is 1,354 miles per hour at cruise altitude for the picky) and could get you from London to New York or vice versa in three hours.
Concorde, perhaps the most gorgeous airliner in history, made its first commercial flight for British Airways from London Heathrow to Bahrain on 21 January 1976.
The distinctive droopy-nosed aircraft rejoiced in flying for the next 27 years. The last flight was from New York JFK to London Heathrow on 24 October 2003.
Why did this glorious supersonic era end?
Many people believe the cause was the crash of Air France Flight 4590 on 25 July 2000. The aircraft, on take-off, somehow managed to speed over a titanium alloy strip that a Continental Airlines DC-10 heading for New Jersey had inadvertently left on the same runway during its take-off.
The strip blew a tyre and punctured the airliner’s fuel tank. The fire and engine failure that followed caused this Concorde to crash two minutes after take-off, killing everyone on board (100 passengers and nine crew) and four people in the Hôtelissimo Les Relais Bleus. It was the only fatal Concorde accident during its operational history.
The real reason, though, was the plane’s high running costs and low passenger count; it cost BA and Air France a lot more to transport fewer people: they didn’t make enough profit. Concorde simply wasn’t — despite the high ticket prices — economically viable.
I used to do a lot of driving around the M25. Just once, on a Sunday morning, I came face to face with Concorde swooping down to land just in front of me; it was beautiful.
Plenty of people have hopes of resurrecting Concorde but I suspect its supersonic days have gone forever.