Today is the 40th anniversary of Concorde’s first commercial flight. On January 21, 1976, Concorde successfully completed its first supersonic flight by British Airways, from Heathrow to Bahrain, while Air France flew to Rio de Janeiro via Dakar.
Concorde is one of the most iconic airliners ever built and was created with huge dreams; dreams that sadly never became a reality.
To celebrate this milestone, British Airways shared information about the historic aircraft and some thoughts from one of its former pilots. What better place to chat with a former pilot than next to one of the aircraft? Captain Leslie Scott recently spent some time, along with others associated with the plane, at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum to share his memories.
The Captain’s perspective on Concorde
“I was delighted to visit Concorde again and share stories with the guys, all of whom I worked with at JFK. The Intrepid Museum is maintaining her really well, she’s looking good, even after 40 years! I’m really pleased customers still visit her and discover what a remarkable aircraft Concorde is,” said Captain Scott, who retired from flying shortly before Concorde did in 2003.
Twenty years ago, on February 7, 1996, he and his crew set, and still hold, the record for the fastest flight across the Atlantic from New York to London by a civil aircraft at 2:52:59. Just think about that. New York to the UK in less than three hours? What a feat!
Concorde ended up serving well, but in 2003, it was finally retired. It was a combination of things that brought the end to commercial service. Among the issue were high fuel prices, lower passenger demand after 9/11, and the unfortunate crash of flight 4590.
The good news is that most of the air frames are still being enjoyed by the public. The seven British Airways Concordes are now displayed around the world, and it is estimated that more than one million people have visited them over the past 12 years.
Some facts and stats on Concorde, from British Airways
Here are some (hopefully) interesting facts about Concorde:
- Concorde successfully completed its first supersonic flight on October 1, 1969 –
although the first commercial flights took place on January 21, 1976
- It flew up to 11 miles high at the edge of space in the layers between the
stratosphere and the ionosphere where the curvature of the earth could be seen
- Due to the intense heat of the airframe, Concorde could stretch anywhere from six
to 10 inches during flight. Every surface, even the windows, were warm to the touch
by the end of the flight
- Because of its speed, Concorde was sometimes used to transport human organs,
diamonds, and currency
- The menu on British Airways’ first commercial flight included: Champagne Dom
Perignon 1969, caviar and lobster canapes, grilled fillet steak, palm heart salad with
Roquefort dressing, and fresh strawberries with double cream. Customers were also
offered Havana cigars.
Where to see British Airways Concordes on display
Concorde resides at the following sites: East Fortune, near Edinburgh; Heathrow Airport; Aviation viewing park, Manchester Airport; Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York; Grantley Adams Airport, Bridgetown, Barbados; Airbus UK, Filton, Bristol; and The
Museum of Flight, Seattle.
BONUS: A Classic British Airways Concorde Commercial From 1989
An eighth Concorde, owned by British Airways but never operated
commercially, was the final test aircraft. She now resides at Brooklands Museum in
Did you ever fly on Concorde? Or watch it fly? Share your memories in the comments!