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Onboard Concorde: What It Was Like to Fly Mach 2 Over the Atlantic Ocean

January 24, 2013 at 2:34 PM | by | Comment (1)


G-BOAF at the gate at London-Heathrow

This week marks the 37th Anniversary of the maiden commercial flight of the Concorde. To properly celebrate, let's relieve history a bit by traveling along with photographer/videographer Joe Corrigan as he remembers his Concorde flights, roundtrip JFK-LHR in July 2003 on the British Airways supersonic birds G-BOAC and G-BOAF.

I don't know quite what it was about Concorde, but ever since I first saw her as a kid, I was mesmerised. That shape, those lines—there was something about her that drew me in. I was 14 the first time I saw her with my own eyes, as my my uncle had discovered Concorde would fly into Sydney, my home town, on a round-the-world charter. Together we headed to the airport to see her land.

That aircraft, F-BVFC, zoomed in and landed with full reverse and later took off with full afterburner as I watched from afar. I was hooked. The experience was not only visual and aural, but earth-shaking. Everything in the vicinity shuddered under the engine power; you could feel Concorde slice through the air and this in itself made it all the more visceral. It became a dream of mine to fly on her, one I never thought likely to come true.

The stars aligned for me when I was 18. Working with a very knowledgeable travel agent, I was afforded the amazing opportunity to join the very exclusive club not just once, but twice. This club was one of supersonic travelers, people who have flown faster than a rifle bullet and viewed the curvature of the earth.

As far as first impressions go, this was like nothing I had experienced before or have since. Check in was in a separate hall at Heathrow Terminal 4 and although I'm not normally one for checking a bag, how could I resist a bag tag from Concorde? From there it was through the Fast Track at Heathrow T4 and into the Concorde Room. Here was the start of the truly elite experience as the Concorde Room was unparalleled in service and amenities. Among other niceties, I enjoyed canapés, vintage champagne, and an a-la-carte menu for something more substantial, all served on Royal Doulton bone china.

Finally the boarding announcement shook me from my reverie as it was time to start the main event. Onboard I was first struck by the navy blue leather seats with stainless steel trim and lavender and cream blankets. The cabin was cozy and, though a little light on head room, amazingly spacious once seated. I had a bulkhead seat—front row for the flight, of course.

Terence Conran, along with British Airways, did a marvellous job with regards to the customer experience, and the attention to detail in the fit-out was something else. Each seat sported a speedmarque embossed into the leather as well as engraved into the polished seat belt buckle. The underside of the tray table was upholstered in the same soft navy leather, the armrest swivelled 90 degrees when stowed so as to slip unobtrusively between the seats, and the whole seat reclined as one unit so that it cradled you and supported your thighs whilst reclined. Little things on the face of it, but they make a huge difference.

Safely airborne we steadily accelerated to Mach 1 and a cheer went up in cabin since a display ticked away the number for all to see. Our sonic boom came over the ocean so as not to disturb people on the ground, and we continued toward Mach 2 on a climb to 55,000 feet. It was there, in our cruise, that the inflight service began in earnest. Three courses and an excellent wine, champagne and scotch selection all came served up on more fine Royal Doulton bone china. The flatware was designed, once more, by Terence Conran.

So did I appreciate all that was before me? Of course not! On reflection, I made the most of it at the time but I don’t remember the 1988 vintage champagne, or even what I had to eat. I do, however, remember the afterburners lighting two by two, pushing Concorde into the small of my back, as well as looking out the window and down to see a curved earth and then up to see the black abyss.

My only complaint is that it was all over so quickly. Three hours is only just long enough to have a three-course meal of that calibre, but at least I took some photos and enjoyed it all I could...twice.

{Photos: Joe Corrigan]

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Superb

Fly high on a jet on mach 2.. ohh that's a dream. ___________________ <a href="http://www.richamorindonesia.com/">Rich Amor</a>

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