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The chances of any of us that didn’t fly Concorde back in the day to experience what it was like to fly Mach 2 on the iconic plane are slim to none. Supersonic travel shows no signs of resurgence, and even if it were coming back, we doubt the original Concorde would be part of it.
While you can see a stationery Concorde in a number of places, there is one airport plenty of travelers pass through where you can still sit in a Concorde seat, even if it is before you get on a plane and take off. We're referring to London’s Heathrow Airport or, more specifically, British Airways' appropriately named Terminal 5 flagship lounge, the Concorde Room.
In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve got a little bit of a thing for airplanes. Even those that are no longer flying up in the sky are pretty darn awesome, and that’s especially the case for those which once cruised at supersonic speeds. Of course we know a bunch of spots to find Concorde, but if we’re not mistaken, there’s only one spot to check out Concorde and her supersonic sibling.
The Tupolev Tu-144 and Concorde both did the super fast thing in decades past, but now they’re taking life a little slower—as in not moving at all—on static display at an aviation museum. You'll find the pair at the Auto and Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany, also home to a variety of other historical transportation exhibits.
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There’s nothing about Concorde that we don’t like, except the fact that it no longer flies high in the supersonic skies. From trip reports, photographs, and even souvenirs we’re all about the world’s greatest commercial airliner, so of course we’d be all about a museum dedicated to Concorde this and Concorde that. Unfortunately it seems like not everyone is down with scoring some t-shirts at the gift shop.
The Save Concorde Group put the original plan forth for a museum, because just like us they thought a £2 million Concorde home was a pretty sweet idea. They were going to construct something in Filton, UK but unfortunately British Airways isn’t cool with the purposed plan.
Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't get that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.
"So this one time, I was tanning on the beach when a Concorde flew, like, right over me."
In 1989, an Air France Concorde made a very special flight to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten/St. Martin. It would be the only time Concorde landed at Princess Juliana International Airport on St. Maarten, but the airport itself hasn't forgotten. This photo is still on display, just after security, in the terminal at SXM.
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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 linesthere 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.
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Terminal 7 -- British Airways, with a single Concorde
Okay okay. We'll admit that we've been having a bit of a love affair with the history of JFK Airport lately. In all fairness, we've also had spells with Singapore-Changi and Amsterdam-Schiphol, but there's just something about JFK...
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The Concorde may technically be dead, but airline romance isn’t, if British Airways’ Valentine’s deal is anything to go by.
A couple of years ago, the UK airline did a neat Valentine’s Day party kinda thing on flights between London and New York; this year, the celebration is on a more personal scale, though still rather spectacular: dinner for two on the Concorde.
The bad news? You’ll have to pay for it. The good? It’s for charity! Just bid for it in a blind email auction, and you’ll win dinner for two on board BA’s flagship Concorde G-BOAC at Manchester Airport, in the Runway Visitor Park.
Do you remember the glory days of The Bullet aka The Concorde? Neither do we. Well, we did fly it once back in 2000 from EWR-LHR but we have very little memory of the ride. Sigh, it's true. Everything good is wasted on the young.
But thanks to the
mentally ill hoarding meticulous salvaging of our high-flying parents, we now can see what the Concorde gave out to its passengers in fall of 1995--Leather diary planners for 1996.
We've put some snapshots of the billfold/diary planner below for those of you who still get nostalgic about flying The Concorde. And while we don't have any use for a calendar from 16 years ago, you betcha we stole that silver Concorde pencil!
Got any of your own Retro Travel pieces to share with us? Please do!
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We have a confession. Yesterday, somewhere over the northeast, we almost cried on an airplane. No, it wasn't due to some sappy movie on the seatback TV, nor was it because we didn't have time for a second Goose Island beer back at O'Hare Airport. Nopewe shed a single tear over a commercial from British Airways.
At the end of September, the Brit airline launched their newest campaign "To Fly. To Serve." Hearkening back to the glory days of aviation, BA peppers each spot with flashbacks to prop planes and the Concorde, plus their dashing pilots in full, crisp uniform. They're beautiful ads, but none more cinematic and engrossing than the one above.
Another version of the ad is here, but this one has the moneyshots of each plane taking offfrom the early days when pilots were glorified mail carriers to the modern era, when lifting a 747 off the ground is just part of a regular day's work.
Enjoy. Keep a hanky handy.
Oh man. We're totally on a roll with finding notable souvenirs this week. Today, in the aisles of a massive tourist shop in the aforementioned town of Llanfair PG, this struck our eye: a Concorde jet model, sporting London 2012 Olympics livery.
This is a unicorn. It is a fairytale, but without a happy ending for the simple fact that no one flies Concordes anymore, and definitely not British Airways, who otherwise could have made this awesome fantasy a reality probably 10 years ago...except London didn't have the Olympics then.
Pink and green...kind of cutesy colors for airplane livery. Regardless, she would have cut a fine line in the skies.
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We just don't talk about how great design plays into the way we travel enough, and they've asked Conran specifically about his interior designs for a refit of the Concorde, plans that were never realized since the planes were grounded in 2003 after safety concerns.
Conran, whose sleek, often mid-century modern furniture designs are classics and who is behind some of our favorite stores, The Conran Shops, was all set to revolutionize aircraft interior design with the Concorde refit. His work on the project referenced classic Eames designs to make all 100 privileged Concorde passengers feel more comfortable as well as more stylish, just by sitting there as they flew at a height of 60,000 feet above the Earth.
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The remembrance stone in Roissy, France
Just over ten years after the deadly day, a French court has found Continental Airlines guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the July 2000 crash of the Air France Concorde, which took the lives of 109 passengers and crew and another 4 on the ground. So just how did this come to be, that another airline is convicted of murdering the entire flight of another airline? It all goes back to a small piece of metal.
The tragedy of the Concorde AF Flight 4590 is well known, but here's a sentence to refresh your memory: a Continental Airlines DC-10 flew out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. The plane wasn't properly maintained, and a 12" x 17" piece of titanium (that shouldn't have been on the plane anyways) fell of it onto the runway at CDG. The Concorde took off next, and the metal strip burst a tire, pieces of which then ruptured a fuel tank, which then did all sorts of damage and turned the Concorde into a flaming projectile that crashed into a motel outside the airport. The structural fragility of the areas damaged in this crash caused all Concordes to be grounded for the time being, and all Concordes ceased flying in 2003.