50th Anniversary of Its Maiden Flight
Private club high up in the sky with top gastro offer, exquisite wine selection and champagnes
Imagine a trip from London to New York lasting only three and a half hours on the altitude of 15,000 m, twice the speed of sound under the luxury ambience of deluxe treatment including champagne and supreme delicacies. Sounds like a futuristic commercial, right? But you are wrong. Such high-quality trip was possible fifty years ago. Only one word is enough – Concorde. The only supersonic passenger jet in the history that has become more than a plane. The designer icon and trend-setter portrayed only with adjectives for masterpieces or beautiful women. 1969 was a revolutionary year. The beginnings of the Internet, Apollo 11 mission and the first man on the Moon, the first Boeing 747 flight…
However, on the other side of the Atlantic, in Europe, another historic event was about to happen. Everything was ready for a spectacle in Toulouse. The TV houses broadcasted the program live, and thousands of people came to witness the miracle. As the sun was protruding through foggy clouds over southwest France, a grand bird of steel circled above the afternoon city scenario and the river Garonne. Pilot Andre Turcat was under a considerable burden during the 28 min flight. Great expectations from France and England, millions of people in front of their TVs, the whole world eagerly waited for that moment. ‘She flies, she finally flies’, with palpable thrill in his voice, the legendary BBC Raymond Baxter reported. It took seven more years till Concorde was used for commercial purposes, and then 1977 the supersonic flight from London or Paris to New York and Washington called ‘The Blue Ribbon’ reached the prestigious sphere.
Intimate, elegant, stylish ‘Orient Express’ or ‘Queen Elizabeth’ high up in the clouds. The hedonistic Concorde experience started in the airports where passengers in special lounges could enjoy a fine selection of delicacies, whereas the flight featured top master chefs’ cuisine, superior selection of wines and champagnes as well as cigars while smoking on board was allowed. The plane operated as a privilege membership club for a hundred people. Even though members of the royal family, statesmen, businessmen used it on a regular basis, in the Concorde, regardless of fame and fortune, the real All-Star was definitely the jet itself. Elegant, magnificent and soaring free among the clouds, this speed-bird has won its place in history due to timeless design, brilliant engineering solutions, unforgettable flight experience and one thing not emphasized as much – the time-saving element.
Photos by British Airways and Airbus