GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13045 posts, RR: 78
Reply 4, posted (8 years 5 months 4 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 2518 times:
A mixed day for me, I was on shift in Concorde maintenance, starting at 14.30.
But I saw the EDI charter go, got in early and heard the LHR-LHR go off.
The aircraft and crews had to put on a good show, but of course we were all sad, though we knew this day was coming for 6 months.
In fact, the whole period leading up to 24th Oct was really busy, it was a bit like the old days at times.
Not only ensuring serviceable aircraft (of which two, OAF and OAD were very close to scheduled heavy maint, so planning required there), but the long standing ban on outside visitors to the BA hangars was removed in the October, to allow Concorde staff to allow family/friends/fellow enthusiasts, one last look.
To put it mildly, this kept me busy when off shift, I seemed to spend much of my fre time at work, but it wasn't work, it was a pleasure.
On the way in on the 24th, I bumped into some I'd showed around, they like so many others were there to see the last day of supersonic passenger airline operations, probably for decades.
They asked what I was feeling, I replied "I want to go in, it's a big day, but I don't want to as well."
Our hangar was decked out for the formal events, the returning aircraft, including the celeb packed BA002, would de-plane pax from the base, all 3 taxing across the road under their own power.
But work to do, well sort of, it didn't take long, everything was fine, all three were on time.
Most of us got ourselves over to the crossing, (in front of TBJ/K - those big blue BA hangars next to the perimeter road).
Then, out of a clearing sky, they came, one after the other.
You'll have seen the footage, some of you would have been there.
Suffice to say, a great feeling of pride and relief that all had gone well.
Then the taxi, through the water salutes, then, oh bugger! Guess who didn't bring ear defenders! (Me and quite a few others).
Loud and proud the three aircraft crossed the road, I was one of those (far more than usual) walking back with in my case, OAE.
Waving to those crowded behind the fence, forgetting, or loving in fact, the noise of the engines.
A bit further down, the tow crews took over, so back to the hangar, we've got three sets of tech logs to look at.
Force of habit really.
OAG, the BA002, had a great comment by the E/O "excellent aircraft, too good for the museum", the aircraft had performed flawlessly, no other comment needed.
OAE, the EDI charter, went one better;
"She's just too good to be true"
"PFM" (Pretty Fucking Magic).
I'll confess that until I read the above, there was too much going on to feel much emotion, but seeing those comments did bring a lump to the throat, even a slight watering of the eyes.
Aircraft back, all secured, pax off, so now the formal speeches and stuff, all of us then outside for a group photo with the three flyers that day, OAG, OAF and OAE.
This was the point where I made my way to the nearby Green Man pub, a bunch of enthusiasts were having a party, organised by www.concordesst.com.
I'd got to know many of them, brought them in on visits, had known and discreetly assisted Gordon Roxburgh for a couple of years.
A good way the end this historic occasion.
I was also on shift that weekend, BA staff were allowed in to look, photo and generally admire OAE and OAD, in the hangar.
We still had the displays showing interesting parts, engines, seats, intake computers to name three, as well as a film BA made on a loop on several TV's.
After that, I was to stay until the last ever Concorde flight, just over a month later, OAF to Filton, prepping the aircraft for their final flights, keeping them ticking over until then, at this point, most Concorde staff left for thier new postings.
But I also had to go through all the Concorde engineering documentation, everything from all the tech logs, manuals, minutes of meetings, projects.
Selected items would go to museums.
I had to compile this and arrange what was kept, what was shredded, who got what etc.
An interruption was my flight on OAE, to retirement to BGI.
All BA Concorde people went on these, the 5 last flights, I was very lucky to get not the quick subsonic trip to MAN on OAC, nor the 'done it before' OAD flight to NY, but the BGI one, longest, highest, last ever international Concorde sector.
I miss it terribly, but am proud of the celebration BA put on, even one tinged with sadness.