Lufthansa
Topic Author
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What Once Was: The Concorde

Tue May 15, 2007 5:54 pm

Ladies And Gentlemen.

I want you all to watch this video. And stop. And pause. Perhaps watch it again.
This was once reality... something that happened multiple times per day every day.
In 1978, I could fly from London or Paris to New York or even Singapore, faster then a speeding bullet.
There was no such thing as a 3.5 inch floppy disk at this time. Today the 3.5 inch floppy disk is considered old hat,
and been replaced with faster, easier and improved options. Yet the Concorde? She... has been replaced with slower, less capable but cheaper options. This is the same time when there was no such thing as a mobile phone. A lap top. The personal computer. The internet. (at least for private use). Hell even a triple A battery wasn't around. Cars had carburetors. Nobody had fax machines. India wasn't a giant Call centre. And yet, she flew. And made a profit... and did so at twice the speed of sound and faster then a speeding bullet!

And today folks... we come up with a billion excuses why it can't be done. And they're just that!!! Nothing more then pathetic excuses. I don't want to hear any crap about stage 3 noise regulations. That can be changed...and over come from both ends. Plenty of runways point over water, and we've got technology we couldn't have even dreamed of then.

So I say to you all...watch this... and remember the efforts of a generation gone past... one who followed their dreams and created the impossible. Today... We're all guilty of apathy, and excuses..and passing on the buck...so watch it fly and remember, this was reality! Because this ageing concept... and piece of technology... leaves the 787 and A390 for dead.
And the very fact that we've all got to this point, is a sad reflection on modern western society. Guys, humor me if you will... but I think its time to start dreaming again...and reaching for the impossible.


[Edited 2007-05-15 11:10:03]
 
CHRISBA777ER
Posts: 3715
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What Once Was: The Concorde

Tue May 15, 2007 6:32 pm

Great post.

Unfortunately the price of oil/jet fuel means that SSTs are, as things stand, just not viable.

I lament the loss of the romance and mystique of the Concorde, but I lament the loss of the romance and mystique of the golden age of the Ocean Liners that used to sprint between New York and Europe. Unfortunately it is a commercial world driven by commercial pressures and the large widebodied jet airliner is the most efficient (read: profitable) way of doing things across the pond. The riduclous amount of power the Green and NIMBY lobby have in the political heartland land of Middle England UK, and the price of jet fuel means it just isnt worth the bother.

Crying shame for sure, but I think the age of the SST has gone and will return in the distant future once they've figured out how to make 300+ pax and cargo go Mach 2 without making a sonic boom, and running soley on biofuel, and to do it cheaper per seat mile than existing sub-sonic widebodies. Clearly some drastic design ethos and approach changes will be required. I dont envisage it in the next 25 years put it that way.
What do you mean you dont have any bourbon? Do you know how far it is to Houston? What kind of airline is this???
 
Lufthansa
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What Once Was: The Concorde

Tue May 15, 2007 6:56 pm

Quoting CHRISBA777ER (Reply 1):
Crying shame for sure, but I think the age of the SST has gone and will return in the distant future once they've figured out how to make 300+ pax and cargo go Mach 2 without making a sonic boom, and running soley on biofuel, and to do it cheaper per seat mile than existing sub-sonic widebodies. Clearly some drastic design ethos and approach changes will be required. I dont envisage it in the next 25 years put it that way.

I respectfully disagree. It is this very attitude why it's dead. It WAS economically viable in a world were there was no such thing as a fax machine...but in today's world... despite the fact we've came so far...we can't do better? Come on now....and tell the NIMBY's to get F***D. The reality is...nothing great would happen if take the attitude that just because it is hard, we can't do it AND FIND an economically viable way.

Liquid hydrogen? stuff oil... some kind of alcohol powered engine etc? Yes it isn't that simple...but if we don't put our minds to it we won't achieve it either. BTW.... it's not airlines that are responsible for pushing technology...they're just users of it. The sonic boom isn't a problem...do it over water only. you only need to go that fast long haul and much of that is over water or ice. Noise... well there are plenty of airports that it wouldn't be a problem... And if you could do an 8 hr flight in 3 hrs driving a futher 40 minutes to a distant airport wouldn't seem quite so bad... and if it is in the national economic interest (read tax dollars) you can be sure governments can 'reconsider' their approach to stage 3. After all...they did for concorde.

What I'm basically saying guys is...not good enough. While im not big on governments playing "industry policy'... if several countries got together and stuck a few billion dollars in each... we'd go a long way to meeting the development costs. Oil is a problem...but who says an airliner has to use oil exclusively?
 
StarGoldLHR
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RE: What Once Was:

Wed May 16, 2007 2:17 am

Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 2):
What I'm basically saying guys is...not good enough. While im not big on governments playing "industry policy'... if several countries got together and stuck a few billion dollars in each... we'd go a long way to meeting the development costs. Oil is a problem...but who says an airliner has to use oil exclusively?

A Part solar powered aircraft would be interesting.

Consider a solar fuel cell on the wing of concorde adding 2-3 hours extra range without needing oil on that leg...
So far in 2008 45 flights and Gold already. JFK, IAD, LGA, SIN, HKG, NRT, AKL, PPT, LAX still to book ! Home Airport LCY
 
jetdeltamsy
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RE: What Once Was:

Wed May 16, 2007 2:53 am

What a dramatic, emotional post.

The Concorde ceased being commercially sustainable. It was a plane, not a person. That's the way the world works.

Supersonic travel will probably return within our lifetime. A different and readily available fuel will need to come into being, which will require entirely new engine technology. But it will happen.
Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
 
rwessel
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RE: What Once Was:

Wed May 16, 2007 2:52 pm

Quoting StarGoldLHR (Reply 3):
A Part solar powered aircraft would be interesting.

Consider a solar fuel cell on the wing of concorde adding 2-3 hours extra range without needing oil on that leg...

If the 358 sq meters of Concorde's wing were covered with 100% efficient solar cells (some wholly impractical multiple junction cells have reached 40% in the lab), and flown outside the earths atmosphere and at a nice right angle to the incident sunlight (so you get the full 1365w/sq meter of the Suns output unfiltered by the atmosphere), you'd generate about 489kwh per hour. That works out to 1.76TJ, or the equivalent of about 50 liters of jet fuel.

Given that the aircraft will not always be at an exact right angle to the sun, solar cells are nowhere near 100% efficient, and you lose a fair bit due to the atmosphere, a quarter that would still be unrealistically high, but let's take it.

So this scheme is going to generate the equivalent of about three gallons of jet fuel each hour. Enough to power Concorde for about three quarters of a mile.

[Edited 2007-05-16 07:56:17]
 
bongo
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 12:37 am

Anyone knows Who plays that beautiful music of the video?
MDE: First airport in the Americas visited by the A380!
 
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Stitch
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 12:43 am

If it was easy, Lufthansa, it would have been done already.

Yes, Concorde ended up being profitable for BA and AF, but that was because they were the only ones who had it and they could literally charge whatever they wanted for it. And the load was low enough they could find enough people who put style over cost to make those fares stick.

So as insane as her CASM was, they could demand a RASM that countered it. If UA and DL and CO and LH and SQ and VS and AA also flew six Concorde flights a day each, that would have eroded RASM to the point that none of them would be making money and she would have left the skies in the 1980 oil crisis, if not earlier, likely never to have returned with any of them.

I miss her too. And was fortunate to fly her as many times as I did in the 1990s and early 2000s. But she was a niche aircraft that was accessible only by a niche market and when that market went away, alas, so did she.

[Edited 2007-05-16 17:45:14]
 
richierich
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 1:44 am

Quoting Jetdeltamsy (Reply 4):
Supersonic travel will probably return within our lifetime. A different and readily available fuel will need to come into being, which will require entirely new engine technology. But it will happen.

Boy, you seem pretty optimistic supersonic travel will return. With all due respect, I don't think it will, at least not on a commercial level. Considering that the "different and readily available fuel" source has not been identified and may not even exist, let alone the technology required to develop a supersonic transport that uses such fuel, I think its a tall order.

Most people will agree that Concorde was an amazing piece of hardware. It showed the technical capabilites of what man can do (not unlike walking on the moon) yet Concorde also showed how flawed even the best intentions can be. Some people like to say that it was developed "ahead of its time" but, honestly, if it had been developed 10 years later it would never have left the runway. One thing almost all people can agree on is that it was a beautiful aircraft.
None shall pass!!!!
 
Pope
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 1:45 am

Quoting Stitch (Reply 7):
Yes, Concorde ended up being profitable for BA and AF,

Only because they got them for free (essentially). If the plane were sold at a price commensurate with its development costs, it would have been a huge loss.
Hypocrisy. It's the new black for liberals.
 
EI321
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 1:48 am

IS CONCORDE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MACHINE EVER MADE?

[Edited 2007-05-16 18:49:19]
 
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Stitch
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 2:21 am

Quoting Richierich (Reply 8):
With all due respect, I don't think (supersonic travel will return), at least not on a commercial level.

I tend to agree. I believe the next step will be high-mach travel on the upper edges of the atmosphere (or even exoatmospheric, if necessary) so as to attenuate the sonic boom.

Quoting Pope (Reply 9):
(BA and AF made a profit with Concorde) only because they got them for free (essentially). If the plane were sold at a price commensurate with its development costs, it would have been a huge loss.

This is a somewhat common misconception, but it is incorrect. The true story has been explained quite clearly by forum members connected with the BA Concorde fleet when it was in service.

While the final (?) frame was delivered to BA for £1 or so, they and AF did pay a "normal" price for their initial orders. True, this price was not sufficient to cover the development cost of the program, but that wasn't the fault of BA and AF. Their planes were already mostly (if not fully) complete when the market for them fell apart so it was not like the manufacturer was in a position to pull the plug and not build any planes.
 
B2707SST
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 2:42 am

Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 2):
It WAS economically viable in a world were there was no such thing as a fax machine...

It was economically viable for its two operators, given that the very small scale of Concorde operations allowed them to charge extraordinarily high fares. Had hundreds of Concordes been built, as was planned, AF and BA's pricing power would have been far lower and the aircraft quickly would have become unprofitable for all of its operators.

For its manufacturers, however, Concorde was an unmitigated disaster. They spent over $30 billion in today's dollars and sold 14 airframes, the revenue from which didn't even put a dent in the program cost. This massive waste of resources dealt the British aviation industry a blow from which it never recovered. Airbus would not have survived the 1970s without massive and continuing government aid -- the famous EA order that really made the A300 was six years after first flight and four years after EIS.

Like others on this forum, I miss Concorde and dearly wish I had had a chance to fly on her. She was undoubtedly the most beautiful aircraft ever built. But nostalgia and aesthetic admiration don't change the fact that Concorde was an economic disaster that should not be repeated.

Another SST should not be built until the market is willing to pay the very high development and operating premium that such a project will require. Boeing, Airbus, NASA, and others have concluded that the business case simply does not exist now or in the foreseeable future. Using taxpayer money to fund it anyway would constitute a tremendous misdirection of valuable money, time, and talent.

--B2707SST
Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
 
GDB
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 2:45 am

Well, those who know me on here, will know of my involvement with Concorde, and I hugely miss it.
But! Had the events of 2000-2003 not happened the way they did (and Sept 11th was the most significant of them by far), we would have loads of posts on here now, or last year, about the retirement of Concorde.

There was never an official retirement date, but it was generally thought that 2006/7 was the most likely period, after the life extension programme of the mid 1990's.
The killer was the tiny size of the fleet, the support costs were huge, fine for nearly all of it's operational life when it could earn a good profit over and above this-not to mention the invariables, the 'halo effect'.
This changed in 2002/3.

For the future, forget a new SST, maybe a supersonic biz jet-probably not faster that Mach 1.6 though.
But if this happens, they'd swallow much of the potential market for a new SST, there is the irony, the SSBJ is likely far more likely to much technically viable and environmentally acceptable than a SST, but it would kill whatever prospects there might be of a supersonic airliner.

There is perhaps another way, a development of those sub-orbital joy riding vehicles, being built, or just planned or proposed.
But to carry a number of pax from A to B whilst avoiding the boom, much of the pollution, and be faster than Concorde so a true replacement-except in numbers of pax carried.
It's all well and good to think that modern noise regs/emissions regs should be ignored, but they won't be, cannot be.
 
babybus
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 5:14 am

Whenever someone mentions Concorde I always get very emotional.  crying 

Unless there are hundreds of people willing to pay the extremely high costs to travel in such a manner I doubt there will be another passenger SST in my lifetime.

Now that every aircraft flies at 550mph and basically look the same, the aviation world has become a bit dull and unexciting.
and with that..cabin crew, seats for landing please.
 
David L
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 5:47 am

Quoting Lufthansa (Thread starter):

Great post from a fellow enthusiast.

Quoting Jetdeltamsy (Reply 4):
What a dramatic, emotional post.

The Concorde ceased being commercially sustainable. It was a plane, not a person. That's the way the world works.

Not an avaiation enthusiast, I take it. You're not an accountant, by any chance, are you?  

Quoting Stitch (Reply 11):
This is a somewhat common misconception, but it is incorrect. The true story has been explained quite clearly by forum members connected with the BA Concorde fleet when it was in service.

Thank you! Yes, tax-payers' money was involved but not nearly as much as many think. And it was our tax money so we don't need anyone telling us how the poor UK and French tax-payers were robbed - that's for us to decide, thank you.  

Edit: typo.

[Edited 2007-05-16 22:51:37]
 
David L
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 5:53 am

Forgot to add: I also doubt we'll see a new SST anytime soon... unless Lehpron makes a breakthrough.  Smile
 
bongo
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 6:00 am

Quoting Bongo (Reply 6):
Anyone knows Who plays that beautiful music of the video?

Can someone lighten me on this?
MDE: First airport in the Americas visited by the A380!
 
Sketty222
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 6:01 am

What a great post. I personally iss Concorde and I nl got to see it a couple of times.

I dont think we'll see another SST in the next 50 years at least. I dont think it's something thats wnated by airlines now or the near future.... SHAME

Lee
There's flying and then there's flying
 
Rivet42
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 6:41 am

Quoting Lufthansa (Reply 2):
I respectfully disagree. It is this very attitude why it's dead. It WAS economically viable in a world were there was no such thing as a fax machine...but in today's world... despite the fact we've came so far...we can't do better? Come on now....and tell the NIMBY's to get F***D. The reality is...nothing great would happen if take the attitude that just because it is hard, we can't do it AND FIND an economically viable way.

Oh dear. Feel free to dream on.  banghead 

Meanwhile, the real world is over here, if you can find it through the smoke(screen)...
I travel, therefore I am.
 
wrighbrothers
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 6:59 am

Concorde was a great aircraft and make no mistake, I'd love to see her fly, even just once more but there's a harsh reality. That is, not only is is economically unlikely, but enviromentaly unaaceptable to most. There's simply not enough people willing to fly super sonic, and certainly not on a regualr basis. There have been many attempt to get Concorde flying again, and they haven't, and in my opinon won't ever work. The price of oil will just keep on rising, no airline will buy it in bulk, BA and Air France had to be persuaded to buy Concorde so why would anyone do it now ?
As GDB said, the fleet will be too small to be feasible, maintenance and running costs are high and 'hangar time' in double that of other aircrafts.

Condorde was, in my opinion, a once in a life time thing, but I'm more than happy to be proven wrong  Smile

Another good Concorde video, by BA.


Wrighbrothers
Always stand up for what is right, even if it means standing alone..
 
jcavinato
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 7:35 am

Fantastic videos.

I rode 64 round trips on these wonderful aircrafts (all JFK-LHR). Even though I recognized celebrities in the lounges, they didn't come anywhere near my personal excitement of the upcoming boarding and trip. It never got routine for me. I always wanted a window seat. These two videos brought back the goosebumps I always got when I arranged the ticket, was dropped off at the airport, checked in, went to the Concorde lounge, boarded, pushed back, started to taxi, started to roll, rotated, and went through Mach 1.0 and then Mach 2.0. Every trip was a thrill in so many ways.

Does anyone know the CASM in the final years?
 
GDB
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 8:17 am

Pope, no BA or AF did NOT 'get them for free', that is just one more misconception, to (badly) paraphrase Churchill, 'never in the field of aviation history, has so much nonsense been written about so few aircraft'.
The originally ordered BOAC and AF machines each cost about 30% more than a 747 at the time (1972), the 'white tails' did cost a nominal symbolic amount, but needed (at least for BA), substantial mods to bring up to airline standard.

BA of course, took full responsibility for support costs after 1984-saving the aircraft, AF would follow suit in 1987.
The US spent around as much on B2707 as the UK did on Concorde, true the economies are very different in size, but the point remains.

I must, for once, disagree with the very knowledgeable B2707SST, I do not think that Concorde did that much direct damage to UK industry, since where post war UK airliners often went wrong, was in being too closely tailored to the often eccentric and indecisive demands of BEA and BOAC, ironically, Concorde was not tailored to BOAC.
Indeed, both gained a lot of new technology from Concorde, France in particular in avionics, they learned how to, and how NOT to, conduct a collaborative programme, surely a valuable lesson in times to come.
Remember, Concorde was the first major collaborative airliner, yet another pioneering aspect of this remarkable aircraft.

The fact that France, as a leading member of Airbus, built up a very substantial airliner industry post Concorde, to me argues against this assessment of a destructive 'Concorde effect'.
(But even for them, there was worse to come, consider the 10 Dassault Mercures sold to Air Inter, one less customer and 4 less airframes than Concorde).

But B2707SST is right in one respect, Concorde was cited later in the UK as an excuse for not doing things, Thatcher said as much as her government delayed and reduced launch aid for what became A320, Concordes chief UK test pilot, the late Brian Trubshaw, reckoned it cost Filton any chance of getting A320 final assembly.
(But by 1999, the UK Treasury had got £1 Billion back from Airbus, much of which was due to the huge A320 sales).

But I do totally understand the sentiments of the thread starter, those involved with Concorde were often it's biggest fans, but we also knew it's limitations, that it was finite.

The whole commercial arguments were ancient history by December 1997, at this time BA were making over £30 million annually with Concorde, when BA Concorde Engineering had some unusual visitors, United Space Alliance, who maintained the NASA Space Shuttle fleet.
They came to see how we maintained and supported a very small number of unique air vehicles, long out of production. They concluded that Concorde had been in fact, the UK's and French equivalent of the Apollo programme.
 
astuteman
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 2:53 pm

Quoting CHRISBA777ER (Reply 1):
I lament the loss of the romance and mystique of the Concorde, but I lament the loss of the romance and mystique of the golden age of the Ocean Liners that used to sprint between New York and Europe. Unfortunately it is a commercial world driven by commercial pressures

Interestingly, ships like the QM2 show, that, done properly, show that liner travel can indeed be commercially resurrected. Now all we've got to do is work out how to get medium-speed diesel generators, feeding a "power-station" switchboard, to power a supersonic airliner.......

Quoting GDB (Reply 13):
For the future, forget a new SST, maybe a supersonic biz jet-probably not faster that Mach 1.6 though.
But if this happens, they'd swallow much of the potential market for a new SST

 checkmark 

Quoting GDB (Reply 22):
Indeed, both gained a lot of new technology from Concorde, France in particular in avionics, they learned how to, and how NOT to, conduct a collaborative programme, surely a valuable lesson in times to come.

 checkmark 
Surely Concorde in its way laid much of the foundations for Airbus, and as such, had a profound effect on the industry.

Regards
 
flymeFASTER
Posts: 53
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 3:32 pm

Maybe the technology for economic and quiet supersonics hasn't reached prime time, but I'm not giving up on the dream. I had high hopes for Boeing's Sonic Cruiser to pave the way to a bit faster trip to long-distance destinations, as well as kick up the knowledge on the near-sonic technology. Frankly, I was thrilled we had a chance to get away from the two-engine, swept wing 737-767-777-Airbus configuration. That baby looked ready to move! But alas, airlines didn't like it. Perhaps we must leave it to the developers of the supersonic business jets to get us going faster. If they truly do make 'em quieter and more fuel efficient, as at least one company claims to be capable of doing, perhaps they can scale them up to airliner size later on? I'll keep dreaming/hoping.
Bigger planes & bigger windows? Thanks, but I'd rather you fly me faster!
 
jetdeltamsy
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RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 4:12 pm

Quoting David L (Reply 15):
Quoting Jetdeltamsy (Reply 4):
What a dramatic, emotional post.

The Concorde ceased being commercially sustainable. It was a plane, not a person. That's the way the world works.

Not an aviation enthusiast, I take it. You're not an accountant, by any chance, are you?

No. I am a lifelong employee of the commercial aviation industry and I love my experiences while working in it.

I do not, however, understand the thousands, seemingly tens of thousands of people around the world who romanticize the business into some elegant, elite business that operates more on "glorious histories" and profit and losses.

The airline business is a business just like any other. It's unique in some says. But at the end of the day, the people who work on it are just like everyone else. They work to put food on their tables. The aircraft are the equipment we use to complete our work, just like steel mills use smelters to do theirs or fireman use firetrucks to do their jobs.

I have never underooe the intense infatuation with the airline industry. And sometimes it just rubs me the wrong way. I love the industry, but I am employed in it for the past 25 years. I have worked hard in it. I wouldn't want to do anything else. But I don't eat, breathe and sleep the business. It's my livelihood that I enjoy very much. But i leave it at "the office when I go home.
Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
 
David L
Posts: 8547
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:26 am

RE: What Once Was:

Thu May 17, 2007 9:18 pm

Quoting Jetdeltamsy (Reply 25):

Fair enough, that explains it. Some people feel the same way about cars, gadgets, music, food, etc.  

On the other hand, economics aside, I just don't understand how anyone interested in aircraft could not appreciate something as different and elegant, both aesthetically and technically, as Concorde.

[Edited 2007-05-17 14:19:15]

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