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Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 10:06 am

I'm pretty new to the forum, but I've been reading the blogs since 09.11.01 on here.

I just saw a video thanking the Concorde for 27 yrs of service at BA. I got the wonderful opportunity to fly BA Concorde JFK-LHR-JFK in 1998. It was the most fantastic experience ever on an a/c for myself and my brother. Ironically, I was born on July 25, the same date the AF Concorde crashed in 2000 (F-BTSC).

Just was wondering if any spotters got the chance to photo the Concorde, of if you even got lucky enough to fly on her before the retirement. If anyone wants the video of the BA Concorde, message me, I can't remember where I got it, but it's about 10 minutes long and makes me tear up watching it!

Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre.
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 10:11 am

Where's GDB when you need him?

The main impression a Concorde virgin would get is just how small it is, and also a surprise that BA or AF managed to do so much for the passengers in such a small space. providing First Class standard service in something no wider than an Embraer cabin isn't easy!
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 10:19 am

fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 10:20 am

I flew one way in 1998, hated it! I was really fat at the time, don't eat fancy food or drink wine, and had a man next to me telling me we were going SO fast that in the event of a failure of the airframe we would all turn into dust before we even knew we had died! Seats to small, and felt like I was under a lot of pressure to enjoy it. I'm a slob and prefer big seats and junk food to small seats and goose liver and bitter wine. I did save the luggage tags and tix for my kids to see.
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 10:26 am

I was lucky to ride Concorde 4 times...
When I hit 30
When I hit 40
A surprise ride from LON to NYC
G-BOAG's retirement flight from JFK to BFI.

The last flight was the most memorable...we were all employees or relatives of BA staff. We drank more champagne than imaginable as we screamed supersonically across Canada. There were a couple of fellows onboard who were subdued because there job was to "bed" Concorde down for the last time, (i.e. remove all the fluids, etc).

The welcome at BFI was wonderful, though we arrived early because we hadn't planned on a supersonic flight. We taxied back and forth 'til the appointed time.

I live in NYC and everytime I go past the USS Intrepid and see one of OAG's sisters sitting forlornly that barge I get wistful

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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 10:31 am

I had the opportunity as well. I flew on the very last flight to leave Canada (YYZ-JFK). Oct. 3, 2003. Amazing airplane!

You and I were meant to fly, Air Canada!
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 11:01 am

It was great.

I'd guessed the inside wouldn't be the size of a 747 - duh! - and since I was going into the stratosphere, I was ready for anything.

BA did us proud in the lounge, the take off was a trip, the seats were comfortable, the f/a's were wonderful, I loved the food.

I wasn't thrilled about going through the sound barrier - they said I'd feel a slight nudge, but I didn't.

The buzz was when I looked out of the window and could see the curve of the earth below, on a sunny day, and the pitch black of space above.

The best came last - the landing. The moment the wheels were on the ground, they must have put those massive engines into reverse thrust, full power, or something, because the plane was shuddering and juddering with power.

A couple of guys in cowboy hats in the row in front of me were calling out "yee-haw!" at the tops of their voices - I think everyone on the plane knew how they felt.

We landed at IAD before we left LHR. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.


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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 4:25 pm

No trip ever for me...I was robbed.  Sad
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 5:47 pm

It was an extremely small plane with even smaller windows that were placed in bad spots!

It provided a view that you could never forget. A view that made your world stop and gave you the clarity to forget everything and realize how amazing it was to be alive.

Other than the view the best thing about the Concorde was the lounge, great service by employees that truly lover their jobs. Employees that were just as passionate about the Concorde as you were...

Overall the plane itself was kind of a P.O.S. if you are used to flying in biz and do not enjoy the feeling of being in a small tube. The onboard service would have been amazing if you could only be comfortable enough to enjoy it!

Like I said, bad plane, great view!
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 5:59 pm

I flew G-BOAF on the 18/1/1999, my 30th Birthday JFK-LHR.
one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Flight was half empty, so we had loads of time in the cockpit (those were the days) inflight.

Ironically, her final resting place is at Filton, Bristol where she was built and she was flown on her last flight by a client of my firm unbeknown to me at the time!
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Mon Jan 16, 2006 6:01 pm

I was lucky enough to fly on both G-BOAF and G-BOAG back in the early 90s on 2 charters - both CDG - LHR.

Although I found the cabin to be smaller than I expected, the take-off was comparable to nothing I had experienced until then, and since. It was just awesome. The looks we were getting from people at CDG when we were taxiing out to take-off will stay with me forever. A cross between envy, jealously and sheer excitement.

It was a fantastic ride, made even more special by the crew who were there because the loved flying her, not just because it was their job.

Shame it'll never happen again  Sad

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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Tue Jan 17, 2006 1:39 am

BA001 Concorde: LHR-JFK September 2002 (by Fbgdavidson Oct 14 2004 in Trip Reports) photo:
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Photo © Fraser Davidson photo:
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Photo © Fraser Davidson photo:
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Photo © Fraser Davidson photo:
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Photo © Fraser Davidson

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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Tue Jan 17, 2006 1:50 am

I've never flown Concorde, too expensive I guess and to go on staff travel youy had to be 12, which I wasn't,
However, I did go to visit the Concorde in both New York and Seattle.
I guess other than that, there's my dad to ask questions about what it was like to work and fly on.
Not flying on Concorde was one of the down points of my life  Sad

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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Tue Jan 17, 2006 3:04 am

AirxLiban on BA 001 LHR-JFK 10 June 2003.

Operated by G-BOAG.

One of the best experiences of my life.

Here I am onboard in this very picture. Seat 21 A.

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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Tue Jan 17, 2006 3:44 am

Fbgdavidson, that is truly nice picture of you and Concorde pilot.

No, I never flew on the Concorde. of the Future
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Tue Jan 17, 2006 4:21 am

Ah memories.
After nearly 14 years at BA, I transferred to the Concorde Engineering unit(minor maint and casualty), in April 1997.

Not only minor maintenance, but due to the unique nature of the aircraft, we also went over the terminals (usually T4, some charters from T1), to depart the aircraft, also meet inbounds.

Busy, in those days 2 x to JFK, 2 x inbound from JFK, a charter or two, at certain times of the year, a BGI too, was the norm.

If on early shift, apart from hangar work, we'd depart any flights up to 15.00.
On late shift, meet the inbounds, get them in hangar, prep them for next day.
Usually night shift met and hangared the BA004.

While UAL747DEN might be right that the aircraft could be a p.o.s. (for an inexperienced airline on the type), while the fleet had a tendency to go sick several at a time, then all perform well at the same time too, (we used to warn new managers when congratulating us on how things were going, not to do it with an aircraft in the hangar, as it would hear you and start misbehaving, some ended up half convinced of this in the end), we had an advantage.

Many of our team had been on the type since the start of B services, in many cases, before then, many were ex BAC, had helped to build the aircraft, before joining BA.
This gave them the in depth knowledge vital on this rare and unique type.
Some in industry, such as at BEA were the same.
They were interesting, dedicated people, with much to tell.

Beside me, I have a mug, with a drawing of Concorde, and '25th May 1999 - 100 on time'.
That date is when we had 100 LHR departures with no engineering related delays, we actually managed 118 until we got a minor TD.

But it was a challenge, coming in on an early shift, with several departures that day (remember every scheduled flight had to have a serviceable standby, any delay longer than 3 hours, the pax got a heavy refund, as well as the whole 'grovel' package for the most commercially important ones).

Say we had a BA273 @ 09.30 am, then a BA001 @ 10.30 am, that's three aircraft, the standby being for both the BGI and JFK.
Clearly more desirable to have a dedicated standby ready if the BA273 one had to be used, rare as it was.

The standby would then be the front runner for the 19.00 BA003 to JFK, so another aircraft would be needed to standby for that.
If the inbound BA002 was defect free, had nothing scheduled maint wise, we could turn that as the BA003 standby, or to operate the service.
The frequent LHR-LHR charters, were often used as standbys once they were back.

BGI flights needed extra checks, to confirm the integrity of the rear nozzle buckets, as any slight movement of them in flight could cause more drag, needing a tech stop at SMA or LIS, or SNN, as more fuel uplift would be needed, but this was very rare too.
So the prep for a BGI allocated aircraft meant the hangar would ring to the sound of the T/Rev telescopic tube actuation, a very loud 'Waaahhhh'.

We loved the aircraft, this meant we also knew their flaws, limitations, accepting them just as you would in a person.
And yes, each of these essentially hand built aircraft had their own 'characteristics'.

My first Concorde flight, before I joined what other BA people affectionately called 'The Flying Club', was a IAD-LHR in 1993; BA Concorde, IAD-LHR In 1993 (by GDB May 25 2003 in Trip Reports)

After joining Concorde Eng, I kept meaning to get on a flight, using an ID ticket, while awaiting my turn on an air test.
Illness in late 1999, through to mid 2000, stopped some plans, then the accident happened in Paris.

After all the hard work with the mods, with the re-launch, several 'Operational Assessment Flights' to get everyone back up to speed, were to take place, the 'pax' being BA Concorde staff, most were LHR-LHR, full speed, altitude, length of flight just with a turn back at around 30W, but one would go to JFK and back the same day, to help the JFK side get ready.

I was on the first, an LHR-LHR, originally on 28th Aug 2001, it was rescheduled;
11th Sept 2001; Concorde Operational Evaluation Flifgt (by GDB Sep 15 2001 in Trip Reports)

However good the loads after relaunch, through to late 2002, post Sept 11th we could only sustain one JFK per day, as well as the basic BGI, BA's perilous position also meant the return to flight mods were stretched out, with OAB put way back, OAA seemingly not to be modded, (the 7th aircraft was to support charters, before the accident BA were to cut many charters anyway, in the circumstances now, they were dropped totally, only providing 9% at best, of BA Concorde revenue).

With this in mind, (with the implications for a likely early retirement), an excellent BA 'hotline' offer in Aug 2002, resolved me to get some more supersonic time in; BA Concorde To JFK....and Back (by GDB Sep 16 2002 in Trip Reports)
BA Concorde To JFK, BA178 Back In WTP (by GDB Nov 11 2002 in Trip Reports)

With AF wanting to exit Concorde in 2003, the additional cost implications of BA carrying the whole support cost burden, was clear.
BA had already moved the BA001 to 18.30, in late March 2003, as business pax were starting to drop off alarmingly, this also led to BA dropping 1st class on some routes too it hit BA across the board.
This retimed BA001 was to appeal to a more leisure part of the market, some biz pax wanted this time too, though were a minority, but a minority not dropping Concorde from their travel portfolios.

This was seen as temporary, a year to 18 months, by which time it was hoped that the market would pick up, allowing double daily JFK's, the BA001 back to 10.30, the 18.30 one having the appropriate BA003 number.
Also allowing time to get OAB back in the pack, complete the second stage of the cabin upgrade, after the new seats of the first part.
But we could not have made a profit, carrying the whole support costs, at any time in the aircrafts service, certainly not now.

Through all this, my air test chariot arrived; Probably The Last Ever Concorde Test Flight (by GDB Aug 12 2003 in Trip Reports)

As 5 aircraft would be flying off to museums, BA Concorde people would again be the pax. But you had to take the one allocated.
Before then, I was on shift on the memorable 24th Oct 2003, the 3 aircraft landing one after the other, the ceremony in the hangar.

We noted with irony that since the retirement had been announced, on 10th April 2003, loads had quickly shot up, it was more profitable in that period than ever before, but the die was cast, it was due to the impending retirement.

This is where I regret, have some anger at higher up Engineering Management, at the slowing down of the return to flight work (not doing OAC and OAD together, as OAE/OAG were done, not returning OAB to flight).
This stunted our ability to make even more money, meant we could not put on some charters, before the official ones in Oct.
Just a few LHR-LHR, maybe on a Saturday and/or Sunday, would have been good.

I felt lucky not to be on the very brief subsonic flight of OAC to MAN for retirement.
OAD to JFK would have been OK, but something I'd done before.
OAG had two sets of pax, to JFK, but it would have been a pleasure to join Tymnblaewne and others for the JFK-BGI sector.

The very last, OAF to FZO, with a supersonic routing, very historic if sad, but I struck lucky, I got OAE to BGI, never done that sector, the last ever Concorde international flight, my 'Apollo 17' Last Flight Of Concorde G-BOAE, LHR-BGI, Nov.17th (by GDB Nov 18 2003 in Trip Reports)

Mariner, I heard that story about those enthusiastic Texan's too.

Do I miss it?
Where to start?
I miss the challenge, I miss the people, I miss the beautiful lady Concorde, I miss the close links with our flight crew, at being involved in the operation, I miss doing the many visits we had to the hangar before Sept 11th (It was lifted in Oct 2003-one 4 day period off shift I spent 3 of them in the hangar doing Multiple visits), I miss hearing the roar of take off a few hundred feet from my home.

I certainly miss flying on it, put me in Club, put me in 1st to JFK, don't care, I'd still much prefer Concorde, getting there 70 mins before you left LHR.
The service, the marilake displays of speed/altitude/outside temp/distance to go - this beat any IFE.
Seeing the dark sky, curve of the Earth, especially on my last, the longer, higher altitude with the very clear conditions, on the BGI sector that day.

I miss the phone conversations and work with our excellent JFK team, special mention here for Claud C and John V.

We'll never see it's like again, though the July 2000-July 2001 period, (OAF's triumphant post tank mod test flight on 17th July 2001), were not so good, I still feel lucky to have been a very, very small part of a great team.
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Tue Jan 17, 2006 4:44 am

Cannot tell you how many trips [well I could if I was not so lazy ] but 23 years on the old girl and then I was released to retirement for good behavior.

All good fun with lots of nice people
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Tue Jan 17, 2006 11:30 am

Quoting FXramper (Reply 7):
No trip ever for me...I was robbed.


Quoting Wrighbrothers (Reply 12):
Not flying on Concorde was one of the down points of my life

I hear you.
For about a year after, I got very depressed.
I didn't think anything could ever make me as happy.
There was this video I used to get at the library
called "How They Fly the Concorde."
I watched it over and over again, I have it memorized!

What I believed was-

They could make the flashiest supersonic airliner ever, and it
would be wonderful.
Still, nothing could make it a Concorde.

I have since learned that I should stop being so sad about
Concorde's retirement, and celebrate that it even flew at all.
Sure I might not have flown it, but it DID fly.

Flying high on the Wings of the Great Northwest!
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Thu Jan 19, 2006 3:57 pm

Did once.

Actually twice. There was the return Trip.

I flew the AF Concorde to and from New York from Paris.
That was a present from my ex-boyfriend (yep, I know what you're gonna say: "she's the difficult kind, got the COncorde flight then dumped him!" but it's more complicated )  Wink

First impression: Darn small! But that's OK, I'm short too.
No room in the overhead compartments... Tiny windows.

While in flight I was surprised by the noise and the heat of the windows.
Most impressive was the distance above the clouds. When you are used to fly between 30000 and 37000ft and you find yourself at 60000ft the clouds appear so diminished, so far!
That shows you this is definitely not standard flight.

Then you look out, to the distance, and you see the earth's curve. That beats any known flight!

To finish it off, you look up. And the sky has that very dark blue color you've never seen and will never see again because you're the closest you'll ever be to space.
THen you find yourself in that waking dream until you land because it's an unforgettable experience.
You also wish the holidays are over soon to get back in there.

One little scare en route: engine failure at 60000ft! But got back to normal later!

Those are my memories of this flight (short version of course: didn't mention the food!)

see ya!
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RE: Did You Ever Fly The Concorde? Memories?

Fri Jan 20, 2006 4:02 am

I was lucky enough to fly on Concorde 15 times (on 4 different airframes).

Every flight on her has to be a memorable experience - she was unique !!!

There are, however, some exceptional memories I have.....

My first ever flight on her, on 28 January 1985 (which also happened to be my birthday). The first ever sensation felt when those mighty Olympus engines powered up on the take-off roll gives the game away that she was no "ordinary" aircraft ! I spent the majority of the flight guzzling champagne (not at quite the same rate as the mighty bird guzzled kerosene). I asked for all the crew to sign the flight certificate - and was invited to visit the flight deck. When the crew found out what a special day it was for me, I was then invited to sit in the jumpseat for landing at JFK - an exceptional experience as G-BOAB touched down.

Later that year, G-BOAC operated a scheduled Super Shuttle flight from Heathrow to Belfast, and I managed to get a ticket for the flight. A running commentary from the cockpit, and a spectacular rate of climb achieved due to suc a short sector. Supersonic for only a few minuted, then an approach into Belfast which then turned into a flypast as the Belfast Airshow was on. Another tremendous climb out before backtracking for a normal landing.

My final trip on her was on 8th October 2003, from Heathrow to Boston. I was thrilled to see that G-BOAE was operating the flight - I had never flown on this one before. Sadly, I never did - as we began to roll down runway 27R at Heathrow, one of the afterburners failed to operate, and - a few seconds later - take-off was aborted. The faulty afterburner was not immediately fixable, so G-BOAD was used instead - my 2nd flight on her. Still another memorable trip, partly because she completed the crossing in 3h06m, which apparently was (and still is, probably for a very long time), the fastest ever trans-Atlantic crossing between the UK & the US for a scheduled flight. (plus, I actually managed to board 2 Concordes in 1 afternoon!!!)

As I said, every trip was memorable, and I never forgot how lucky I was on each trip to be one of very few citizens of this world who would be flying supersonically that day.

My parting memory of her was on her final day of operation, and seeing 3 Concordes, one behind eachother, as they made there final approaches into Heathrow, and the whole airport came to an almost complete standstill to witness the event.

I count myself extremely fortunate - I spent 48hrs 10mins of my life flying on her. She may have been noisy, she may not have been the most comfortable way to fly - but she was sleek, unique & chic.

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