Last Commercial Concorde Flight
On October 24 2003 an era came to an end when the last commercial Concorde flight landed at Heathrow at 16.05 BST, immediately preceded by two sister planes landing at 16.03 and 16.01. The first two to land had been pleasure jaunts, one a round trip over the Bay of Biscay largely for former Concorde pilots and others with links to the magnificent machine; the other for competition winners, which had flown to and from Edinburgh . The last of the three, and last of all commercial supersonic flights for the time being, was one which had set out from JFK Airport in New York at 12.35 BST, taking a mere three-and-a-half hours to cross the Atlantic.
Rod Eddington, BA’s CEO, said the plane’s time had come, citing the fact that it had been designed back in the 1950s. The wheel of course is far older, so it too must be due for retirement. Officially BA gave unprofitability as the reason for ceasing to operate Concorde, which perhaps logically means the entire BA fleet will now be mothballed. As Jeremy Clarkson – one of the 100 celebrities who took the final flight – wrote of the decision, it was the first time in the history of transport that mankind had taken the decision to step backwards technologically. With Clarkson were the likes of Sir David Frost , who reckoned to have used the plane at least 300 times, and Tony Benn , one of the driving forces behind its development.
Pilot Mike Bannister had the honour of being the last Concorde pilot proper, bringing G-BOAG in to Heathrow on time. Travelling at the 1350mph it reached during the last flight it could have gone more than 1000 miles in the 45 minutes it took for him to bring the craft reluctantly to its docking point once it had landed.
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