First Concorde flight


First Concorde flight

Heathrow, London The 21st of January 1976 AD

The dream which had begun in the 1950s, commercial supersonic flight, finally came about on January 21 1976. The British and French governments had agreed to cooperate in 1962; the first prototype emerged into public view in 1967; on March 2 1969 Britain saw its first Concorde takeoff from Filton in Bristol . Finally the whole point of the project was to be realised.
Concorde G-BOAA had been delivered just a week earlier (another plane had been returned for improvements having been used to test the route in advance of passenger services starting). But she was ready.
As so often with Concorde the first flight was laden with political overtones. Firstly, the intended transatlantic route was barred for the time being, supposedly for environmental reasons, but with a definite stench of American pique at the Old World having stolen a huge march on supposed US technological superiority. And of course it had to be the case that flights would take off simultaneously in Britain and France.
Even the destinations had a ring of politics about them: the French flight travelled to Rio via Dakar, in the old French colony of Senegal; the British flew to Bahrain, one of Britain's trading partners in the Middle East, though it was also viewed as a stopping point for future flights to Singapore and Australia.
Flight BA300 thus left Heathrow for Bahrain on January 21 1976, beginning a new age of supersonic commercial flight, albeit for the few who could afford it. The plane could travel at 1,350mph; she flew on the edge of space, 11 miles up; eventually the best time for a London - New York flight was 2 hours 53 minutes. And she was beautiful to boot. It is tragic that such an advance has now been consigned to history and that a few years hence when lucky grandparents say to their children's children "Of course in my day we flew much quicker," it will indeed be true.

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