Twelve years ago today, the supersonic aircraft Concorde said an emotional farewell, when it flew its final commercial flight. The iconic aeroplane’s journey from New York to London, which landed at Heathrow airport at 4.05 pm, was laden with celebrities and the bloke who looked after the dartboard on quiz show Bullseye!.
The immediately identifiable aircraft was retired from service as it was no longer financially viable, in an increasingly competitive industry. Additionally, there were concerns about the plane, which was displaying symptoms of depression brought on by being teased about its big nose!
The decision to take it out of the limelight led to a mixture of emotions for British Airways bosses. There was sadness at the end of commercial flights for the cone nosed aircraft; merged with the mood to celebrate its major contribution to aviation history.
Someone looking sad when they hear Concorde is to be removed from service!
Celebrities on this historic transatlantic flight had similar mixed feelings. Actress Joan Collins called it “tragic”, although that may have been the fact she laddered her tights, not that it was the last flight! The person sat next to model Christie Hinkley was said to have really enjoyed his journey!
The first commercial flights took place on 21 January 1976 when British Airways (BA) flew from London Heathrow to Bahrain and Air France from Paris to Rio.
Transatlantic flights began later that year following an epiphany appearing to an airline executive, telling him god wants him to fly Concorde to America. However, when the vision asked if he could lend him £20 until pay day, the executive became sceptical they were indeed the wishes of god! ……………Despite this, the idea of flying to the USA seemed a good one, so he adopted it!
Ex-Concorde steward, Mydon Wexburgh, recently wrote a book of memoirs from his time in service on the aircraft. His anecdotes include rejecting a beautiful model who wanted to initiate him into the ‘mile high club’, a passenger who bought a $9,000 seat for his tin of creosote and an anxious chain smoking vicar who, at 60,000 ft, asked if there was a smoking shelter outside of the plane!
He was particularly disappointed he couldn’t succumb to the actress’ request. However, as he was unable to sustain an erection over 40,000 ft he had no option but to turn down her kind offer!
He isn’t the only former Concorde employee to share their memories. A former stewardess tells in her book of when passenger Elizabeth Taylor let her try on her huge diamond ring. The eight times married actress did offer to let her try on all of her engagement rings. However as the flight to New York was only just over three hours she didn’t have time!
What happened to the Concorde’s after their removal from commercial flights? Well, one flew to the Grantley Adams Airport in Barbados; another went to a museum in Seattle, while a third is at a floating exhibition in New York.
Others can be seen at Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airport, Bristol’s Filton Airport and on display at the Museum of Flight near Edinburgh.
The last ever Concorde flight just after landing at Heathrow. I hope they’ve landed, anyway, as the pilots have the windows open and are waving flags!
The French Concordes are now being shown in museums in France, the US and Germany.
Oh and one Concorde moved to Santa Monica, had corrective surgery on its nose, married a woman called Trevor and lived happily ever after!