Flying on Concorde

For my first ever blog post, I thought I would share one of the most amazing, albeit shortest flights I’ve ever taken.

Back in 1997, I seized the opportunity to take a flight on Concorde.

The flight was a subsonic repositioning one from Bournemouth to Heathrow after Concorde brought passengers back from New York as part of a voyage out on the legendary QE2, and supersonic flight home.

Although a short flight, all of us passengers were treated to a champagne reception before boarding.

Having a light load, with hardly any fuel and no luggage, Concorde could have taken off quite serenely, but, as we were not going supersonic, the crew gave us a treat of taking off at full power and a lot faster than would have been on a normal flight from Heathrow!

We were all given a cushion and advised to place it behind our back before take off.

The anticipation of the flight was one of sheer excitement, with everyone having huge smiles as we taxied from the terminal to our position on Runway 08.

The small size of the interior was a surprise to many, with the windows being a lot smaller than that found on a normal airliner.

As the four Rolls Royce Olympus engines were spooled our bodies were literally pinned in our seats as we thundered down the runway, the Chief Engineer gave us all a running commentary of what was going on, he proudly announced we went from 0-60mph faster than a Lotus Esprit and 0-200mph faster than a Formula 1 car!

In what seemed like no time at all, we were soaring into the sky, making a wide arc over Poole Harbour before heading across the New Forest, Southampton and the Hampshire countryside before following the English Channel down towards Dungeness.

During this time, not only was it a time for me to pinch myself to believe I was actually flying on Concorde, from the port side, in the disturbed air of this summer evening, we all witnessed a thunder cloud grow. A phenomenal sight, and from our viewpoint at 11000ft, the flat anvil top could be clearly seen.

We headed over towards the City of London as the sun was setting, entering the approach to land at Heathrow’s 27L runway.

Upon landing, the immense power of the engines in reverse thrust along with the brakes saw us stop at what seemed a very short distance.

Although this was a short flight, the memories of this will remain with me as one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.

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© Andrew Sassoli-Walker 2016

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