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Concorde over Clifton

Concorde over Clifton

Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, England

A few months before British Airways celebrated the 100th anniversary of powered flight, the company retired its fleet of supersonic Concorde aircraft. As a pilot myself, I believe there are parallels between the Concorde and the Wright Flyer.

The sheer practicality of the way the Wright Brothers wents about flying is as interesting as the fact that they succeeded. They gathered what literature there was on the subject, wrote to a few experts in the field, and then, as Newton might have put it, thought of it without ceasing. They experimented with models, full-sized gliders and an innovative wind tunnel before developing a truly practical glider in 1920 and a powered craft, the Wright Flyer, in 1903.

Concorde developed along a similar lock-step fashion. Technical issues such as balance, propulsion, supersonic friction, and flight controls were resolved jointly by a British-French consortium. An American prototype proved too ambitious for commercial certification.

As in the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers, the flight of Concorde captured the imaginations of thousands of aviation enthusiasts, most without the wherewithal to experience supersonic pampering. But thanks to Concorde, fast oceanic crossings are commonplace now, a mere necessity in the conduct of modern life.

Comments by Bernie Goldbach. Picture taken by Lewis Whyld/SWNS of Concorde on her last flight to an aviation museum in Filton, shown over the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol on 25 Nov 03.