Saturday, October 25, 2014

A date with Concorde

I don't know if you're aware, dear reader, but I like airplanes. I am interested in makes and models of airplanes, and seeing them up close is always fascinating for me.
So when my wife proposed a day out at Brooklands Museum, I agreed. In addition to being the site of the world's first motor circuit in 1907, British airplanes, such as the Vickers range of aircraft, were built here from the 1940s right through to the 1970s. In fact, a BAC 1-11 and Vickers VC-10 are displayed on site. They are both huge planes, definitely comparable in size to an A340 and B747 respectively, with massive "whale fluke" T-tails. Check out the tail from the VC-10:

 photo VickerstailIII.jpg

The VC-10 is second only to Concorde in having achieved the fastest transatlantic flight time.
The really big draw to Brooklands is the supersonic Concorde herself. Specifically, the G-BBDG, the first production type for the British model Concorde aircraft, used to test the design before the aircraft was certified for passenger service. G-BBDG debuted in February 1974 and was retired on Christmas Eve 1981, having notched up 1,282 hours flight time in total, and has been at Brooklands since 2003.
Squirrel has a real soft spot for Concorde and I was keen to visit her too. She is, after all, a legend.  This was the plane that, from 1976 to 2003, travelled at twice the speed of sound, achieved a maximum height of 53,500 feet (over 10 miles high) and got you from London or Paris to New York in three hours.
The thing you hear about Concorde is that she is "diminutive". She is quite graceful, and admittedly on the small side as far as commercial aircraft go. Having said that, she is much larger than most people anticipate before seeing her in person. She drew my breath away upon first sight. I don't think diminutive is an accurate way to describe Concorde at all.

 photo ConcordeI.jpg

The Concorde Experience at Brooklands allows you to enter the aircraft and take a seat for a 10-minute flight simulation. Squirrel and I were both honored to have claimed some space, even for a short time, on this beautiful bird.

 photo MonConcorde.jpg

As you have probably guessed, given that this aircraft achieved a speed of Mach 2, the cockpit is a cluster of superfine gadgetry:

 photo Conccockpit.jpg

And there you go, our date with lady Concorde!
 photo SquwithConcI.jpg

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