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Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the last supersonic passenger flight
It's hard to believe it has been 10 years since the last supersonic Concorde jet flew its final flight. Beginning in 1976, the metal dart-like aircraft flew regular transatlantic flights for 27 years. Only 20 were built, and in the end, only one of them ever crashed, but it was that crash and other ongoing issues that ultimately doomed the airplane. British Airways retired its Concorde fleet on October 24, 2003, and the last U.S. flight was in November 2003, when it was delivered from New York to a museum in Seattle. Here we take a look at the history of a true technological marvel.
A flight attendant makes final safety and security checks on board a British Airways Concorde before takeoff from London's Heathrow airport, November 2001. In this case the supersonic aircraft was making its first commercial crossing of the Atlantic after the crash in France in 2000.
The crash of an Air France Concorde in July of 2000 killed 113 people. French authorities blamed the crash on a piece of metal that fell off a Continental Airlines DC-10 that had taken off minutes earlier. It set off a chain of events on the aircraft that ultimately made it crash. Here you see flames coming out of the Concorde seconds before it crashed. The crash basically brought an end to an era of luxury supersonic travel.
A British Airways Concorde sits on the tarmac at Cardiff International Airport in south Wales, after making an unscheduled landing, late September of 2003. With its last flight just weeks away, the supersonic aircraft experienced an engine surge over the Atlantic, en route to London's Heathrow airport from New York's JFK airport, and had to be diverted to land at Cardiff.
A worker stands near a Concorde passenger jet aircraft in a hanger at the Museum of Flight in East Fortune, near Edinburgh, Scotland.
A Concorde postage stamp.
An Nouvelair aircraft (L) passes by the retired Air France Concorde number 5 on the tarmac of Roissy airport, northern Paris.
A British Airways Concorde takes off from London's Heathrow airport July 24, 2000. The aircraft employed afterburners to achieve its flight speed, and if you ever heard one take off, you knew what was coming – on landing, however, the aircraft sounded pretty much like any other airliner. (Ed. Note: the writer lived near Dulles Airport during the time Concorde’s flew in and out of that airport)
Concorde making the final leg of its journey from Heathrow across a field on a temporary road to take up residence at the Museum of Flight, East Fortune, Scotland.
An Air France Concorde F-BVFB is raised by two giant cranes behind a Russian Tupolev 144 on its way to the roof of the "Auto and Technik Museum" in the German town of Sinsheim.
The Loudenslager Laser 200, an acrobatics airplane which recently caused a controversy due to the beer logos on its wings and fuselage, is displayed along with other aircraft, including an Air France Concorde (rear) and a DeHavilland Canada DHC-1A Chipmunk Pennzoil Special (striped wings), at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.
The final Concorde, Flight 216, takes off from London's Heathrow Airport, en route to its birthplace, Filton in western England. Concorde, which has made more farewell tours than Frank Sinatra, let out its final supersonic roar as it hurtled across the Bay of Biscay at twice the speed of sound before starting its new earthbound life at a heritage center in Filton.
Concorde flight lands at London's Heathrow airport from New York, 2003. Concorde flew home to Britain on its last passenger flight to an emotional welcome from thousands of aviation enthusiasts mourning the passing of the supersonic era.
French Air France Concorde F-BVFB flight captain Jean-Louis Chatelain waves to the public after he landed the aircraft for the last time at the Baden-Baden Airport in Southwestern Germany after flying from Paris.
United States Coast Guard Petty Officer conducts a Homeland Security patrol in the New York Harbor as a British Airways Concorde on a barge is towed to the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum in November 2003.
A fly-past by the Royal Airforce Red Arrows display team over Buckingham Palace marks the end of the Golden Jubilee celebrations in London.
View of the rear tires of Concorde 001 aircraft, the first prototype on display at the Bourget airport museum in northern Paris.
A maintenance worker checks the door of a British Airways Concorde.
British Airways Concorde flight BA004 rises into an overcast sky after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport en route to London's Heathrow.
British Airways staff, including a captain, flight attendants and a cleaner, toast the Concorde supersonic aircraft during a 20th anniversary celebration for the jet at Heathrow airport in January, 1996. On January 21, 1976, Concorde made its inaugural commercial journey, flying from London to Bahrain.
Nicknamed "Concordski," the Russian supersonic plane TU-144 is still the only other supersonic aircraft to have carried passengers. It had a much less successful career, however, than the Concorde. It flew 55 scheduled flights but had two bad crashes – one infamously at the Paris Air Show in 1973. After a second crash in 1978 it was all but retired from public flights.
The possibility of supersonic passenger flight remains pretty much on the drawing board. Here, we see through the window in the sidewall of the 8- by 6-foot supersonic wind tunnel at NASA's Glenn Research Center a 1.79% scale model of a future concept supersonic aircraft built by the Boeing Company in this handout. In recent tests, researchers evaluated the performance of air inlets mounted on top of the model to see how changing the amount of airflow at supersonic speeds through the inlet affected performance. The inlet on the pilot's right side (top inlet in this side view) is larger because it contains a remote-controlled device, through which the flow of air could be changed.