Concorde’s First Flight: Supersonic Travel (1969) | British Pathé
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Concorde’s First Flight: Supersonic Travel (1969) | British Pathé

Toulouse! Concorde 001 made her most important
public appearance back-end first. She was being nosed out of her hangar by a tractor on the day for which Britain and France and the rest of the world had waited so long. The great supersonic jetliner was going to fly. A year late, millions of pounds over the
estimated cost and still a very big question mark. These were Concorde’s first claims to fame. But on this day, a lot of those question
marks would be answered. For Concorde 001, this was the chance to
prove she was the Superbird everyone had hoped and
worked for. 193 feet long, 38 feet tall, with a wingspan
of 84 feet. Vital statistics of an Anglo-French
lady who was all dressed up and ready to go place on the biggest date of her life. Keeping that date were the world’s press. All eyes were glued to the sleek,
futuristic machine standing on its spindly legs out there. Droop snoot in the down position, surveying the scene. At the other end, heat surged from the
mighty Rolls-Royce engines as the ground crew checked, rechecked, and checked again. Concorde was buttoned-up good and tight. There was little more anyone could do other than fly her. After six years of designing and
building, delays and progress, the dream was a reality. Concorde nosed slowly out to the start of her flying career. The men chosen to crew the speedbird on her
maiden flight had plenty to do during the last few seconds before takeoff. The
all-important final pre-fight check carried out by chief pilot André Turcat and
his crew went without a hitch. This was it! With 12 tonnes of test equipment onboard, André Turcat took Concorde up to 10,000 feet. She was almost ticking over at less than 300 miles an hour. Nose still in the droop position, undercarriage down. The less for the pilot to do, the better. Earthbound, technicians waited for reports to come in. And what reports they were! Concorde handled beautifully. After only 27 minutes of flight, she was coming home. The weather was threatening, but the test pilot knew what he wanted to know… Concorde was coming back as a success. In a few years’ time, the sight of Concordes on international airfields all over the world will be commonplace if all goes well. Then, there’ll be 130 passengers onboard. Flying times will have been cut by half.
London to New York from 7 hours 40 minutes to 3 hours 25 minutes. But for the moment, there’s a lot more flight testing to be done – A long, lonely job for the French and British test pilots and their crews. But now was a time of triumph. And André Turcat was the hero. Jubilant senior executives of Sud Aviation and the British Aircraft Corporation greeted the tall, quiet Frenchman who had taken their machine on its
successful maiden flight. Inside, the world’s press wanted to hear Monsieur Turcat’s verdict. “The big bird flies!” he said. It’s the beginning of the big work. If that
work goes well, Britain and France stand to make 4,000 million pounds and lead the world of civil aviation.


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