Thursday, April 09, 2009
Some aircraft are like popstars and have fanclubs. But can there be any more idolised machine than Concorde? When I grew up in Manchester it was a source of civic woe that BA didn't operate scheduled flights of the noisy elitist monster from 'Ringway', as it was called in those days. This was natural from a city which gave birth to Rolls Royce and acted as a midwife to the computer. Now BA has retired its fleet the techy Mancunians have got their wish and have installed one of the beasts in its own pristine purpose built hangar in their airport's viewing area.
I went to see it the other day but my fiver only got me as far as the glass wall of the new building. They're fitting up a restaurant so you can view the machine as you eat your burger. When they're actually open (it was closed at 4pm...why?) they want another fiver for the privilege of going in there and getting on board. I bet they're not short of takers; when Concorde occasionally flew in over our house on chartered flights my Dad would shout and actually run into the garden to see it up closer. It would take passengers on joyrides over the Bay of Biscay. All subsonic. Nobody cared. They were flying in Concorde.
People would pile into their cars, drive out to the airport and literally press their noses into the fence. This graceful bird, white, shiny and a source of national pride was sitting just a few hundred yards away! It could droop its nose! The wings changed shape when it broke the sound barrier! It didn't just fly at Mach 1, it did Mach 2.2! The Yanks had nothing like it! People would shake their heads, turn away, then turn back for some more. And now they can have as much as they like, for a tenner.