Incredible images mark 50th anniversary of the first Concorde flight
1st March 2019

The last of the Concordes: Interactive map reveals where the only 17 planes left on the planet are at rest… 50 years after birth of supersonic jet that changed the world

  • Interactive map shows where the last remaining Concordes are based around the world including 7 in the UK 
  • The first Concorde prototype took off from Toulouse in the south of France on 50 years ago on March 2, 1969 
  • Aircraft had a cruising velocity of twice the speed of sound allowing it to cover one mile in just 2.75 seconds
  • Among Concorde’s most distinctive features was its pointed nose, which drooped downwards during take-off 

They were one of the most advanced aircraft ever to fly passengers around the world with just 20 built over a 15-year period.

Now the 17 remaining Concorde jets which once hosted celebrities and royalty are dotted about the world in museums or storage.

And this interactive map shows the locations of each of the planes, with seven still found in Britain including one each at London Heathrow and Manchester Airports.

It comes as events will be held across Britain tomorrow to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Concorde’s maiden flight. 

Thousands of aviation enthusiasts will flock to museums and airfields where the supersonic airliner is on display, including UK Runway Visitor Park, Manchester, the Museum of Flight near Edinburgh and Aerospace Bristol, where  they will have the opportunity to meet Concorde pilots, step on board the aircraft and view footage of the first flight.

Here MailOnline Travel looks back at the incredible aircraft with amazing images showing its first flight, its luxurious cabins and royal passengers.   

An interactive map has revealed the locations of the last 17 remaining Concordes around the world, including this one, pictured bottom, at London Heathrow Airport

Two of the supersonic jets are also based in museums including one at the Aerospace Bristol Museum, left, and another at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey, right. Both are expected to attract thousands of visitors tomorrow to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the aircraft’s first flight

The first ever Concorde flight takes off from Toulouse Airport exactly 50 years ago on March 2, 1969 

Pictured are the crew of the first ever Concorde flight. They were Michel Retif, flight engineer, Andre Turcat, captain, mechanical engineer Henri Perrier, and Jacques Guignard, co-pilot

It was until several months later on October 1, 1969 that Concorde first went supersonic during a test flight in Toulouse 

The creation of Concorde was a joint British-French exercise, thus it is fitting one of the aircraft is at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, pictured

The first Concorde prototype took off from Toulouse in the south of France on March 2, 1969. It was flown for 27 minutes by test pilot Andre Turcat.

Born out of a joint Anglo-French project, Concorde’s success was savoured as a moment of intense national pride.

Most impressive of all was its speed. A cruising velocity of twice the speed of sound, or 1,350mph, allowed it to cover a mile in just 2.75 seconds.

Today British Airways Concordes are located across Britain and overseas. 

Two British Airways Concordes are on display in the US, at Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, and The Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Another Concorde was on display at a museum in Barbados but the attraction has been closed since July last year.

  • Mamma Mia, what a tasty Tuscan treat: Skip the crowds and…

    British Airways makes a huge order for up to 42 new Boeing…

    Heavens above! Photographer captures the magic of the…

    Family were ‘left in tears’ on their £11,600 Tui holiday…

    Dazzling breaks with everything… except kids! Exploring…

    Inside the new luxury hobbit-style hillside lodge in New…

Share this article

British Airways has a Concorde at its engineering base at Heathrow Airport.

The area is not open for visitors, but some passengers are able to see it when they land at the west London hub.

The interior of the Concorde was recently given a three-month refurbishment and a plan to put the aircraft on public display is expected to be revealed later this year.

There is also a fleet of three British development Concordes, which are at Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset, Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire and Brooklands Museum in Surrey.

Elsewhere there are five Concordes currently in France, with two at the Airbus Factory in Toulouse, one at the Museum of Air and Space in Le Bourget, another at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and the other at the Musée Delta in Athis-Mons.

An Air France Concorde is also at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, with the final remaining aircraft at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany.  

British Airways captain John Tye described being ‘glued to the TV’ when the maiden flight happened.

Concordes are also on display around the world, including aircraft at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany, pictured left, and another at the Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum in New York, right

In 1976, the first British Airways Concorde flight took off from London’s Heathrow Airport bound for Bahrain 

Concorde pilots say flying the plane would require precision so that when they broke the sound barrier, it caused ‘nothing more than a ripple on 100 glasses of champagne’


 Average cruise speed: 1,320mph (Mach 2.02).

Typical take-off speed: 250mph (220kt).

Max take-off weight: 185,070kg (408,000lb).

Cabin width: 2.63m (8ft 8in).

Height: 11.30m (37ft 1in).

Wing span: 25.56m (83ft 10in).

Length: 62.10m (203ft 9in).

The 61-year-old, from Walton on Thames, Surrey, went on to fly the 100-seater aircraft between 1998 and 2000.

He explained how it required ‘absolute precision’ and would push through the sound barrier while causing ‘nothing more than a ripple on 100 glasses of champagne’.

Mr Tye, now a training captain on the Boeing 777, said Concorde was a ‘masterpiece of engineering’ and ‘one of the world’s most beautiful creations’.

Prior to the maiden flight, the coalition of two governments and two aircraft makers – British Aircraft Corporation (now BAE Systems) and Sud-Aviation, a precursor to Airbus – had encountered a series of hurdles and differences.

Even the aircraft’s name, which means ‘agreement’ in both languages, was a sticking point: English-style ‘Concord’ or ‘Concorde’ in French?

Britain’s technology minister Tony Benn settled the dispute in 1967, keeping the ‘e’ for ‘excellence’, ‘England’, ‘Europe’ and ‘Entente cordiale’, as he said.

Among Concorde’s most distinctive features was its pointed nose, which drooped downwards during take-off to allow for better pilot visibility.

Its triangular ‘delta’ wings were also instantly recognisable and offered stability and efficiency.

Six British Airways Concorde aircraft stand nose to nose at Heathrow. Among Concorde’s most distinctive features was its pointed nose, which drooped downwards during take-off to allow for better pilot visibility

A British Airways Concorde is shadowed by two Second World War Spitfires as it arrives to make a pass over Biggin Hill in 1986

Innovations born with Concorde advanced aeronautics, including the weight-saving aluminium for the body and the first ever use of electronic controls to replace manual ones.

According to BAE Systems, the estimated final overall cost of developing the Concorde was around 1.6 billion dollars.

Its inaugural scheduled passenger flights were on January 21, 1976: the Paris-Rio route operated by Air France and London-Bahrain by British Airways. 

Jock Lowe, who was the longest serving Concorde pilot, said flying the aircraft was ‘like driving a sports car compared with a normal car’.

Concorde has welcomed the Queen on several ocassions. She is pictured left reading newspapers during her flight home from Bridgetown, Barbados after her Silver Jubilee tour of Canada and the West Indies. Pictured right is Her Majesty and Princess Anne touring a Concorde cockpit 

The Duchess of York, who became the first female Royal to gain a private pilot’s licence, went on the flight deck of a Concorde supersonic jet during a visit to Heathrow Airport in 1987 

For her 80th birthday, the Queen Mother was treated to a flight on a British Airways Concorde in 1980 

On board Concorde, passengers were treated to fine wines and five-star cuisine assuring it a large, well-heeled fan base 

Daily Mail Editor-at-Large Piers Morgan is served a glass of champagne by the singer Sting on a Concorde flight 

He continued: ‘The most exhilarating part was the power you had on take-off. The acceleration was really quite special.’

Concorde quickly established itself as the way to travel for the discerning tycoon and Hollywood star.

Its fine wines and five-star cuisine assured it a large, well-heeled fan base, with regular passengers including the likes of Joan Collins, Sir Paul McCartney and Diana, Princess of Wales.

But shorter travel times came at a price: a return London-New York ticket in 2003 cost around £8,300 pounds ($11,960).

In 1996 to mark the 50th anniversary of London’s Heathrow Airport a British Airways Concorde took part in a fly past with the RAF’s Red Arrows 

In 1999, a BA Concorde hosted a special flight to view the solar eclipse at 55,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Pictured are the passengers boarding at Heathrow Airport 

However, travelling on Concorde became an experience in itself, with passengers speaking of the ‘kick in the back’ as the aircraft took off.

Julie Reynolds, 59, of Cheadle, Cheshire, worked as a cabin crew member on Concorde from 1987 to 1995, describing it as the ‘gold standard of aviation’.

Television host Sir David Frost was one of her favourite passengers as he was ‘such a gentleman’, she said.

‘He was very supportive of crew and was always appreciative of what we did.

‘There were so many wonderful people who travelled with us but they didn’t have to be celebrities to be a favourite of ours.’

Concorde was retired from service in October 2003, with British Airways and Air France blaming a downturn in passenger numbers and rising maintenance costs.

Barbara Harmer, from Bognor Regis, flew into the record books when she became the first woman to operate a Concorde in 1993

John Tye said flying Concorde was ‘a real privilege’. Mr Tye, pictured, now a training captain on the Boeing 777, said Concorde was a ‘masterpiece of engineering’ and ‘one of the world’s most beautiful creations’

Recent refurbishment means the distinctive nose of Concorde will be moved at exhibition sites at Manchester Airport, Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire and Brooklands Museum in Surrey for the 50th anniversary tomorrow. 

Events are also taking place at Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset, Aerospace Bristol in Filton, near Bristol, and locations in France and Germany.

No government or manufacturer has since been able to build a commercial plane which can travel faster than the speed of sound.

Many of the reasons for the demise of Concorde, high fuel costs, concern over its noise, a preference for lower fares over speed, are still applicable today, but that is not stopping a number of firms developing a supersonic airliner.

Among the firms trying to overcome these issues is Boom Supersonic.

The US start up is developing a 55-seater aircraft named Overture with an aim to fly at Mach 2.2, which is more than twice the speed of sound.

The last Concorde flight took place in October 2003. Pictured are the flight crew from the last flight leaning out of the windows of the cockpit 

Concorde was retired from service in October 2003, with British Airways and Air France blaming a downturn in passenger numbers and rising maintenance costs

The company pledges that passengers will ‘arrive in half the time for about the same fare as today’s business class’.

Test flights on a single-seater version called XB-1 are due to take place this year.

Boom says it has received pre-orders for 30 Overture planes, with customers including Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Japan Airlines. It plans to launch flights in the mid-2020s.

Boeing-backed Aerion Supersonic is working on a 12-seater business jet with a top speed of Mach 1.4. Its first flight is due in 2023.

Nasa and aerospace company Lockheed Martin are also developing a prototype for a supersonic plane named QueSST.

They claim it will be much quieter than Concorde as it will be designed to ‘reduce a sonic boom to a gentle thump’.


November 1956: A UK committee featuring representatives from aircraft and engine manufacturers as well as government officials is established to analyse the feasibility of a supersonic airliner.

November 1962: A draft treaty is signed by the UK and France to commit to jointly building a supersonic airliner.

March 1969: A Concorde prototype flies for the first time, from Toulouse in the south of France.

January 1976: British Airways and Air France launch commercial Concorde flights.

January 1980: British Airways takes delivery of its seventh and final Concorde.

July 1985: Singer Phil Collins performs at Live Aid concerts in the UK and US on the same day by flying on Concorde.

February 1996: The fastest transatlantic crossing by an airliner is recorded by Concorde on a New York to London flight which took just two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds.

July 2000: An Air France Concorde en route from Paris to New York crashes shortly after take-off due to an engine fire, killing all 109 people on board as well as four people on the ground. The Concorde fleets of British Airways and Air France are grounded pending an inquiry.

November 2001: Transatlantic Concorde flights resume from London and Paris following a safety upgrade.

April 2003: It is announced that Concorde will be taken out of service due to a sharp dip in passenger numbers amid global economic problems and the aftermath of September 11.

October 2003: Concorde touches down for the final time after a special flight from London Heathrow to Airbus UK’s Filton airfield in Bristol.

Source: Read Full Article