Five Things You Didn’t Know About The Concorde


Concordes Could Fly Higher Than F-16s

Concorde used fly at a height of about 60,000 ft, that’s a height of over 11 miles or 17.7 kilometres. From that height, at the edge of space, passengers where essentially in the layers between the stratosphere and the ionosphere. So passengers were able to see curvature of the Earth and the darkness of space, while knocking back a glass of champagne. 60,000 ft is higher than the official ceiling for planes like the F-16. It’s also high enough that increased solar radiation was a concern – because of this, each plane had a radiometer on board to keep an eye on the radiation levels.

Eat Like Royalty At 60,000 ft

The whole point of travelling by Concorde was so that you could get to your destination in less than half the time it would take a normal jetliner. But even though Concorde passengers spent little time on board, they could expect to be generously fed. Take the menu on British Airways’ first ever commercial flight in 1976 for example. It featured extravagant treats like grilled fillet steak, caviar and lobster canapés, palm heart salad with Roquefort dressing and fresh strawberries with double cream, Dom Perignon 1969 champagne, and even Havana cigars. Though we doubt that the last item added to the quality of air travel. Check out this link for a more recent menu list

Its Top Speed Was Limited By Temperature Not Power

Concorde had a take-off speed of 220 knots (250mph), a landing speed of 187mph, and a cruising speed of 1350mph which is more than twice the speed of sound. However, the supersonic passenger jet could actually go even faster. Concorde’s top speed was limited by temperature, not power. At Mach 2.0, the friction from moving through the air heated the aircraft’s aluminium skin almost to the point at which it would begin to soften. This is why Concordes were normally pictured in a special white paint to adapt temperature changes and to dissipate the heat generated by supersonic flight. The intense heat generated by supersonic flight could stretch the airframe anywhere from six to 10 inches during flight. Every surface, even the windows, was warm to the touch by the end of the flight. Moreover, the combined power of Concorde’s four Rolls-Royce engines was so immense that it made taxiing on the runway difficult. Pilots would turn two of the four engines off just to make manoeuvring around an airport easier.

It Resumed Passenger Flights On September 11, 2001, After Its July 25, 2000 Crash

The worst day in Concorde’s history is July 25, 2000. A flight departing from Paris ran over a piece of titanium that had fallen from another aircraft. The metal debris shredded one of the Concorde’s tyres, propelling rubber into the fuel tanks and sparking a fire. All 109 passengers on board and four people on the ground died in the crash. All Concordes were grounded from that day onwards. Its first passenger flight after that was on September 11, 2001. Of course what would have been a memorable occasion to celebrate the renewed flight of the Concordes, was overshadowed by the awful attack on the World Trade Center towers in New York. The crash in Paris, had already caused consumers to lose confidence in the aircraft. After the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001, Concorde’s passenger rates fell to less than 50 percent.

Concorde Also Transported Human Organs, Diamonds and Currency

To this day, Concorde still holds the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a passenger aircraft. The record-holding Concorde flight from New York to London, on February 7 1996, took just two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds. An interesting fact to note was that Concorde didn’t just transport passengers and luggage. Due to its speed, it was also sometimes used to transport human organs, diamonds and currency. The people transporting this cargo were known Air Couriers. Concorde fares between London and New York cost over £1,000 by the 1980s, and by 2003 the standard price could go up to £4,000 one way, but passengers flying the route as a courier and personally delivering sensitive cargo between the two destinations, could save hundreds of pounds.

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