Mental Floss

The Quick 10: 10 Facts About the Concorde

Stacy Conradt
facebooktwitterreddit

Wikipedia says March 27, 1970, was first-ever flight of the Concorde. Not the program on HBO, I mean, but the actual jet. I think Wikipedia is wrong (I know, I know, who would have thought?!) "“ British Airways says the first flight occurred on March 2, 1969. Either way, we're in the anniversary month of the first flight, so I thought it would be a good topic for a Q10 (don't worry"¦ the superfluous body parts sequel is still coming).

red arrows
red arrows /

2. The record time for Paris-to-NY was (and still is) two hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds. On average, the Concorde traveled one mile every two and three quarter seconds. It was so fast that on westbound flights, it was possible to arrive at a local time that was earlier than when you left your original destination. And of course Concorde's publicists didn't miss that opportunity: British Airways used the slogan "Arrive before you leave."

3. At low speeds, it was highly inefficient. It could burn two tons of fuel just taxiing to the runway. However, it was designed to be operated at Mach 2 "“ and when it was, it was the most fuel-efficient jet engine ever built.

4. Concorde could stretch anywhere from 6-10 inches during flight because the heating of the airframe was so intense.

5. You know where you are based on what it's called. OK, you probably know where you are anyway, but go with me here. In the U.S., it's the Concorde. In the U.K., it's simply Concorde. And in France, it's le Concorde (go figure).

6. It was quite noticeable when the Concorde passed through the sound barrier: first of all, the pilot would announce it. But also, there was a surge in acceleration and the air compression was such that the windows would actually get warm to the touch.

accident
accident /

8. The last flight from New York to Heathrow in London, was basically an exclusive party. Attendees included Joan Collins, Models Jodie Kidd and Christie Brinkley, British Airways chairman Lord Marshall, the aforementioned Tony Benn, broadcaster Sir David Frost and stock exchange chairman Chris Gibson-Smith. When it left JFK, it flew through water cannons spraying jets of red, white and blue water. When it arrived at Heathrow, it was greeted by 1,000 spectators seated in a grandstand built just for the occasion. The Queen even consented to have Windsor Castle lit up when the last flight flew over it "“ usually, Windsor Castle is only illuminated for visiting dignitaries and heads of state.

9. Pieces and parts of the Concorde have been auctioned off in both France and England "“ everything from the Machmeter to salt and pepper shakers and blankets with the Concorde logo.

conchords
conchords /

Did any of you ever fly on a Concorde before they were retired? We'd love to hear about it in the comments! And if not (I suspect that's the category most of us fall in), how about this: if you could fly anywhere in three hours, where would you go? Think of the possibilities"¦

Have a good Q10 suggestion for me? Send me a Tweet!

facebooktwitterreddit