Watch: The Concorde and Supersonic Flight Take Off in 1976
Aviation had a groundbreaking achievement on January 21, 1976, when the inaugural commercial flight of the Concorde took to the air. Departing from Heathrow Airport in London and headed to Bahrain, the aircraft could shuttle passengers at 1495 miles per hour, or twice the speed of sound. You can watch it take off here:
In a world that had become somewhat accustomed to the wonders of air travel, the Concorde was still a marvel. At those speeds, passengers could rocket the globe at the velocity of a bullet, taking just six hours to get from San Francisco to Tokyo or seven hours to get from Los Angeles to Australia. Affluent business travelers happily paid steep ticket prices—up to $5000 in the 1980s, or roughly $15,000 in today's dollars—if it could cut their commute time in half.
As you would expect, that kind of business model couldn’t sustain itself. Even with exorbitant fees, the British and French governments that had subsidized development costs into the billions couldn’t recoup their investments. There was also the matter of environmental pollution. Residents near airports resisted having to hear sonic booms, and planes requiring 100 tons of fuel for a trip from London to New York were hardly pictures of green transportation. In 2003, the Concorde was grounded for good.