Concorde, the people’s aeroplane!

People who worked on Concorde

Neil Smith from Thornbury,near Bristol

BA Concorde cabin crew

For most people, flying on Concorde is an impossible dream, the stuff of lottery wins and holidays of a lifetime.

For the lucky few, ‘The Bird’ is a convenient method of travel, the equivalent of a bus or a train to the rest of us

But for one or two, stepping onto the supersonic aircraft is the start of just another day at the office.

Neil Smith, 28, from Thornbury, near Bristol, became Concorde’s youngest cabin crew member when he took up his post 18 months ago.

He looks after the rich, the famous and anyone else who can afford the £1,000-plus ticket price on transatlantic flights from Heathrow.

“I normally fly the London-New York route, but my last trip is from London to Boston as part of the farewell tour,” he said.

“After that I’ll go back to working on 747s.”

A childhood spent moving from place to place fuelled Neil’s desire to work in the travel industry.

‘Ultimate thrill’

“My dad’s job meant we moved around a lot – I knew I wanted to keep travelling, so becoming a cabin crew member seemed ideal.

“The idea of flying on Concorde was always at the back of my mind.”

And Neil’s fascination with the aircraft has not worn off – despite the fact he sees it almost daily.

“Some people just view it as an aeroplane, but to me it is much more than that,” he said.

“It’s not just nuts and bolts, it has a life of its own, so working on Concorde has been the ultimate thrill for me.”

The job means he is used to dealing with stars and royalty on a daily basis.

“We had Queen Noor of Jordan on the other day, and the Duchess of York, who always likes to sit in the same seat in the front row, and Sting was on last week.

‘Hard work’

“During the war in Iraq, I felt that I was getting to watch history as it happened, because Jack Straw was back and forward to the UN in New York so often.

“He seemed to be on every flight I was working on, so I got to know him, what he liked and so on, he even had a BBC film crew with him on one occasion.”

But it is not all champagne, caviar and celebrities.

“It seems very glamorous, but it is actually plain hard work,” he said. “You have a job to do, three hours to do it in, and you have to get on with it.

“There are 100 people on that plane who have paid a lot of money to be there and you have to make sure they are all having the same experience.”

Neil added: “One of the things I love about Concorde is the fact that the person sitting in the next row could be Queen Noor, or it could be your next-door neighbour who has remortgaged his house or spent his children’s inheritance to afford the flight.

Famous people

“Everyone is treated the same way – flying on Concorde is special for everybody, no matter who they are.”

And everyone, it seems, is getting excited about the impending end of the supersonic era.

“There has been a bit of a frenzy whipped up about Concorde since they announced it is going to retire, and becoming more intense as the final days get closer.

“Famous people are just as keen to fly on Concorde in its last few weeks – Gwyneth Paltrow and Catherine Zeta Jones were on the other day.

“They want to say they flew on one of its last flights just as much as everyone else.”

George Rollo
Spent the last couple of years of my apprenticeship (1967-8)then up till 1974 working on G-BSST, G-AXDN & G-BBDG (Prototype, 1st Preproduction & 1st Production)at Filton.Worked mainly on the Engine Intakes, also worked on join up & systems, and went to Farnbourgh working on the test fuselage there. Some of my Concorde photos can be found on www.aviationarchive.org .uk

David Roberts
In 1948, aged 4, I lived in Bath and with my father I remember watching the Brabazon fly overhead on its way to Filton.In 1970 I lived near Oxford and watched as Concorde flew overhead on its daily test flight to Fairford where it was based. I now own a cottage in France, 50 miles north of Toulouse where I watch the airbus on its testing approaches to Toulouse airport. What next?

Craig
My Grandad always tells me about when he helped to build the Concorde engines and other planes it really does hit me, he also worked at Brooklands. He has got so many memories of this working time. His name is Mr Ronald Thomas

Didar Singh [Das]
I just wanted to add my dads name onto this site his name was Gurdial Singh [Das] he worked on Concorde in the early days and always cherished the plane throughout its life unfortunately Concorde retired to be grounded and my father passed away in the same month bless both him and his beloved plane.

JOHN SIMS
I WORKED ON CONCORDE AT FAIRFORD FROM 1969, UNTIL ITS CLOSURE IN 1977, I HAD 8 YEARS OF A WONDERFUL WORKING PERIOD OF MY LIFE, I ALSO HAD MANY EXPERENCES OF A LIFETIME, OF TRIPS ABROARD, BAHRAIN, A WEEK IN BERUIT BEFORE THE PROBLEMS STARTED THERE, ROUTE PROVING BASED IN BAHRAIN, THEN ONTO KLALUMPA FOR 6 WEEKS, FINNISING IN MELBOURNE,TO FLY BACK TO HEATHROW ON CONCORDE, PRIOR TO THIS I HAD 6 WEEKS IN JOHANNESBURG BACK IN 1974 ON HOT & HIGH TRIALS, ALSO I NIGHT IN KUWAIT, AMONG OTHERS WHICH I CAN!T RECALL NOW,

Shelia Marshall
I worked in Bahrain in 1974 and became good friends with the G-BBDG flight test crew. I am trying to re establish contact with these people after all these years and am searching for any information I can get as to their whereabouts. One name I can remember is Tony Reading! Can anyone help me? Thanks. sheilamarsh@tiscali.co.uk

Stuart Milton
I love Concorde I look on the internet and have memories when i go to the airport.

Stephen Hines
My father did a lot of work on Concorde, his name is John Hines, I stumbled across a signed photo from the ‘Weybridge Stress Office’ just a few days ago and I’m interested in learning more about what everyone did! As far as I am aware, he worked on the stress factors of carbon fibre during flight and something with the nose lights….but apart from that i am low of on details. Anyone else know about this ‘Weybridge stress office’? I’m interested to know!

Bob Nicholson
I can’t remember all the names of the people I worked with in the Flight Test department at Filton Roy Hatherall was I/C workshop and Ted Hailes No8 DO section leader. The task was to install some 3000 channels of instrumentation recording onto 1″ magnetic tape. This was a great leap forward in comparison to the installations on the Britannia and the Brabazon before that. It was realised that the mass of information available from each test flight would overwhelm the analysts so a ‘Quick Look’ facility – essentially a computer was designed ‘in house’ by an electronics Wizard one John Dunn. This worked a treat except that the original data printer was louder than Concorde at take-off. The experience gained allowed me to join Deutsche Airbus in Munich and have a positive input into the production of the A300. Best wishes to all who were involved in any way and welcome contact with former colleagues. bob@nicholson.net

Passengers who flew Concorde

Wayne Bobaljik

In late May of 1988 I was a broadcaster in Windsor, Ontario. Concorde was doing a trip from NYC to London with return on QE II. I did a phone interview with the travel company presenting the trip (CAA Travel) re: Concorde’s visit to Windsor to pick up passengers. Purely as a “joke” I asked the CAA rep if they were “thinking about sending Press along”? He asked if I was serious…I asked if he was. Next I know, I’m aboard Concorde G-BOAB to New York, then to London.
The most MAGNIFICENT 3 and a half hours of my life!! It is still an amazing memory. I still have the boarding pass, small document case they gave passengers, menus etc. The flight at Mach 2 most of the way and 12 miles up was simply AMAZING. I still enjoy my home video taken on board G-BOAB. I will never forget the experience and was very sad to see the end of supersonic passenger travel. I was so blessed to have had the opportunity and will be forever grateful to that travel rep who said,” come along with us on CONCORDE”

Dean Rivers
I flew in Alpha Alpha from Exeter to Heathrow on a chartered flight. She was 70 tons light due to there being no luggage and a lot less fuel. As a result the aircraft was, in the words of the pilot, ‘lively’. I can think of no greater expression of power, than hearing those four Olympus engines open up on full re-heat, and feeling the acceleration build and build, without end. The seat was pushing so hard, I could barely move. We were airborne in a heartbeat, and at the moment of the throttle down, I was convinced the engines had been shut off completely. As soon as we had clearance, we climbed to the cruising altitude and for fun the pilot went to max power – full re-heat a second time. This time we were slammed into the seats and Concordes nose was brought up. The flight smoothed out and the plane just wanted to go faster, you could actually feel it. The landing was simply amazing. Such a steep approach angle and hearing those monstrous engines at full reverse was absolutely glorious. I will never forget my memories of that very short flight. The sensation of power, speed, grace, and beauty. Of hell itself being let loose as you scream down the runway, and of such a gentle landing. A truly remarkable piece of engineering.

Tony
A valentine gift for the better half (so she thinks) after a fab week in barbados i bit the bullet and called brtish airways and bought two tickets, we had two takeoffs(well one attempt and then a takeoff) and all i can say the whole trip is a memory for ever, even when i got home and found out what 12000 barbados dollars converts to!!! but even then it was still well worth it and i was glad that we made it before it was stopped, why? The best thing to come from 70’s

Margaret Barrington
I remember sitting in a lecture at Bristol Polytechnic (now UWE) in Filton in the early 70’s. Our backs were facing west towards Filton and suddenly we heard such a deafening roar that we thought the buildings were collapsing, looked around to see the nose of Concorde soaring just above our heads. That was the first time I had seen Concorde and the experience will last with me forever.30 years on I saw it fly across the suspension bridge on its last flight home and it was amazing to think that the plane had been in service for so many years and yet still everyone was in awe of its presence.

John Mayne

I have been lucky enough to have flown back from New York on 28 May 2003. I have been trying to find out which Concorde I was actually on, and equally where it is now. I would be very grateful if you have any idea as to how I could find that out.

Can anyone help John with his search?

Contact Heritage Concorde – heritageconcorde@btinternet.com

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  4. Wayne Bobaljik says:

    In late May of 1988 I was a broadcsater in Windsor, Ontario. Concorde was doing a trip from NYC to London with return on QE II. I did a phone interview with the travel company presenting the trip (CAA Travel) re: Concorde’s visit to Windsor to pick up passengers. Purely as a “joke” I asked the CAA rep if they were “thinking about sending Press along”? He asked if I was serious…I asked if he was. Next I know, I’m aboard Concorde G-BOAB to New York, then to London.
    The most MAGNIFICENT 3 and a half hours of my life!! It is still an amazing memory. I still have the boarding pass,small document case they gave passengers, menus etc.The flight at Mach 2 most of the way and 12 miles up was simply AMAZING. I still enjoy my homre video taken on board G-BOAB. I will never forget the experience and was very sad to see the end of supersonic passenger travel. I was so blessed to have had the opportunity and will be forever grateful to that travel rep who said,”come along with us on CONCORDE”

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