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Review: Supersonic Concorde The Ultimate Flight Experience - SamChui.com
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April 18, 2003

Review: Supersonic Concorde The Ultimate Flight Experience

Supersonic Concorde

The Ultimate Flight Experience

2003-4-17
BA002 JFK-LHR
Concorde SSC G-BOAG
0900 JFK 1800 LHR

“My Ultimate Flight Experience”
Cruising 58000 ft and Mach 2.0 (1350mph) jetset in style!

“Sam, we’ll be here longer than the plane, she won’t be here after October, your decision!”

I made the booking on Concorde 2 days after the news that both BA and AF will be terminating their service by October 2003. (AF by 31May, and BA in October) I rang BA in US office to ask about the special deal , it was USD2999+ tax one way on Concorde and one way on World Traveler (Economy) back between New York and London! I thought it was a very good deal at only half of the normal ticket price on Concorde!

Check-in and Concorde Room

Terminal 7 at JFK have been refitted and Concorde have its own dedicated check-in counter of course! No queue and I checked bags and documents through within 5 mins and got Seat 12D which is the second row in the second cabin. (Not a bad seat!)

CON1

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Breakfast area.

The breakfast was self-serve buffet, consist of pastries, breads, fruits, smoked salmon, grilled tomato, baked beans, english sausages and eggs and a bartender serves your favourite drinks. I like the idea of pre-dining.

You can board the plane straight from the Concorde Lounge! 

CON6

“BA002 Supersonic flight to London is ready to board, please proceed to Gate 6 for immediate boarding!” from the speakerphone. We proceeded to Gate 6 to board.

Boarding the Concorde

CON9

CON8

The small door of Concorde!

CON11

A very warm welcome, my first and final time boarding the Concorde.

CON12

The cabin was really like a tube, pretty narrow and windows are tiny. Quite interestingly, it dosen’t give people the feeling of being too cramp. After I sat down I feel actually quite roomy. The new design of the leather chair are maverlous, comfortable and elegant!

I sat at 12D, which is the second row (after Row11) of the rear cabin. I can see the wall mounted speed and altimeter ready to go!

We have 54 passengers in total out of 100 available seats. The front cabin was full and aft cabin was beautiful with only 16 passengers sharing 60 seats!

CON13

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The amazing takeoff and speed!

As the aircraft taxies out to the Runway, the captain welcomes everyone aboard. The in-flight briefing is far more detailed than the usual captain’s announcement on a subsonic plane, as it is necessary to explain how the aircraft performs, as shortly after take-off there is a very noticeable deceleration when the reheats on the Rolls-Royce Olympus engines are extinguished.

According to my log sheet the Captain filled in, we left the gate 1 minute earlier at 0859 with STD at 0900. We taxied for 17 minutes to Rwy13R for takeoff. The takeoff roll was regular, bit loud from the engines but noticeably lot faster than a subsonic plane, we took about 3/4 length of the 14000ft runway to become airborne.  One really can feel about the steepness of climbing and the fastness! (the planes made a quick bank to the right to fly towards the ocean)  It took no more than a few minutes for us to pass Long Island and we went into the clouds for a while and lost all the ground sights eventually within 5 minutes after takeoff.

Here are some statistics from the electronic panel indicator I collected:

Mach 0.77 @ 15500 feet
Mach 1.00 (The speed of sound) @ 27000 feet
Mach 1.51 @ 40000 feet
Mach 1.75 @ 43000 feet
Mach 1.83 @ 45000 feet
Mach 1.92 @ 47000 feet
Mach 2.00 @ 48500 feet
Mach 2.00 @ 56500 feet and we stayed @ 56000 feet for about 2 hour.

The fastest speed at one time we’re doing was 1390 MPH (Concorde cruising speed is 1350 MPH)
The highest altitude we reached was 58000 feet.

I feel quite warm of the wall, I understand Concorde metal streteches about 10 inches between flights and outside temperature are extremely hot, the wall is just little warm, but noticeably different from a subsonic plane.

 

CON15

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One interesting question raised was, when you flown over Mach 1.0 , i.e.  the speed of sound, you break the sound barrier. Do you hear any noise (sonic boom)?

I don’t remember, but I don’t think I heard anything particularly loud. I welcome all your comments and experiences.

(Edited)Here is a response from David Kaufman from IL.  concerning the “boom”
 

Books and articles on the Concorde and on supersonic flight state that no
particular special sound is heard on board as the aircraft becomes
supersonic.  However, in general terms, there tends to be a bit more
buffeting and pitch changes as the speed transitions to supersonic.

Many people are under the misimpression that the “sonic boom” is only
made when an aircraft crosses into supersonic.  Actually, the supersonic
shock wave is continuously generated through the entire supersonic flight,
and observers everywhere along the flight path will hear a boom as the shock
wave passes them.  That is why Concorde is only operated supersonically over
oceans.  Ships on the North Atlantic routinely hear the boom, which is more
like a gradually increasing then decreasing loud rumble when the SST is at
its cruise altitudes.

In-flight services

In-flight Service starts about after 20 mins of takeoff. @ about 27000 feet.

CON19

ConcordeMenu1 ConcordeMenu2 ConcordeMenu3 ConcordeMenu4 ConcordeMenu5 ConcordeMenu6

Enjoying Caviar and Champagne at 55,000 feet and Mach 2.00! It doesn’t get any better!

The Service was very English and formal, crews were outgoing, polite and efficient.

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The narrow cabin

CON25

For the return to service, BA introduced new Concorde seats in ink-blue Connolly leather and fabric. They feature a unique cradle mechanism, footrest and contoured head-rest to give added comfort and support. The new seat are 20% lighter, leading to almost 1 million pound a year in fuel efficiencies. The seats are 17.25 inches (43.8cm) wide and offer 7 inches of recline and 37 pitch (94cm) pitch.

CON28

Rear Galley

CON26

From the last window looking rearward, the Concorde tail looks like a spaceship.

Do you see the curvature of the earth?

CON27

With fellow Concorde enthusiast

CON30

 

The Glory Arrival

Our total flying time was 3 hrs 18 mins.

Approximately 30 minutes before arrival, the plane slow down and return to subsonic speed but still slightly faster than subsonic planes approaching. The captain came on the PA, “The weather in London is very unseasonal, 26 degrees and sunny sky condition”

The wind is easterly, so we are landing on Rwy 09L. The engines roar aloud in reverse thrust and shortly after, the aircraft decelerates to taxi speed for the stand. The time factor with Concorde is truly striking!

We landed at 1735, 25 minutes early, when coming into London, saw the beautiful blue sky is like won a battle, after landed we slowed down to taxi back to T4. I felt in such glory and proudness that I can’t express my feelings furthermore!

We arrived at gate about 1753 about 7 minutes before STA.

Over WIndsor Castle

CON31

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One last look of the cabin before deplane

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Captain Mike Bannister flew the BA002 that day, he is the Chief BA Concorde Pilot and Chief BA pilot for short hauls. This really was a huge plus to my flight, since the cabin crew told me he don’t fly much. He is very famous and constantly appears on TV acts as BA Concorde spokesperson and was a key force behind the return of service of the Concorde after the Paris tragic accident. I have about 5 minutes of pleasure to chat with Capt Bannister and he signed the menu, logbook and showed me around the cockpit.

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A group photo with fellow Concorde enthusiast whom specially made this trip like me.

CON43

This flight is probably the most proud achievement I have in my flying hobby.

I was ecstatic and over cloud nine. I still enjoyed those moments and able to recall those precious memories.

Interestingly, on the financial side,  the cash burn rate on the Concorde is about 900 USD per hour, or 15 USD per minute. At the end, I think the money I paid to get on the Concorde was worth every cent of it and there is NO better way to fly than the Concorde! It has been a great, spectacular ride that I wish I can do it one more time! Thank you Concorde and BA for the opportunity!

Here is the standard Concorde Flight Certificate

ConcordeCert

Special Thanks to “Bellerophon” for his kindness to get my “Real” Concorde certificate by post later, signed by all 3 crews of that day!

ConcordeCert2

Log Sheet of the flight

Concordelogsheet