Concorde’s legacy

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of Concorde’s first flight (as prototypes numbered 001 and 002), and the iconic aircraft served passengers from 1976 to 2003. A fatal Concorde crash in Paris in July 2000 temporarily grounded the fleet, and economically, it seems, the writing was then on the wall for Concorde’s supersonic service.

Our collections are rich with Concorde stuff. Top of the list is our own aircraft, prototype 002, on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton:

Concorde 002 at Yeovilton, 1979 (credit: Science Museum / Science & Society)

Concorde 002 at Yeovilton, 1979 (credit: Science Museum / Science & Society)

In the Science Museum in London we’ve several displays, including some of our beautiful Concorde wind tunnel test models:

Concorde wind tunnel test models (credit: Science Museum / Science & Society)

Concorde wind tunnel test models (credit: Science Museum / Science & Society)

Back in the 1960s, we had a choice. We could have super-fast flight, which had the downside of being noisy and thirsty. Or, we could opt for high-capacity flight at lower speeds with more efficient and quieter engines.

We tried both, but only one has survived. Concorde was our dream for speed, but wide-body jets such as the Boeing 747 became our everyday experience. Today, the latest passenger planes (such as the Airbus A380) take the 747 to the next level of size and efficiency. Will passengers ever fly supersonic again?

We’ve got a Centenary Talk coming up on 5 October that might well be of interest to you. Hear Concorde captain David Rowland and mechanical engineer Professor Jeff Jupp talk about Concorde’s story and the legacy that remarkable supersonic plane has left in today’s aviation world. Hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it, check out our book, ‘Concorde: Story of a Supersonic Pioneer’, by Kenneth Owen, which is an absorbing and comprehensive account.

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